Thanksgiving: It’s all in the gravy

Nov. 15, 2010

Brock Kilgore
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The colloquialism “gravy” can be applied to any happening that occurs outside of or beyond everyday expectations. Too often, our world presupposes the everyday – like gravy as something naturally included in a Thanksgiving meal. This, however, is not necessarily the case.

The modern American cliché, “gravy,” comes from the same idea. Imagine eating turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes without gravy. Besides being decidedly un-American, life without gravy would be much less fun.

Now imagine the human experience, say, two hundred years ago. Imagine what gravy meant then. Without in-depth research it is impossible to say exactly, but I do know it was a simpler time when gravy was really something extra, and that everything we have today is like the gravy of yesteryear.

Ponder the things we don’t need. I could be writing with a stick in the dirt and a whole cross-section of Americans could be employed lining up wooden blocks with rubber stamps to print this paper, but I’m not, and they’re not. The world has moved on.

The modern conception of gravy has changed, but fortunately the thick and salty sauce has not. As a perpetually poor student, gravy means more to me than what I slather on top of Texas toast, mashers and roast turkey – it means a little time for me, and my conception of family.

College usually means leaving home for the first time, and it often means either spending Thanksgiving alone or finding friends to spend it with. The following guide is meant to show students how to cook Thanksgiving dinner for themselves, cook something to share with a group of friends (otherwise known as an “orphan Thanksgiving”), or find a decent restaurant at which to enjoy Turkey Day.

The first Thanksgiving away from home

Don’t worry, Turkey Day is an excellent time to learn about yourself and others. The best way to endure and enjoy any holiday away from family combines cooking something substantial that could be relished alone or shared, cooking an excellent side dish for an “orphan holiday,” or finding a decent place to eat out. The following suggestions combine all three.

Cooking Thanksgiving for one person

Cooking for one is difficult because small portions are hard to make. Thanksgiving is special because it is meant to be a feast – even for one. The following recipe is authentically American because it combines ingredients that are both native to North America, and were eaten by Native Americans. Corn, beans and squash are called “The Three Sisters” because they were so vital to the indigenous world. Even the plains tribes that primarily hunted buffalo had trade links to the agricultural societies to the south and east.

It combines both the important native agricultural products and the buffalo. Fresh ingredients can be substituted for the canned, and whatever dried herbs on hand can be substituted for the Italian seasoning.

How to have a family-style Thanksgiving away from home

The ultimate Thanksgiving away from family is an “Orphan Thanksgiving,” or a group of friends. After learning how to cook for oneself, what you make is easily shared with new friends. Most non-family Thanksgiving gatherings will include the basics, but everything is always better with gravy.

The following recipe is more than just gravy. It can be an expression of yourself and the extra things you have to offer. Feel free to add ingredients like green chilies, sausage, whatever… things that make you who you are.

Best restaurants for Thanksgiving dinner

Sometimes a small or new group of friends, or a lazy family, are better served by going out for Thanksgiving. Turkey Day is notoriously stressful on family dynamics, not to mention those without a family; and cooking is difficult, always has

Chinese food is an option if the neighborhood dogs eat the turkey like in “The Christmas Story,” but the following restaurants offer Thanksgiving specialty comfort food, at student-friendly prices. They are listed from fancier surroundings at decent prices, to the basics at bargain basement prices.

Black Eyed Pea – 501 Garden of the Gods Rd. – 548-9417 – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. – I am not a fan of chain restaurants, but this place is close to UCCS and will be easy to attend on short notice. They have a turkey, ham or pot roast dinner for $14 and don’t take reservations.

The Waffle House – 755 W. Fillmore St. – 475-2726 – Open 24 hours a day, all year long – In a pinch, the Waffle House provides. For $11 you can get a t-bone steak with either two eggs or a salad, their famous hash browns and Texas toast. Comfort food for any day.

Joseph’s Fine Dining – 1606 S. 8th St. – 630-3631 – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations suggested – The old Maitre D at the Broadmoor’s Penrose Room offers a Thanksgiving feast that rivals the excellent, but overpriced buffet at his old haunt. By serving turkey, prime rib and salmon entrée plates at $20 to $23, instead of a $40 buffet, Joseph Freyre is able to keep costs down and offer a decently priced meal in a fine dining environment.

Edelweiss 34 E. Ramona Ave. – 633-2220 – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations suggested – In addition to their “regular” huge German comfort food menu, Edelweiss offers turkey, chestnut dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, yams, fresh veggies, and a German salad or butternut squash soup for $18.50. If a nice beer-drinking somebody else is buying, try the one-liter glass boot filled with one of the Warsteiner beers for $30.