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Updated: Nov 22, 2016 10:14
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In last year’s Thanksgiving in SF on a $30 Budget, I showed you how you could create a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for you and your friends who are staying behind in the city. I’m doing the same thing this year, but mixing it up a bit with some dishes that might not be so traditional, but still under the $30 $33 budget.

This budget is mostly based on items purchased at Safeway, centered around a twelve pound turkey at their price of $0.69 a pound; this feeds ten people. No one has yet to offer a better deal when it comes to the T-Day turkey than Safeway. Safeway turkeys are normally $0.69 per pound, and if you want to know what size turkey to buy for your posse, click this link.

It’s your second Thanksgiving away from your family. You’re one of the few people that stayed behind in the city. Because of this, most of us have handselected our own non-nuclear family consisting of voluntarily insane friends. But while we don’t crave the tradition of being grilled by our family members about our unconventional lifestyle – because let’s face it, if you ended up in SF you’re the black sheep of your family – we crave the tradition of nostalgia. Nostalgia: that warm blanket of memories that can send your brain into a frenzy from a mere whiff of spices, the way the corner of 15th and Valencia looks in the rain, the sound of a nearby church bell while your living room curtains flow in the breeze. Ah, nostalgia…she’s a bitch. These – along with a moment of temporary insanity – are the feelings that make you want to recreate a holiday feast…on a budget.

An affordable way to enliven your bird without going the fresh herb route is to season it with a dried blend. And while Spice Island Seasonings may charge $9 for a bottle that’s been on the shelves for who knows how long, you happen to live in a city where you can access your own local spice blender person, Spice Ace has a deliciously complex Ras El Hanout mix they dish out in glass jars. Ras El Hanout is a North African blend of turmeric, all spice, fenugreek, ginger, and every other possible delicious herb from surrounding conquering nations dating back to the Ottomans. While I use Ras El Hanout on roasted chicken, braised pork and other slow cooked meats, it’s also ridiculous on your Thanksgiving roasted turkey. Don’t want to spend $5 on a glass jar of personally curated spice blends? You can always visit the carefully hidden (in the produce section) Mexican packages of ground paprika, ground sage, ground thyme, ect. If these are priced more than $1, the store is messing with your head.

The night before Thanksgiving

  1. Season your cleaned and giblet free bird with salt, pepper and Ras El Hanout. Put it back in the fridge.
  2. Make the pumpkin pies.

My mom’s pumpkin pie has always been Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix, follow the directions on the back of the can; a pre-mixed mixture of pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spices and other secrets. She buys two frozen and unbaked 9” shallow pie shells (comes two to a package, in the frozen section, Sunny Select or Safeway brand. Pillsbury sucks.), combines the mixture with two eggs (sometimes one) and one can of carnation milk. Sprinkles some cinnamon on top for posterity. Bake in preheated 425 F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F.; bake for 40 minutes or until pies test done. Sets aside to cool and chills in the fridge overnight. Top with Cool Whip and serve.

My mom’s version is perfectly delicious. The only difference in mine is that I use Libby’s Pure Pumpkin Puree because I like to be able to control the amount of spice that goes into the pie.  I also use Trader Joe’s $2 Pumpkin Pie Spice and garnish with piped real whipped cream and candied pepitas.

The morning of Thanksgiving

  1. Roast the turkey
  2. Roast green beans + zukes
  3. Potatoes au gratin/scalloped

Preheat your oven to 400 F and turn on some football. I don’t really care about sports, but there’s something about the white noise sound of football in the background that I find comforting.

Place your seasoned turkey in a roasting pan, boobs side up, and roast for 3 hours. Baste with the drippings every 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 20 mins.

Roasted Green beans and zucchini (minus the pesto) – Preheat 400. Wash and line your beans up on a cutting board and trim the edges all at one time. Wash and cut your zuchini at a diagonal into relatively thick slices. Assuming you already have some kind of oil in your pantry, coat veg in any kind of oil you have (olive, canola, vegetable), salt and pepper and roast for 10-15 mins, until zukes are browned. Remove from pan and squeeze a half of a lemon onto the veg.

I’m going the boxed route on the potatoes this year. Yeah, I said it. I was brought up standing-in-line-for-government-cheese poor. I happen to have a love affair for the Betty Crocker boxed scalloped potato that I will not apologize for.

Oven Directions: preheat 450 degrees F. Stir sauce mix, boiling water, milk, butter and leftover turkey herbs with whisk in 1-1/2-quart casserole dish. Stir in potatoes. 2. Bake in 3-quart casserole dish uncovered 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender (sauce will thicken as it stands). All you need for this recipe is: pan, milk, butter, box.

The meal: roasted ras el hanout turkey, potatoes au gratin, roasted green beans + zucchini, pumpkin pie.

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