Commentary by Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Mass. in 1621. However, their first true Thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. In the second half of the 1600s, Thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become an annual event. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities, and in some places there were more than one Thanksgiving each year. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.
Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie and vegetables. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. It is also a time for parades that open the Christmas shopping season and, importantly, it is rivalry week in football, when cross town or cross state rivals meet. It’s usually the last big tailgate of the year.
So let’s talk about the menu for the Thanksgiving tailgate. Why not serve all the good things from the Thursday dinner? Or, you could make a turkey soup for the people chilled by late November temperatures. The last couple of years for Thanksgiving weekend we have featured turkey soups, and the recipes are on our website at tailgatershandbook.com. This year we have a new bar recipe to go with any leftover items from Thursday’s feast.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
6 oz. low fat cream cheese
1/3 cup softened butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
4 ½ cups powdered sugar
On the day before, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together in a large bowl flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves. Then stir in the eggs, pumpkin and oil. Mix until well combined and then pour mixture into an ungreased 15”x10” baking pan and spread evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick, inserted, comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack.
To finish the presentation, make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Then gradually add in 4 ½ to 5 cups powdered sugar and beat to make the mixture spreadable. Frost the cooled un-cut bars and then cut them into 36 pieces. Top the bars with candy pumpkins and cover with a lid or foil and refrigerate overnight.
On game day, take the bars to your tailgate in a cooler packed with ice.