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A day to celebrate traditions

Local families mark Thanksgiving in many unique, fun ways
By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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Thanksgiving is a time for family — and extended family — to gather around a table laden with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and an array of other holiday foods. Area residents observe Thanksgiving in a variety of special ways — from how they spend the day, to the menu and adding their own personalized touches to classic recipes. Joanne Neft For Joanne Neft, Placer County agriculture advocate and co-author of “Placer County Real Food,” it’s all about family. “I’ve been doing big Thanksgiving dinners for 50 years,” she said. “To me, it is a more family-focused event than Christmas because we’re not distracted by gift giving and other things that go on at (that time). We’re focused on sitting as a family around the table and giving thanks. For us, that’s a very meaningful thing.” It’s also a time to enjoy fall favorites. “For me, it’s all around food,” she said. “Jerry (Neft) always makes a fresh cranberry mandarin and ginger relish. It’s totally uncooked, because we have such amazing mandarins. It’s something everyone looks forward to. “I always buy a very large turkey and cook it very slowly. Anything slow roasted is better than something fast roasted. I brine it and let it dry overnight so the skin gets very crispy. In the bottom of the roasting pan, I always put the juice of at least two lemons. The color of the gravy is so much deeper and the taste is so much more full-flavored with the benefit of the lemon juice.” For a 12-pound bird, one lemon is sufficient, she said. “For (a turkey weighing) more than 20 pounds, you’d want two lemons,” she said. “Just take the fresh juice and put it in the bottom of the pan.” The type of turkey impacts the cooking time, she advised. “If someone is cooking an organically grown turkey or locally grown, it takes a third less time to cook, because it doesn’t have as much fat. Sometimes turkeys are pumped up with water or other preservatives. If you’re serving an organic turkey or a grass-fed turkey, that isn’t the case, so cooking time is greatly reduced. Check the temperature sooner than you normally would.” Susie Iventosch Food columnist Susie Iventosch, author of “Tax Bites and Tasty Morsels,” begins with a special treat. “At our house, Thanksgiving always starts the day before, by making our traditional Holiday Sugar and Spice pull-apart breakfast rolls,” she said in an e-mail. “Once we know they are ready for breakfast, we can all relax, because the holiday would not be the same without these scrumptious sweet yeast rolls, loaded with brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts and currants! “Then, on Thanksgiving morning, we get up and exercise (to feel better about the quantity of food we plan to consume) and return for those amazing rolls! “After breakfast, it’s a sprint for me to sneak in just a few minutes of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, before the television dial permanently lands on ESPN! Once football starts, all bets are off, and I head for the kitchen to prepare the turkey and all the trimmings. Then, at about 2 p.m., we put the turkey in the oven and head for the theater to take in a movie. The best part of this little adventure, is how wonderful the house smells when we return!” Carol Arnold It’s a day of being outdoors and a unique trip for Carol Arnold and her family. “We visit the Nimbus Fish Hatchery,” said Arnold, who is the Foothill Farmers Market general manager. “It started when we were children and my parents took my sister and me out there to see the salmon run. We kept the tradition for our kids. Last year there were plenty of salmon. An amazing amount of people do this on Thanksgiving.” After viewing the salmon, it’s time for some exercise.. “Then we go on the American River bike trail,” she said. “We ride from Nimbus down to Goethe Park. Everyone wants to get exercise so it works out really well. We usually leave around 10 a.m. and get back around 2 p.m. I don’t make a big fuss anymore. I put Thanksgiving dinner together in about four hours.” Jan Riedel Meadow Vista’s Reinhard and Jan Riedel and their family spend the day in the outdoors. “Our Thanksgiving tradition started more than 30 years ago when our oldest daughter at the time was 2 and our close family friends had two sons, age 2 and 5,” Jan Riedel explained in an e-mail. “We were talking one evening about how boring it is Thanksgiving Day just sitting around eating and talking indoors. (So in) 1980 we all decided to go camping over the Thanksgiving holiday and we all have been doing it every Thanksgiving since. “Nothing like smelling a turkey in the Weber barbecue, hot soup and spiced wine keeping warm on the camp stove, and s’mores over the campfire.” In the beginning, her children dressed in Indian and pilgrim costumes. “Our family has increased and now our grandchildren are being dressed up as Indians and pilgrims and having the time of their lives. We all are so very thankful!” Cooking a turkey on the grill takes time. Riedel said she puts it on about 11 a.m. and it’s done at about 3 or 4 p.m. In the meantime, the family stays busy playing soccer and having races with radio-controlled cars. Mindy Danovaro Mindy Danovaro, executive director of the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation, puts emphasis on giving thanks. “One thing we do that I feel very passionate about is we go around the table and everyone of the family members has to talk about something they’re thankful for,” she said. It’s a tradition Danovaro initiated when she married and started a family. Even the Danovaro children, ages 12 and 10, get their turn. “Everyone sitting at the table has to participate,” she said. “They talk about a story, event, person or something that made an impact in their lives that they are grateful for.” It’s something she hopes her children will someday pass on to their children as well. Alexandra Carnahan Alexandra Carnahan, owner of Tsuda’s Old Town Eatery in Auburn, celebrates the day twice. “We head down to the Central Valley — Lodi — on Thanksgiving (to spend the day with family),” she said. “Then we have a traditional Thanksgiving on Saturday where we invite folks who may not have had an opportunity to have a Thanksgiving dinner. “ For the Saturday meal, she prepares a turkey and “a lot of food,” she said. “We do a full-on Thanksgiving spread here in Auburn. “ Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com