Spice Up Your Life with Holiday Cooking

Cooler weather, shorter days, and longer nights are upon us. The official holiday season will soon begin with family gatherings, a notable increase in travel, and a feast of homemade cooking in many households, sometimes with recipes passed down from older to younger generations to preserve family traditions and culture.

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in November and is a time of gathering with family and friends, often with joy, laughter, plenty of food, and a feeling of thankfulness for the year. Thanksgiving started many years ago when the settlers came to America. According to Britannica, “Americans generally believe that their Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people.” Many people have the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal of turkey, sides, bread, and a delectable dessert. Many others have a “traditional” Thanksgiving feast, while implementing cultural dishes in the meal. Still, some may opt for a simpler meal to be served. Meal planning is often a part of the Thanksgiving holiday, and stores are crowded with shoppers buying food items to complete their holiday menu.

There are many recipes found in cookbooks that can be used for the holidays or for everyday meals. Here’s a recipe for Deep Fried Turkey, opens a new window from Taste of Home.

1 turkey (10 to 12 pounds)
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
Oil for deep-fat frying

Prep time: 40 minutes plus chilling time     Cook time: 35 minutes plus standing time   Serves -16


In a small bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. With fingers, carefully loosen skin from turkey; rub salt mixture under skin, inside cavity and over outside of turkey. Tuck wings under turkey; tie drumsticks together. Refrigerate 18-24 hours.
Add oil to turkey deep fryer; preheat oil to 275°. Allow turkey to stand at room temperature while oil is preheating. Place turkey on deep fry rack, breast side down. Turn burner off; carefully lower turkey into oil. Turn burner on high and heat to 350°. Adjust heat to maintain 350°. Cook turkey until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reads 170°-175°, (about 35-45 minutes total time in fryer). Remove turkey from oil; tent with foil. Let stand 20 minutes before carving.

St. Tammany Parish Library has a great database called A to Z Food America, opens a new window that contains information about American food culture and classic recipes. You can browse by states, opens a new window, regions, opens a new window, and ethnic groups, opens a new window. There is a historical, opens a new window section with a variety of food related topics. Recipes in the database are organized by: appetizers, soups, salads, breads, side dishes, desserts, snacks, classic dishes, and special occasion foods.

Looking for more resources to plan your Thanksgiving meal? Here's a sample of some of our holiday cookbooks, check our branches and locations for availability:

Fine Cooking Thanksgiving Cookbook, opens a new window

Season's Greetings, opens a new window

The Pioneer Woman Cooks, opens a new window

Vegan Holiday Kitchen, opens a new window

Keto Gatherings, opens a new window

Celebrate Every Day, opens a new window

The Neelys' Celebration Cookbook, opens a new window

Fix-It and Forget-It Holiday Appetizers, Finger Foods, and Beverages, opens a new window


A to Z Food America https://www.atozfoodamerica.com/home.html, opens a new window

Britannica. Thanksgiving Day. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Thanksgiving-Day, opens a new window

Taste of Home. Deep Fried Turkey.https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/deep-fried-turkey/, opens a new window