Monday, November 24, 2008

I have a beef with canned food.

The following is a list of things that should come in cans:
Soup (including broth)
Fruit (including pie filling)
Spaghetti Os
Coconut, condensed, and evaporated milk

Canned food should be generally used for:
Quick and easy dinners
Dinner when you/somebody else is sick
Nuclear winters
Taco night
Countries/cities in which there is not a regular supply of fresh produce.
People who don't have running water.

Does Thanskgiving fit anywhere on that list? NO!

I understand that some people do not have the benefits of potluck Thanksgiving, in which four people spend Thursday slaving away in front of a hot stove, instead of just one person doing the work. But that is NO reason to make Thanksgiving dinner out of your bomb shelter! What is next, canned turkey? (I'm sure it exists.)

I guess there are some merits to a canned thanksgiving. It tastes the same, year after year, and man do you meet that RDA of sodium. Some things are not in season, I will grant you that. Some things are really hard to prepare from total scratch. But then consider why you are making that dish instead of something delicious and fresh. If you have young, screaming children - don't host Thanksgiving. Or at least have a potluck. Say you'll make a turkey, and everybody has to bring something. Worst case scenario? You end up eating turkey. Plus, all your lazy good-for-nothing relatives and friends learn how to bring food to an event, instead of just showing up to get fed. Lazy good-for-nothings, btw, are anyone over the age of 12. Yes. I get judgmental if you don't bring stuff to Thanksgiving, or don't let people bring stuff. The spirit of the holiday is to give thanks and celebrate togetherness, not to be a control freak. (I'm totally not being a control freak, no matter what Mark says. He has been put in charge of plenty of stuff.) Plus, young kids are great as little helpers - they can be put to work peeling potatoes, measuring stuff, stirring things, washing dishes, polishing silverware.

I don't think I've had canned yams. Ever. Yams should not come in a can. Mostly I wonder - what is so hard about yams? Peel the sweet potatoes, chop them, boil them, mash em up, cover them in marshmallows. You can do it in a slow cooker. You can prep them the night before. While I'm at it - potatoes should not come in a box unless they are being made into potato bread. Mashed potatoes can be made in just thirty minutes while the turkey sits. Put early arrivals to work. Buy redskins or thin-skin potatoes, wash, chop into quarters, boil for 15 minutes, then mash. Add salt, pepper and garlic.

Somethings can be made as a mixture of canned and fresh dishes.

I don't touch green bean casserole. I think it is probably the most disgusting idea anybody has ever come up with. I generally think this because it is based on canned green beans. Canned vegetables in general - wonder why they aren't on my list? THEY AREN'T FOOD!!! They are overcooked, oversalted, shadowy ghosts of what food USED TO BE. I wonder if maybe green bean casserole was made with fresh green beans (because, see list, canned soup is acceptable), would I be less nauseated by it? What if it was fresh green beans with a light Parmesan cream sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs on top?

Cranberry sauce? Okay. I will say that handmade cranberry sauce is delicious, but also a huge pain. Since cranberries are fruit, they do technically fall under the exception. But try, just try, mixing your canned cranberries with some mandarin oranges in the food processor. I can pretty much guarantee you that people who have never before liked cranberries will love them.

Stuffing? Use the breadcube mixtrue you can buy. Even buy the stovetop if you want. But add some stuff. Add, at the very least, fresh garlic, onions, and celery. This year, I'm thinking about adding fresh peppers.

You have three days until Thanksgiving. I challenge you to go out and replace one of your regular canned staples with something uncanned or unboxed.


  1. I have found the hole in your theory: canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. What would we do without them? (And don't say "that's a fruit!", smartypants, because...just don't.)

  2. Very true! Canned tomatoes and sauce go on the list.
    (Although it is for the same reason that canned fruit is on the list - tomatoes do not lose their taste, nor do they need to be overcooked to be canned, which is the problem with canned vegetables.)