BigOven Food Fight: Fam Only vs. Including Friends & Randos


There are always at least one or two “strays” at our Thanksgiving table. They usually come with some long-winded explanation about where my mother found them – (“did you know Harry is actually cousin Janice’s neighbor’s best friend?”) They tentatively step inside, unaware of the boisterous, energy-filled (pre-turkey, of course) Thanksgiving experience that will ensue that evening.

For my mother, Thanksgiving is a time of gathering. She takes this as a challenge of sorts, gathering family, friends and strays alike, filling them up with rum-spiked cider, succulent turkey, a medley of sides and a severe food coma it may take them days to come out of.

Who joins your family for Thanksgiving? Do you strive for a mix of family, friends and whatever stragglers everyone brings along? The more the merrier or sacred family time?

BigOven Food Fight: Play it Safe or Join the Dark Side? White Meat vs. Dark Meat


Ahh turkey meat. The source of Thanksgiving brawls year after year.

Fans of pristine white meat argue that it’s much healthier and frankly, not gross like that slimy dark meat. What part of the turkey did that dark piece come from anyway? Breasts are always better, than say, those inferior thighs.

Dark meat lovers vow that dark meat is a million times more flavorful and moist. White meat is so dry… so very dry! In order to make white meat palatable you need to smother it in gravy, and then the healthy factor goes straight down the drain.

Of course white meat devotees and dark meat buffs are almost always feasting at different homes on Thanksgiving, resulting in either everyone bickering over the breasts or everybody throwing punches for the dark pieces. Maybe you should check with your neighbors and do a meat swop if you’re on a different turkey team. And if you’re the one carving the bird, go ahead and slip some of your favorite turkey parts into your pocket. (No one will know it was you, except maybe the dog.)

BigOven Food Fight: Sit-down vs. Buffet Style


Food placement. A seemingly minor detail that’s actually a big deal.

Perhaps you enjoy sitting down with your family and friends all at the same time and passing around various platters and bowls to one another, helping each other out by scooping for the young ones, holding heavy dishes for the members lacking upper body strength, and informing your senile great-aunt what food is in front of her. This route requires some prior planning and coordination. Clockwise passing or counterclockwise? You take the gravy boat from me as you simultaneously pass him the potato bowl while he pushes the turkey her way… and so on.

For the more clumsy families, a buffet might be the way to go. All the dishes remain stationary (unless your buffet table gives out) and all food items are placed in an order that works for everyone. Gravy last! The only downside is that hungry, often hangry, people have to wait in line, and the line order has to be determined based on what? Seniority? Favorites? Whoever is most hungry? This once again gets complicated and there is bound to be some resentment when your sister discovers that her favorite Jell-O salad is gone before her turn arrives.

BigOven Food Fight: Post Feast – Food Coma vs. “Fun” Activity


As much as we’d like Thanksgiving Day to revolve entirely around food, our bellies can only withstand so much roasted turkey. Thus, the fraction of time not spent stuffing our faces is dedicated towards something else. But what is this something else?

Did you grow up in a family of ardent runners? Is your younger brother constantly pestering you to bust open the container of Legos? If so, you might find yourself in a friendly (or unnecessarily competitive) game of kickball or Monopoly following Thanksgiving dinner.

But what if punting a rubber playground ball isn’t your family’s cup of tea? Well, the only other logical alternative is surrendering to the couch, a wildly popular post-dinner activity (especially with Grandma and Grandpa) . Embracing this food coma involves awkwardly drifting in-and-out of consciousness, only to awake six hours later having produced a massive snow angel in the couch cushions.

Or maybe your family is like most, and finds a balance between the two: enthusiastically discussing activities to do later, only to succumb to the black hole that is the living room sofa.

Either way, the question remains: How do you spend your downtime on Thanksgiving Day?

BigOven Food Fight: Giving Thanks vs. Saying Grace

11.19 Giving Thanks vs Prayer


On Thanksgiving, millions of Americans from all backgrounds and religions will come together, possibly watch a lot of football and definitely eat a lot of food. But before the festivities begin, tell us, what’s your pre-meal ritual of choice – giving thanks or saying grace?

Families who invite people of many faiths and beliefs into their homes may choose to give thanks. Going around the table, everyone will get to hear charming words of gratitude, stories that make us smile and fond memories. Sounds so lovely, right? It totally is while the first few in-laws, aunts and uncles, grandparents and even strangers say their piece. But as these words of thanks continue, stomachs may start to rumble, elbow fights may ensue at the kids table and the dog may cause some mischief because he’s not going to wait any longer for turkey scraps.

For other families, saying grace is the way to go. Grace can be led by the host or the kids, seated or standing, with hands held and heads bowed or hands clasped in prayer. Some guests remember the words, or perhaps grace is “freestyled” in your home. Grace is a time to pause before the feast and share a prayer for the year’s blessings – plus there’s the added benefit of being able to eat right away! Unless the host is exceptionally long-winded. You might just have to settle for cold turkey.





BigOven Food Fight: Round Two Recap

Assigned Seating 11.13

Kid Table vs. Grown-Up Table – Who Really Has More Fun?

The breakdown:

  • 55% want to socialize with the grown-ups
  • 45% would rather hang with the kids


A majority prefers to converse at the grown-up table while politely nibbling small bites of turkey and sipping on fine wine. Translation: a majority prefers to gossip at the grown-up table while inhaling turkey and gulping bottles of bottom shelf wine.

Your Mama’s Green Bean Casserole vs. Roasted Almond Green Beans

The breakdown:

  • 54% roasted green beans forever
  • 46% casserole fans


At this rate, casseroles will become extinct in approximately 87 years. Take a trip to the museum and you’ll find a green bean casserole next to Mr. Tyrannosaurus rex.

Telly – On or Not?

The breakdown:

  • 51% the telly must be on
  • 49% leave that thing off


Just over half of families and friends out there can be considered a bit awkward and prefer not to interact with others on Thanksgiving. Can we blame you?

The Canned Stuffed vs. Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The breakdown:

  • 57% believe cranberry sauce must be made from scratch
  • 43% think sauce from the can is perfectly fine


Save the can for another day (or never) because homemade cranberry sauce clearly is the way to go. Yes it might be a bit more work, but tacking on 15 minutes to your 19 hour cooking schedule really won’t make much of a difference.

Gorge Early or Build Some Anticipation?

The breakdown:

  • 58% all about linnertime
  • 42% all about dinnertime


If you’re going to eat a lot, you might as well start as early as possible. Linner lovers can eat, take a nap, go back for seconds, take another nap, go back for thirds, go to bed, and then get up for a midnight snack. Sounds like the perfect game plan to maximize turkey consumption.

Creamy & Plain vs. Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes

The breakdown:

  • 54% love garlicky herbiness
  • 46% prefer creamy and plain


Haven’t you heard? Herbs add a ton of fresh flavor and garlic has health benefits galore. We know the real reason you chose garlic herb mashed potatoes though… to ward off your friend’s weird cousin Harry with your gnarly garlic breath. Props.

Assigned Seating or Free-for-All?

The breakdown:

  • 78% want to choose their seat
  • 22% are fine leaving it up to the host


Why would you even consider allowing the host to choose your seat? Of course you’ll end up wedged in a corner where the only means of escape involve crawling under the table and maneuvering around swinging legs and smelly feet… and the drooling dog who is still hoping to get some of those Brussels sprouts.

Host Keeps the Goodies or Shares the Leftover Bounty?

The breakdown:

  • 75% Thanksgiving is all about sharing
  • 25% the host deserves all the leftovers


Clearly 25% of the people who answered this question will be hosting Thanksgiving this year and 75% will be guests.

Cook Does it All or Passes Off the Cleaning Duty?

The breakdown:

  • 91% the cook should take a rest
  • 9% let the host take care of everything


Cooks, you better be resting after dinner! Go ahead and let your drunk aunt clean the fine china. You definitely deserve some couch time after stressing out for the last 24 hours.

Squash – Overload or Keep It Coming?

The breakdown:

  • 60% can’t get enough
  • 40% sick of squash


Don’t worry squash, you’re still popular.

Roast Turkey vs. Fried Fowl

The breakdown:

  • 84% roasted turkey
  • 16% fried fowl


Frying a large bird is indeed a scary thing. You’re definitely better off roasting your turkey in the oven… unless you find using your oven scary too. In that case, we recommend someone else cook your turkey. (You can scoop the cranberry sauce out of a can.)

Round two of our BigOven Food Fight is settled. Check back on our blog every day for a fun, new topic. We still want to hear from you!

BigOven Food Fight: Mac & Cheese – Gimme or Pass?

11.18 Mac n Cheese

It’s creamy. It’s comforting. It’s cheesy. It’s mac n cheese! A childhood favorite, mac n cheese is hard for just about anyone to resist. (If you’re lactose intolerant… please do resist and dig into some dairy-free mac instead.) The main question here revolves around mac n cheese’s place on the Thanksgiving table. Is it a must or absolutely unwelcome?

If you love it, then you should be able to enjoy it whenever you want, even on Thanksgiving. Your birthday only occurs once a year, and you need another holiday (yes, your birthday is considered a holiday) to dedicate to gorging on a golden brown hot cheesy pasta bake. Who cares about turkey anyway?

But… maybe it is all about that turkey. Thanksgiving should be about tradition. The Pilgrims and Indians probably didn’t enjoy a serving or three of cheesy baked pasta. Wait… did they even serve turkey back then? Hmmm.

Before you traditionalists start to panic, let’s bring our focus back to mac n cheese. Will this decadent dish appear on your Thanksgiving table?

BigOven Food Fight: Roast Turkey vs. Fried Fowl

Roast Turkey vs Fried Fowl 11.17

Much of Thanksgiving stress starts with the turkey itself. What size? Fresh or frozen? Organic or conventional? And most importantly, how are you going to cook the thing?

A tried and true method for preparing your Thanksgiving bird is to simply roast it in the oven. All you have to do is give it a good ole butter rub down then season with salt and pepper. Tent with foil, pop that sucker in the oven and you’re good to go. Just don’t forget it’s in there! Smokey Bear is an unwanted guest, particularly on this day.

If you’re feeling up to a challenge, you could consider deep frying your turkey in a vat of boiling oil. (Frying novices, please don’t get any ideas.) A crispy skin with a moist (and cooked) interior is what we’re going for here.

Vegetarians, don’t despair! Here’s a tasty tofurkey recipe for you.


BigOven Food Fight: Squash – Overload or Keep it Coming?

11.16 Squash

Let’s talk about squash. With over ten common varieties of winter squash, the options are endless. Soups, stews, baked sides, roasted mains – you name it, you can probably cook it with squash. With the colder weather comes a more limited selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, but squash is here, summer and winter, rain or shine. He’s a steady friend, there in whatever capacity we need him.

The thing is, he’s gotten a bit trendy lately. Suddenly he’s snuck his way into every soup, salad and side dish. Everywhere we look, there he is, dressed up in a new outfit, looking a whole lot more flashy than he used to. At first, it was a good look for him. But it’s November and we miss avocados and tomatoes and we’re starting to wonder if we’re ready to squash the squash.

Tell us, are you?

BigOven Food Fight: Cook Does it All or Passes Off the Cleaning Duty?

Cooking vs Cleaning 11.15

There’s little debate that preparing the Thanksgiving feast takes a fierce and not-easily-intimidated cook. After all, Thanksgiving is primarily about food (okay, and the pilgrims, I guess). We look forward to this meal – when else do we roast an entire bird or make homemade gravy?

Coupling high expectations with coordinating cooking times, oven space and guests’ dietary restrictions would make many a cook’s head spin. By the end of the meal, the cook may be ready for an extended period of (well-deserved) couch time. Time to pass off that cleaning duty – let others scrub while you veg out and chat with guests.

For the ultimate host(ess), perhaps Thanksgiving duties extend beyond the meal. After all, there are so many dishes and it’s easier for the person who knows where they all go to head off the cleaning.