Turkey Dinner Menus

turkeyFirst off, for those of you wondering why an original 1980s Cabbage Patch Kid is carving my mother’s Thanksgiving turkey…. well…. it’s a long story about a long time family friend who doesn’t live close enough to make it to family dinners.  She shows up in the form of a doll at many of our family gatherings.  She never hosts, but she does make herself helpful at these events, though she does usually drink more than her share of the wine.  We always post lots of pictures of social media so she can see how much fun she had.

Since hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner takes planning, I’m posting this a few days before Thanksgiving.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be making any of these recipes, but if I do, I’ll follow up with how they turned out.  The Quality Cook Book, by Dorothy Fitzgerald, was published in 1932 and is a guide to modern cooking and table service.  It is intended to be a modest cookbook, suited to “the simple household, in which one, or no, maid is employed.”

A properly set table.
The lighting in this picture from the book seems hard to work in… and a little creepy!

The Quality Cook Book does suggest the traditional roast turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, despite warning away from roasts for “guest dinners” earlier in the book, when outlining how a dinner party should best be run.  “A host should never carve at the table for any other than a family dinner, since the whole idea of a dinner for guests is to make the function go so smoothly that the mechanics of eating and service pass unnoticed; and it is unnecessary to state that no guest can fail to notice a host struggling with a chicken or a roast, no matter how dexterously he may handle his carving knife.  For this reason, roasts, which are better carved at the table, are reserved for family dinners.”  And that is just why Joanna is carving the turkey in the kitchen, in the picture above.


The last time I served a turkey, it wasn’t the undexterous carving that was the problem, it was the small matter of turkey grease spilling all over my oven and kitchen at the crucial moment that I needed to crank up the heat for the side dishes.  I (and dinner) survived that ordeal, and despite my best efforts, I didn’t even start a fire on the stove!

The Quality Cook Book offers 3 different menus for Turkey Dinners, ranging from fairly simple to quite elaborate.  Perhaps you’ll find one to suit your needs.

Menu 1

(Thanksgiving or Christmas)

Grapefruit Cocktail

Turkey with Dressing          Spinach          Cranberry Sauce

Hot Rolls

Lettuce and Cucumber Salad

Mince Tarts          Cheese          Coffee


Menu 2

(Old Fashioned Turkey Dinner)

Fruit Cocktail or Oysters

Chicken Soup          Olives          Celery          Crackers

Turkey with Dressing          Mashed White Potatoes          Squash

Candied Sweet Potatoes          Creamed Little Onions

Cranberry Sauce          Rolls          Jelly          Pickles

Pickled Peaches          Lettuce Salad

Mince Pie          Fig Cake          Cheese          Nuts          Coffee


Menu 3

Tomato Consommé           Celery

Turkey with Dressing          Mashed Potatoes          Gravy

Green Beans, or Broccoli with Butter Sauce

Rolls          Cranberry Jelly

Tangerine and Endive, or Orange and Cress Salad

Plum Pudding          Coffee

recipes for the dressings


While there’s nothing wrong with mince tarts, mince pie, or plum pudding, I hope I’m not the only one who noticed that pumpkin pie, the most delicious of all fall and winter desserts is missing.  The Quality Cook Book doesn’t even have a recipe for pumpkin pie!!  I can’t imagine a proper Thanksgiving dinner without a pumpkin pie.  Or two.  Having enough pumpkin pie to have leftovers for breakfast the next morning is important – it’s the Breakfast of Champions, and gets you through ’til the next long weekend!










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