Thanksgiving Meal (Source: Unsplash)
Monday, November 25, 2019 Charleston County Library

CHARLESTON, S.C. - We have two days to go before Thanksgiving and you've decided now is a good time to figure out how to make this year's Flavortown feast. 

However, without some serious help at this point in the game, the only stop you're making is in Struggle Plate City. Good thing we're here to help make your Thanksgiving meal one to remember, from soup to nuts! We've put together a list of books full of recipes to help you put together appatizers, the turkey, sides, dessert, and even some vegan options for the non-meat eaters in your family. 

But first, let's talk about what not to make. Right now several recipes are spreading across the internet, and make no mistake about it: they are disgusting. Do not make those. Do not spend your time on those. You cannot tweak these recipes and turn them into something people will like. 

First up, 7-Up Salad Cake: Look, adding mayonnaise, Cool Whip, and 7-Up together is the start of something unholy. It was probably used a the base for a curse in that Sabrina show on Netflix. Don't do that! 

Second, Potato Salad Cake: If anything at any time calls for hot dogs to be drawn and quartered and then placed in a ring around something, walk away. Especially on a holiday. This is Thanksgiving, not Fear Factor. 

Then there's the Cola Salad Cake: You're probably thinking, "Oh! I love Coca-Cola Cake! Mr. Library Guy, you're wrong! It's delicious!" And the truth is, that cake you're thinking about *is* delicious. But this culinary abomination has pineapples and nuts and jiggles when you get too close. If you make this, your grandma will write you out of the will. 

Somebody created these Pumpkin Spice Hot Dogs: Again with the hot dogs?! Let's keep this simple. Anything that calls for coring hot dogs and piping it with pumpkin is not something you need to be making, especially if you're then going to put it in a hot dog bun. Covering it with whipped cream and pumpkin spice will not help. But hey, this could cure your PSL addiction! Silver linings, right? 

And then there's Fried Milk: Just... why... what did milk ever do to you?! Make your macaroni and cheese creamy? Make a great smoothie? Make whipped cream for that pumpkin pie? And yet, there go people turning milk into coated jiggly bricks. If you like cinnamon and suger in your milk that much, just buy a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The Teeter has it for $4.69.

Now, let's talk about the books that will help you avoid these pitfalls and make your Thanksgiving dinner the star of the holidays, and so delicious the family will still be talking about it next year. 

Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well by Sam Sifton

From one of America's finest food writers, the former restaurant critic for The New York Times, comes a definitive, timeless guide to Thanksgiving dinner--preparing it, surviving it, and pulling it off in style. 

From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Thanksgiving poses more--and more vexing--problems for the home cook than any other holiday. In this smartly written, beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled book, Sam Sifton, the Times's resident Thanksgiving expert, delivers a message of great comfort and solace: There is no need for fear. You can cook a great meal on Thanksgiving. You can have a great time. With simple, fool-proof recipes for classic Thanksgiving staples, as well as new takes on old standbys, this book will show you that the fourth Thursday of November does not have to be a day of kitchen stress and family drama, of dry stuffing and sad, cratered pies. You can make a better turkey than anyone has ever served you in your life, and you can serve it with gravy that is not lumpy or bland but a salty balm, rich in flavor, that transforms all it touches. 

Here are recipes for exciting side dishes and robust pies and festive cocktails, instructions for setting the table and setting the mood, as well as cooking techniques and menu ideas that will serve you all year long, whenever you are throwing a big party. Written for novice and experienced cooks alike, Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well is your guide to making Thanksgiving the best holiday of the year. It is not fantasy. If you prepare, it will happen. And this book will show you how. 

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen and Wyatt Worcel

An inspiring resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers: Platters and Boards is the guide to entertaining with effortless style. Author Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organized by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy-to-prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings, and notes on preparation and presentation.

A visual cornucopia of a cookbook with 40 contemporary arrangements presented with gorgeous photography, easy recipes, and helpful tips including:
Tips on portioning
Guides to picking surfaces and vessels
Recommendations for pairing complementary textures and flavors
A handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions from holiday parties to baby showers

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley

Locally sourced, seasonal, "clean" ingredients and nose-to-tail cooking are nothing new to Sean Sherman, the Oglala Lakota chef and founder of The Sioux Chef. In his first cookbook, Sherman shares his approach to creating boldly-seasoned foods that are vibrant, healthful, at once elegant and easy. Sherman dispels outdated notions of Native American fare -- no fry bread or Indian tacos here -- and no European staples such as wheat flour, dairy products, sugar, and domestic pork and beef. The Sioux Chef's healthful plates embrace venison and rabbit, river and lake trout, duck and quail, wild turkey, blueberries, sage, sumac, timpsula or wild turnip, plums, purslane, and abundant wildflowers. Contemporary and authentic, his dishes feature cedar braised bison, griddled wild rice cakes, amaranth crackers with smoked white bean paste, three sisters salad, deviled duck eggs, smoked turkey soup, dried meats, roasted corn sorbet, and hazelnut-maple bites. The work is a delectable introduction to modern indigenous cuisine of the Dakota and Minnesota territories, with a vision and approach to food that travels well beyond those borders.

The Neelys' Celebration Cookbook: Down Home Meals for Every Occasion by Pat and Gina Neely

Pat and Gina Neely, the beloved husband-and-wife team and authors of the New York Times best seller Down Home with the Neelys, are all about lettin' the good times roll. It takes family, friends, and ample good food, and in their new book, they share their recipes and secrets for entertaining year-round, dishing up new spins on seasonal classics, and suggesting occasions to celebrate that most of us haven't thought of ourselves. Along with menus for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter Sunday, and every known holiday in between, here are all the fixings for a year of down home celebrating, 120 recipes including Hoppin' John Soup and Deep-fried Cornish Game Hens for New Year's Day; Smothered Pork Chops and Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes for "Welcome Home, Baby"; One-handed Turkey Burgers and Mint Tea for "Spring Cleaning." The Neelys believe that life should be celebrated, holiday or not. With this mouth-watering collection of recipes you have everything you need to Neely-tize your table far beyond the holiday season. 

Appetites by Anthony Bourdain with Laurie Woolever

Anthony Bourdain was a man of many appetites. And for many years, first as a chef, later as a world-traveling chronicler of food and culture on his CNN series "Parts Unknown," he has made a profession of understanding the appetites of others. Before his death in 2018, he had transitioned into a man who reveled in cooking for friends and family. 

Appetites, his first cookbook in more than ten years, boils down forty-plus years of professional cooking and globe-trotting to a tight repertoire of personal favorites--dishes that everyone should (at least in Mr. Bourdain's opinion) know how to cook. Once the supposed "bad boy" of cooking, Mr. Bourdain became the father of a little girl--a role he embraced with enthusiasm. After years of traveling more than 200 days a year, he spent his later years entertaining at home. Years of prep lists and the hyper-organization necessary for a restaurant kitchen, however, have caused him, in his words, to have "morphed into a psychotic, anally retentive, bad-tempered Ina Garten."

The result is a home-cooking, home-entertaining cookbook like no other, with personal favorites from his own kitchen and from his travels, translated into an effective battle plan that will help you terrify your guests with your breathtaking efficiency. 

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Gone are the days of stressing over how to please family and friends with different dietary needs. Bursting with knock-your-socks-off, mind-bogglingly tasty vegan recipes for Cinnamon Apple Crepes, Cheeseburger Pizza, Biscuits and Gravy, Churro Biscotti, and so much more, The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook will make everyone at your table happy-even meat eaters and the gluten challenged.

Isa provides everything you need to get your party started, from finger food and appetizers to casseroles, roasts, and dozens of special sides. Then comes a throng of cakes, cookies, cobblers, loaves, pies, and frozen treats to make you feel like the best dang vegan cook in the world.