Up North Blog

The Three F’s of Thanksgiving: Food, Family & Football 

The holiday season is here! In my family the holidays are about everyone coming together and eating hearty feasts that would put the table seen in a  Medieval castle to shame. My dad is the best cook I know and he would spend hours preparing everything. My favorite? A few years ago he began smoking or Thanksgiving turkey in  the Weber smoker. It is wonderfully smokey and wonderfully great. It has a great flavor but is still juicy because he brines it the night before.  

Food. I have so many great memories of food on Thanksgiving. It makes my stomach rumble just thinking about them. My mom would make this amazing salad. It features goat cheese, dried cherries, and Cherry Republic’s Great Hall Vinaigrette. It was subtly sweet and super enticing. I would fill up on the salad course sometimes. Another dish that was a regular at my house was cherry pie using Mamma Mary’s Cherry Crisp Bundle. The way the ingredients combined to make the best pie a person.. As my dad would smoke the turkey he would make a cherry sausage stuffing that is to-die-for. He would buy the Cherry Summer Sausage, smoked to perfection  then cubed by my father and inserted into the blend for stuffing. Lastly, as everyone would arrive my mom would put out The Full Board Charcuterie Gift Box. It is full of items that will will keep everyone satisfied until the meal starts I have listed all the recipes below.

Family. My family has hosted Thanksgiving my entire life.  We have had anywhere from 10 to 28 people, including grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. My parents have always included friends that had no family to celebrate with.  Everyone brings a dish. We have the traditional turkey dinner with all the “fixins”, turkey, cranberry, potatoes, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, rolls, and several types of pie, a carb lover’s dream.  But, Thanksgiving isn’t about the food, I enjoy seeing everyone and having conversations about all sorts of things.  I get to hear different family stories about my parents and grandparents. Growing up in south Florida I saw many families who did not have large extended families to celebrate the holidays.  I was really fortunate, we all had each other for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There was one person specifically that started coming over on Thanksgiving and he is just a great person. He was my father’s former student, Michael. He went on to get a job at the University of Southern California making videos for the School of Arts and Sciences. He was one of many wonderful people who would be seated with us at this festive occasion. 

Football. I have been a Michigan Wolverines football fan for my whole life, even though I was raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  The first song I  ever heard is “Hail to the Victors’”, the Michigan fight song. My dad, a Michigan grad, played it in the car on my way home from the hospital days after I was born.  That said, for most of my life Michigan football has been, well, very average. Until recently. There would always be suspense about the game with Ohio State, which is always played on Thanksgiving weekend.  I distinctly remember years where Michigan was so bad my dad, the biggest U of M fan there is, could not watch the game. As a child I didn’t understand, but now I don’t blame him. Your Alma Mater, the name you wear across your chest with pride is not performing well. It can be embarrassing receiving scrutiny from your friends. Worse yet, because my dad is a teacher, he would have to hear about it from his high school students! Needless to say, we LOVE watching the Wolverines now.  

The holidays are such a great time for families and friends to come together and be with people who you love. You can bring people together with great food, football, and family members. Thanksgiving is the perfect transition between fall and winter. Stay up to date with my posts about all things cherry and Northern Michigan.  


The salad: 

  • 3 heads artisan lettuce 
  • 1/4 c dried cherries, chopped 
  • 1/4 c toasted sunflower seeds 
  • 1/2 c goat cheese, crumbled 
  • Topped with vinaigrette 

The Stuffing:   

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick) 
  • 6 celery stalks, finely diced 
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and toasted (10 cups) 
  • 1 cup dried cherries 
  • ¾ pound cherry sausage—casings removed, cooked, and crumbled 
  • ¾ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 14 ½-ounce cans chicken broth