Sauté, simmer, and spatchcock—OER Project teachers share their favorite holiday foods

Sauté, simmer, and spatchcock—OER Project teachers share their favorite holiday foods

By the OER Project Team

The OER Project Teacher Community usually reveals a lot about what our fantastic teachers are putting out there—great lesson ideas, engaging games, and edu-hacks that serve students well. But this month we’re learning what you serve yourselves. With many holiday feasts around the corner, teacher tastebuds took center stage as we asked you to share your favorites.

While most posts were about the US holiday known as Thanksgiving (do NOT get Wednesday Addams started), we were not without international input as well. Rachel Riendeau tempted us with something her French Canadian father-in-law brings to the family table each year—tourtière. OK, it’s pork pie, but doesn’t that sound fancy in French? Wish we were there to pig out with you, Rachel.

A photograph of a tortiere pie with a slice missing.Tourtière, a Canadian food speciality, © MarcQuebec / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Both Brian Moore and Curt Greeley shared their innovative methods of turkey preparation, and they agreed smoking the bird was best. Warning: One image below shows a spatchcocking scene.

But here in the OER community, our majority demographic seems to be educators with a sweet tooth. From Southerner Rikki Vincent’s gooey and glistening candied yams, to the marshmallow-smothered sweet potato casserole prepared by Jessica Lindenmeier’s mother-in-law, to Kimberly Milligan’s loving recollection of her grandmother’s pumpkin torte—comfort food has advanced to the five-star level.

But it wasn’t all home-cooked goodness. Our dessert lovers also suggested some twists on the Thanksgiving menu so blasphemous that they make pumpkin spice martinis sound old school. Turkey ice cream, Henry Moyers? Candy corns in the flavors of every savory dish on the plate, Erik Christensen? We’re not saying we wouldn’t gobble it all up in an instant, but still. Shame on you both for making us want to.

Photo of ice cream scoops and a Brach's candy bag.

Todd Nussen had our stomachs rumbling when he mentioned his grandmother’s cranberry compote. We’re hoping Todd will post the recipe soon, but in the meantime, we chatted with him about all things Thanksgiving and OER Project-related.

A bowl of cranberry sauce.Grandma's cranberry sauce, © skhoward / E+ / Getty Images

OER Project: Share a little about your teaching career. How long have you been teaching, and how long have you been teaching OER Project courses? Share one highlight of your teaching career to date.

Todd Nussen: I have been teaching social studies for the past 16 years at Oceanside High School. I started teaching BHP eight years ago and WHP 1750 three years ago. I'm a National Board Certified teacher and an adjunct professor of education at Molloy College.

When I started at Oceanside, one of the many events that impressed me was our school district's Thanksgiving [tradition]. Through donations from our students and staff, the school is able to provide hundreds of baskets of food with everything necessary for a complete Thanksgiving meal (frozen turkey included!) to families in need in our community. It is a perfect example of what we want to teach our students—putting our differences aside and coming together to help those in need. 

OP: What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

TN: Other than the festive meal, my favorite Thanksgiving tradition is the Macy's parade. When I was younger, my dad used to take me to the parade on Thursday morning or to see the floats being blown up the night before. Now we just watch it on TV, but when my children are a little older, I'm looking forward to continuing the tradition and bringing them to see it all live.

OP: Can you share the origin story behind your grandmother's cranberry compote?

TN: It's a pretty standard recipe, but it's delicious. As a child, I remember thinking that we were getting a bit of dessert during the meal. It was special, because unlike other side dishes, the only time I ever had the cranberry compote was on Thanksgiving. My grandmother passed away several years ago now, but the dish is something that reminds me of her and has become just one of the many ways in which her memory lives on. I've tried making it myself, but only with strict supervision by my wife.  

OP: Do you teach any historical lessons that incorporate Thanksgiving?

TN: Although it's not really part of the curriculum, I'll usually do some fun Thanksgiving claim testing the Wednesday before we're off to celebrate, just to be festive and incorporate some BHP and WHP thinking skills. 

OP: Are there any words of wisdom you want to share with teachers at this time?

TN: To those in the United States celebrating Thanksgiving next week—enjoy the time with your friends and family. For all my BHP/WHP colleagues [I offer] the words of Bill and Ted: "Be excellent to each other!" 

Header image: The Peasant Wedding by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Flemish, circa 1525 - 1569), oil on panel, 1567. From the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. © GraphicaArtis/Getty Images.