Thanksgiving, Tsimmes, and Ritz Cracker Cake

I am a fairly unthankful person.

I don’t wake up in the morning with gratitude for the sun, the coming day, the people in my life. I don’t have a “gratitude journal.” I don’t say things like, “everything happens for a reason,” or even (my mother’s favourite line) “It could be worse.”

But when The Scrabble Player organized a Thanksgiving weekend at her cottage, I was grateful. The Librarian and I, with whom I have spent perhaps a dozen Thanksgivings and Christmases, were experiencing a bit of a rift.

I was grateful for the wide blue sky, and the puffy Simpsons-esque clouds on the way there. Country roads were framed by orange and red leaves, like something out of those jigsaw puzzles we did as kids.

I was ridiculously grateful for Thanksgiving dinner that I didn’t have to make (or at least I didn’t have to make all of it!): an organic turkey from The Croquet Expert’s sister’s farm, roasted mashed potatoes, wild rice/oyster stuffing, incredible gravy, and tsimmes by yours truly.

I was even grateful for The Square Dancer’s Ritz Cracker Cake (recipe coming soon). I watched him frost that cake with Betty Crocker French Vanilla frosting from a container, as reverently and carefully as though it was a gateau from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

There’s nothing like an old, mature friendship. In a poem I can’t seem to locate, Adrienne Rich writes about ‘the film archive of friends’. I’ve known The Scrabble Player for many years, which allows us a nuanced silliness, and, a layer beneath that, a deep appreciation for each others’ different qualities. I’ve known The Librarian for even longer. Someone once said about us: You. Finish. Each. Others’. Sentences.

Seems to me friendships are a lot like books, with chapters and plot lines and rising and falling action. You can’t always know what the next chapter holds. You just have faith that the narrative will get you there.


This is a Jewish side dish traditionally served at Passover. I’ve discovered it goes great with turkey so I make it at Thanksgiving and Christmas too. Too many times, The Anti-Poverty Organizer has had to dictate this recipe over the phone because I am often traveling and without my recipe journal on these occasions. I have finally archived it here.It is originally from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, although not the original version I have.

Part 1:
Grease an 8″ square baking pan and mix the ingredients below directly in the pan:

2 lg sweet potatoes, chopped
2 lg carrots, chopped
1 lg apple, chopped
1 lg onion, chopped
20 pitted prunes, sliced
Juice 1 lemon
1 tspn salt
1/2 tspn cinn
2/3 c fresh squeezed orange juice

Part 2: Topping:
Mix the topping in a separate bowl (reserving the butter) and then place it over the mixture in the baking pan. Then arrange the slices of butter over top.

1 sweet potato, grated
2 beaten eggs
1/2 c matzo meal, wheat germ or bread crumbs
1/2 tspn salt
3 tblspns butter, cold, in thin slices

Bake, covered, for 1 hour in a 350 degree oven, then uncovered, for another hour.

Puttin’ in the Ritz Cake

1 box plain Ritz crackers
1 pkg Skor chips
1 can Eagle condensed milk
1 container Betty Crocker French Vanilla frosting

Grease a 9”x9” cake pan.
Crush the crackers with a rolling pin while they’re still in the bag.
Reserve 1 tablespoon of chips. Mix remaining chips, cracker crumbs and milk in the pan.
Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. Cool and frost. Sprinkle with reserved chips.


  1. I’m thankful that Sheryl included this post in TasteTO’s blog-a-log!!

    These Tsimmes sound fabulous – as does your whole Thanksgiving weekend – I especially like the photo of the rain falling across the lake.

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