Taking a dip into Thanksgiving cooking


We’re joining my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, and I realized yesterday that I hadn’t offered to bring anything. I called my mother.

“Why don’t I bring the sangria?” I said. “Can I do anything else?”

I held my breath hoping my mother would suggest that I bring store-bought rolls or something along these lines:

“I was thinking it would be nice to have your dip,” my mother said.

Hmm. Well, she had a point. It would go well with the sangria.

Besides, my parents are making the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rutabaga, peas, creamed onions, and apple-cranberry and pumpkin pies—and my mother’s pumpkin pies are exquisite. My sister and new brother-in-law are cooking the sauerkraut. And my parents rarely ask me to make a real contribution—not since the legendary year they asked me to bring the sweet potatoes—which is why I had thought it was safe to offer to bring something.

Apparently enough time has passed, however, that my mother has forgotten about the Year of the Sweet Potatoes. That was the Thanksgiving I tried a new recipe. The sweet potatoes took longer to cook than the turkey. The liquid on them was supposed to disappear, yet it refused to evaporate. I ended up using a turkey baster to remove it. I never figured out what I did wrong.

My sister-in-law kindly said she liked them—but never asked for the recipe.

Everyone else had seconds of rutabaga.

Maybe that was the year my mother learned that I am, in fact, a one-dip pony.

My dip makes frequent appearances at family gatherings. Years ago, when I was a teenager, I tried two different dip recipes, one using broccoli and one using crabmeat. Along the way, the two recipes melded into one, lost the crabmeat, and acquired a different—and more intense—array of spices.

The dip has never had a name. When pressed, I’ve called it Spicy Broccoli Dip. What a blah name. As I was making it today, I kept thinking of a comment Leo made the other day. We were talking about his aunt and uncle’s wedding.

“My favorite part,” he said, “was when Uncle George almost dropped Aunt Treasa on the floor.” I knew immediately what he meant. He was talking about the end of their first dance together when the groom dipped the bride and gave her a kiss.

So as I was making the dip today, I found myself thinking of that other dip—a much lovelier and more memorable one. And so I thought maybe we could give this nameless dip a name. After all, we have talked a few times since then about how the groom’s dipping the bride was supposed to be elegant rather than amusing. But Leo loved it. He would only have enjoyed it more if the dip had gone a bit lower.

“Mama,” he said, “when I get married, and I dance with my wife, I am going to drop her on the floor.”

Remind me to give my future daughter-in-law a head’s up before their wedding.

Meanwhile, this is what we’ll be nibbling on before the main event tomorrow. I hope you have some special family treats to look forward to tomorrow, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Dancing Groom’s Dip


3 Tbsp. canola oil

5-6 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 broccoli crowns, steamed and chopped (one package of frozen may be substituted)

1 Tbsp. rosemary leaves (crushed)

1     16 oz. Velveeta cheese (I used their jalapeno flavor this time, but I actually like to use the regular and the low-fat versions and throw some diced chiles in—but those could definitely be optional.)

1    4 oz. jar diced or sliced pimientos (drained)

3 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. Tabasco (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Steam and chop broccoli. Set aside.

Sauté the onions, celery, and rosemary in canola oil over medium heat until onions are translucent.

Lower heat and melt Velveeta in the pan with the onions and celery.

Remove pan from heat and add all other ingredients.

Pour dip into pan (a pie plate or an 8” by 8” square pan works well) and cook for 20 minutes. Stir through and cook for 10 more minutes.

Serve hot with tortilla chips or crackers.

Note: This dip is best made a day ahead and reheated. It can be reheated in the microwave (as it will probably be tomorrow when the turkey will be hogging the oven), but I think it tastes best if it’s baked through the day before. When reheating, cook until bubbling along the edges. Enjoy!


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