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"A new-old Thanksgiving menuThe number of people seated around the table changes from year to year: Some years everyone makes it and we're bursting at the seams, other years we barely muster six or eight. The faces change from year to year, as well. As one generation passes on, we lose familiar, beloved countenances, but almost invariably there are two or three brand new wee smiles to fill the voids. And occasionally we have to be very careful to remember the correct name of the current friend so we don't accidentally call him/her by the other's.One thing never changes, however, no matter how we try, and that's the Thanksgiving dinner menu. There WILL be the huge roast turkey (never mind that John wants to try the fry the turkey in hot oil in a big pot method), and it WILL be accompanied by the traditional bread stuffing (forget the oyster cornbread stuffing I've come to love). There WILL be cranberry sauce, even though I've offered to make cranberry relish instead, and, of course, there WILL be candied sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, the broccoli casserole and a Waldorf salad. And we dare not even suggest doing away with the mashed potatoes and turkey giblet gravy. Then, when we're all so stuffed we can barely move, out WILL come the pumpkin pie and the Aunt Lulu's pie. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy every bit of it and I'm a true Capricorn traditionalist at heart, but just once I wish we could be very very brave and say something radical like How about having potato-spinach gratin this year (a recipe I recently rediscovered in an old file) and never mind the mashed with gravy? or Let's have pumpkin soup instead of pumpkin pie and have a lovely walnut cake for dessert instead? And Maybe a jicama orange salad rather than Waldorf again, and let's turn the cranberries into relish, or a beautiful cranberry salad mold? Well, I might get away with one, perhaps even two of those little changes, but I know there'll be grumbling, especially about pumpkin soup in place of pie, so we may have to do both of those if I want the soup. Which means the walnut cake would then replace the Aunt Lulu's pie, and that will really cause an uproar as Aunt Lulu's is probably the most requested recipe by two generations of younger family members. So, in all likelihood we'll end up with three desserts just so I can add the walnut cake, and then next year someone will say Who's bringing the walnut cake this year? You see the problem, I'm sure. It's quite all right with everyone concerned to add something new as long as nothing old disappears to make room. How I wish it worked the same way with people.RecipesSo, how about it? Are you, too, looking for something new or different to contribute to your Thanksgiving table? Any one of these could become the next must have at holiday time.Creamy Pumpkin Soup2 T. butter1 large onion, chopped (or about 1 cup)2 cans chicken broth1 can (1 lb.) solid pack pumpkin1 t. salt, or to taste1/4 t. each, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger1/8 t. pepper2 cups milk1 cup heavy creamCinnamon Croutons for garnish (recipe follows)1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the butter; add onion and sauté until tender (don't brown). Add 1 can of the broth, bring to boiling, cover, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into container of food processor or electric blender. Blend until mixture is smooth, then return to saucepan.2. Add remaining chicken broth, pumpkin, salt, pepper and spices. Stir until smooth. Bring to boiling, cover, lower heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often.3. Stir in the milk and cream and heat to just below boiling point (don't boil or it will separate). Adjust seasonings as necessary and serve immediately in warmed bowls with Cinnamon Croutons. Serves 8; double as necessary.4. Make Cinnamon Croutons: In a small bowl, blend 3 T. softened butter with 1 T. brown sugar and 1/4 t. cinnamon. Spread on 4 slices of whole grain bread and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet; bake in a preheated 400 degree oven 8-10 minutes or until toast is crisp and topping is bubbly. Cut into small triangles or squares. Make extra for the kids, as they will want these, soup or no soup.Walnut Cake with Rum Butter Frosting2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (note: cake flour, not all purpose, will make a finer cake)1 t. baking soda1 t. baking powder1/2 cup unsalted butter1/4 cup vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)1 1/4 cups sugar3 eggs2 t. grated orange rind3/4 cups sour cream1/4 cup milk1 cup finely chopped walnutsRum Butter Frosting and additional coarsely chopped walnuts1. Onto a piece of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.2. In a bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugar and eggs, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the orange rind.4. Combine the sour cream and milk. Stir flour mixture into the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing well after each addition. Stir in the nuts. Spoon batter into two 9-inch round cake pans, greased and lightly floured (or greased and lined with waxed paper). Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.6. Cool the layers in pans on racks for 10 minutes, then loosen around edges and turn out onto racks.7.Make Rum Butter Frosting: Beat 1/2 cup softened butter until creamy; gradually add 1 lb. of confectioners' sugar (sift it first to avoid lumps) and 3 T. rum and 1 T. milk, until mixture is smooth and of spreading consistency.8. Fill between layers and frost cake with the Rum Butter frosting and pat additional coarsely chopped walnuts around sides in an even layer. Sprinkle a few on top, or decorate with a few walnut halves.Cranberry Relish Begin with 1 pkg. (12 oz.) fresh cranberries. Place half in blender or food processor and pulse until evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with remaining berries. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 2 t. grated lemon rind and 1 T. lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight (or up to a week ahead). One to 2 hours before serving, add 1 cup diced green eating apples and 1 cup sliced celery. (If you add apples and cranberries too much ahead, they will not be crisp and this relish should be crisp and crunchy.) This is also excellent as an accompaniment to Cornish game hens or roast chicken or duck. "