We think of Thanksgiving Day as one steeped in tradition, yet the food that appears on our table is much more than that. Year after year, the dishes presented offer familiar hardy flavors that warm our bellies, whether or not Grandma is doing the cooking. We gravitate toward these sturdy foods at the first hint of brisk air, before we even reach for a jacket. Who wants asparagus when root vegetables and colorful squash are plentiful? Would anyone serve raspberries in November? Of course not! It's the harvest of cranberries that lands on our plate, the Brussels sprouts that spill from the platter, the creamed onions that seem to call our name. This is no time for lightweights, in the kitchen or on the table. Bring on the cold and colder days to come -- and the robust foods that will sustain us. We will be ready, bolstered by friends and family members who gather among us. Let the season of celebrations begin, as they always do, in the kitchen.
LEE SVITAK DEAN