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Turlock family mixes cuisines to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving dinner
Aydenian thanksgiving pic3
Tamar Aydenian cleans parsley, an important ingredient in many Armenian-Lebanese dishes - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Patricia Aydenian’s Meat and Rice Turkey Stuffing


2 cups long grain rice

½ pound ground beef

½ cup pine nuts

1 cup walnuts

1 cup almonds, soaked and peeled

1 ½ cups chestnuts, peeled

½ tablespoon cinnamon

½ tablespoon cayenne pepper

½ tablespoon nutmeg

½ tablespoon all spice

½ tablespoon salt

2 cups water

1 apple, peeled



Brown ground beef in pan; then add all nuts and spices and sauté. Add rice and two cups of water and let simmer until water is gone. Put mixture into uncooked turkey and top off with peeled apple. Cook turkey as directed. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving is a true American holiday. It is celebrated by everyone, regardless of religious affiliation or ethnic background. And many times it is the first American holiday embraced by emigrants. This is true for the Aydenian family.

Both Daniel Aydenian, who was born and raised in Lebanon, and his wife Patricia Aydenian, who was born and raised in Columbia, have fond memories of celebrating Thanksgiving along with other Americans in their adopted country. And just like every other American family, the Aydenians have kept their cultures alive through unique dishes that are served alongside the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

“One year we had a traditional ‘American’ Thanksgiving dinner, but then (our daughters) asked ‘Where’s the tabbouleh?’” Patricia said.

Tabbouleh — a salad made up of parsley, tomatoes, cracked wheat and cucumbers — is a traditional Armenian-Lebanese dish served at any special dinner. In the Aydenian household tabbouleh is served along with cheese beureks (filo pastry filled with cheese and parsley), Lebanese potato salad (potatoes, olive oil, parsley and green onions), stuffed kufte (ground beef meatballs), hommus (ground chickpeas with garlic and sesame seeds), baba ghanoush (broiled eggplant smashed with garlic, lemon and sesame seeds and served with olive oil on top) and for dessert — baklava (layered pastry filled with walnuts and cinnamon). And, of course, turkey.

“We always have turkey,” Patricia said.

While all three of Daniel and Patricia’s daughters — Sevan, Tamar and Marianne — were born and raised in America they look forward to eating Armenian-Lebanese dishes alongside traditional Thanksgiving faire such as sweet potatoes.

“If I could eat cheese beurek every day, I would,” Sevan said.

In fact the Aydenians were so used to their traditional Thanksgiving dinner, they forgot that others may eat something different.

“A few years ago we had guests and I didn’t realize how important gravy was to the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner until they asked, ‘Where’s the gravy?’” Patricia said.

“Now I keep a can of gravy on hand, just in case,” she said laughing.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.