Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Means Pie

by Caren Crane

This is my favorite time of year. Autumn is in full swing, the leaves are off the trees, there is a chill in the air and my favorite holiday is just around the corner. No, not Christmas (though that is fast on our heels): Thanksgiving.

Many people don't understand why or how this could be. Thanksgiving, they ask, is that really your favorite? It is! Thanksgiving is the intersection of many of my favorite things in life: family, great food, thankful hearts and PIE. Oh yes, my friends, it is the holiday of pie.

My favorite is old-fashioned pumpkin pie (secret ingredient: molasses). Not store bought, which are always pale imitations of pumpkin pie. Not sweet potato pie, which you often see in North Carolina (the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the USA). Sweet potato pie is a whole other animal. I am often in charge of baking and bringing the pumpkin pie, which is my kids' favorite as well as mine. I have been given some serious, well-intentioned advice from my mother about how the pie should be. With all due respect, I take some of this advice and ignore other bits. The pie always gets gone so it must not be too bad.

Thanksgiving is more than pumpkin pie, though. You will recall my rave from last year about cranberry chutney, which entered the family lexicon of 'traditional Thanksgiving foods' about ten years ago. I make that each year and it is highly anticipated. I have also experimented with a number of cheesecakes, which are always well-received. But the foods I look forward to most are the ones other family members make.

My mother's cornbread dressing (heavy on the sage), angel biscuits, cinnamon apples, green bean casserole and orange product (ask the kids, it's a cream cheese/Jell-o thing). My older sister's turkey (brined in salt water and roasted herbs for days before baking) and marinated shrimp. My younger sister's roasted root vegetables, scalloped potatoes and corn casserole. My brother's barbecue (he smokes it himself and makes his own sauce). I was trying to think of my oldest sister's signature dish, but she's really more a follower of the nuts, cheese and wine school (always the best and most sinful of everything). My aunt and cousin usually turn up with their own gourmet additions just to round out the best meal of the year.

Before and after dinner are congenial times of conversation, games and more laughter than some folks experience in a year. Okay, sometimes the games get a little cut throat (especially Scrabble), but we don't talk about that. *ahem* The worst part is when it's over and we have to finally admit defeat and toddle off to bed. This year, Thanksgiving is late. It heightens the anticipation and gives me more time to get the ingredients bought and food prepped.

I am taking my last remaining day of vacation the Friday after the holiday, because Saturday is my beloved mother's birthday. I cannot imagine a more wonderful end to a marvelous holiday weekend than celebrating my mother's birth and life. If I have a spare minute, I will also get to rip into my TBR pile and Aunt Cindy's fabulous The Wild Sight. It may end up tainted with pie stains, Aunty!

So, does anyone else adore Thanksgiving as much as I do? What is your favorite Thanksgiving food? Any happy holiday food memories you would like to share?


Joan said...

Thanksgiving Hamster?


Cheryl Brooks said...


Joan said...

Caren, your Thanksgiving sounds fabulous.

I, alas, have become a Thanksgiving orphan. My BFF and her family are traveling your way to her brother's for the holiday and she won't be home to have me like last year :-(

I plan to fix a itty bitty turkey, some dressing (Bread dressing is my favorite. JUST the right amount of pepper and sage) and drink ALL the gravy.

I'll probably still be writing to the deadline for my last GH entry.

As to Thanksgiving desserts it's apple pie, baby...all the way!

Now, off to teach the GR the moves to "Dancing Queen" from Mamma Mia. Yes, I went to a touring company of the production tonight and am STILL humming at midnight :P

PJ said...

Hey Joanie! Can't wait to see the GR's moves after his Mamma Joanie dancin' session! :)

jo robertson said...

WTG, Joanie!

Yummy, Caren, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving too.

Thanksgiving is all about giving and remembering what you have to be thankful for. My favorite part is when we go around the table (while, yes, the food is cooling) and say what we're thankful for.

And double yummy, on the pumpkin pie. It's my favorite and I make my own by cutting the pumpkin down by about a third so the filling won't have too strong a pumpkin flavor. And lots and lots of Cool Whip, which my family thinks is way better than real whipping cream. My family is so bourgeoise!

My family's favorite meal item is the home-made rolls. Every year I think I'll save myself some work and skip them or buy them, but NO, the protests go up like wildfire! Shannon says she really only likes the turkey and my rolls. No wonder she's so skinny!

Joan said...

Hey Joanie! Can't wait to see the GR's moves after his Mamma Joanie dancin' session! :)

Ah, PJ...he's reminding me a bit of you at M&M....though he keeps clucking "Take a Chance on Me"

PJ said...

I love Thanksgiving! I always start the holiday by watching Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. This year I'm having dinner at my nephew's house. He loves to cook and probably won't let me bring anything. Friday the dogs and I will drive to Charlotte to spend the weekend with my family of the heart. M's (the wife) parents are coming from Tennessee on Friday and we'll have a delayed Thanksgiving dinner at their house on Saturday with turkey and all the trimmings. We always have pecan pie, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. I bring the pecan pie and cheesecake. M makes a wonderful chilled cranberry salad that I adore. I could probably eat the entire bowl by myself. :) And I have to have sweet potato casserole. It's not Thanksgiving unless I have sweet potatos.

Caren, Happy Birthday to your mom!

PJ said...

Ah, PJ...he's reminding me a bit of you at M&M....though he keeps clucking "Take a Chance on Me"


limecello said...

I love love love Thanksgiving. It was also so much fun being able to come home for Thanksgiving from college -the tiny reprieve before finals.
I love food, the get togethers, turkey, and yes. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin cake. Pumpkin rolls. Love me some pumpkin pie and real whipped cream :D

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh Caren, I, too, adore Thanksgiving, but not nearly as much as my oldest daughter. She could do without Christmas more than she could ever give up Thanksgiving.

I make Oyster stuffing every year. Now before y'all grown, let me explain. You CAN'T really taste the oyseters. They just give a smokey flavor to the stuffing. My daughter just called me last night and said, "You ARE making oyster stuffing, right?" hehehe...of course.

I make the pumpkin secret? Double all the measurements for the spices!

My second daughter doesn't like pumpkin pie. (A sacrilidge, I know...but it's a texture thing with her). So she brings the apple pie...homemade of course. AND last year she made it extra special by making a CARMEL apple pie. Oh. My. God! To die for!! She's under orders to bring it again this year!

So now, oldest daughter must bring a dish. So I gave her permission to create a sweet potato dish. Anything she wants, experiment away.

Wow, just over a week and the feasting will begin!

Suzanne Welsh said...

ooooooooooo and I forgot. Every year I make a cranberry jello salad. My mom started making it when I was a kid. It's the one dish I make for me. Apples, cranberries, celery and nuts all in a black forest cherry jello. mmmmmmm

Then there's gravy. Can one have Thanksgiving without homemade gravy? At my house? NO. In fact, one year I didn't make quite enough and geesh did I hear about it for like 6 months!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Joanie said: I, alas, have become a Thanksgiving orphan. My BFF and her family are traveling your way to her brother's for the holiday and she won't be home to have me like last year :-(

Joanie, I'm off on Wed-Fri night. Then Sat and Sun. Come on down. I've got a guest room and an extra chair at the table.

Helen said...

Well done Joan I can't wait to see him dance

Great post Caren and I want to come for Thanksgiving it sounds wonderful all that fabulous food and being with family. I love it when we all get together that usually happens at Christmas time here and I cook traditional fruit Chrissy cakes and boiled fruit Chrissy puddings lots of ham turkey chicken fresh roasted vegies and yes home made gravy.
This Christmas is going to be really special with my two new grandsons and I have already bought them matching Santa outfits to wear.

Have Fun

Margay said...

Hey, Caren! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. I just love everything about it and all of the memories it inspires about growing up. We always had great Thanksgiving dinners at my house - my mother put out an amazing spread of food that it would take a week to eat. Besides the turkey, I always loved the squash, turnip, and pies -pumpkin and apple are my favorite. Oh, and let's not forget the egg nogg and apple cider.

Caren Crane said...

Joanie, way to catch the bird! Not the Thanksgiving bird, of course, but our own Golden Rooster. *g* And no, Foanna, the GR would not be lovely in a creamy gravy.

Joan, it makes me so sad that you are a Thanksgiving orphan. I can't imagine the holiday without my large, rambunctious family. My poor husband is an orphan now (since 2003), so I'm glad I have such an excess of family.

You could hitch a ride to NC with your bff and come to my Mama's in Charlotte, Joan! Heaven knows, we have plenty of extras every year. All of us have big hearts and tend to invite whoever we know who's at loose ends. As long as they bring food or wine, they are more than welcome! We don't worry about chairs, either. Somehow, we all find a place to perch. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Cheryl, you cheated! You must share your favorite part of the holiday feasting. Turkey? Ham? Yummy dessert?

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Jo, my family would shudder in collective horror at skimping on the filling! As a matter of fact, we have started using the BIG can of pumpkin (the 29-oz one) to make two deep dish pies, rather than using the 14.5-oz one to make two regular size. Clan Crane cannot get enough pumpkiny goodness!

I may be the only person on the planet who doesn't care for Cool Whip or any other sort of whipped cream. I don't know why, but to me it ruins a dessert. Changes both the texture and the flavor. I know, I'm strange!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and Jo, we feel the same way about Mama's angel biscuits. They are not really a biscuit, because they have yeast in them and have to rise, but the texture is more like a biscuit than a roll. Heavenly! There would be an insurrection if she tried to get by without making them.

Caren Crane said...

JT, you went to see 'Mamma Mia' on stage? I'm so jealous! Please teach the GR to sing. I'm sure he's at least as good as Pierce Brosnan. *g*

Caren Crane said...

PJ, we used to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade every year. I think because we were insanely bored as little kids, waiting for all the luscious food to be ready.

Now we send all the kids to the den to watch it and stay out of our hair. I'm sure that was my mother's ploy all along!

Caren Crane said...

PJ, how could I fail to mention the pecan pie? That and pumpkin are the favorites. I was toying with the idea of making a pumpkin cheesecake this year, as well. I often make one and tend to change up the flavor from year to year. The pumpkin was a hit a few years back. My only complaint is that it's never pumpkiny enough.

Caren Crane said...

Suz, I'm with you on extra spices. We never use "pumpkin pie spice" because we like different measurements than the standard. I tend to use more cloves and less nutmeg. I don't know why, but nutmeg doesn't taste that good to me!

Caren Crane said...

Suz, our nod to Jello is what my family calls "orange product". It has cream cheese, mandarin oranges and other stuff in it. It's really good, but has only ever been called "orange product". We find that really funny!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, you would adore Thanksgiving in the USA. It's even more food-oriented than Christmas, believe it or not. We really do up the food at Thanksgiving. Christmas we tend to have a big brunch rather than a big dinner. So Thanksgiving is the star!

Caren Crane said...

Mmm. Gravy. Suz, turkey gravy is THE BEST. My poor kids never get gravy, so they love Thanksgiving!

Caren Crane said...

Margay, it sounds wonderful! I never really ate turnips until my aunt made them one Thanksgiving. They were heavenly!

Margay said...

Caren, as great as the food is, I think my true favorite part of Thanksgiving is being with family. And with mine, you never know what's going to happen! Last year, for instance, we were at my sister's house and somehow or another, the subject of Finding Nemo came up. My sister has never seen the movie, so my daughters and I just started reciting our favorite lines and the next thing you know, I'm telling her, "Well, now you don't even need to watch it because we just about recited the whole thing!" I just love those little moments.

PJ said...

Caren, I'll wave to you as I pass through town on Friday. I'll be spending the weekend in Huntersville.

(((((Joanie))))) I'm so sorry you're a Thanksgiving orphan. Wish you lived closer!

Joan said...

Oh, thanks ya'll for the offers. Just knowing that I have dear friends who care makes it easier.

I'll be glad to accept FedEx deliveries of leftovers LOL

As to pecans I my mouth is watering for those Christmas praline/roasted nuts they sell in the malls? They have taken to selling those at our Arts Center where I went last night for MM. My stomach's growling right now at the aroman alone!

Might go get some of those..hmmmmm

(Oh,my gosh...the GR just came out in a yellow spandex suit with silver platforms. My eyes! My eyes!)

jo robertson said...

LOL, Crane, you would not fit in at our Thanksgiving dinner then! But we'd invite you anyway, tee hee. Your mama's angel biscuits sound scrumptious.

Oh, and I forgot to say that I make the BEST EVER pumpkin bread (she says modestly) and I don't skimp on the pumpkin there!

Gannon Carr said...

JT, you went to see 'Mamma Mia' on stage? I'm so jealous! Please teach the GR to sing. I'm sure he's at least as good as Pierce Brosnan. *g*

LMAO!! Poor Pierce--I just couldn't help laughing..and cringing.

I love Thanksgiving food! I always make a double layer pumpkin pie--it has a layer of cream cheese! My kids would die if I didn't make that. I also make a sweet potato casserole/souffle that has enough fat and calories to last a week. But, oh, is it good!

My sister moved near me this summer, so she and my two nieces will be with us for Thanksgiving this year. Yay!

Joan said...

LMAO!! Poor Pierce--I just couldn't help laughing..and cringing.

I know, Gannon. It was SO refreshing to listen to a Sam who could not only sing but sing it GOOD!

Your pumpkin pie sounds scrumptious. I'm getting a baking urge....

Louisa Cornell said...

I'll be right there with you, Joanie, as I have to work on Thanksgiving Day and can't make it to my brother and SIL's for Thanksgiving. It is their turn this year and wow, can my SIL cook!! I will be wandering around in Wal-Mart where there will be more associates there than customers. That's how it was last year. I really HATE Wal-Mart. Did I mention that?

My Mom makes the most amazing cornbread stuffing with pecans and all sorts of other good stuff in it! I could make a meal out of just her stuffing. Well, and her peas. There will be fresh garden black-eyed peas. My Mom has the two cornucopia freezers in her basement. She puts up vegetables all year round so we can raid the freezer when we need to. Those peas will have a little bit of ham and and touch of Vidalia onions in them. YUM!

My other SIL will make an Italian creme dream cake. Mom will make chocolate pie from my MawMaw's recipe (all from scratch including the lightest flakiest crust ever and the fluffiest meringue!)

Okay, I am getting depressed just thinking about it.

I WILL be home for Christmas and there will be Lane Cake and Japanese Fruit Cake, Potato chip cookies, homemade fudge, peanut butter balls and DIVINITY!!

The funniest Thanksgiving we ever had was at my youngest brother's the first time he tried to fry a turkey. One frozen turkey dropped into oil that we kept saying was TOO HOT results in a poultry launch over the double wide trailer, six dogs racing to retrieve the aforementioned missile and my brother trying to fight them off like we WANTED the turkey after that. I have never laughed so hard in my life!!! My SIL's family were in attendance and her nephew leaned over at one point and said "Please tell me Nana (they all call my Mom Nana) made her own turkey and dressing just in case." She did and a giant ham as well. Good thing. There might have been bloodshed!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Margay, isn't that the truth? Those special moments that come out of nowhere mean so much. Really, the camraderie of my family is the most special part of the holiday (any holiday) for me. My family are the funniest people I know! I am third of five (like the Borg, you know) kids and with spouses and offspring, we make quite a rowdy crew.

We always get to the point of trying to pull together plates and utensils and Mama inevitably asks, "Now, how many of us are there?" Whoever is standing around (usually me and a sister or two) will try to do a tally off the top of our heads. It's usually around 18 - 25 with just the immediate family. I can only imagine the holidays at Jo Mama's house!

Caren Crane said...

PJ, be sure to wave! I'll be in Matthews. My best friend from college lives in Huntersville, though, so if you get that shivery feeling on the back of your neck, it's probably me passing through on my way to her house. *g*

Isn't that a superstition? If a Bandita passes close to your house, you'll get a shiver down your spine? ;-)

Caren Crane said...

Joanie, WHERE did the GR find the spandex?! Not in your closet, surely? I thought you only had the blue with the sequins and matching boa. *g* Anyway, I would have gone for the gold with yellow...

Caren Crane said...

Jo, pumpkin bread is one of my most favorite things ever. Matter of fact, I sent my husband to the store yesterday to get two 14.5 oz cans of pumpkin. The youngest needed one for the pumpkin crunch she was making for the youth group's Turkey Bowl (which starts in 10 minutes). The second I was going to use for a recipe of my own.

He came back with one 29-oz can. THAT is a man for you. He assumed (but didn't verify) that if I wanted two 14.5-oz cans that a single 29-oz can was the same thing. So now I have half a can of pumpkin in the fridge that needs to be used today. Your mention of pumpkin bread has inspired me!

Caren Crane said...

Gannon, wasn't Pierce ever-so-slightly cringe-worthy? He is like me: he can carry a tune, but doesn't have a lovely voice. I am exactly the same way. Perfect pitch, but no one really wants to hear me sing. *g*

I want to hear more about this two-layer pumpkin pie. Do you bake the cream cheese layer to set it, then add the pumpkin on top and bake some more? Inquiring minds want to know!

And how AWESOME that your sister moved close to you! My closest sister is 3 hours away, which makes me very sad. For years I hoped someone - anyone - would move closer to us. Nope. They stayed planted in the Charlotte area, except for my next older sister who lives north of Philadelphia. *sigh* That's why we run off for every major holiday!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, if you start baking Christmas cookies or scones, you have my address. Actually, I am a sucker for baked goods of any sort that end up in my mailbox. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, I'm so sorry you'll be working on Thanksgiving. That really is torturous. I tell you, I resent having to use a vacation day for the day AFTER Thanksgiving. I've always worked for companies that closed for the two days and the weekend, but banks can't do that. *sigh*

I'm sure one of your lovely relatives will pack up goodies for you and bring them by. If it's anything like my family's get-together (and I'm sure it is!) there will be plenty left over and the Tupperware will be handed to each person as they leave. "You can't leave without taking some of the [insert food name here]. I know it's your favorite!"

Too funny about the frozen turkey. Somehow, the word has been SLOW to get around that you have to thaw the turkey before frying. At least he didn't have his fryer on the deck, where it would have burned the house down! I worked for years for Underwriters Laboratories and we refused at first to List turkey fryers. Here is a video showing why:

Watch the video. It may save a loved one's life!

Kate Carlisle said...

Thanks a lot, Caren! My mouth is watering!!

I love everything but my favorite Thanksgiving food is definitely anything made by someone else! LOL

But as far as pie is concerned, there really isn't any other choice but pumpkin. 'Nuf said. :-)

Joanie! Congrats on snagging the GR!! But keep him away from the liquor cabinet, will ya??

Caren Crane said...

By the way, none of the turkeys in those videos were frozen, they were all fresh. Adding a frozen turkey causes an explosion as Louisa noted. The risk of burns and injury is just astronomical with those things. If you or someone you love uses one, please exercise extreme caution and do not let anyone overfill the unit. Okay, I'm getting off my safety engineer soapbox now. *g*

Janga said...

We'll have angel biscuits too and pies. No pumpkin for us though. My family loves pecan pie and lemon chess pie best. My favorite part of the meal will be Senator Russell's sweet potatoes.

Better even than the food this Thanksgiving will be the new grand. She's only five weeks old, and the family will be lining up to hold her. The next youngest is three and a half, so we have been without a baby for a while.

Caren Crane said...

Kate, you keep saying you're not a cook but somehow I think you have a hidden cooking gene. Or have you taken all your kitchen creativity and funneled it into drinks? *g* I seem to recall you mentioning a few very festive-sounding beverages last holiday season!

Joan, the GR must stay away from the liquor cabinet! He's already wearing spandex and platforms, can you imagine what he would do if he were liquored up?!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Janga, what a treat a new baby is! That little one will be passed around the entire day. *sigh* In my family, we are all done having kids, so we're waiting for the next generation to get cranked up.

Actually, I have a cousin who is five years younger than I am and his wife is having her second baby. That should be IT for all my cousins, too. Of course, my son is the oldest grandchild and already 22, so it could be any year now!

Mm...chess pie. I love lemon chess pie! You have to tell use about Senator Russell's sweet potatoes. We have lots of curious cooks here!

Deb Marlowe said...

Caren, you just put me in the mood for Thanksgiving! I needed that!

My fave dish from home was my Grandma's noodles, which were cooked in broth from the Turkey and had to be stirred constantly for about 45 minutes. Man, I'm drooling just thinking of them!

My fave transplant dish is Sweet Potato Casserole. Yum. Tastes like pie, but we sneak it in as a side dish.

I've never done the fried turkey, but one year we were in the midst of laying hardwood floors over the holiday and it was just our family for the big day. I put a turkey breast in the crock pot with rosemary and onions and left it while I carried wood and followed orders. It was sooooo tender and good!

And I can attest that Caren's cranberry chutney is to die for!

Caren Crane said...

Deb, was it your job to help stir the noodles? I'll bet they were wonderful!

I do love sweet potato casserole, too. I hope Janga gives us the skinny on Senator Russell's sweet potatoes. *g* My darling husband perfected his own mashed sweet potato recipe that uses Splenda instead of sugar and TONS of cinnamon. That man is a cinnamon fanatic!

Deb, did you not have sweet potato casserole growing up? I can't imagine a Thanksgiving without it! We were all SURE the pilgrims had sweet potatoes. *g*

Thank you for your kind words about the cranberry chutney. I just realized I'm going to have to make it soon. I suppose I won't have it at the HCRW Christmas party this year, though...

Joan said...

Joanie, WHERE did the GR find the spandex?!

Hell if I know. I mean, that hunky actor that played Sky never wore spandex...well, the "diving" suit that um, highlighed his SIX PACK to perfection. It's real too...I know because...well, I wanted something different for a souvenier than a program.

{whispers} What do you mean you're name isn't really Sky? Sing that song again....

Joan, the GR must stay away from the liquor cabinet! He's already wearing spandex and platforms, can you imagine what he would do if he were liquored up?!

Too late, he's already into the reprise and SOMEHOW he found a disco ball!!!!

PJ said...

PJ, be sure to wave! I'll be in Matthews.

If the girls have dance Saturday morning you'll probably be able to see me wave. Their studio is in Mint Hill.

My best friend from college lives in Huntersville, though, so if you get that shivery feeling on the back of your neck, it's probably me passing through on my way to her house. *g*

Thanks for the warning! *g*

Christie Kelley said...

Caren, every thing sounds fantastic. I love Thanksgiving whether it's just my husband and the boys or we go to NY with my rather large family. This is we're heading north for a dinner with about 22 people. I'm not sure where my mom is going to put them all.

Onto the good stuff--pies! I love pumpkin. But I agree it has to be homemade not from a store. I also make a pear cranberry pie that is out of this world. It works well for Christmas time too.

All this talk of pie is making me hungry!

Donna MacMeans said...

Caren - Invite me to your house. My mouth is watering.

My favorite pie is my pecan pie. The secret ingrediant? Jack Daniels. Heck, you'll want to soak up that filling with a straw!

I love all the homemade brought foods as well, but my favorite part of Thanksgiving? The days of eating afterwards without having to cook. Oh yeah...

Caren Crane said...

Uh...Joan? Anything you need to tell us about AFTER the Mamma Mia last night? Like, why you ended up with a spandex souvenir?

And I'm sure you don't know where the GR got the disco ball, either, eh? Hey, put down that ouzo and listen to me, young lady!

Things are OUT OF HAND in the Lair!

Caren Crane said...

PJ, I may see you yet! Where my mother lives, the other side of the road from her house is Mint Hill. I'll press my nose against the glass looking for you!

Caren Crane said...

Christie, it sounds like y'all are having a par-tay! We don't worry much about where to put people. Somehow it always works out. Of course, in NC it's often warm enough for people to sit out on the deck if they want to. I'm not sure that will work in NY!

Ooh, you'll have to share your cranberry-pear pie recipe with me. That one sounds fantastic! I can imagine the tangy cranberries and sweet pears mingling together in a flaky crust. Mmmm.....

Caren Crane said...

Oh, my, Donna. Jack Daniels in the pecan pie? That's practically Southern of you! I'm from TN originally, the home of Jack Daniels, so I've had JD in all manner of food since I was a young child. It's astonishing how many things you can sneak a little Jack into. *g* Of course, I'm not much of a whiskey drinker, but the taste is so familiar, it's like a trip down memory lane. I remember having JD-flavored hard candy!

Caren Crane said...

Donna, I'm also with you on the leftovers. Drag 'em out and heat 'em up, baby!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, JT, cool catch on the rooster! But don't show him too many pictures of roasted turkeys! He might start getting a bit nervous...

Caren, what an interesting post. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Oz. Is it something to do with the Pilgrims? Sounds like a fun holiday and full of love and great memories for all of you.

Louisa, laughed at the frozen turkey story. Especially the bit about your nephew so desperately trying to get the turkey back so you could all eat it. Eeeeeek!

Joan said...

Things are OUT OF HAND in the Lair!

So when you're near me
Darling can't you hear me
The love you gave me
Nothing else can save me
When you're gone
How can even I try to go on?
When you're gone
Though I try, how can I carry on?

Janga said...

As requested:

This dish has been a standard at our family gatherings for decades. I don't know where the recipe originated, but it is in every cookbook I own that was produced by local church and civic groups, so it's a popular dish here. The name connects it to the late senator from Georgia, but I'm unsure of what the connection is. One of my nephews skips dessert and eats a second helping of this instead. I double the recipe for our standard group of 15-18.

Senator Russell's Sweet Potato Casserole

3 1/2 cups sweet potatoes (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar (The recipe calls for a full cup, but one cup makes it very sweet, so you may want to cut to ¾ or even ½ cup.)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 stick butter

Bake potatoes at 450 degrees F until done, about 45 minutes. Peel potatoes and mash. ( You can use canned potatoes, drained and mashed, but the result is not as good.) Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and butter to potatoes and mix. Pour mixture into 8x8 baking dish.

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 c flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

Mix topping with fork, sprinkle over potatoes, then bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Joan.

I love Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole is my favorite dish. I like it with extra french fried onions. I love Stove Top stuffing, too. Apple pie with Reddi-wip or vanilla ice cream is my dessert of choice.

Caren Crane said...

Anna, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA on the fourth Thursday of each November. It commemorates a festival of thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims who came over and landed at Plymouth Rock in December, 1620 (they were by no means the first English settlers here!). They were unprepared and about half of them died before spring.

With the help of friendly native Americans in the area, they were able to plant crops that spring and harvested abundant crops that fall. They held a three-day festival of prayer and thanksgiving to give God the glory for their survival. We have celebrated some sort of Thanksgiving feast since then, but it didn't catch on at a national level until about 1863, with Lincoln's famous Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Now, we say prayers of thanks and eat WAY too much food every fourth Thursday.

Caren Crane said...

Well, every fourth Thursday in NOVEMBER, anyway. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Joanie, that's one of my favorite ABBA songs! Didn't you think Meryl Streep did a great job in the movie with 'The Winner Takes It All'? I whispered to my daughters, "I've always thought that was the saddest song about divorce ever."

They both frowned at me and said, "It's about divorce?" Oh, these kids today. When I was a girl and that song was popular, everybody was getting divorced!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, thanks, Caren! Now I know!

Caren Crane said...

Ooh, Janga, those sound wonderful! Of course, how could they not be with a pile of brown sugar and pecans on top? *g*

I may have to whip up a batch of those this year. Or maybe tomorrow night...

Thank you for sharing!

Caren Crane said...

Jane, isn't that green bean casserole the best? I could eat those french-fried onions right out of the can!

But STOVE TOP?! You have given me, Joan, PJ and Louisa (and possibly others) three kinds of apoplexy with that pronouncement. Darling Jane, you must come South one of these years and let us retrain your tastebuds. You will shun Stove Top evermore once you've had the heaven that is cornbread dressing.

You start with buttermilk cornbread (which you bake in an iron skillet in the oven, like God intended, at least a day ahead). You crumble it and mix it with luscious things like onion and sage (and lots of it) and diced chicken (or turkey). You soak the whole shebang in chicken broth and let it sit overnight, then bake it the next day. There's more to it than that, but the main thing is the cornbread and the sage. Preferably sage that you grew in the backyard and dried yourself, but store bought is good, too.

*sigh* It really is the best thing ever. Maybe one of these years we should have Thanksgiving in July for the far-flung Banditas. What do you say, Anna?

Caren Crane said...

By the way, the pumpkin crunch my youngest made was voted Best Dessert at the Turkey Bowl. I have no idea what that means in the youth group, but she got the nod anyway. She was thrilled, because boys have won the past two years. A triumph for womankind!

Joan said...

Hang onto your giblets, Caren.

I like Stove Top stuffing.

Now, not for an OFFICIAL holiday but it serves its purpose.

And...cornbread stuffing is my second favorite. I was raised with bread stuffing. Half stale bread and half croutons seasoned with sage,onion, celery salt and pepper.

Maybe it's an Irish thing? Naw, then we'd use stale soda bread.

BTW, the GR seems to have finally run out of steam. He's crumpled in the corner with a ice pack on his head. There is a wild look still in his eye though from the inability to get "Mamma Mia" out of his head.

{A maze of feathers whirls past using a hairdryer as a microphone}

Ack! Stop GR! I didn't mean to say the MM word!

Louisa Cornell said...

Stove Top stuffing for Thanksgiving!! SACRILEGE!!! THUNK! That is the sound of 200 years plus of Southern women falling over in dismay!

And yes, you MUST cook it in an iron skillet as God intended. Not a new skillet either. It has to be a cured skillet. My Mom has my MawMaw's skillet and I can promise you that when the time comes there will be no fights over who gets Mom's jewelry or Holiday Barbie collection of antique Hall china. The fight will be over who gets that skillet!

Claudia Dain said...

I LOVE pumpkin pie. It's my birthday cake every year, that's how much I love it.

Caren, your cranberry chutney is the reason cranberries were created.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Joan, for shame! Bread stuffing? You Kentucky types - I knew you were only faux-Southern!

As to the GR, after you let him hit the hooch, you couldn't expect him to forego the opportunity for a little drunk karaoke, could you? Let him wear himself out. Whoever claims in at midnight can deal with the hangover. Just make sure he gives the spandex back!

PJ said...

Stove Top stuffing for Thanksgiving!! SACRILEGE!!! THUNK! That is the sound of 200 years plus of Southern women falling over in dismay!

LOL! I couldn't have said it better!

And yes, you MUST cook it in an iron skillet as God intended.

There's another way to cook cornbread? Must be that fake stuff that comes in a box. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, honey, you are so right! My mother got her favorite skillet from a lady who lived in her parents' neighborhood. That woman had had the skillet for at least 40 years. Mama knew what a gift she was getting, believe me!

I started out with brand-spanking new cast iron Lodge skillets and got on it with seasoning. I slathered them in Crisco and fired up the oven and baked the mess out of them. I would keep them in there and they would cook every time the oven was on. I've only had mine for 18 years, but it looks OLD. I gave one of my lovingly seasoned skillets to my best friend from college. I'm not sure she knew quite what she was getting, but she learned! *g*

My money's on you to get the skillet, Louisa. I think it's clear who is most motivated.

Caren Crane said...

Claudia, who knew? NOW I know what to get you for your birthday! I make fabulous pumpkin pie. It may not be as wonderful as your darling husband's, but I'll bet it's close. *eg*

Thank you for the raves on the chutney. It's a delight to the senses to make, every time. Please note: Claudia loves the chutney even though it contains one of her least favorite things - raisins! Yes, this chutney even makes raisins taste good. Hm. I have to make that next week, too...

Caren Crane said...

PJ, don't get me started on people who think Jiffy corn muffins are cornbread! My younger sister actually likes those things, but I always thought they were horrible. The only thing worse was school cornbread, which must have been mostly flour (not cornmeal) and was sweet. Oh, it was wretched.

Speaking of cornbread, I made chili and cornbread for dinner tonight. Man, was that good on a cold night! It will be good for lunch tomorrow, too. *g*

Joan said...

only faux-Southern!

I love you dearly, girl but thems fightin words!

My Hush Puppy can beat up your Hush Puppy!

Firing up the ancestral iron skillet.....

Suzanne Welsh said...

LOL, I'm just sort of chuckling at y'all!

Grew up eating White cornbread cooked in my mama's cured iron skillet, (which I told my sister who doesn't cook it's mine some day!).

Then I had kids and they liked the Jiffy corn muffins, coz they taste like desert! (Got loads of home made beef vegetable soup down them with that!)

Then moved to Texas and they all think corn bread is yellow and sweet. But the other day I added corn to the batter and cheddar cheese. Oh. My. God! Gotta try it, I'm just tellin ya!

Caren Crane said...

Joanie, when you let go of the white bread stuffing, we'll hold a special Council meeting to see if you can be granted real Southern status. *g* On a more serious note, though, I grew up in TN and we didn't consider Kentucky southern except by reputation. I guess it's one of those regional prejudices?

Caren Crane said...

Suz, I would love the corn and cheese! I am a huge fan of jalapeno cornbread in all its incarnations. I usually use white cornmeal, but love yellow cornmeal, too. As long as it's not sweet, I'm down with it!

My husband and children enjoy sweet cornbread (as does at least one of my siblings), but it's not something I ever enjoyed. Of course, I don't bake it in my kitchen so if they want it they go to Boston Market. *g*