In this edition, I encourage you to express your appreciation to your cooks and hosts for your Thanksgiving gathering. It takes far more money, time, and effort to pull this off than most people think. Yes, the meal itself has become the primary centerpiece of the gathering but the real focus is the gift of making memories. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate your relationships with family and friends, and to express appreciation for blessings bestowed during the year. For many families, it is also a platform to carry on traditions and to make new ones.
Merriam-Webster definition of thanksgiving is: (1) the act of giving thanks, (2) a prayer expressing gratitude, (3) a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness. So, this year as you are going around the table expressing what you are grateful for, please add a special thank you to the cooks and hosts.
When I was a sophomore in High School, my parents went to Florida on a business trip over Thanksgiving. I did not want me or my siblings to do without the traditional meal, so I volunteered to cook. Using a Betty Crocker cookbook and several phone calls to my Grammie Lou, I began on the task of cooking. I quickly learned that the most difficult part was the final thirty minutes. I did not have enough hands to stir all of the pots! The act of coordinating all of the dishes to be ready at the same time required skill, timing and patience (of which I had little at this age). Just moments prior to the appointed time for dinner, Archer (our caregiver for the weekend), brother Bill and sister Dana arrived. They ate the dinner I had spent most of the day preparing within 15 minutes! Then I did most of the cleaning in the kitchen. I felt overworked and unappreciated!!! Sure they said thank you but it didn’t seem to be enough. To give them credit, we were just teenagers at the time, they meant well. As I explained the day’s events to my Mother when she returned with great animation and disappointment; she simply smiled and said something like “get used to it” and reminded me that until that year I had done much of the same. Yikes! I am sorry.
Our traditional holiday meal consists of turkey, ham (sometimes), mashed potatoes, gravy (my Aunt makes the best!), dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, rolls, deviled eggs, and black olives (which we place on our fingers like puppets much to my Father’s displeasure). Dessert is usually pie – pumpkin, pecan, apple or chocolate. Full disclosure – I am more focused on how the food tastes and less about the presentation. I have never put this garnish around my turkey as shown in this photo, I serve it already sliced. Although I can see my Grandmother’s eyes roll when I do this, I may serve meal on paper plates if it is a large group.
There has always been a great debate it is referred to as stuffing (generally used when it is cooked inside the bird) or dressing (generally used when cooked outside the bird)? I found this map from Butterball showing the regional preferences for the correct term. The truth is that on most tables there will be both stuffing and dressing based on amount needed for the number of guests. Often, two different versions are served. In the past few years, I have added raisins and apples to my dressing. Sometimes I make a smaller amount with sausage and lots of sage. In my unofficial poll, this item is one of the most popular dishes on the table.
In closing, I want to say a special thank you to my Grandmothers in Heaven, my Mother and my Aunt for teaching me how to cook. I look forward to passing down the art of mastering the Thanksgiving dinner to future generations.
What is your favorite food? Do you serve dressing or stuffing? What are your family traditions? What time do you normally eat? What are you most thankful for this year?
My favorite foods are dressing and green bean casserole. I am most thankful for faith, family, friends, good health and new opportunities. I am thankful for a great season for my beloved Dallas Cowboys! I love having a Cowboys game on Thanksgiving!!! When I host, the meal is finished by 3:15pm CT in time to watch the game! Go Cowboys!
I wish you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.
….. And life goes on.