We went out for a walk before the next rain storm arrived and thought about the Thanksgivings in our past. I remember the grammar school days of paper turkeys out of brown craft paper and black and white pilgrim hats. We always had Thanksgiving at my parents house and occasionally my half brother or sister’s family join us. The meal was almost always the same.
Roast Turkey with a bread stuffing in the bird was the centerpiece of the meal. The day before my mother would do the initial prep work for the stuffing. We always had stuffing made of ground bread instead of the bread cubes. She would take a loaf of white bread and toast the slices in the oven until they were light brown. We had a metal food grinder that would clamp on the counters. We would break up the bread and grind it the food grinder for a course breadcrumb . The food grinder looked a lot like the one on this page.
Next she would take the turkey neck, wings along with vegetables and make broth. She would also saute onions and celery which she would mix with the breadcrumbs, moisten with broth and add spices. I remember sage was very important. We always had to taste it to see if it had enough sage or salt. She would then add an egg which would give it a rich flavor and then stuff it into the turkey. We never worried about food poisoning. She would start the turkey usually about 9 am so we could eat in the late afternoon.
We never had the famous green bean casserole at Thanksgiving. I don’t think I really had it until I left home. I don’t know why we didn’t especially since it was common in our house to have casseroles made with cream of mushroom soup. Our sides were usually lots of mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, a baked yam for my Dad, a green salad, a fruit salad and jelled cranberry sauce. We might have also had canned green beans.
Our fruit salad was interesting. My mother made a cooked dressing. I never got the exact recipe for the salad dressing but I remember it had pineapple juice, flour and egg. It was actually quite good. The fruit was always the same, apple, banana and pineapple with small marshmallows.
For dessert, it was always pumpkin pie. We would usually make three and they didn’t last long. Our recipe was from a cookbook that my mother got when she married her first husband back in the ’30’s. She would vary a little from the recipe because she didn’t like as much ginger and cloves but otherwise always the same. Not too far from the recipe on the Libby Pumpkin Pie can – pumpkin, evaporated milk, brown sugar, eggs and spices.
Today, my Thanksgiving is different. G does not eat meat but I wanted to have Turkey. I’m certain it was a subconscious thing reading all the recipes for Thanksgiving. So instead I took a boned Turkey breast and thigh, pounded them flat, spread my Mom’s dressing over the meat and rolled. I baked it for about 2 hours at 325. Fresh mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions and homemade vanilla ice cream and pears for dessert. I realize I actually don’t miss the large spread. We enjoy the smaller dinner and are thankful for the bounty and freshness.
I look back over the past year and I am so thankful for having good health, wonderful family, friends and the opportunity to travel. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Now don’t eat too much!