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A Meaningful Tradition…
Offer kernels of gratitude ! According to legend, each Pilgrim was rationed just five kernels of corn at each meal during their first winter in the New World. Fortunately for them, spring came early the following year and they were able to plant the crops. In honor of the Pilgrims and the Indians who saved them from starvation, place 5 kernels of corn at each place setting at the Thanksgiving table. If you don’t have dried corn, you can always use candy corn. It’s the meaning behind the corn, not the candy. Pass a basket around the table and ask each guest to drop the kernels in it, naming five things they are grateful for. It connects us to long ago and far away when the first Thanksgiving was special and everyone got along and expressed their gratitude in a very real way.
Decorations – they need not be fancy and outrageously expensive. Use a colorful dinner plate, brown, green or gold for the center piece. Place a mason jar in the center, and lower a votive candle down inside the jar. Place rosemary stems around the jar or juniper and cedar, and toss some dried cranberries around the greenery. It looks festive and smells wonderful like the outdoors. This would be nice for a buffet table or a big table. The more candles and greenery the better. If you have some cinnamon sticks and star anise place them among the greenery. Simple and fragrant.
About desserts and young bakers feeling intimidated… I once knew this young lady who was newly married into a family of serious bakers. She innocently asked what she could bring to the potluck Thanksgiving dinner. “Oh, bring some desserts , but don’t bring any pies, that’s Nancy’s deal.” I’m sure there was a sly smile or two when this was announced. Yeah, Nancy, prize winning baker of all time. So the young lady asked me what to bring. I told her “on the table of pies, make your dessert stand out.”
She did! Here’s the recipe:
Bake a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan of brownies. Let them cool. Meanwhile, thaw out a big container of Cool Whip and open up 2 cans of cherry pie filling. Cut the brownies in bite size pieces. In a pretty glass bowl add a few of the brownie cubes. Drop small spoons of the pie filling evenly over the brownies, then add a few dollops of cool whip over the cherry pie filling. Keep layering everything until it’s used up.
She sprinkled some walnuts on top, covered it with foil and off she went. What did we call this? A Black Forest Trifle. I wasn’t there when the desserts were served, but according to the young lady, it was the first dessert people ate. Nancy asked her for the recipe. Not everything has to be made from scratch.
After the meal, have dish towels ready for anyone who asks can they help. Don’t insist that you have a system everyone must follow. Just let them dry the dishes, or load the dishwasher, or take out the trash. Make a pot of coffee, let Uncle Joe snore. Have some fun on this day. Break free of first time jitters. It’s common to feel pressure, but count to ten and tell yourself, it’s about love and family and not about perfection.
I’ll be back later and add a few more not so homemade recipes.
Here’s a quick and easy recipe for using up leftover turkey.
Turkey Egg Foo Young
2 cups shredded, light and dark turkey
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1 cup of bean sprouts
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped scallions or green onions
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Oil for frying
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Stir in the turkey, soy sauce and vegetables. Add about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil to a 10 -inch non stick skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat. Using a ladle, drop the egg mixture into the oil. Cook on one side until the edges are brown. Flip them over and cook about another five minutes. Plate up, and pour any leftover turkey gravy over the foo young. Makes 4 servings. You can also serve some brown or white rice with the foo young. Delicious and different !
Ever wonder what pumpkin pie spice is made from? In a small bowl add the following spices: 1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg; and 1/2 teaspoon each, ground cloves and ground allspice. These ingredients will give you store bought quality. Store the spices in a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid and use them within 6 months.
I was at the grocery yesterday and they had the little sugar pumpkins and the gray/ green gourds for half price. I bought six of them. I’m going to hollow them out the day before Thanksgiving, sprinkle a pinch of the pumpkin pie spice I just made in each of the gourds and pumpkins. I’ll place a votive candle in each of them. As the candles burn, the heat from the flame will scent the air and release that delicious pumpkin pie spice aroma. For those who don’t bake, it’s a lovely way to scent the house for Thanksgiving.
“… it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness…”
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie
Blessed be, sweet ones
~ Meadow Walker