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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

To many of you, this is a lesson already learned.  The results can be volatile.  We had had our share of conflicts at the table in prior years, but then my mother unwittingly invited two additional liberals which shifted the delicate balance of power.

My aunt had barely finished a lovely grace when it began.  I don’t know who started it, but within five minutes it had escalated to a level of vitriol previously unseen at our holiday repast.  Surprisingly, I stayed out of it which is so unlike me.  I believe I was in awe of the other participants and their enthusiasm.

My mother gently chided everyone at first, which went completely ignored by the entire group.  It was free entertainment to me…like a staged production for which you pay money for dinner and a show.  I prefer musicals, but this was pretty good in its stead.

There was no distracting anyone.  They were heavily invested in their tirades and their completely accurate opinions.  Over the din, as she held the gravy hostage, my mother screamed, “Will you all just shut up and stop talking about politics?”  Finally, in deference to her, my uncle was the first to rise and leave the table, leaving his dinner half eaten.  The exodus quickly continued, lest he be seen as the only one with any bit of manners.  The Republicans departed for the front porch and the Dems to the deck out back.  A good deal of chain smoking was going on, as this was when smokes were still popular.

My mother’s lovely table was half empty…I continued eating.  My mother was an amazing cook.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I have one other suggestions to the fairly new question.  Let’s call it the Thanksgiving Tree – because that is when people now seem to put them up.  When I was young, my family was thought odd because we put our tree up one week before Christmas.  That was because my Pappy liked to putz and had an elaborate train set up.  This in itself took longer than the actual erection and decorating of our tree.  It was fairly common back then to bring the tree into the house a day or two before Christmas and often not decorate it until Christmas Eve…seriously people!  Doesn’t anyone else remember this?  It was a very festive evening.  Christmas Eve was not reserved for last-minute shopping, cleaning, wrapping, cooking, etc.  It was for fun alone – stringing popcorn, imbibing alcohol and party time with the extended family.

By bringing in the tree on or even before Thanksgiving, we have theoretically left so much more time for ourselves to do these extraneous Christmas-related chores, yet we remain like chickens with our little heads cut off right up until the last-minute.  Why is that?  Maybe Martha Stuart ruined Christmas with her over-acheiving ideas for the perfect home, baked goods, decor and gifts? Maybe we really don’t need twelve different kinds of Christmas cookies decorated to the max?  Maybe just chocolate chip and sand tarts would do?  Maybe a few meaningful presents would suffice instead of dozens which look professionally wrapped?  Maybe, just maybe we could remember what we’re celebrating.

It is November 29, and no tree has yet been purchased by me.  I don’t feel bad about that.  There is still a great deal of time left, and I have a plan.  I have made minor concessions since my youth; I normally bring in my tree and decorate about two weeks before Christmas instead of the one week I was accustomed to for so long.  This works perfectly, as the greens still actually smell good on December 25, and bonus – I can then keep it up until at least February.

Well, I do look forward to putzing around very soon.

Important Note:  To the Pennsylvania Dutch, putz and putzing refer to Christmas decorations and decorating…not, I repeat not, a euphemism for a man’s body part which I believe has an ‘e’ on the end, as in putze.  Suddenly felt I should clarify this.

Now that I think again, that could be fun as well.

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I follow a wonderful blog, Texana’s Kitchen.  Christine is a born and bred southerner and posts wonderful articles and recipes.  She recently talked about leftovers that seemed anything but, and also stuffing.  She mentioned that when she talks stuffing, she is only referring to the cornbread variety.  This got me thinking.  We put all kinds of things in our birds…ha, ha, ha, and some of them seem pretty weird and exotic to me.  I’m Pennsylvania Dutch and we never even call it stuffing.  It is filling to us – maybe because it really is.  Think about that one.  We insert filling into our fowl, and it is yummy bread filling.  I know that may sound boring, but trust me, it’s delicious.  I’ll add my recipe below and maybe you can be the judge.  It is fabulous hot with gravy and even better to nibble cold, right out of the fridge, after the holiday meal.

Well, back to what other folks put in their birds.  Christine is a cornbread girl.  Then there is the old-fashioned oyster stuffing…okay if everyone coming loves oysters but off-putting for those of us not so enamored – although I do have a to-die-for ham and oyster pie recipe I confess to enjoying (maybe I’ll share that also).  Regaining my focus here, there is also the long-standing chestnut stuffing which I have never eaten.  I did find a recipe for chestnut and pear stuffing that sounds wonderful.  It contains bacon (and how could you then go wrong?), cranberries (yum), garlic, wine, etc.  I’m salivating now and it’s not pretty.

Let’s not forget apple stuffing, mushroom stuffing, nut, sausage, pineapple, rice, currants and potato and squash.  After I became curious about this issue, I researched stuffing and have decided that you can put anything you want in your turkey, goose, duck, chicken, capon, pheasant, quail.   The ingredients I found were a staggering array of all things edible.  Here’s the problem – no matter how many wonderful recipes I find, the holidays dictate tradition at my house, and I suspect in most homes.  Everyone is expecting the same dinner each Thanksgiving and Christmas.  You can mess with it around the edges, but not the major stuff.  If you are too adventurous and spring surprises on the group, you may elicit shrieks of protest and disbelief.  I guess the solution, necessarily, is to experiment on your own time and make some ordinary day special when you hit upon a new and worthy culinary sampling.

Pennsylvania Dutch Bread Filling for a 20-25 lb Turkey:  In a large bowl or tub (I use my Tupperware cake container), tear up enough white bread for your bird (at least two large loaves), add diced celery and onion to your liking, add salt and pepper to taste, parsley, about two to three cups of Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix (the blue bag), 10-12 eggs (yes – a dozen).  Now melt butter (you will need about two sticks), pour slowly over your ingredients, mixing with your hands as you go.  You want the filling very moist, but not soggy.  You can add a little whole milk if you need more liquid and don’t want to clog your arteries with more butter.

Note:  Adjust ingredient quantities for smaller birds.  If you have too much filling for the bird, it is also very good done in a crockpot.  Take the raw filling that is left and place in a crockpot on low, add chicken broth as it cooks to keep it moist and stir occasionally.

Ham & Oyster Pie:

3 cups of ground ham, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 can of oysters (drained), and 1 cup heavy cream

In a bowl, mix the ground ham and Dijon mustard.  Put this mixture in bottom of an unbaked pie crust.  Top the meat with the drained oysters and then the chopped onions.  Drizzle with melted butter.  Pour heavy cream over all.  Cover with the top pie crust dough and bake at 350 degrees until done – about 35 to 45 minutes.  (Most meat departments will grind the ham for you.)

This is so easy and so delicious…

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and count your blessings

My next post will be Monastic Music…lovely!

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