Special to the Valley News
What could be more wonderful than a day set aside to thank the Lord for His blessings? Then there is the feasting of the holiday. Part of the tradition of almost all holiday occasions includes a sumptuous meal, and Thanksgiving is an American celebration that revolves around foods.
You only have to walk the aisles of your favorite grocery store this week to know what the most popular stars of this special day are: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, dressing, cranberries, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, turkey and other poultries as well as pumpkin pies, pecan pies and mincemeat pies. Can’t you just taste it now?
I’d wager that Thanksgiving is the most reflective of a family’s culinary heritage. My father’s family is my focus today. They gave me so much: values, kindness, unconditional love and deep abiding memories. As I recall our growing-up years, I am indeed grateful and thankful for each person.
Patsy was the senior girl cousin. She set such a good example then and now of a purposeful life. While we live hundreds of miles from each other, we are still in touch and even continue to share our lives and recipes!
This appetizer is ideal for family buffets, football game snacking and even for holiday church potlucks. If you can find the small franks, use them. If not, regular size frankfurters are easily cut into bite-size pieces.
Patsy’s Fancy Crock Pot Franks
12 oz. chili sauce
1 can pineapple chunks
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. mustard
1 cup grape jelly
48 fancy franks (small frankfurters) or regular frankfurters cut into bite-size chunks
Heat all ingredients in a crock pot on high for 1 to 2 hours. Or, combine all ingredients except frankfurters in a large saucepan. Heat until hot. Blend with whisk. Add franks and heat. Serve hot.
Within our family my older sister Carol is an acknowledged party hostess par excellence! She does it full tilt with themes and foods and decorations. She has hosted a very special Christmas tea for some years now and her handmade invitations are worthy of framing. Her cranberry punch would be an ideal choice for Thanksgiving festivities.
Carol’s Cranberry Punch
4 cups cranberry juice
4 cups pineapple juice
1 tbsp. almond extract
2 qt. chilled ginger ale
Mix all ingredients together except ginger ale. Add ginger ale just before serving.
Our cousin Kay was another well-respected family cook. When she used to make this recipe I’m sure she had the use of a food grinder. Today we might look for the same textures from using a food processor.
Kay’s Cranberry Jell-O Salad
1 pkg. raspberry Jell-O
2 cups ground raw cranberries
1 apple ground
1 whole orange, seeded, then ground
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple
½ cup sugar
½ cup nuts
Prepare raspberry Jell-O according to package directions. Allow to begin to gel or set before using. Combine cranberries, apple, orange, pineapple and sugar. Let stand for 1 hour. Add nuts to cranberry mixture. Pour partially set raspberry gelatin mixture over cranberry mixture and turn into mold or dish. Chill until set.
Here’s an easy version of beets in a thickened sauce. If you like beets, you’ll like this recipe. If you don’t, you won’t.
Kay’s Harvard Beets
2 cups drained sliced beets (save juice)
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup beet juice
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir well. Add sugar, salt and liquids gradually. Cook until clear and thickened. Add sliced beets and heat through.
Lisa is my sister’s daughter. She says the recipe comes from Myrtle, a friend. In the family many have adopted this version as their family’s favorite.
Lisa’s Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
¼ cup milk
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup melted butter
½ cup flour
Mix together sweet potatoes, milk, sugar, butter, coconut, eggs and vanilla. Place in buttered or greased casserole dish. Combine topping ingredients. Cover casserole with topping mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven 20-25 minutes. Or, microwave casserole for 12 minutes.
Aunt Pearl was a character and a more-than-competent cook. We all remember her for her great storytelling abilities as well as her soul-satisfying cooking – including this recipe for her nearly-famous Missouri-style green beans.
Pearl’s Green Beans
6 to 8 strips bacon
½ onion, chopped
Salt to taste
Dash of pepper
4 cans green beans
In the bottom of a Dutch oven, brown bacon until crispy and break apart. Add chopped onion, salt and pepper. Drain juice from beans into Dutch oven and bring to a good boil. Turn down heat and add green beans. Cover and cook on low until the juice is pretty well cooked into the beans.
Shari is Kay’s daughter and Aunt Pearl’s granddaughter. Her recipe for cauliflower reflects the age of “miking,” as in using the microwave to cook something. This is especially relevant when the other oven is busy with the turkey or pies.
Shari’s Microwave Cauliflower Au Gratin
1 medium head cauliflower, separated into flowerets
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
½ cup milk
1 tsp. prepared mustard (optional)
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sprinkling of paprika
Place cauliflower flowerets and water in a 1-qt. casserole. Cover. Microwave until tender for 4-6 minutes, stirring after half of cooking time. Drain and set aside. Place butter in a 2-cup measure. Microwave until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour. Blend in milk, mustard and salt. Microwave until thickened, 2-4 minutes, whisking every minute. Stir in cheese. Blend well. Pour over cooked cauliflower. Sprinkle with paprika.
Enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones and remember to cherish every moment and each spoonful!