Bless Your Spoon: Thanksgiving and after

Published 10:57 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Thanksgiving is a day for serving others around our tables. Now if you’re like me, you hanker for your favorite holiday foods like traditional turkey with dressing and all the savory sides that go with it. Having and keeping tradition are important aspects of creating memories with your family. Life is made up of memorable moments, and it is never too late to create these moments. They are some of the hallmarks of life.

The holiday is also a good time to throw a new dish into the mix, but make sure to keep the old. In preparation, I’m searching through vintage recipe collections on the hunt for a new berry recipe — cranberries add such a delightful burst of sweetness to any savory meal.

But it’s not so much the holiday meals that inspired today’s column, it was words I read on the subject of gratitude. My favorite days in life are those that fill my soul with beauty and eyes with tears, but I’m not talking about an awe-inspiring, beautifully presented meal. I’m referring to life-changing, inspirational words. Words of gratitude.

The week is about saying, “Thank you.” Words of thanks are imperative to the joy found in our daily lives. To live a life of gratitude, begin by giving back and see what the Lord gives back to you. When God breathed into our nostrils, He intended us to be kind, giving, and compassionate while maintaining an attitude of thanks giving.

The holiday is truly not about turkey and dressing and everything that goes with it. The day’s about what’s in our hearts.

I’d like to thank my readers for all the good work you do as a service to help other people. As people, we are different and can’t be just alike — but what we can “do” alike is serve other people. So keep helping others and giving back. And hang on to your attitudes of gratitude.

How to fillet a turkey

Begin with an extremely sharp 10-inch knife. On a cutting board, remove leg and thigh in one piece by pulling leg away from bird and slicing through the joint. Separate leg and thigh by cutting through the connecting joint. Remove bones and slice meat, if desired. Remove wings by pulling them away from body and cutting through joint closest to the breast. Remove breast in two sections. Make vertical cut along entire length of breastbone about 1-inch deep until you reach the bone. Place fingers in the slit and peel meat away by pulling with your hand while slicing with knife. To slice breast on a cutting board, begin with the smaller end and make thin diagonal slices at a 45-degree angle. Arrange light and dark meat on a platter and garnish with parsley.

Cornbread Stuffing for Turkey

• 4 Tbsp. salted butter

• 2 cups minced onion (2 large)

• 2 cups chopped celery

• Turkey liver (optional)

• 4 cups white bread crumbs (8 slices)

• 6 cups crumbled cornbread

• 1 tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 tsp. crushed thyme leaf

• ½ tsp. sage

• ¼ cup chopped parsley

• 2 beaten eggs

In a skillet, melt 3 Tbsp. butter. Add onion and celery and cook 5 minutes while occasionally stirring. In a large mixing bowl, transfer vegetables. Add 1 Tbsp. butter to skillet and cook liver until brown on all sides. Chop liver coarsely. Combine vegetables, liver, bread crumbs, cornbread, salt, pepper, thyme, sage and parsley. Mix well. Beat eggs and add to the mix. Mix well. Makes enough stuffing for a 10- to 12-pound turkey.

Rich Turkey Gravy

• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup turkey pan drippings

• 2 cups water

• 2 chicken flavor bouillon cubes

In a skillet, stir flour into drippings. Cook and stir until dark brown. Add water and stir in bouillon. Cook while stirring until thickened and bouillon is dissolved.

Baked Ham with Berry-Raisin Sauce

• 5-pound fully cooked, smoked ham half

• Whole cloves

• 14 ounces cranberry sauce

• ½ cup raisins

• 1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

• 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

• ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Slice skin from ham. Place ham, fat side up, on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Score fat in diamond design and stud with cloves. Insert meat thermometer making sure it doesn’t touch bone or fat. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 1 ¾ hours. Remove ham from oven. In a bowl, combine cranberry sauce, raisins, lemon juice and cinnamon. Spread half of cranberry mixture over ham. Bake 20 additional minutes or until thermometer registers 140-degrees. Serve remaining sauce with ham.

Orange Carrot Puff

• 2 pounds carrots

• 1 cup fresh orange juice

• 3 separated eggs

• ¼ cup all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup melted butter

• 2 Tbsp. honey

• ¾ tsp. grated orange rind

• ¾ tsp. each, ground cinnamon/cardamon

• ½ tsp. salt

Trip tops of carrots and peel. Slice into 1-inch pieces. In a skillet in boiling, salted water, cook carrots 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well. In a processor, combine carrots and orange juice. Process on high until pureed. Repeat process until all carrots and juice are processed. In a bowl, combine pureed carrots with beaten egg yolks. Add flour, butter, honey, orange rind, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Mix well. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into carrot mixture. Bake in a buttered 2 ½-quart casserole in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

Fresh Fruit Ambrosia

• 6 fresh oranges

• 2 Red Delicious apples

• ¾ cup sugar

• 1 ½ cups fresh pineapple chunks

• 1 cup flaked coconut

• 1 cup chopped walnuts

• 1 ½ cups small marshmallows (optional)

• Red cherries (optional)

• Sour cream

In a bowl, cut peeled oranges into bite-size chunks. Core and chop apples. Add sugar, pineapple, coconut, nuts, marshmallows and cherries, if desired. Add just enough sour cream to coat. Drain pineapple if you use canned. Refrigerate 24 hours. Best made a day before.

Cranberry-Orange Congealed Salad

• 3-ounce package orange gelatin

• 3-ounce package raspberry gelatin

• 2 cups boiling water

• 16-ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce

• 14 ounces undrained crushed pineapple

• ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Dissolve gelatins in 2 cups boiling water. Add cranberry sauce and stir until mixed well. Add crushed pineapple with juice and pecans, and mix well. Pour into a 9 x 9 glass dish and congeal.

Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole

• 3 cups peeled, cooked, sweet potatoes

• 2 beaten eggs

• ½ cup melted, salted butter

• 1 cup sugar

• 3 heaping Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 1/3 cup whole milk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping

• 1 cup brown sugar

• ½ cup all-purpose flour

• 1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, mash cooked sweet potatoes. Add beaten eggs, melted butter, sugar, flour, whole milk and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Pour into a 10-inch shallow baking dish. For the topping, in a bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans. Evenly crumble topping over the potato casserole. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Holiday Confetti Salad

• 1 pound frozen green peas

• 2 pounds frozen shoe-peg corn

• 1/4 finely chopped onion

• ¼ cup chopped green pepper

• ¼ cup chopped sweet pepper

• 4 ounces cubed white cheddar/Swiss cheese

Dressing

• 1 cup sugar, plus more if desired

• ½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

• ¾ cup cider vinegar/white

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the salad, in a serving bowl, layer in the order given, the peas, corn, onion, cheese, green pepper and chopped roasted pepper (found in grocery). Keep salad refrigerated. For the dressing, in a saucepan, combine sugar (add ¼ more if desired), vegetable oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from stove and allow to cool. Evenly pour over salad and serve.

Squash Casserole

• 3 pouns sliced yellow squash

• 1 chopped onion

• ¼ cup salted butter

• 3 beaten eggs

• 1 can cream of mushroom soup

• 1 Tbsp. premium mayonnaise

• 1 tsp. salt

• ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• Cracker crumbs/grated cheddar cheese

In a pot, cook squash and onion together until tender. Drain well. Stir in butter and thoroughly mix. Fold in beaten eggs. Mix well. Remove 1 Tbsp. of the soup and replace it with mayonnaise. Then fold in the remainder of the soup with mayo, salt and pepper. Place in a butter-greased casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs or grated cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Lemon Butter for Bread or Veggies

• 3 beaten eggs

• 1/8 pound salted butter

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 juiced w/rind fresh lemons

In a skillet, melt butter and cool. To a double boiler, add eggs beaten 5 minutes at high speed, butter, sugar, lemon juice and rind. Mix well. Cook while constantly stirring for 15 minutes or until mixture turns from raw egg color to a deeper yellow. Makes 2 cups of yummy butter for bread or veggies.

Chocolate Pie

• 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 1 ½ cups sugar

• 2 ½ Tbsp. Hershey’s cocoa

• 1 ½ cups whole milk

• 3 beaten egg yolks

• 1 Tbsp. salted butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• Prepared pie crust

• 3 beaten egg whites

• 6 Tbsp. sugar

In a microwavable bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and cocoa. Gradually stir in milk. Add beaten egg yolks and cook 8 minutes on high in the microwave while occasionally stirring. Stir in the butter and vanilla after the first 5 minutes. Mix well and pour into a prepared pie crust. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites with 6 Tbsp. sugar until firm peaks form Evenly spread over top of chocolate filling. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10 minutes or until top is browned.

Pumpkin Pie

• 2 beaten eggs

• ¼ cup brown sugar

• 16 ounces can pumpkin

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• ½ tsp. ground ginger

• ¼ tsp. allspice

• 13 ounces evaporated milk

• 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

For the filling, in a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Beat in brown sugar and pumpkin and mix well. Add salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Beat in evaporated milk (not condensed) and mix well. Pour filling into unbaked 9-inch pie crust and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350-degrees and bake additional 45 minutes.

Cranberry Cobbler

• 1 ½ cups homemade chunky style cranberry sauce

• 1 Tbsp. orange juice

• ½ tsp. grated orange rind

• 1 ½-inch cubed apple

• ¾ cup sifted whole wheat pastry flour

• ¼ cup light brown sugar

• ½ tsp. cardamon

• 3 Tbsp. chilled butter

• 1 tsp baking powder

• 1 egg

• 2 Tbsp. whole milk

In a mixer bowl, stir together cranberry sauce, orange juice and rind and apple. Spoon into bottom of a butter-greased 8-inch square pan. Using a pastry blender, in a bowl, mix flour, sugar, cardamon and pieces of butter until a coarse meal forms. Add baking powder, beaten egg and milk. Stir briefly just until blended. Spoon nine heaping Tbsp. of batter onto cranberries in a pattern of three to a row. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Cranberry and Nut Tart

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 2 Tbsp. sugar

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 4 Tbsp. cubed, salted butter

• ½ tsp. grated lemon rind

• 2 ½ Tbsp. ice water

Filling

• 2 cups fresh cranberries

• 3 Tbsp. sugar

• 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

• ½ cup chopped walnuts

• Confectioners’ sugar

For the pastry, in a processor, combine flour, sugar and salt, and pulse to combine. Add chilled butter and lemon rind, and pulse until butter mixture resembles a coarse meal. Process while adding the ice water and continue until dough ball forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and flatten to a 7-inch circle. Refrigerate 1 hour. When ready to assemble, roll dough into an 11-inch circle on floured board. Place on a baking sheet. In a bowl, combine cranberries, sugar, brown sugar and walnuts. Spoon berry mixture over crust while leaving a 1-inch border at the edge. Fold the edge back over cranberries and pinch to keep in place. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until crust is golden and berries are bubbly. Cook 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.