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Thanksgiving – A Retrospective

I won’t lie to you.  The thought of cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner for my little family was somewhat daunting.  I’m used to handling the condiments, potatoes, and a dessert now and again.  But pulling together the whole enchilada for my own family?

I consoled myself by remembering that McDonald’s was only 10 minutes away should things go horribly awry.

I began the day by tossing the Butterball Turkey Breast into the crockpot.  And this time I remembered to remove the packet of gravy first.  With the potatoes washed, I began to assemble the dressing.

I was determined to recreate my Nanny’s dressing from memory.  A memory which by the way, is beginning to resemble a sieve.  I shed some tears during this process.  And they had more to do with missing my mom and Nanny on Thanksgiving day, than the onion I was slicing and dicing.

The ingredients for the dressing (as I remember them) were bread crumbs (seasoned), chopped up onion, chopped celery, diced hard boiled egg, chicken broth (if there was no whole turkey drippings), salt, pepper, and sage.

I had no idea about the quantities, as my mother or grandmother never ever used a recipe when they made dressing.  But it always turned out perfect. And by perfect, I mean that I would always help myself to a large bowl of it BEFORE it was cooked.  I called it Raw Dressing.  And it was a delicacy.

My dressing was not perfect.  But it was tolerated.  So, if anyone has a recipe which contains ingredients similar to those above mentioned, I would be FOREVER grateful if you would send it my way.

I also had the bread baking bug.  I made dough for whole wheat rolls in the breadmaker, and then for good measure I made a cornbread type bread in the breadmaker as well.  They both turned out wonderfully.  You can never have too many carbs on Thanksgiving Day.  And a package of Tums should be well within reach.


Two hours before dinner was scheduled, we decided to go ahead and cook up the Marie Callendar berry pie that Fiddledaddy purchased the day before.  I think he feared a wife curled up in the fetal position if she had to cook the dessert as well AS EVERYTHING ELSE.  It was a good call.

We ate the pie for lunch.  A la mode.  One of the really great things about being an adult, is that sometimes you can just make decisions like that.  Because you can.

After I slaved in the kitchen all day, Fiddledaddy remarked, “You know, this has been a very relaxing day!”

And he was just lucky that I was tired or he would have found himself on the business end of the frying pan.

I did enjoy pulling together a Thanksgiving feast for my little family, when all was said and done and I was enjoying a little Egg Nog.  HAVE I MENTIONED THAT EGG NOG IS IN SEASON!

And I think I will continue the tradition of a turkey/dressing dinner on New Years Day.  Just so that I can stay in practice.

What dining tradition do you have for Christmas and/or New Years Day?


14 Responses to Thanksgiving – A Retrospective

  • We cook the traditional turkey and dressing (ours is cornbread in La.) for Christmas Day. Our favorite tradition is seafood gumbo on Christmas Eve served with hot garlicky french bread and bread pudding for dessert (plenty of carbs there) topped with rum sauce. For appetizers we have olives, pickles and dips. After dinner we also have homemade eggnog with spiced rum..yum! My dad loved letting the grandkids open one gift every hour…he couldn’t stand waiting…I miss that!

  • We have ham for Christmas Day — and all the fixin’s — not terribly exciting.

    OH, but for Christmas Eve we have Middle Eastern dishes. We use it to serve as a reminder of where Christ came from.

    (Totally wish that was my own idea, but I stole it from someone else.)

    Oh, and New Year’s Eve, we eat any remaining leftovers. . . something about not starting the new year with old stuff.

  • We have Christmas Eve with my hubby’s family, then spend the night at our house for Santa. Then we are up and off on the two hour drive to my parent’s house. It is always a mad rush, BUT my Daddy always makes this awesome sausage bread that we get to eat before the kids dig in to presents.
    Then we eat lunch, and travel to my 93 year old Granny’s house for more present opening fun and dessert.
    Then we all pass out right where we are sitting for four hours.
    Okay, that last part is just what I feel like doing.

    PS: In our dressing recipe we have the same ingredients, but we put raw eggs in it to make it more moist. YOU could NOT eat a bowl of that uncooked, though!

  • The new tradition Christmas day is a Mexican feast. Red and green chili enchiladas, tostatas, spanish rice, refried beans, taquitos…and whatever else we have a fancy for. New Year’s Day we have lamb (used to be pork loin) and sauerkraut and mashed potatoes at the in-laws. I’m hungry thinking about it.

  • I make chicken and dressin’. I boil a whole chicken with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, cool, debone it and strain the broth and save it. A pan of Cornbread using the recipe from the back of Aunt Jemima white, self rising cornbread mix. I dice an onion, green onions, a bell pepper and some celery and cook in butter (enough to completely cover the veggies) with about a teaspoon or so of sage, a little salt and pepper. Crumble the cornbread, add the chicken and veggies and combine until the bread is entirely coated with butter. Add enough chicken broth to make it moist and some boiled eggs. I usually use 2-3 eggs per pan of cornbread. (Most times I have to make 2 pans of cornbread so then all the other ingredients would just be increased a little, depending on your taste buds.) And I do mine in stages so it doesn’t seem like such a task. The night before, I usually start my chicken first and while it is cooking I do the cornbread and boil the eggs. The next morning I do the veggies and put it all together and then bake in oven until it is heated through and starting to brown a little on the top. I don’t have an “exact” recipe as I do it from memory also. Hope it makes sense though.

  • I just posted my recipe for you to look over! Mine is a cornbread dressing, but it uses the rest of the ingredients the same. Oh, and I love the “raw dressing” comment. We are constantly tasting the dressing to make sure it is “right” just to get some sneak tastes! Find the recipe here:

    Like you, I did it from memory, so I’m going to have my mema look at it. The only problem, is quantities… it’s hard to know for sure!

  • Christmas Eve is super busy travelling around to all the parents’ houses, so Christmas day we stay home and relax. Relaxing means that the kids get to play with their new stuff, hubby gets to open everything so they can play with their new stuff and I get to spend the day in the kitchen preparing enough food to feed an army. All the traditional stuff, but all of it homemade. I enjoy it, but it is not relaxing! Sometimes my sister will join us and since she recently married a man from Mexico I feel compelled to try to replicate part of a traditional Mexican Christmas meal, which I am NOT proficient at and usually gets served with dessert b/c I don’t know how long this stuff takes to cook! For New Years we eat some sort of pork and saurkraut. I think it is supposed to be a German tradition, which my family is, but no one ever explained why. I just know it is very, very bad to eat lobster b/c they walk backwards….

  • My father-in-law is a pastor, so their house was always crazy busy on Christmas Eve. So the tradition is appetizers for dinner on Christmas Eve. It’s often some leftovers from their Christmas open house, and then a hamburger dip with tortilla chips. I sort of like that part.

  • My mom always cooks the dressing without a recipe and every year I say I’m going to write it down, but I never do. I don’t want to think about having to make it myself b/c it can be quite a process.

    Christmas Eve is always fajitas with all the fixings. Then Christmas Day is similar to TG, but with a roasted chicken instead of turkey.

    My husband likes to make black-eyed peas. I don’t eat them though, b/c- GROSS!

  • We too have a traditional Christmas. However, New Year’s Eve we have an old Amish tradition (my grandmother was Amish until the age of 8). Bean Soup and apple pie. That is a milk bean soup poured OVER the apple pie. Not something you want every day but is enjoyed once a year.
    I miss my Grandma every holiday. I don’t think I will ever stop missing them until I get to heaven and see them again.

  • We do turkey and dressing with mashed potatoes, gravy and layered salad with pumpkin pie for thanksgiving. For Christmas it’s ham with baked bean casserole, creamed corn, usually mac and cheese for my SIL who’s addicted to it and a chocolate four layer pie for my BIL who wouldn’t let me in the door without it. I have my hubs grandma’s dressing recipe that is cornbread based I’ll send to you. It has cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs, but the other ingredients are the same.

  • I used to always make my dressing just about like yours, except no egg. I made it the way my mother had made it for years. This year I broke with tradition and made this: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/raisin-studded-apple-stuffing/Detail.aspx

    This was such a hit with everyone that I don’t think I will ever be able to get away with going back to the old tradition. We have a new tradition now!

  • This is our family recipe. One loaf of stale white bread (not moldy of course) torn up into small pieces in large bowl, 1 cup of chopped celery, 1 cup of chopped sweet onion (saute veggies in 2 T butter until soft) Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning onto the torn up bread. Mix it up. Then mix in the sauted celery and onion. Heat one can of Swanson’s chicken broth (not boiling) and pour over mixture in bowl. Stir well. Transfer to 12″ square baking dish and bake for 30-45 min at 350 degrees or until top is browned. This is so simple and so good. Hope you like it.

  • MMMMmmmmmm… Raw Dressing….. my favorite. (I thought I was the only one. I prefer it raw, actually.)

    I think it is the sage that does it for me.

    Happy Thanksgiving!