I Remember Thanksgiving With My
The winter season starts off with
Halloween in October, and right around the corner is Thanksgiving.
That was when Daddy would do the shopping and Mother lived in the
kitchen for 2 to 3 days so everything would be just be perfect.
The turkey was always over 20 pounds as there would be 15 to 20
In the early years Mother did it all alone and had no help in the
kitchen till it was over and some of the lady friends cleared the
table and did the dishes. Daddy would put the food on the table or
have help from a hungry guest. After he was gone only Mother
could carry it, it was balanced on her head. She carried her clean
laundry that way too. On her head. She was quite good at it after
having to do it all her life.
During this time the men would move the table and chairs back to
where they belonged then they would sit around and visit while the
ladies were doing the same thing in the kitchen while they did the
would stay on the couch as she was wiped out from all the
preparation of the meal. We can sit, stand and lay down when we
are tired. Mother had two choices sit or lay down. She had painful
bone problems as she got older and heavier. So her only relief
was to lay down which she would never do with guest in the house.
We always had the exact same thing for Thanksgiving every year and
it always turned out perfect. Mom could time everything down to
the minute. So it would be on the table at the same time.
After Daddy died she continued the meals but now she had help in
the kitchen, she volunteered me. I learned all the recipes and in
later years the torch was passed to me. I had watched how she did
everything and even the more different foods came out just like
Here are some of my mothers traditional offerings.
The Broccoli salad for one. She would use chopped frozen
broccoli, boil it in salt water and drain it good. Let it cool a
bit and use lemon juice, wine vinegar, and a bit of oil mixed well
with a little pepper. The boiling in salt water adds all you need.
Just use a little of the other ingredients to taste. It was then
Next our scalloped corn was one of the easiest but also very much
in demand. Funny thing was as simple as it was to make we only had
it on the holidays never the rest of the year.
Just butter a casserole dish and then sprinkle the first layer of
canned corn drained. Alternate layers of saltine crackers crunched
up, dots of butter and a little pepper to taste. End with crunched
crackers. Add milk to almost the top, if it is too high it will
bubble over but it needs to be at least 3/4 full. Baked till the
top is lightly browned, at 350 degrees.
The sweet potatoes were canned, just cuts down on the prep time.
The juice from the can, is drained into a sauce pan. With a half
stick of real butter, salted, honey about half cup. And cinnamon
maybe about a tablespoon full. The potatoes are cut into smaller
chunks and spread out in the shallow baking dish, The liquid
mixture is heated till blended then poured over the potatoes. The
option is the marshmallows. I like to cover the top of the dish
with mini marshmallows and then brown the tops of them. The
potatoes just have to be heated through, in the oven on 350,
before served, or before adding the marshmallows.
The stuffed celery was always a hit. We would set out a couple
packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese and let it warm a bit, so it
is creamy. Whipped doesn't work, just use the bricks. I like the
pecans chopped up fine when added to the cream cheese along with a
tablespoon of mayonnaise. Mix well. Clean and cut celery into 2"
pieces, and stuff with the mixture. You can also add chopped
pecans to the tops for decoration.
Peanut butter stuffed celery is good for the kids in the house.
They can make theirs themselves and refrigerate till time to
Don't forget the olives of choice, green, black and pickles sweet
Mash the white potatoes that have been boiled and drained well.
Add a little milk and butter to make them creamy.
Since Stove top stuffing has been around we have used that instead
of having to cook cornbread. You can add the cooked giblets
chopped fine, celery chopped fine, onion chopped fine, to the
butter and water mix, and simmer till done. I also like to add a
couple cubes of chicken bullion to the liquid. This is when you
can add what ever seasonings are to your liking. Add to the dry
stuffing cover and let stand a while.
The turkey has been in the oven since early in the morning and we
put a tent of aluminum foil over it to hold the juices in and only
uncover it the last half to one hour. So it can brown.
The pies were cooked the night before. Nowadays you can buy frozen
ones and just heat and eat.
Last but not least is the gravy. This is made at the last minute.
I have a big cast iron skillet also called a chicken fryer. I
drain the juice in the turkey pan into the skillet and add a bit
of real butter about a half stick. I get it real hot and start
sifting flour and stirring so it doesn't burn, the higher the heat
the better, but don't leave it a second or it will scorch. With
all the stirring against the bottom of the pan is what makes it
smooth. Keep it on medium when you are browning the flour. When it
is smooth and golden brown start adding milk. It will take quite a
bit. Just keep stirring. When the gravy starts bubbling and
getting thicker, add more milk, keep adding and stirring, till it
is to your liking. I add garlic powder, celery salt, pepper,
parsley and dried onion flakes and simmer till ready to serve.
We always forget to heat the rolls till after the dinner is over
and the guest have gone home, so it really isn't necessary to have
rolls with the meal.
I like the leftovers the next day and have come up with a killer
meal. I package the leftover white meat stuffing and gravy.
Usually have to make a bit more gravy but it is better to just
save what is already done. I chop the turkey into little cubes and
add to the gravy, that will need to be thinned down anyway. To
this I add about a fist sized bit of dressing and stir till all is
mixed. Then I add more celery salt, pepper and garlic powder and
simmer, adding milk or water, as needed. I make a big pot of
minute rice, and serve the turkey gravy mixture over the rice. I
promise you will like it better than the day before.
So enjoy your Thanksgiving with the Tomainiís.
© 2003 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights
Published with the permission of Judy
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