22 November 2010

Family recipe Monday: a Simple Gifts Thanksgiving

This is the dream-team Thanksgiving dinner from the Simple Gifts project. Collectively, these recipes span over a hundred years and a goodly part of the country. I wish I could bring all these cooks together--some of them never even met each other. Family cooking keeps us together across the generations--be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug from us.

Start out with these perfect nibbles.

The Shelton-Sommers family. Ralph is on the left.
I may now be disowned for publishing this, but I think it is a great picture.

Ralph’s East Texas parched pecans
Worcestershire sauce

Melt butter in skillet. Add Worcestershire sauce and pecans. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden. Best paired with a single-malt Scotch.
--Ralph Shelton

Use the next two recipes to put together a world-class version of Texas Cornbread Dressing.

Corn kernel cornbread
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
3 T melted margarine
1 cup yellow cream-style corn

Preheat oven to 450* F. Brush 9” square baking pan or skillet with melted shortening. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl, stirring to blend well. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, margarine and corn. Add all at once to dry ingredients, mixing quickly and thoroughly. Pour batter into pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until bread tests done. Can also be baked as sticks or muffins. Serve hot.

Dipping biscuits

Whisk in bowl to blend:

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup unbleached flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground thyme
½ tsp ground sage (or substitute ¾ tsp Bell’s seasoning)

Add ½ stick butter cut in ½” cubes; blend in with pastry blender until coarse meal consistency. Blend in 1 cup buttermilk, 1 large egg, mix until moist. Turn onto floured surface, knead briefly until dough comes together. Gather into ball, roll out to ¾“, cut into rounds or squares. Bake in 400o preheated oven 20-22 minutes, or until biscuit tester* comes out clean! Dip in gravy and enjoy.
--Pat Monaco

*This is an in-joke. Our friend Pat actually found a snooty gourmet magazine recipe for biscuits that required the use of a biscuit tester to determine doneness. If you can’t tell when biscuits are done, a tester will not help you much. These are great crumbled into a cornbread-sage dressing.

For a soup course, try this Pennsylvania classic.

Shaffner-Hess wedding reception, 1954.

Potato soup

Sauté gently in 2 T butter:

1 T grated carrot
1 T scraped onions

Stir in:

1 tsp salt
¼ tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups hot milk
1 cup mashed or boiled potatoes, put through a coarse sieve

Cook 20 minutes
--Dolly Shaffner Hess

For a variation on the standard cranberry jelly, try this.

Cranberry salad

1 lb. cranberries
1 whole apple

Grind in food chopper. Cover with 1 cup sugar. Add:

1 small can crushed pineapple
Pinch salt
1/2 cup nuts

Mix into 2 pkg. Jell-O (cherry or raspberry) in 3 cups water. Chill.
--Vada Brooks Johnson, Shirley Johnson Shelton

And here is a quartet of great side dishes:

Vada’s marinated carrots

2 lb. carrots, cut in 1” pieces

Cook until tender; drain and set aside. Bring to boil:

1 cup sugar
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1/3 cup oil
½ cup vinegar

When boiling, add 1 onion (sliced) and 1 green pepper (sliced). Bring back to good hard boil and pour over carrots.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Rice-broccoli casserole

1 package chopped broccoli
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small jar Cheddar cheese spread
1 cup cooked rice

Cook broccoli according to package directions. Sauté onion and celery in small amount of oil. Mix with broccoli. Add soups and cheese spread. Line a casserole dish with rice. Pour broccoli mixture over rice and bake at 375* F for 10 minutes.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Pennsylvania red cabbage

2 tbsp bacon drippings heated in skillet (oil may be substituted)

Stir into drippings or oil:

¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ tsp caraway seed
¼ cup water
1 ¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Stir in to coat:

4 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups cubed unpeeled red apple

Cover and cook on low heat about 15 min until cooked but still crisp. Stir occasionally.
--Dolly Shaffner Hess

Perfect baked sweet potatoes

4 medium to large sweet potatoes
Safflower oil

Preheat oven to 400* F. Wash and scrub potatoes. Dry thoroughly. Coat potatoes lightly with oil. Prick surface with fork. Bake until tender (40-60 minutes, depending on size).

The best rolls of all time for the dinner are Bran Rolls and Potato Rolls. I'd serve these with Honey Jelly.

Honey jelly

3 cups honey
1 cup water
½ bottle liquid fruit pectin (Certo)

Measure honey and water into large saucepan and mix well. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. At once stir in pectin. Then bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off foam with metal spoon, and pour quickly into glasses. Cover jelly at once with 1/8” hot paraffin wax. This will make five glasses.

Here are a couple of options for the main course, in addition to the Shrimp Creole we love for holidays. Because we just do, that's why.

Basic roast turkey

18 to 22-lb. turkey
2 oranges or 4 lemons, halved
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Salt, pepper, paprika
4 T corn oil

Clean turkey with damp paper towels. Dry well inside and out. Squeeze orange or lemon juice over the inside and outside of cavity. Fill neck cavity with one stuffing and body cavity with another, if desired. Don’t pack too tightly. Close cavities by sewing or skewering. Rub 1½ sticks of butter over outside of turkey. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Drape cheesecloth over top of turkey. Place breast side up on rack in roasting pan. Bake 4½ to 5 ½ hours at 325* F or until turkey tests done. Baste every 30 minutes with corn oil which has been mixed with remaining butter (melted). Baste without lifting cheesecloth, but check periodically to make sure it is not stuck to skin. If it is, gently lift and baste under cheesecloth. If breast gets too dark, tent with a piece of foil.

The Brooks family. Vada is the taller of the two little girls.

For the poultry-averse:


6 lb. brisket
3 T garlic salt
3 T onion salt
3 T celery salt
½ bottle dark smoke (liquid smoke), 3-oz bottle

Wrap in foil and marinate overnight. Cook 6 hours at 275* F.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Finally, if you are still able to move, we recommend a nice selection of pies for dessert. You can never have too many of these. Some already-printed classics include Pumpkin-Chiffon Pie, Buttermilk Pie, Pecan Pie and Caramel Pie. Here are a few other dessert options:

Sour cream dried cherry pie

2 cups sour cream
3 egg yolks
½ cup brown sugar
3 T flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ½--2 cups dried sour cherries
½ cup water

Put the cherries in a small saucepan with the water and plump them over low heat about 5 minutes. Cool and drain. Combine the flour and sugar. Add the beaten egg yolks, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Cook the custard in a double boiler until it just starts to thicken, stirring continuously. Mix in the cherries and divide between two pre-baked piecrusts. Bake at 350* until just golden, 10-12 minutes.
--Pat Monaco and Sally Shelton

Chocolate chip cheesecake

1 ½ cup finely crushed Oreo cookies
¼ cup oleo or butter, melted
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 14-oz can Eagle Brand condensed milk (not evaporated)
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini-chocolate chips
1 tsp flour

Preheat oven to 300* F (important). Combine crumbs and oleo; pat firmly on bottom of 9” springform pan. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add Eagle Brand milk and beat well. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In a small bowl, toss together ½ cup chocolate chips, 1 tsp flour to coat. Stir into cheese mixture. Pour into pan. Sprinkle ½ cup chocolate chips on top. Bake 1 hour or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool to room temperature. Chill and remove side of pan. Serves 10-12.
--Marcie Nelson

I'll post another pie recipe on Thanksgiving Day. Happy Monday.

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