by Betty Thomason Owens
Thanksgiving: Giving of thanks, an annual celebration of harvest.
For me, the Thanksgiving holiday is a celebration of family. I used to prepare a feast and invite so many people, we could barely fit them all into our small home. This required days of preparation. I enjoyed the cooking, but most of all, I reveled in the few moments of fame as everyone expressed their pleasure while eating the feast I had prepared.
Our lives changed a couple of years ago when my husband and I both lost our jobs due to companies closing. I still made dinner, but we needed to cut the guest list to immediate family. My husband is back at work, but I’m staying home now, so we still keep to the smaller celebration, and I continue to do all the cooking. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but I’m thankful that I can do it.
I love the hustle and bustle of the day before and then the morning of Thanksgiving. I love the wonderful aromas that fill the house as the turkey bakes. I love the time spent with family members we don’t get to see often. And I love the traditional foods we enjoy.
Not everyone likes cranberry sauce, but the ones who do, have specific preferences. Some like the jellied sauce from the can. Some like the canned whole berry sauce. I love the homemade cranberry orange sauce. It’s super easy to make, and so delicious. Since only two or three of us like it, there’s always leftovers—yum!
My recipe comes from Martha Stewart, with one adjustment: I toned down the ginger, using only about a teaspoon.
Cranberry Orange Sauce
(Makes about 3 cups)
3 cups fresh cranberries (12 ounces)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 navel orange, peel and pith removed, flesh cut into segments with a sharp knife
1) Stir together cranberries, sugar, and ginger in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and cranberries begin to pop, about 7 minutes.
2) Add 1 cup water; simmer until thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in orange. Let cool.
Note: Do be careful to watch this closely while it’s cooking. I burned it one year and it was devastating to the pan! You can make it ahead and spoon it into containers (I use jelly jars) and it keeps well for several days. It’s delicious on turkey.
I have several other dishes my family REQUIRES for their Thanksgiving Dinner, like sweet potato casserole—the kind with marshmallows browned on top. The traditional turkey dressing is made with breadcrumbs and a few of my own secret ingredients. I make a pineapple-cranberry jello salad that most of the family loves. And of course, there must be black olives on the table. My husband and sons love them.
One other thing – my husband’s family brought along the tradition of oyster casserole (scalloped oysters). I don’t really like it, but it’s super easy to make. My youngest son usually prepares it. You can find a recipe here.
So what traditional favorites do you include (or enjoy) at Thanksgiving? What is your favorite thing about the celebration?