This is the time of year we think about what we are thankful for and that’s a good thing, but I have learned that everyday is a day of ‘Giving Thanks’ and Gratitude.
Although I don’t have a dedicated gratitude journal yet, I try to write down what I am thankful for that day in my daily agenda alongside my ever growing “To Do” list. In the beginning I struggles to think of new things to be grateful for when all the big and obvious things had been said: family, support, my relationship, etc. I find that looking for the smalls things amongst the big ones have become just as important. For instance, some days working out can be a struggle and you start coming up with excuses to do it later or maybe not at all. I then remind myself that I am blessed to have all of my faculties to be able to make the choice of activities and improving my fitness, as well as the ability to get what I can afford to do so like gym membership fees or workout gear. I am grateful to have the privilege to exercise.
I am sure there are many things in your life that you are grateful for. We just need to remind ourselves now and then. Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to slow down and be with friends and family. Growing up Thanksgiving was always a big deal and we had a big meal to show for it. It would usually consist of my family, the three of us kids, Mom and Dad, and my Mom’s sister and her husband. From there the table would grow depending on who was in town or who didn’t have any plans that year. This is what the menu would like:
Roast Stuffed Turkey
Cornbread Dressing and homemade gravy
Canned Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions on top
Collard Greens with Ham Hocks
“You Bake” Dinner Rolls from the package or sometimes Crescent Rolls
A crudite’ tray of black olives, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and pickled vegetables
A green salad
Dessert would consist of:
Sweet Potato Pie
My mom and Auntie were great cooks. My Auntie still is. You can find her recipe for Candied Yams here. This food set the standard by which all other celebration dinners were served and (judged) where it be church, eating out, or an invitation to someone’s home. I even remember going to 2 or even 3 homes for Thanksgiving. I always looked forward to what we had at home.
This was not the time to experiment with new recipes or dishes. We wanted want we wanted! So there were no “twists” on the turkey or ham. No homemade versions of the cranberry sauce, no Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows, no German or ‘light’ Potato Salad, A definitely do NOT mess with the Cornbread Dressing recipe if you know what’s good for you and ruin the entire meal. Gravy was always homemade from the giblets. This was Southern tradition.
I do my best to hold onto and recreate these dishes form my family that holds so many memories for me and will make more for the future. I do have the option to try new things and experiment with the tried and true, but some things can’t be improved upon. I may do a different version, but the traditional is traditional for a reason. Here is my list of what I will be making this year:
Roast Turkey Breast Roulade stuffed with Cornbread Dressing and Greens
Southern Cornbread Dressing
Macaroni and Cheese
Brussel Sprouts with Fried Onions
Mini Cranberry molds
Squash Dinner Rolls
Sweet Potato Pie
Slab Apple Pie
With every dish I will think of my family and how blessed we were and are to have shared that food which we were so grateful for and each other.
Here are some tips to make your holiday entertaining a little easier. Put in the order that will make sense to you
- Make a full list of all of your dishes and desserts. Decide what you’ll cook, buy pre-prepared, or let someone else bring.
- Read through all your recipes twice if your making them for the first time
- Make another list and check it 3 times. This includes you grocery list, your cookware and tools list, and your table setting, floral arrangements and decorations list.
- Gather all your cookware out of the cabinets and assign dishes to each one. You’ll be glad you did.
- Decorate your home and set the table a few days or more before to get it out of the way.
- Create a timetable 2 weeks before.
- Create a timetable for the oven. What goes in first, how many things can cook at the same temperature, what can be reheated.
- Make a prep list for anything that can be made a few days or more before like pie dough, bread crumbs, chopping vegetables, making stock, bread dough,
- Let someone else be in charge of beverages.
- Clean as you go and get help. Make sure the dishwasher is empty before you start cooking.
What tips do you have that have saved you on Thanksgiving?