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Growing Up With
Thanksgiving Tradition

By John Havel

It's Thanksgiving, and everyone has their own memories and traditions. Some people look for new recipes to explore - others make pretty much the same thing every year. My experience while growing up was anything but varied. We had the exact same food for years. But it always tasted great and, as you'll see, the recipes are simple to prepare.

Being in the restaurant business for half my life, I got used to the task of organizing large amounts of food. But Thanksgiving catches some people off guard - especially when too much time is devoted to one or two dishes. You're better off keeping it simple and having everything perfectly prepared.

Most of these recipes are traditional to many families. I'd say cole slaw is one that not many people serve on Thanksgiving. What's even more different is having your cole slaw with turkey gravy over it. Mom always said it was a German thing. There were those that "gravied" and those that didn't - I never did. Dad always made the cole slaw, but the rest was left up to Mom. She'd have her list out first thing in the morning with all the food and times they needed to be started.

Two additions to this menu to make it complete - both jelled and berry cranberry sauce and the relish tray. This always consisted of colossal green and black olives with celery sticks.

So, every year it's the same. Stuffed turkey, stuffed people. But long after the plates are cleared, the leftovers are eaten, and the calories are worn off, it's the holiday memories that shape our lives. Our traditions add the Thanksgiving flavor we come to expect year after year and just like helpings of food, there's always room for another. See if some of these will be part of your traditon.

Roast Turkey and Gravy
1 (18 pound) whole turkey
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 (10 oz. cans) chicken broth
8 cups prepared stuffing

Preheat oven to 450F. Place rack in the lowest position of the oven. Remove the turkey neck and giblets, rinse the turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan. Loosely fill the body cavity with stuffing. Rub the skin with the shortening, and season with salt and pepper.

Place turkey in the oven, and pour chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan. Turn oven down to 325F. Baste all over every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 180F, about 4 hours. Cover with aluminum foil if the skin turns too dark.

Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter, and let it stand for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Turkey Gravy
1 package Neck, heart, gizzard from turkey giblets
1 medium carrot thickly sliced
1 medium onion thickly sliced
1 medium celery rib thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 turkey liver
1/3 cup fat from poultry drippings
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Gravy Master

In a 3-quart saucepan, over high heat, place neck, heart, gizzard, vegetables, and salt in enough water to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add liver and cook 15 minutes longer. Strain broth into a large bowl; cover and reserve broth in the refrigerator. To make gravy, remove the cooked turkey and roasting rack from the roasting pan. Drain all fat and juice from roasting pan into a large glass measuring cup. Let stand for fat to float on top, then pour off all but 1/3 cup of the fat (this is based on a medium sized turkey. For a larger turkey, you can keep more fat in the measuring cup. Return fat and juice to the roasting pan (so that you can scrape the good stuff off the bottom). Add 1/3 cup of flour and stir and scrape until flour is blended in smoothly and the residue on bottom of the pan is loosened. Add 2 cups reserved stock. Place pan over low heat, stir constantly, and bring to a slow boil. Boil for about 5 minutes stirring continually. Add more liquid if gravy becomes too thick. Add Gravy Master at the end to create color and extra flavor.

Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspooon ground sage
salt and pepper, to taste
8 cups day old bread cubes
1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth

In a skillet, melt butter and cook celery and onion until tender but not brown; remove from heat. Place dry bread cubes in a large mixing bowl; add onion mixture. Stir in sage, pepper, and salt. Drizzle with enough broth to moisten, tossing lightly.

Creamed Onions
2 (10 oz.) cans pearl onions, drained
1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
buttered bread cubes

Place onions in a buttered casserole dish. Mix soup with milk and pour over onions. Arrange bread cubes on top. Bake at 350F until top is browned and mixture is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds of potatoes
1 cup of milk
6 tablespoons of butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and quarter the potatoes and add them to a pot with just enough water to cover all the potatoes. Heat water until boiling. Lower heat until simmering and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 15 -20 minutes). Drain and add milk and butter. Mash and season with salt and pepper.

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
1 1/4 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Salt and pepper

Place 1 inch of water and beans in 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cover; cook until beans are crisp-tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add almonds; cook and stir until almonds are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in beans. Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
2 1/4 lb. canned sweet potatoes
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
large marshmallows

Mash sweet potatoes by putting through a sieve or beating in an electric beater or using a potato masher or food mill. Add milk gradually. Mix in remaining ingredients. Place in a buttered casserole. Bake in slow oven (250F) for 20-30 minutes. Cover top with marshmallows. Return to oven until marshmallows are slightly melted and a bit brown. Do not over cook - if the oven is too hot, the marshmallows will disappear.

Creamy Coleslaw
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1 dash black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large head cabbage, shredded

Blend mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and oil. Add onion powder, dry mustard, celery salt, pepper, lemon juice, half-and-half and salt. Stir until smooth. Pour coleslaw dressing over shredded cabbage in a large bowl and toss until cabbage is well coated. Keep coleslaw refrigerated - best when made one day before serving.

Pumpkin Pie
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 425F. Whisk pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

Mincemeat Pie
Pastry for 9-inch two crust pie
1 jar (32 oz.) mincemeat
Brandy, to taste

Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare pie pastry. Spoon prepared mincemeat into pastry-lined plate. Add additional brandy to your taste. Cover with remaining pastry and flute. Cut slits in pastry so steam can escape. Cover edge with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.

Bake pie 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and filling bubbles. Remove aluminum foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before cutting and serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Music By John Havel


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