Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving stuff...

From the book I made for my children:

Regarding Womack Family Thanksgivings---

Kids---this is intended to be a guide, not a mandate. If at any time you wish to vary from it, or even to ditch the whole thing in order to accommodate personal preference or the tastes of your spouses, you should do so with a free and happy heart! Traditions are wonderful and fun, and tie us to our past, but traditions such as holiday feast menus should never become oppressive. You will be no less "Southern" or "Catholic" or "Texan" if you do things differently---and what else matters anyway? I stress this because I was not given these options myself----I had to "rebel". So I am liberating you from the start!

We've always had blueberry muffins for breakfast on Thanksgiving, and I started that tradition---I don't remember when or why. If you like it, keep it up. Homemade muffins are fun, but mixes are fine, and I have often used them when short of time. I don't see any reason in the world why you couldn't just as well purchase the muffins ready-baked and then microwave them for a few seconds. Have fun watching the Macy's Parade!

I put my turkey in the oven the night before, in my big covered roaster, and let it slowly cook all night. I start it off at 400 degrees for about a half hour, then turn it down to 200 for the rest of the night. I usually put it in about 10 p.m., then turn it off about 5 am. The result is NOT a pretty turkey, but a tender and delicious one never the less. If you want it picture-perfect, you must sacrifice some of the tenderness and follow Martha Stewart's instructions. Never salt your turkey before cooking---although my grandmother did---for it dries it out. You may put salt inside it, however. Remember---I've always done a huge turkey, about 22 pounds---so if you do a smaller one, adjust cooking time accordingly. For a 10 pound turkey, start it off at about 10 pm on 350 for about an hour, then turn down the oven to 200 and set your alarm for 4 oclock and get up and turn it off! Go back to bed and get up again when you're ready to eat muffins and watch the parade.

As you are getting your turkey ready for the oven, you will, of course, wash out the cavities. Inside the larger cavity, you'll find the neck. Put that in a medium sized saucepan. Inside the smaller cavity, you'll find a packet containing the liver and gizzard. Add those to the neck, cover with plenty of water, and simmer gently for an hour before you turn down the turkey. Go about your business and just keep an eye on it. At the end of the hour, put a lid on the pan and push it to the back of the stove. You will use the broth for gravy in the morning. The gravy is about the last thing you'll do, but I'll tell you about it now. Simply remove the "innards" from the broth. Give the neck to someone to eat. It needs salt, but it's really good. IF YOU LIKE bits and pieces in your gravy, chop up the gizzard and add it back to the broth. Heat to simmering again. Put about 3 tablespoons cornstarch in a fruit jar, add about a cup of water or some chicken broth, and shake. Pour the dissolved cornstarch into the simmering stock and there it is: gravy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Nanaw (remember Nanaw? Jeb and Bentley's maternal grandmother?) used to forget to take the packet of giblets out of the turkey. It never failed, and retrieving the horrid looking glob at the table used to be a yearly tradition. I do not recommend it. She also put orange juice and marshmallows and cinnamon in her sweet potatoes. I don't recommend that either, being a sweet potato purist.

Since you are cooking the turkey all night, you cannot "stuff" it with dressing---the stuff would go bad and give you food poisoning. You may, however, mix your dressing the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator all night, as we've always done. Basically, here's the dressing recipe:

---you know how carefully I measure things :
three pans cornbread
1 loaf white bread
2 cups onion, chopped---no, you cannot leave out the onion and expect it to taste like dressing
1 to 1 ½ cups celery, chopped, MOSTLY LEAVES
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons salt
a teaspoon pepper
about 3 or four tablespoons sage or poultry seasoning or a combination of both----you have to taste for correctness
melted butter

Let everybody help taste, because it's more fun that way. Grandpeggy always used milk in her dressing, and 2 sticks butter. (I kind of like broth instead of milk—especially for the Christmas dressing). Just keep adding the milk until dressing is the right consistency---sort of like thick cooked oatmeal. I sometimes use a combination of milk and chicken broth, but you can do whatever you like. When you are ready, put the dressing in a big pan and pour lots of the juice/grease that has cooked out of the turkey over it. Bake it for an hour or so at 350---that should be long enough if you use a big flat pan like a pyrex. You may want to add more Turkey juice as it bakes, for you don't want it to be dry.

Candied sweet potatoes can be done the day before thanksgiving and reheated. This frees up your oven, and I think it's the best way because you don't want to rush candied sweet potatoes. Open several cans of sweet potatoes. You'll probably want lots. Drain them, and fish them out one by one, slicing them very thin into a heavily buttered big pyrex dish. After you have a layer of sweet potatoes, throw in several large chunks of butter and about a half cup to a cup of sugar. Continue layering thus until the pan is full. Pour in water up to the top of the sweet potatoes and bake in the oven at 350 up to all day until the potatoes are candied. The longer the better, but you want them sort of syrup, not completely dried out. The potatoes themselves should acquire a sort of transparency. If you have any questions, ask Stuart, as she does it best.

Cranberries---I think those canned ones are NASTY. Buy a package of fresh ones and follow the directions. You can do this several days ahead and refrigerate. Your Grandaddy Blake would only eat Cranberry JELLY, right out of the can, in a can-shaped blob, which he would slice in little round slices. Not my favorite way, but you might like it.

Stuffed celery: Wash celery and cut into three-inch chunks. Mash cream cheese and add enough miracle whip to make it malleable. Add a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped pecans. Dry the celery and stuff. Best done thanksgiving morning. Good job for novice helpers.

Don't forget the olives!

Choose a green vegetable that you can live with and add delicious ingredients sufficient to offset any healthy side effects. Sometimes we do broccoli wth cheese sauce, sometimes that green bean casserole with the French's onion thingies on top. Just whatever you like is fine! But I know Chisum and I wouldn't really be satisfied without

Martha's Squawk Casserole
I don't know why we call it that, but I'm not going to change now.
4 medium yellow squash, cut in large chunks
3 medium zuchinni, cut in large chunks
2 large carrots, grated
1 large onion, chopped
1 large jar chopped pimiento
8 oz. processed cheese spread, melted
2 tablespoons canned jalepenos, chopped
8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
6 chicken boullion cubes, disolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
1 pan cornbread (Mix or home recipe)
Arrange squash in greased 4-quart pan, sprinkle carrots and onion over squash. Mix pimiento, chees, jalepenos, sour cream, soup, and dissolved boullion cubes in large bowl and pour over vegetables. Crumble cornbread over top of casserole and press down gently. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour .

Use the same criteria for the Jello salad. We've always used the Blueberry jello salad with the cream cheese and pecans, but there are plenty to choose from.

Blueberry Jello
2 small pkg. Grape jello
1 ¼ cup boiling water
1 small can crushed pineapple with juice
1 can blueberry pie filling
dissolve jello in water, add next two ingredients and chill
8 oz sour cream
¼ cup sugar
8 oz softened cream cheese
beat together until creamy and smooth. Spread over set jello. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Don't forget the pies---

Pie Crust

2 scant cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
Mix flour and salt with fork. Into a pyrex measuring cup, measure the oil, then the milk on top of it. Don't mix them up! Dump oil and milk into the flour at the same time and lightly mix together with a fork—just until it holds together. Roll out between wax paper.

Sweet Potato Pie Thanksgiving 2001

Unbaked pie crust
3 cups baked mashed up baked sweet potato. NOT CANNED
2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk—straight—don't add water.

Puree in food processor until smooth.
Bake in 9" pie shell at 400 til done—about 45 minutes.

Kentucky Derby Pie

Crust: 2 scant cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
Mix flour and salt with fork. Dump oil and milk into the flour at the same time and lightly mix together with a fork. Roll out between wax paper.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 stick melted butter
6 or 12 ounces chocolate chips (semisweet)
1 cup broken pecans
1 tsp vanilla
Beat eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla together---add butter. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into pie shell and bake in 325 oven for about an hour.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup Karo, light or dark
1 cup pecans
Mix together and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. reduce to 350 and bake about 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. (always takes me longer than ten minutes).

Food may be consumed before, during and after The Game. Gig'em.***

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