I love Thanksgiving! If my mom heard me say that, she’d laugh. Starting in 1960, it became tradition to have Thanksgiving Dinner at my parents’ house. My mom cooked Thanksgiving Dinner every year for close to 40 years. By the twentieth time or so she’d had enough, but she kept going until I took over. Considering we always bought the biggest turkey in the store, I’m guessing she baked close to a half-ton of turkey.
That’s a lot of white meat. And a lot of drumsticks! It’s also a tradition I want very much to continue in our new home. My sons love my turkey, a skill that came directly from my mom. She passed away in July and I’m miss her a lot. I also know she’s quite happy to not be baking yet another turkey!
Here’s how she taught me to do it. I bake the bird on a rack so the drippings get nice and brown. That makes for wonderful gravy! I also cover the turkey with a tent made of heavy-duty aluminum foil. I have no idea what the tent does, but the turkey comes out great.
My stuffing recipe came from my dad’s side of the family. It includes Farmer John pork sausage, onion, celery, Mrs. Cubison’s stuffing mix (or Pepperidge Farms if I can’t get Mrs. C’s), giblets diced down to powder and–most important of all–a grated green apple. It all gets mixed together the night before, cooled in the fridge and then baked in the bird.
Let talk gravy. Any tips to get rid of lumps? My trick is to mix the flour in cold water until it’s the consistency of thin pancake batter and lump free. When I add the mix to the drippings, I have a glass of cold water on hand. If the flour mix sticks, I pour in a bit of water. It works! No lumps.
Here’s a Bylin family tradition that usually makes people say, “Huh?” Does anyone else have rhuttabagas as Thanksgiving? They’re also called yellow turnips. They’re good when mashed with lots of butter and a little sugar.
The rest of the menu is pretty standard. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Green beans or peas and carrots. For dessert, though, I switch out pumpin pie for cheesecake. That’s another of my mom’s recipes. She cut it out of a newspaper back in the 1950s. Here it is.
Mom Bylin’s Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust
My mom use to grind up crackers with a rolling pin. I follow the directions on the box of ready-made crumbs. Trust me, the box kind is much easier and just as good. I use a 9-inch glass pie plate and follow the directions for the baked crust. You’ll need butter or margerine and sugar. Be sure to keep out about an 1/8 cup of the butter/sugar/crumb mix for a topping.
9 oz regular cream cheese (This used to be 3-3 oz squares, but I haven’t seen those in years)
1 8 oz carton of sour cream
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Soften the cream cheese. (My mom used to let it sit on the counter. I do it in the microwave on the lowest power, being very, very careful not to liquefy it.) Blend the cream cheese and the sour cream in a small bowl until it’s lump free (or as close to lump free as you can get it; tiny lumps will melt when baked.) Set this bowl aside.
In a bigger bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add the cream cheese / sour cream mix and blend thoroughly. Pour into the already made graham cracker crust and baked at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the middle looks done. Let it cool.
1 8 oz. carton of sour cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Blend in a bowl, then spread gently on the baked cheesecake. Sprinkle with the leftover crumbs from the crust. Bake for 5 minutes (sometimes less) at 450 degrees. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy!
What about you having for dinner today? Are you checking out Petticoats and Pistols after getting your turkey in the oven? Or maybe you’re going out to eat? That’s fun, too. Either way, Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to count our blessings. Here’s wishing everyone a time full of peace, love and the joy of family and friends.