I love Thanksgiving. I love the old New England version of Thanksgiving with the turkey and stuffing and potatoes and all the trimmings, minus green bean casserole. (No offense, green beans, but I don’t like them mushy!)
I love a great dessert table after a beautiful meal, mostly because we spend summer and fall living on burgers and sandwiches and whatever we can grab quickly because there’s little time for fussing. So it’s fun to fuss on Thanksgiving and there are a whole bunch of us helping.
Now we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday (today). We do the family Thanksgiving tomorrow so that my kids with in-laws aren’t split by two hours at one house, two hours at another, and then two hours at another. So today whoever is at our house baking for tomorrow will have Chicken French and Artichoke French and for the two fellows who don’t love those, we’ll throw a steak on the grill….
That picture is two years old, but you get the idea… All hands on deck for baking!
And then tomorrow, tradition reigns.
I love seeing family all get together, but it happens rarely with a couple of kids far away, so whenever it happens, we celebrate! It doesn’t have to be a holiday because anytime I’ve got my kids around is a holiday. And that’s even when we’re grabbing bologna sandwiches during the busy farm season because we’re all doing this together. And together is what makes it special.
And if you’re at a stage of life where you can’t or don’t get together with family for Thanksgiving, then you can spend your day with the sweet Lord who offers life and hope. It’s fun to have family around, but I know it’s tiring, too.
God isn’t tiring. He’s inspiring and loves you to distraction, so whatever your day holds, I pray that it’s a warm, embracing day, filled with love near and far.
A day to just simply give thanks.
God bless you!
And yes, I’m giving away another copy of our Christmas anthology “Christmas at Star Inn”!
Leave a comment about whatever you’re giving thanks for today… no thought is too little or too grand. It’s all good. And if you’d like prayers for something, well we’re happy to do that, too!
We’ve all got our own traditions for Thanksgiving, don’t we?
Being in Western New York, our traditions are very New England… the turkey and stuffing and gravy and mashed potatoes and maybe corn… rolls and butter. Cranberry sauce!
Oh, it’s a delightful way of putting on the dog and thanking God that one day a year…. (I’m of a mind we should be doing that on a more daily basis, but this is a Thanksgiving post, not a lecture. 🙂
Down south I have friends who can’t have Thanksgiving without barbecue…. and I mean real “cue” with brisket and cornbread or corn pudding (SO DELICIOUS!!!) and shrimp-and-grits and coke.
Notice the lower case, because all soft drinks are cokes. 🙂
And if you wander to Tex-Mex country, you might find traditional turkey in some places, but you might find a vast buffet of Hispanic foods, too….
And in an Italian house, what’s Thanksgiving without lasagna?
In the old west, in the early railroad days or pre-railroad days, you cooked what you had. What you grew. What you shot or trapped or bagged.
So Thanksgiving might be fresh fish or salt cod.
It might be chicken and dumplings if you were lucky enough to have started a flock of chickens and could spare one.
It might be smoked venison if you bagged a deer or an elk.
Or it could be birds… Not turkeys. Smaller birds. Game birds.
Or if you had the know-how to grow a pig over the summer, then butchering time might give you a fresh ham or a smoked ham… or bacon… or chops. Smoking and salting cured meat so that it would last longer.
We’re talking about lack of ice in an upcoming post and that was a big concern in parts of the west. you could cut block ice in the north, but that wasn’t happening in the lower states… not with a huge degree of keeping things cold because their winter is much shorter.
But when it comes right down to it, does it matter what we eat?
Or what day we celebrate giving thanks to God for all of our blessings?
When family is together, we choose that day. With a big family you can’t be governed by a calendar… so we choose to be governed by love. 🙂
How about you? Do you have a traditional-style Thanksgiving?
Or are you a little more regionally acclimated?
Let me know below!
And I have a copy of my upcoming Love Inspired book “A Hopeful Harvest” in the prize closet for one lucky person!
Next week is my mailing week…. and I’d love to pick your name!
I hope this finds everyone well! This is the beginning of the long slide into the holiday season and I want to take a minute to thank each and everyone of you for reading our blog and being part of our family here at Wildflower Junction.
This is will a different Thanksgiving for me. When my daughter was a freshman in college, her boyfriend’s family invited our family to dinner. It meant a drive and an overnight stay in Reno and breaking our own holiday traditions, which was me cooking a huge dinner for the family. Long story short, we said yes to the invitation and it was the beginning of a very good thing. I discovered that bringing a pie instead of cooking the entire meal was an amazingly freeing experience. We discovered that we liked spending Thanksgiving in a hotel and shopping Black Friday the next day in a city–something we’d never done before.
My mother, who at the time lived too far away to travel to our family Thanksgivings (and vice versa), was horrified. Not cook dinner? Eat it out? Break tradition?
Yes, Mom. It’s amazing!!!!
Thus started our tradition for the past fifteen years. Eventually Reno became San Francisco, and we saved all year for our stay in the big hotel in the city. We had dinner out. Our daughter-in-law joined the tradition, first as a girlfriend, then as a fiancee, and finally as our official daughter-in-law.
But this year is different. My daughter got married three days ago and is off on her honeymoon, so Thanksgiving as a family in a city simply isn’t working out. Another change. So this year I am cooking the entire dinner for the first time in almost two decades. My turkey is defrosting in the fridge. I’m baking pies today. My son and daughter will spend the holidays with their in-laws and I will cook for my parents who now live close by.
Change is good and traditions need not be carved in stone. I will miss my city Thanksgiving, but am so looking forward to bringing back the old traditions we’d carried on for years prior.
This is the time of year we pause to count our blessings, but fostering a spirit of gratitude year-round is a goal I strive to achieve. Did you know that people who make a regular effort to be thankful, live richer lives? Counting blessings and expressing gratitude for what we already have instead of focusing on what we don’t makes us happier.
Psychological studies have shown that a grateful attitude increases self-esteem, reduces depression, and makes us more resilient when hard times come our way. It improves our relationships with others, makes us more optimistic, and makes us more likely to be generous givers. On the physical side, studies have shown that fostering a thankful spirit reduces blood pressure, promotes relaxation and improved sleep, and can even shorten recovery time from illness.
I can’t help but think of the iconic cowboy. Humble, grateful for the little things in life, unbothered by the big things that reside outside his control. He’ll let God tackle those. He counts himself fortunate if he has a horse that don’t limp, a roof that don’t leak, and a wide open sky to gaze upon. He’s content.
I know that’s a romanticized ideal, but I like it. It helps me put things into perspective. But then again, maybe it’s not quite so romanticized. As I was searching the internet for ideas for this post, I ran across this story that ran on the CBS evening news back in September of last year. Not only did this story make me laugh, but it made me want to stand up and cheer for the humble cowboy who made a choice to do what was right and asked for nothing in return.
I know we’re all busy with holiday preparations, so I’m going to keep today’s post short and sweet. And the sweet is quite literal. In honor of the best eating holiday around, I thought I’d share my mother’s recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving dish – Candied Yams. Mmmmmm. They are so good. I never quite get mine to taste as good as hers, but they’re close enough to thoroughly enjoy.
Wrap 5 large Red Garnet Yams in foil (poke a few vent holes with a short knife in each) and bake in a 400 degree oven until soft (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Let cool.
(Red Garnet Yams are much better than sweet potatoes, but if you can’t find them, sweet potatoes will work, too.)
Unwrap yams, remove skin, and slice lengthwise into thin, oblong strips about 1/4 inch thick. Lay flat in a shallow baking dish (jelly roll pans work great), fitting them close together so almost no pan is visible. You will probably need at least 2 pans. Sprinkle generously with brown sugar. Drizzle (or spoon) melted butter over the yams until all the sugar is moistened. Bake in a 400 degree oven again until yams get dark (sticky and candied) around edges (usually 45-60 minutes).
Use a metal spatula to remove yams. Serve in a shallow dish.
Old-fashioned. Simple. And delicious!
The other sweet I’m offering today is a free book. WooHoo!!! Who doesn’t love a great Christmas story to curl up with around the holidays?
I had the honor of meeting author Jolene Navarro at a library event in the small Texas town of Llano. I snatched up a copy of her latest release, A Texas Christmas Wish, knowing all of my Petticoats & Pistols friends would love the chance to win a signed copy.
So, to enter for a chance to win, simply leave a comment about your favorite Thanksgiving dish.
Have a blessed day tomorrow with family and friends. May your hearts be filled with gratitude and your bellies be filled with delicious food.
In Texas, pecans are a Big Deal. The trees are native to the state, and according the archaeological record, they’ve been here since long before humans arrived. When people did arrive, they glommed onto the nuts right away as an excellent source of essential vitamins (19 of them, in fact), fats, and proteins. Comanches and other American Indians considered the nuts a dietary staple, combining pecans with fruits and other nuts to make a sort of “trail mix.” They also used pecan milk to make an energy drink and thickened stews and soups with the ground meat. Most Indians carried stores of the nuts with them when they traveled long distances, because pecans would sustain them when no other food sources were available.
An individual Texas pecan tree may live for more than 1,000 years. Some grow to more than 100 feet tall.
Pecans have been an important agricultural product in Texas since the mid-1800s. In 1850, 1,525 bushels left the Port of Galveston; just four years later, the number of bushels exceeded 13,000. In 1866, the ports at Galveston, Indianola, and Port Lavaca combined shipped more than 20,000 barrels of pecans.
Nevertheless, as the state’s population exploded, pecan groves dwindled. Trees were cut to clear fields for cotton. Pecan wood was used to make wagon parts and farm implements. One of Texas’s great natural resources was depleted so quickly that in 1904, the legislature considered passing laws to prevent the complete disappearance of the pecan.
Left alone to regenerate for a couple of decades, Texas pecan groves came back bigger than ever. Until 1945, Texas trees produced more 30 percent of the U.S. pecan crop. In 1910, pecan production in the state reached nearly 6 million pounds, and the trees grew in all but eight counties. During the 1920s, Texas exported 500 railcar loads per year, and that was only 75 percent of the state’s crop. The average annual production between 1936 and 1946 was just shy of 27 million pounds; in 1948, a banner year for pecan production, the crop zoomed to 43 million pounds produced by 3,212,633 trees. In 1972, the harvest reached a whopping 75 million pounds.
During the Great Depression, the pecan industry provided jobs for many Texans. The nuts had to be harvested and shelled. Shelling employed 12,000 to 15,000 people in San Antonio alone.
The Texas legislature designated the pecan the official state tree in 1919. Between then and now, pecan nuts became Texas’s official state health food (Texas has an official health food?), and pecan pie became the state’s official pie (and my official favorite pie). Pecan wood is used to make baseball bats, hammer handles, furniture, wall paneling, flooring, carvings, and firewood.
Yep. Pecans have always been, and continue to be, a Big Deal in Texas—especially during the holidays. I’d be surprised if any native Texans don’t bake at least one pecan pie for either Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or both.
The first known appearance of a pecan pie recipe in print can be found on page 95 in the February 6, 1886, issue of Harper’s Bazaar. I’ll bet Texans were baking the pies long before that, though—and I’ll bet even back then Texas pecan pies weren’t the wimpy little milk-custard-based, meringue-covered things Harper’s recommended. In Texas, we make our pecan pies with brown sugar, molasses or corn syrup, butter, eggs, a whole bunch of pecans, and sometimes bourbon.
Another thing Texans have been making with pecans for a long, long time is cinnamon-pecan cake—another treat lots of folks enjoy around the holidays. My family doesn’t put bourbon in this dessert. Instead, we pour a delicious whiskey sauce over each slice. (It occurs to me that for a passel of Baptists, my family sure cooks with a lot of liquor. See the old family recipe for muscadine wine here.)
On to the cake recipe!
Cinnamon Pecan Cake
1 cup butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans
Additional chopped pecans or pecan halves for topping, if desired
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
In large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beating at low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
At low speed, alternately add milk and flour mixture into sugar mixture, beating just until blended. Fold in pecans. Spread in pans. Sprinkle chopped pecans or arrange pecan halves on top, if desired.
Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire rack and cool completely.
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
½ Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon
In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.
Whisk cornstarch and water together and add to cream while whisking constantly.
Bring to a boil, whisk and simmer until thickened (taking care not to scorch the mixture on the bottom). Remove from heat.
Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add sugar and whiskey to adjust sweetness and flavor, if desired.
Folks in Fort Worth in the 1880s would’ve eaten this cake—or something very similar—during the holidays. That’s exactly when and where “A Long Way from St. Louis,” my contribution to Prairie Rose Publications’s Christmas anthology A Mail-Order Christmas Bride, takes place. The book—with stories by fellow fillies Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—bows November 27, but it’s available for pre-order now at Amazon.
Here’s a little about “A Long Way from St. Louis”:
Cast out by St. Louis society when her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger over the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.
Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.
When the debutante and the ne’er-do-well collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.
So, readers… What dish—dessert, main course, side, or appetizer—absolutely must be part of your holidays? I’ll give an ebook version of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)