Hope you all are getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday! I, for one, am hoping to indulge in small bites of everything I want to eat, instead of gorging myself stupid (as I have done in the past). We’re going over to my aunt’s to eat dinner this year, and I think I’ll bring my Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese. (We’ll see if anyone eats it…I’m not going to tell them what’s in it.)
I’m sad that I won’t really be spending any time with my dad’s family. My grandmother passed away last year, and we have since packed up her house and most everything in it. Last Christmas Eve, we all celebrated our last Christmas at her place. It was sad without her there, but there were traces of her everywhere. The place where she always sat at the table, the empty cookie jar in the corner, her recipes that my mom still makes.
My mom’s family gathering won’t be nearly as big and lavish as it has been in the past, what with my cousins in different places in the South, and one of my cousins just had a baby. It’s weird…it’s like I turned a corner and suddenly grew up. Do you ever feel that way? I get it especially around the holidays. I remember times when we would run around my grandmother’s kitchen, sneaking bites of food before it was time. Now my cousins are running around my grandmother’s house—chasing down their own children.
Even though there won’t be as much family around, I know that the moment a forkful of my mom’s dressing touches my lips, it’ll be home, all over again. Everything else melts away when I taste those familiar tastes: onion, cornbread, sage—tons of sage. And of course, there will be turkey, and gravy, and cream corn. And green beans. And macaroni and cheese. Did I mention the gravy?
And oh yes—the desserts. Pecan pie, red velvet cake (my mom’s is the best, hands down), chocolate layer cake, coconut cake. There’s never a shortage of desserts when the Harris family is in charge. I remember last year, my grandmother made several pecan pies and sent one home with us. All day, I couldn’t wait to dig into a sweet slice of pecan-crusted heaven. When the time came, I got ready to cut into the treat…the knife went straight through the crust into a soup of corn syrup, sugar and butter. My mom and I decided we would not call her out on this error, but soon after the mishap we received a phone call from my grandmother.
“Have you eaten your pie yet”?” she asked.
“Um…oh, no,” my mom replied.
“It’s the strangest thing,” grandmother said, in disbelief, “we went to cut into one of ours and it was basically raw in the middle! Just wanted to warn you!”
Back to the dressing…I, obviously, believe that my mom’s is the very best. It’s thick, moist, and you can slice it with a knife (that’s what she…?). I attended a Thanksgiving dinner once before and I was served stuffing. Crumbly and savory, it was good, but—it wasn’t my mom’s. I think it’s a regional thing, dressing or stuffing. What’s tradition in your family?
As I’ve learned to cook, I really love Thanksgiving. I love the idea of bustling around in the kitchen, preparing my own side dish to bring to a dinner that I merely ate instead of participated in the past. I love seeing my family, and I love listening to my mother and her sisters and my grandmother talking about their recipes, their food, and holidays gone by.
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family? What’s your favorite dish? And the most important question—dressing or stuffing?