Turkey time is family time!

First and foremost, let me apologize for the date error in last week’s column. I stated that Friday was Veteran’s Day and it was actually on Saturday, as by now, you have realized.
Let us all try to remember that the most important thing about Thanksgiving if the giving of thanks. When this feast day was first celebrated, it was in thanksgiving for a bountiful crop, Indians who were friendly and the fact that the people had survived.
Let us give thanks…for our families; for our friends, for our schools and their teachers; for our churches and synagogues, where we can worship freely; for our service men and women who are fighting to keep our country a free place; for the fact that we live in a country that is still free; and last, but by no means least, that we have lived to see another Thanksgiving! For the families among us who have members missing from the holiday table this year, we pray that they have the strength and courage to make it through these coming holidays, with perhaps a little lessening of the pain in their hearts. Just as HE is the “reason for the season”, at Christmas, THANKS is the first word in the name of this feast we are celebrating. And, let’s add a special prayer for all of those in Sutherland Springs, TX who were killed in the shooting last Sunday.
Thanksgiving Day was first observed by the Pilgrims in the fall of 1621 when Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony appointed a day for feasting and thanksgiving, which lasted three days. They feasted on wild turkey, venison and various vegetables that the Indians had taught them to grow.
Thanksgiving was celebrated rather sporadically until 1789 when President George Washington issued a proclamation of a nationwide day of thanksgiving. He stated that the day should be one of ‘prayer and giving thanks to God’. This day was to be celebrated by all religious denominations.
Sarah J. Hale, editor and founder of Ladies’ Magazine (circa 1828) in Boston is generally credited with being the person who established Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. She wrote editorials in the magazine and also letters to President Abraham Lincoln urging the formal establishment of a national holiday. This resulted in Lincoln’s proclamation designating the last Thursday in November as the day. Presidents following Lincoln generally followed his example until 1939 when Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November (rather than the last Thursday) as Thanksgiving Day. This was mostly to encourage holiday shopping. Congress adopted a joint resolution in 1941 setting the date as the fourth Thursday. I do not know if this has ever been rescinded, because in years with five Thursdays, there is always confusion as to when to celebrate. There have been instances in our family where part of the workers had off the fourth Thursday and others had off the fifth Thursday!
In case you haven’t looked at a calendar, next week Thursday, the 23rd is Thanksgiving Day, and this week is the time to start thinking about what you are going to cook and how much you are going to cook!
The turkey is the largest of the game birds native to North America. We no longer have to depend on our husbands, fathers, sons or brothers (or ourselves) to go out and shoot a turkey for us for Thanksgiving. (Isn’t THAT wonderful?) Have you ever cleaned a turkey from scratch? Believe me, it is a LOT of work, and smelly besides, and if it is a young bird, you have to contend with pinfeathers to boot. Then, after all that work is done, you still have to worry about how long to cook this bird to get it tender.
The turkey was domesticated and bred by the Aztec and Zuni Indians, and they were used not only for food, but also for sacrifice. These Indians used the feathers for adornment and for charms.
The Spanish conquerors first saw the turkey around 1492, and by 1530, the Mexican species was introduced to Europe. Any and all of the varieties bred today are descendants of the original North American wild turkey, Meleagris gallopava. There are several subspecies of wild turkey that have been recognized, and their range is from Mexico to northern New England.
When the colonists arrived in New England, they discovered an abundant supply of food in the form of the wild turkey. Since the first American Thanksgiving, the turkey has become the traditional symbol of this holiday, even though it may not really have been served.
The wild turkey has diminished in number since those times. However, here in Texas, the turkey is hunted every year during the regular fall hunting season, and in some areas during a spring turkey season. Most usually, only Tom turkeys can be shot legally, and you must have a hunting license to do so.
Here is a Turkey Triva Quiz that I received as an email several years ago from my brother. I took it online as instructed and to my surprise, I didn’t get but half of the answers correct! The correct answers are at the bottom of this column.
This quiz is called Aristotle’s Thanksgiving Turkey Trivia Quiz. The site is:
http://home.aristotle.net/Thanksgiving/trivia.asp. The site is still there, but you have to go to the second selection for the quiz. It might be fun for an after dinner game!
How much do you know about the turkey? Take Aristotle’s quiz and find out!
1. When was the first Thanksgiving celebration? 1492? 1567? 1621? Or 1777?
2. Where was the turkey first domesticated? Canada? Mexico & Central America? New Zealand? India?
3. What is a female turkey called? A rooster? A cuckoo? A chick? A hen?
4. What is a male turkey called? A Larry? A Clark? A Harry? A Tom?
5. What great American statesman lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol? Benjamin Franklin? Thomas Jefferson? John Adams? Andrew Jackson?
6. What sound does a female turkey make? Gobble? Click? Chirp? Peep?
7. What sound does a male turkey make? Gobble? Click? Chirp? Peep?
8. About how many feathers does a mature turkey have? 1,500? 2,000? 3,500? 5,000?
9. Which state produces the most turkeys annually? Kansas? Ohio? Arkansas? Minnesota?
10. How fast can wild turkeys run? 5 mph? 15 mph? 25 mph? 45 mph?
11. How does Arkansas rank among the other states in turkey production? 1st? 3rd? 8th? 14th?
12. What native American tribe celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the colonists? The Wampanoag tribe? The Sioux tribe? The Arapaho tribe? The Choctaw tribe?
13. Can wild turkeys fly? If so, how fast? No? Yes, up to 25 mph? Yes, up to 40 mph? Yes, up to 55 mph?
14. Approximately what percentage of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving? 49%? 67%? 82%? 90%?
15. Approximately what percentage of American homes eat turkey on Christmas? 34%? 50%? 67%? 89%?
16. What is the name of the skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck? Snark? Wattle? Garble? Swag?
17. Which United States president specified that Thanksgiving would fall on the last Thursday of November? Martin Van Buren? Andrew Jackson? William H. Taft? Abraham Lincoln?
18. Which president attempted to move the Thanksgiving holiday to the 4th Thursday of November? Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Dwight D. Eisenhower? Harry S. Truman? Gerald Ford?
19. Which country consumes the most turkey per year per capita? The United States of America? Israel? Spain? The United Kingdom (England)?
20. What is the best way to defrost a turkey? With a hair dryer? In the refrigerator? In cold water? In the microwave?
We all have our favorite recipes for “dressing” or “stuffing”, and there are probably as many recipes as there are cooks making it. Over time, I’ve eaten many versions of it, including with dill pickles (not as bad as it sounds), bacon (it’s good), oysters (OK, but I wouldn’t walk a mile for it), bread dressing (which was what my Grandmother in LaCoste made, I think it had Alsatian roots, but am not sure), cornbread dressing (various homes), and last, but by no means least, my favorite, a dressing made with both bread and cornbread! The main thing to remember is that you NEVER make the dressing the day before. It is all right to cook the vegetables and the meat and refrigerate until the next day, but do not make the dressing itself until you are ready to use it. (I know that many people probably do this, but, cooking safety rules say not to do so.)
When baking your turkey, use one of the baking bags and follow the directions. Butter Ball® still has a hotline if you have any questions!
Following are a couple of recipes for you to try.
Bread Dressing
1½ lb. loaf, day-old white bread
1 cup diced celery
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup butter or margarine
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (or more if desired)
1 to 1½ teaspoons salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper
¾ to 1 cup broth or milk, or more if needed
Remove crusts from bread, cut into ½-inch dice. Place in large bowl. Sauté celery and onion in butter until soft; pour over bread. Add seasonings and mix well. Add broth and mix again. Place in oven-proof bowl and bake until set and brown on top. (For oyster dressing, omit all but ½ cup broth and add 1¼ cups chopped oysters).
Cornbread Dressing
4½ cups crumbled corn bread
2½ cups day old French bread, cut into 1½ inch cubes
1 medium chopped onion
1½ cups chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped parsley
½ cup butter or margarine
2 lightly beaten eggs
2 to 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 cups broth or milk*, or a little more if necessary
(Turkey giblets and neck, or 1 pack chicken giblets and hearts, or ½ pound ground meat or pan sausage) optional
Boil giblets, etc., until done. Chop or grind and set aside. If using ground meat or pan sausage, cook well in skillet until nicely browned, drain well and set aside.
Make corn bread using 2 cups cornmeal/flour, (or use one or two of the packages that need milk and eggs added to them) and bake according to directions in an 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan. This can be done several days ahead of time. When cool, crumble and place in bowl in fridge.
Allow bread to dry out slightly, crumble and add to cornbread. Add giblets or meat (if used); sauté onions and celery in margarine until tender. Add to cornbread mixture. Add parsley and seasonings. Add beaten eggs and broth and mix well. If it does not seem moist enough, add more broth or milk. Place in baking pan and bake at 350ºF until golden brown and set. If it looks dry while baking, add more broth or milk. Canned chicken or vegetable broth can be used if you want to save the broth from cooking the giblets for your gravy. *If you use canned broth, be careful not to use too much salt in the dressing as the broth is already salted.
1½ cups cornmeal
½ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup oil or melted shortening
Mix dry ingredients together in bowl. Mix together egg, milk and shortening, ad to dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into lightly greased 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan and bake until golden brown. Cool before using.
Missy’s Apple Dip
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
½ cup sifted powdered sugar
1 carton Marzettis Caramel Apple Dip (do not try to use caramel topping for ice cream, it doesn’t work)
1 to 2 cups Heath toffee bits
Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar, then spread this mixture onto an aluminum disposable pizza tin. Evenly spread the caramel apple dip over this and then sprinkle with the toffee bits. Serve with sliced apples of various types. (If you slice your apples into 7up, they will not darken, I do one variety and scoop them out to drain slightly, and then slice the next variety into the same 7up until I am finished).
Sweet Potatoes with Apples
5 sweet potatoes (or use 2 or 3 cans of sweet potatoes)
5 cooking apples
Brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350º. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-in. thick slices, set aside. Peel, core and slice apples into ½-in. thick slices. Place a layer of potatoes into a Dutch oven or stockpot, top with a layer of apples, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over all, repeat layers, finishing with apples. Melt butter and pour over apples. Pour water into pot, put in oven and bake about 1 hour or until potatoes are done, or ½ hour if you used canned potatoes.
Mrs. Haass’ Pink Stuff
1 can (20-oz) cherry pie filling
1 can (20-oz) crushed pineapple in juice
1 can Angel Flake coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 can condensed milk (not evaporated!)
1 carton (8-oz) whipped topping, thawed
Mix all together and chill before serving.
Broccoli Salad
1 bunch broccoli
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
6 thin sliced, slices bacon
1 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
Slice bacon crosswise into strips, fry until crisp, set aside to drain well, while you wash broccoli, separate it into flowerets and cut into small pieces. Place the broccoli into bowl and add the raisins. Finely dice onion, add to broccoli/raisin mixture, and stir in the bacon. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and pour over all, stir to mix. Serve at room temperature.
Answers to quiz…1-1621, 2-Mexico and Central America, 3-hen, 4-Tom, 5-Benjamin Franklin, 6-Click (My thought was ‘cluck’), 7-gobble, 8-3,500, 9-North Carolina (surprise, right?), 10-25mph, 11-Wampanoag Tribe, 12-third, 13-Yes, at speeds up to 55mp, 14-90%. 15-50%, 16-wattle, 17-Abraham Lincoln, 18-Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 19-Isarel, 20-cold water, (my thought was in the fridge).