Thanksgiving is almost here!

Hey, wonderful readers, in case you haven’t noticed, next Thursday is Thanksgiving, that day on which we give thanks, eat too much and husbands band together to watch football, while the wives clean up the kitchen and dining room!
The turkey was domesticated and bred by the Aztec and Zuni Indians, and turkeys 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, (at which, I am told, they really did not serve turkey), the turkey has become the traditional symbol of this holiday.
The turkeys available in our grocery stores are commercially raised ones that are raised with special feeds, etc. Almost all the time, the commercially raised turkeys are a white variety. They are also almost listed as ‘broad-breasted’.
One of the better inventions and helps for cooking turkeys, of the past few years has been the built-in timer! This surely is a big help for novice cooks (or older ones also for that matter). Another great stride is the self-basting or pre-basted turkey. This type of turkey has oil or butter injected into it so that no basting is necessary while it is baking. If you do not care for the idea of the extra fat this brings to a turkey, do not buy that type. You can compensate for that extra oil or butter by either baking your turkey in an oven bag made for that purpose. Just follow the directions on the box of bags. (I baked a wild turkey in one of these bags several years ago and no one could tell the difference between it and a pre-basted turkey).
As for the size turkey you need, one pound of meat per person should be allowed, or one and one-half pounds if you want leftovers. Next, you need to know that a 12 to 15 pound bird will take no less than three whole days to thaw in the refrigerator, and if your refrigerator is really cold, you will need more thawing time. You should estimate one full day (24 hours) for each five pounds of turkey, and ALL defrosting should be done in the refrigerator. Once the turkey is thawed, remove the neck and giblets from the body cavities. Thoroughly rinse the inside and outside of the turkey. Drain well and pat the outside dry. Season the inside with salt and pepper and stuff with dressing if this is what you are going to do. If you elect not to stuff the bird, several slices of onion and a couple ribs of celery, or an apple cut into quarters, will help season the turkey.
Bake the turkey at 325ºF until a meat thermometer registers 170ºF to 175ºF. The inside juices should be clear when you pierce the skin and the joints should move freely. The average cooking time for a 10 to 18 pound, un-stuffed turkey is 3 to 3½ hours. Remove the bag with giblets and neck and set aside
There are probably as many dressing/stuffing recipes as there are cooks making Thanksgiving dinner. You can buy a packaged mix, or make your own. The main thing to remember is do not mix the dressing up the day before! You can chop and sauté the onions/celery you use in it and refrigerate, you can break up the cornbread or bread and season it with the salt and pepper and other spices, but DO NOT add the liquid ingredients, such as eggs or broth until just before you are ready to bake it.
Cornbread Dressing
4½ cups crumbled corn bread
2½ cups day old French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium chopped onion
1½ cups chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 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
Make cornbread using 2 cups cornmeal/flour, or use one or two of the packages that need only milk and added to them and bake according to package directions in an 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan. This can be done a couple days ahead of time. When cool, crumble and place in bowl in fridge.
Allow bread to dry out slightly, crumble and add to cornbread. When ready to assemble, add 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. Place in baking pan and bake at 350ºF until golden brown and set. If it looks dry while baking, add more broth or milk. Dressing can be made using canned vegetable or chicken broth instead of the turkey broth from cooking the giblets if you want to save that for the gravy. And, though I prefer homemade gravy, the packages of turkey gravy mix from Pioneer® is really tasty.
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.
Sweet Potatoes with Apples
2 to 3 pounds fresh sweet potatoes
4 or 5 large cooking apples
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar, or to taste
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into 3/4-inch thick rounds. Peel the apples and cut into 1/2-inch crosswise slices and remove cores. (If you have an apple corer, the cores can be removed before slicing). Place a layer of sweet potato slices in large pot or baking dish, sprinkle with 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar and a small amount of the melted butter or margarine, top with a layer of apples. Repeat layers, finishing with a layer of apples. Add 1/4 cup or less water to the pan and place over medium heat. Bring water to a boil, cover and cook without stirring until apples and potatoes are tender. This dish may also be baked in a 350ºF oven until tender. Serve hot.