Thanksgiving is the day for cooks to shine and foodaholics to weep in gratitude. It marks the beginning of a season where calories are ignored and food babies are conceived. Everyone gathers around the t.v. to watch the Macy's Day Parade in the morning. Little do they know that by evening when they waddle out of my house, they will closely resemble those giant floats hovering over Central Park. There's a reason stuffing is called stuffing, and I don't think it has anything to do with the pilgrims. None of them sported the nickname "Butterball" after the feast. Only Americans feel inclined to gobble, guilt free, mass quantities of poultry, starch, gravy and sweets on this special occasion. And a lot of people eat it twice in one day, because everyone knows that afternoon football marathon just wouldn't be the same without a leftover turkey sandwich, beer, and a side of re-heated, mashed potatoes. Finish it off with a slice or two of pumpkin pie and you've had a traditional Thanksgiving holiday. Too bad we can't attach pop-up timers to our stomachs like the ones that come with our turkeys---at least then we'd know when to stop stuffing our faces before our stomachs explode.
For my family, Thanksgiving starts early with coffee and mimosas, while my husband makes the raw turkey dance in the sink (too many mimosas) before he washes it. The bird is always a large one---my husband searches for weeks for the perfect turkey---one the size of an ostrich.
Once the bird is in the oven, I put the family in charge of peeling the potatoes while I fix the other side dishes and sneak a piece of pecan pie. Once on the lips, forever on the hips? Who cares, it's Thanksgiving!
The mob that I call my extended family arrives in the afternoon and the gorging begins. There is enough food on the table to feed a Third World Country. Football is on but the room is unusually quiet---no one has the energy to yell or cheer for their team because they're already in a food coma.
I pack up the leftovers after everyone leaves and wonder as I always do, why there's always so much lime jello salad left. Probably because every year someone makes a comment about it resembling something that came out of The Hulk. It may look gross, but it tastes great, and it has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. Maybe I'll pass the recipe down to my grandkids and rename it Hulk Jello Salad.
The next day I know better than to step on the scale. It actually cringes when it sees me enter the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I notice the gobbler that has grown on my neck overnight. I'm even more convinced that I am a distant cousin of the turkey when I lift up my sleeves and see giblet arms. No need to contemplate the stomach---I already know that's the final resting place of the stuffing and mashed potatoes I ate the night before. Time to lace up the sneakers and hit the jogging trail...well, maybe after one more slice of pecan pie.
MOM'S GEORGIA PECAN PIE
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup whole pecans
1 pastry shell (homemade pie crust is best but store bought will do)
Mix all ingred. except pecans. Spread pecans on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour in the filling on top of the nuts. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted in pie comes out clean
MOM'S SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingred. and place in casserole dish. Then make the topping as follows:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 stick butter, melted
Combine ingred. and sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Serves 6.