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Recipes - Thanksgiving Dinner

These recipes are from Elizabeth Marie Chambers Carlson (also known as Ellie), Chicago, Illinois USA—Thanksgiving, 2009

  • 4-4¼ cups/20-22.5 ounces flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon/.5 ounces brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon/15 mls cider vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons/ 1 ounce salt
  • ½cup/4 fluid ounces ice cold water
  • 1 ¾cups/7 ounces shortening (preferably Butter Flavor Crisco), or margarine (don’t use butter)
Sift flour, sugar and salt, beat egg and combine with vinegar, cut shortening into flour until the size of small peas, sprinkle with egg mixture, mix all together, add water, one Tablespoon at a time. Gather dough into ball, wrap in waxed paper and chill at least half an hour before rolling. Will make 4 pie shells or two double crusts.

We like to make two pies and cut the remaining crust with cookie cutters to make pie crust cookies for the children, paint each cut cookie with butter, sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and sugar, bake at 400° F/200°C/gas mark 6 for 10 minutes.

Pecan Pie:
  • 3 eggs, thoroughly beaten
  • ¼cup/1 ounce melted butter
  • 1 cup/12 fluid ounces Alaga syrup or equivalent amount of maple or corn syrup and molassas (½each)
  • ¼cup/3 ounces brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon/15 mls vanilla or bourbon
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup/5 ounces pecans
Beat eggs, add sugar and syrup, beating constantly, slowly add melted butter, vanilla and dash of salt. Line unbaked pie crust with pecans, pour filling over. Bake at 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 one hour or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean.

Pumpkin Pie:
  • 1 ½cups/10 ounces prepared pumpkin*
  • ½teaspoon/2mls salt
  • 1 ¼cups/10 fluid ounces milk
  • 1 teaspoon/5 mls each ginger, cloves, allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon/15 mls cinnamon
  • ¾cups/4.5 ounces brown sugar
  • 3 slightly beaten eggs
  • 1 can/6 fluid ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon/5 mls vanilla
  • 1 whole grated nutmeg
Thoroughly combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices. Add eggs, milk and evaporated milk. Blend. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Be certain to have edges crimped high. Bake in hot oven, 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 for 50 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean.

*To prepare pumpkin: Wash outside of pumpkin (any hard squash may be used if pumpkin is unavailable) rub with oil or butter. Using a long knife or skewer, poke at least three holes all the way through skin of pumpkin. Bake in slow oven, 300°F/150°/gas mark 2, for 2-4 hours, cool, cut open, remove seeds, puree cooked pumpkin.

Grandma Chambers’ Corn Bread Dressing (Stuffing)*

This recipe comes from Flossie Marie Murphree Chambers (1914-1992). She lived most of her life in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
  • 6-10 slices stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 2-4 raw eggs
  • A bit of butter
  • 1 onion
  • 2-5 stalks celery
  • 1 can water chestnuts or 6-8 fresh chestnuts, roasted
  • 1-4 cups/ 8-16 fluid ounces of broth from boiling giblets
  • ¼-1 cup/2-8 ounces broth from turkey roasting pan
  • Chopped giblets and neck meat if desired
  • Quite a lot of dried sage, at least 2 Tablespoons/30 mls
  • White pepper, Black pepper, Salt
Make the cornbread, leave to cool. Remove crusts from bread and crumble (if very stale) or toast and then break into small pieces, about the size of a dice (one can purchase ready made croutons but my grandmother would have considered that as wasteful and perhaps even cheating). Crumble the cornbread and the bread crumbs together, finely chop the hard boiled eggs and add to bread mixture. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, thoroughly cook the onion until well caramelized in butter.

When the onion is nearly done add the finely chopped celery and cook ten minutes. Add cooked vegetables to the mixture. Add water chestnuts if you like a crunchy dressing, or roasted chestnuts if you do not. Don’t use both; they do not go well together. Mix the spices together and stir into a little of the broth. Let sit a few minutes. Making the dressing moist is a tricky thing. Each batch will be different.

That being said, begin with one beaten egg and 1 cup/8 ounces of giblet broth at first, pour over the mixture, add the spices. With your hands, yes, you must use your hands, stir and check for moisture. It should be very wet and mushy and not hold its shape if molded.

Add more eggs and broth as necessary, it should be the consistency of lumpy cake batter. Place in deep ceramic dish with enough room on top to add more liquid as it bakes. Bake in the same oven as the turkey for at least an hour an a half. Check frequently to make sure dressing is not drying out. Always add more liquid if it appears at all dry.

To Make Cornbread:

  • 1¼cup/6 ounces yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup/ 8 fluid ounces milk
  • 1 Tablespoon/15 mls Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon/5 mls salt
  • ¼cup/ 2 fluid ounces oil or melted butter
  • ¾ cup/3.5 ounces white flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon/15 mls Sugar
  • ½grated nutmeg
Combine and bake at 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes.

*The point of dressing is that it is made of cheap ingredients that are leftover and always available; such as eggs if the hens are laying well and stale bread. Never be concerned about exactness in dressing, it is a fill-the-belly food to go with the turkey. We have an expression, “FHB.” This means, “Family Hold Back,” dressing is what the family eats while guests have more turkey. Thanksgiving hospitality is very important.

Mary Blinn’s Cranberry Salad

This recipe comes from Mary Elizabeth Taylor Blinn (1906-1957). She lived on a farm in Wilson County, Kansas, USA and in Kansas City, Kansas, USA.
  • 2 or more cups of cranberries, fresh, not frozen/ about 16 ounces
  • 2 or 3 oranges
  • 3 apples, preferably one each red, yellow and green
  • White sugar
  • Red Jello (Jelly)
Amounts depend on amount of fruit. So, begin by finely chopping the cranberries, apples and oranges. Seed the apples and oranges but leave the skin on. An old fashioned food grinder works the best but a modern food processor or blender with a chopping feature may be used.

Plan to spend at least an hour chopping if you are doing this by hand (I’ll bet you wonder how I know this).

When all the fruit is finely chopped, measure it. Add half its quantity of white sugar and then use one package of Jello for each two cups/ 16 fluid ounces of fruit and sugar mixture.

Cranberry Jello is good because it is not very sweet, but many prefer raspberry or strawberry, cherry tends to be too sweet. Mix the Jello with the boiling water as in the first step in the Jello package instructions but do not add the additional water or ice cubes.

Mix the Jello into the fruit and sugar and put into a deep stainless steel bowl or a Jello mold. Be aware, sometimes this will set up firm and sometimes it won’t, no one really knows why.

No worries if it does not become firm, simply spoon it into a serving bowl. Unmold, if possible onto some nice lettuce leaves or spoon into a bowl for serving.

The Blinn Family Farm, 1865 to present, Wilson County, Kansas, USA

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