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Finding time for family on Thanksgiving

November 21, 2012

By SUSAN FORD

What are you doing the day before Thanksgiving? I have friends who will have shopping and prep work done, they will probably be busy addressing Christmas cards today. I will be cooking, and I am sure my sweet husband will be sent out for some forgotten idem on the worst grocery shopping day of the year. I come by my procrastinating honestly. My family, the Sharps, are known for being friendly, outgoing and very relaxed with plans. We actually say lunch will be ready at 1 p.m. Sharp time, which means show up when you can. I didn’t even know if I was hosting or not until this past Sunday. My mom just kept saying “we’ll see what happens.” My sweet cousin Laura who always ends up working her tail off invited all of the Fords to Louisville for lunch. Now that I don’t have to have my house clean or tables to set, I can focus on cooking. I love to set a table almost as much as I love cooking, so that can be a big distraction when the event is at my house. Laura does all the usual casseroles, and Uncle Johnny will smoke the turkey, so I will just do some sides. My mashed potatoes are the best, they have cream cheese in them, so they stay moist if they are made a day ahead. Since mashed potatoes are such a mess, I do recommend making a day in advance if possible. I will also do the salad and I am making a crunchy romaine toss. It is always nice to have a crunchy green side next to the heavier fare that we usually associate with Thanksgiving. I also will make an easy appetizer that I tried to fit in the pumpkin column last month but we ran out of room.

My Mamma’s Mashed Potatoes

5 lb. bag of gold potatoes
2 sticks, cup of butter separated, cut into pieces
1 1/2 packages of cream cheese ( I use a 1/3 less fat, but at this point what’s the use?), cut into pieces
1/4 cup of sour cream, for the day you serve
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut potatoes in one inch cubes. Boil in a pot with enough water to cover potatoes. (If you need to peel and cut potatoes early, be sure and go ahead and put them in water so they won’t turn brown). I learned that little lesson the hard way and had to start all over. Let potatoes boil until tender enough to mash with a fork. Drain potatoes in a strainer, it may take two and cover with kitchen towels to steam. In the still hot pot put one stick (1/2 cup) of butter and 1 package of cream cheese. In a separate large microwavable bowl, put the remaining cream cheese and butter. Then pour 2/3 of the potatoes into the pot you cooked in and the rest in your bowl.  Mash with potato masher while adding salt and pepper to taste. I separate to mash potatoes to make the job easier and it gets the butter and cream cheese evenly spread. Once potatoes are smooth and seasoned, put them all in the large bowl. Top potatoes with 4 or 5 pats of butter and cover tightly with saran wrap and store in refrigerator. Before serving, reheat potatoes in microwave in 5 minute increments stirring each time until heated through. Check seasoning and add sour cream.

Crunchy Romaine Toss

(My friend Elizabeth Burgess gave me this recipe, I know it is out of a cookbook, but not which one)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pkg. Ramen noodles, uncooked, broken up (discard flavor packet)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 bunch of broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and broken into pieces
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup sweet and sour dressing

Brown walnuts and noodles in butter; cool on paper towels. Combine noodles and walnuts with broccoli, romaine and onions. Pour sweet and sour dressing over and toss to coat well.

Sweet and Sour Dressing

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tsp. soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients
Pecan Pumpkin Butter Appetizer

4 oz cream cheese, softened
pecan pumpkin butter (I get mine at Williams Sonoma)
3 green onions, chopped
4 pieces of bacon, cooked crisp and broken into pieces
1/2 cup pecans

Spread cream cheese thin over an appetizer plate. First top with pumpkin butter and follow with bacon, pecans and sprinkle with green onions. Serve with wheat thins.

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