By Karen Hendricks
Thanksgiving is that one time of year, even more than Christmas I believe, when we prepare homemade dishes. “From scratch” is the catch phrase. Traditional, tried-and-true family recipes return to our tables year after year. Although I love revisiting these recipes (they are like old friends), sometimes it’s fun to shake things up a bit with a new recipe or two, wouldn’t you agree?
For example, there are just too many delicious dessert recipes and not enough time to try them all! So although we normally have a traditional apple or pumpkin pie, I will often make, or our guests will often offer to bring, NEW exciting dessert creations every year. Great fun!
But in terms of the traditional main dishes of Thanksgiving, it feels like breaking a sacred code, to consider deviating from your family’s most favorite recipes. Imagine hearing a collective intake of breath if you announced that this year you just plain didn’t make (fill in the blank with your prized recipe here). Has your family ever experienced this catastrophe? When I worked full-time, I would stay up all hours of the night in order to prep for the traditional main dishes of Thanksgiving. I did not want to break tradition! No wonder the turkey made me super-sleepy the next day.
One of my grandmothers was famous for asking, “Is this home-made?” or “Did you make this from scratch?” Heaven forbid, if a mix was involved, she was not interested. The joke was on her though, when several times she found out AFTER eating a piece of cake, AND complimenting the baker, that that delicious cake actually originated with the dreaded cake mix. But the funniest irony of them all was… she herself didn’t bake at all! Family stories, especially those told in the kitchen, are a wonderful part of Thanksgiving.
For my traditional, German grandmother, store-bought dishes just wouldn’t do especially on a holiday like Thanksgiving. Maybe that is why it is engrained in me. But I am starting to soften, and I don’t think it would be a crime to take shortcuts, use mixes or even consider store-bought pies (gasp). After all, whether you are working part-time or full-time, juggling a career and family, time is precious and the bottom line is… the most important part of the holidays is spending time together. If you have the time to prepare homemade dishes, they can be wonderful times spent with your children, teaching them how to make these treasured favorites. But if you don’t have time to make everything you want from scratch, don’t stress. There’s bound to be family drama with or without your favorite dishes on the table!
I’m going to share one of my family’s favorite recipes, featuring corn as an ingredient. I love the golden color of corn dishes, as a reminder of the colorful fall season. This recipe comes from an early 1970s edition of Informal Entertaining Country Style by the Food Editors of Farm Journal. It was given to me by my “other” grandmother, “Nannie,” (not my traditional, German “Grammy”). I first tried this recipe a year or two after my husband and I married, and it’s been a favorite ever since, 20+ years later. The original recipe calls for canned corn, but I’ve always used frozen corn instead.
- ½ c. chopped onion
- ½ c. chopped green pepper
- ¼ c. butter or margarine
- ¼ c. flour
- 1 ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. pepper
- ½ t. dry mustard
- 1 ½ c. milk
- 2 lb. frozen corn, thawed a bit
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- ¾ c. cracker crumbs (saltines or Townhouse work fine)
- 2 T. melted butter
Cook and stir the onion and green pepper in ¼ c. butter or margarine until the onion is tender; do not brown. Remove from heat and stir in the flour, salt, pepper and mustard. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture is bubbly hot. Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk. Stir and heat to boiling; boil 5 min. Stir in corn and eggs. Pour into greased 2-qt. casserole dish. Combine the cracker crumbs with 2 T. melted butter; sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 degrees 40-45 min.
*I have prepared this dish the day before; stored it in the refrigerator and it reheats beautifully.
Many blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving!