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A little of this, a little of that


By Kathy Little

Fri, Nov 15th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

“Happy Hallo-thanks-mas”! Remember when stores didn’t display Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving? Probably not, but in my youth that was the norm. Now Christmas decorations pop up around Halloween. Thanksgiving is a forgotten holiday except in grocery stores and on the Hallmark channel. I find this upsetting because I just took my Halloween decorations down. I leave them up at long as possible because then I don’t have to dust. Cobwebs are part of the ambience.

Celebrations are the focus of my life, and I have totes of decorations to prove it. This is NOT HOARDING, but rather being ready to savor each season. It is difficult to savor when my brain and mind are bombarded with this mishmash. Soon eggnog will be served on the 4th of July and Christmas cookies on Labor Day!

I started to collect turkeys (decorative ones) in order to preserve Thanksgiving Day. Do not refer to it as “turkey day”. That would be like calling Easter “bunny day” or July 4th as “firecracker day”. First I started with salt and pepper shakers. Then I went on to turkey planters and candleholders. Soon I owned a turkey gravy boat. Eventually I found antique turkey plates and cups and saucers. This is when my husband got anxious. I don’t understand why? He sends me out shopping so he can treat the sewer system without any interference from me (like actually using it). Fortunately, all the stores that I patronize have bathrooms.

I recall my first Thanksgiving. No, not the one with the Mayflower and the pilgrims. I am not that old. My grandmother Ruth Schwartz hosted all holidays when I was young. No, she was not one of the original pilgrims either. My ancestors were not that illustrious. But we are good eaters. The menu was always the same, and everyone contributed. Gramma made the turkey and her delicious giblet dressing. She ground up everything in an old metal meat grinder that she attached to her kitchen table. We had saved the crusts from bread for weeks. Amazing, how delicious those dried stale crusts tasted in that dressing.

Now, either you love giblet dressing or you hate it. If you hate it, gross is probably the first adjective that comes to mind when you think gizzards. Personally, that is the first adjective that comes to mind when I think raisins. Oh, being the oldest grandchild, I also got to eat the cooked turkey heart. Call me a barbarian! I’ve also eaten and enjoyed squirrel. Morning dove, not so much. It is a songbird for goodness sake.

The feast consisted of corn pudding made by mom, fruit salad made by Aunt Ruthie, cranberry marshmallow fluff made by Aunt Rollis and pecan pie and pumpkin pie with real whipped cream made by Aunt Eva. Yes, Cool Whip had been invented by that time, but I actually got to whip the cream with a rotary beater. Only once did it turn into butter, and then Gramma added salt and we spread it on the brown and serve rolls.

Those were wonderful meals, but I took them for granted. The young think everything lasts forever. Eventually, Gramma died, the aunt’s families grew older and larger, and my mother hosted Thanksgiving just for her children and their families. It was still good, just different. Green bean casserole was added to the above mentioned menu, but the cooks changed. We dined on Shopko stoneware and drank from Anchor Hocking glassware. Sterling silver and fine china were not part of the tradition. It was wonderful because my family is so much fun even though they never forgot the time I made the green bean casserole with onion rings past their “best buy sell date” and it tasted weird. Those of you who read my pantry cleaning column understand this.

Now the family circle has changed again. People pass away, move away or start their own holiday traditions. I treasure my memories of those past celebrations even when they bring tears. Family is always the focus. We could have eaten frozen pizza on paper plates. I give thanks for my memories; sometimes they are all I have left of the past.

Gramma’s holiday appetizer was always the same: Ritz crackers spread with cheese whiz and sprinkled with sliced green olives. I still have that for a snack sometimes, but I have added to my appetizer menu and this is one that my family adores. They express their “gratitude attitude” every time I serve it.



Shrimp Butter

5 T real butter

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 small onion chopped fine or 1/8 t onion powder

4 t mayo or salad dressing

1/8 t garlic powder

2 8 oz cans tiny shrimp

1 t Real Lemon juice

Soften butter and cream cheese in a bowl with a hand mixer or wooden spoon

Add rest of ingredients except the shrimp and stir

Drain and rinse shrimp in strainer and then gently fold into mixture.

Chill at least 2 hours in fridge

Serve in a small crock or bowl with an assortment of crackers

Garnish for the season

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