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  • A Thanksgiving Story - Part One

    This is number one and next week will be number two!

    My Aunt Hattie’s Brown bag theory

    My Aunt Hattie, which was my father’s older sister always cooked the best Thanksgiving dinner! Her cooking abilities were unbelievable. She would cook along with the help of Bertha doing almost everything from scratch. Aunt Hattie’s Thanksgiving dinners took days to prepare. In fact during my younger years, if I’m not mistaken, all ingredients including the bird was raised or grown on her big farm. However, the fruit that she used to make that unbelievable ambrosia was probably purchased from a stand right out there on Highway 17. I know that the pecans that went into this particular dish were picked from the farm, because quite often I helped with the gathering.

    Child Cheater also referred to as a rubber spatula

    Bertha of whom worked with my Aunt for a long as I can remember was always there to help with the “Thanksgiving Cooking Bonanza.” I was always interested in how they made everything look and taste so good. Her personally grown vegetables were always the “prefect vegetable color.” They baked a coconut cake that was 6 tears high. It never leaned or anything. The bad news is I wasn’t always around for the mixing of the cake, because this is one bowl I would have loved to lick. However, my aunt had this kitchen utensil that I later called a “child cheater.” This reason was a simple one. Whenever I happened to be around when baking she used this utensil and it would remove almost all of the tasty ingredients from the walls of the mixing bowl. There was always a little left, which was just enough to get a short taste.
    The turkey was always browned to perfection. Her secret was certainly a one of a kind at least in my book. She cooked the turkey in a brown grocery bag. The bird was put in the bag much like you would have put one in a state of the art “plastic browning in bag.” The drums always stuck out a little, but not enough to let them be exposed to direct heat. There was another weird cooking method that I had seen when I was even younger. The turkey was wrapped in a sort of gauze that pretty much look like some sort of a bandage. When the bird was cooked and un-wrapped it also came out golden brown with skin and everything. However, when it was first put in the oven it looked like a real bona-fide “turkey mummy.”
    The food wasn’t the only highlight of the Thanksgiving Day. My Aunt Hattie always set the prettiest dinner table I had ever seen. She would always use her best china and silverware for this special occasion. The Table was huge. It would seat at least 12 guests. There were high back chairs with big arms rests. When you sat in them you knew for a fact that you had to be someone special just to be invited. The good news about my Aunt Hattie was that my father and I were always invited. It was a family tradition to spend Thanksgiving Day at her house. This particular dinner was always served at 2:00PM sharp. You could tell when dinnertime was approaching, because everyone would start showing up. My father and I always arrived early so that we could all watch the televised New York Thanksgiving Parade. It was as I said part of a family tradition.
    When it came time to eat everyone was gathered for a prayer. As a small child, I am sorry to admit, I always opened my eyes just to watch what every else was doing. Most of adults were standing very still with their eyes closed. However, all of us kids basically did the same thing watched and semi-listened as what seemed to be the longest prayer ever said in the world. At least it seemed long to us 7 year olds. At the end of the prayer all adults reached for their chair and proceeded to sit down. The children were all escorted to the kitchen where a special table waited for us, which fit our size perfectly. However, we would always talk about the day when we all would be sitting at the grand dinner table.
    However, now that I think about it when I finally graduated from the kitchen to the main dining room it hasn’t been all that I thought it would be. I had to fix my own plate and wait for others to start eating. Our tea glasses were sitting in crystal holders, which were supposed to keep any sort of wet stains off the starched white tablecloth. Trying to eat and drink at the same time could be tricky especially if you missed putting your glass back in the holder. The food sure didn’t taste any different. Don’t get me wrong it was still delicious, but somehow it wasn’t the same.
    This goes to show you that it takes a lifetime to realize that in some instances “change and all that implies” certainly isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be! However, “family traditions” are what Thanksgiving Day is all about! Although in my case, moving from one room to another didn’t seem like a big step, but it certainly was!

    Thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving! Captain Judy