Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Sacred Menu

Posted November 26, 2008

Is there a sacred Thanksgiving menu for your family? If so, what is it?

The WRAL morning team was locked in a spirited debate this morning. Lynda Loveland likes to spice it up for Thanksgiving. She plans two new and fairly complex recipes for dressing and cranberries. Valonda Calloway and Elizabeth Gardner said their family members would revolt if the Thanksgiving cook made even a minor change in tomorrow's traditional menu. WRAL Traffic Crusader Brian Shrader also prefers a consistent year-to-year Thanksgiving feast but he has grown to prefer honeybaked ham to turkey as the main dish.

Personally I am happy as long as there's turkey, rice, gravy, broccoli casserole, sweet potatoes and pecan pie on the table. The worst Thanksgiving dinner I had was a dozen years ago at a Cary restaurant that ran out of turkey and was forced to break out the canned variety. That was horrendous. Speaking of canned foods, do you like your cranberries rolled right out of the can?

What was your all-time favorite Thanksgiving feast? What was your worst?

The person with the best story wins one of my new CDs "Blue Ridge Reunion."


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  • brieflyunpublished Dec 1, 2008

    My family's worst ever Thanksgiving eventually turned out to be our best. It was when we first got to Fort Bragg. My husband was only an E-2, and the move here took most of the money that we had (which wasn't much). Our friends were all in the same boat, so my little family of three, plus 3 single soldiers all piled into our hotel room on post and we pooled our money together and bought a pizza and tater tots, and finished up the night playing Trivial Pursuit. Sounds boring, but it was a good time, spent with people who got along well and would do just about anything for each other.

  • GRush Dec 1, 2008

    I now combine elements of both families into my favorites - we like the turkey and ham, broccoli-rice casserole, mac & cheese and collard greens that friends here fix, and the dressing, potatoes and gravy, and the cranberry relish that I make from fresh berries, apple, orange, pecans and gelatin. The bad part about going somewhere else for the holiday - now I've made myself hungry for a turkey sandwich, and there's no leftovers at home!

  • GRush Dec 1, 2008

    This is late; I was out of town for the holiday. Thanksgiving when I was growing up in Arkansas often meant I spent the day on the back porch plucking the ducks that my Daddy brought home from a morning hunting to prepare them for the freezer for later feasts while my mother was in the kitchen getting another one or two, depending on how many were eating, ready for dinner that day. We also had ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, green beans, some other vegetables, can cranberry sauce, and at least 3 kinds of dessert - pumpkin & pecan pies and banana nut cake, usually. If it hadn't been a good hunting season, we might have chicken and dressing instead. There were always home-made rolls, too. My husband's family in Colorado has a pot-luck meal, except his sister-in-law fixes 2 turkeys for everyone and then the rest of the crowd brings side dishes. So, if you can imagine having it, they do!

  • fishnett5977 Dec 1, 2008

    Well, not being that observant, I failed to see Grandma COOKING the icing and the noise was the sound of sugar being crunched! I was soooo humiliated!:( But my Grandpa, he said it was the best cake anyone has EVER cooked him. My Grandma and Mama both said that would be the only way to learn, is make a mistake and learn from it! I dont ever cook a cake that I dont remember that first chocolate cake and how it turned out! And now when I make that homemade chocolate icing, I ALWAYS cook it!lol I guess I did learn from my mistake! Happy Holidays to all of you!!!

  • fishnett5977 Dec 1, 2008

    Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! As I made a homemade chocolate cake with cooked icing, I though of a Thanksgiving long ago. I was about 12 or so and I followed my Grandma around the kitchen alot. She and Grandpa lived 10 houses down from us in Erwin. I convinced my Grandma into letting me make the chocolate cake - the 10 layer kind. I did really well with those little bitty layers - they didnt burn and were good! I put together the butter, cocoa, milk, vanilla extract and sugar and stirred it all up. I put it all on those little layers, so proud I had done well. My Grandpa - bless his soul - wanted the first piece. He was diabetic and I tried to tell him he didnt need it but he wanted the first taste! He cut a piece, put it in his mouth and all I heard was CRUNCH, CRUNCH! My eyes were big with wonder - what was that noise??? My Grandma and Mama where just about in tears! My Grandpa said it was the BEST cake he's ever had! The crunching noise?? (see next post!)

  • lookn4spac Nov 26, 2008

    Cranberry sauce MUST be shaped like a can- and cut into slices on the ridges! There is no other way! While we will miss you this holiday, we look forward to sharing the next one with you!


  • khoggard Nov 26, 2008

    Cont. -- My 2nd was when my grandparents came here from Baltimore & my grandfather, Pop Pop, made his famous homemade yeast rolls. He taught my mom how to make them but they never were as good as his. That was so special because he died the next year very suddenly.

  • khoggard Nov 26, 2008

    We do have a sacred menu. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, butter beans & corn, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin & pecan pies. My worst Thanksgiving was when my mom's sink was stopped up & we had to wash all of the dishes in the bathtub - my back hurts just thinking about it!!! My all time best is a tie. The 1st was when I was about 10 & my family traveled to Baltimore to my mom's parents with the rest of her family (a total of about 50 people including aunts, uncles, & cousins!!!). We had Thanksgiving dinner late that afternoon & everyone stayed at their house overnight. We woke up the next morning & it was snowing!! My family & my cousins family, who were also from NC, had not brought any really warm clothes. My grandmother, NaNa, looked all over the house & found us warm clothes that were too big & we wore socks on our hands for gloves so we all could go outside & play. It was great.

  • lseltmann Nov 26, 2008

    When I was a child, many Thanksgiving dinners were fried blue fish as we would go to the coast each year for the Blues run. It was often a frigid time but nothing like having fish fried over an open flame of a bonfire and the comraderie of lots of friends. Those were fun times. Nowadays it's the more traditional menu at Thanksgiving and a unique dinner at Christmas. I've not personally had a bad Thanksgiving but my parents vacationing in the mountains one Thanksgiving were caught in a snowstorm so were stuck eating spam.

  • lilybell Nov 26, 2008

    Most hilarious Thanksgiving ever: I had a boss who had always invited me and my kids to her house for Thanksgiving, I think because she felt sorry for us. One year she was off to California with her new beau so she coerced one of her colleagues into having us over. The wife of this guy HATED kids -- and here she is forced to host me and my two kids on Thanksgiving. The colleague was quite gracious, but the wife (after making a grand entrance just before dinner) spent the entire meal scowling and yelling at my kids not to touch anything. I got us out of there as fast as I could. Thankfully, my kids were too young to know what was going on (they were and still are very well behaved; none of it was their fault). It was a pretty painful scene, but fortunately, I saw the humor in the whole thing. Needless to say, our Thanksgivings were on our own after that and we now have our own cherished family traditions.




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