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I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Summer's heat has gone and football is in full swing. Go Bobcats!
My grandmother always cooked our turkey and stuffing. She put the old bird in the oven at the crack of dawn stuffed with chestnut and sage dressing. My father would dutifully fetch both the turkey and my grandmother at four o'clock that afternoon.
Meanwhile, back at our house we were in a whirl of preparations. We had sweet and Irish potato casseroles, brussell sprouts, cauliflower and lemon butter, broccoli, green beans and always a mince meat pie. We children were given the task of setting the tables with freshly polished silver and good china. We also took great pride in cooking the cranberry sauce. We loved waiting for the cranberries to pop and then we knew to take it off the heat. Our mother always told us it looked beautiful. So you can imagine it was very serious business.
We had the additional chore of getting the hors d'oeuvres ready. We always had a silver bowl of dried fruits and assorted nuts, which we loved to crack.
Family and friends would start arriving at 5 o'clock or so for drinks. We always had lots of room for anybody who had no place to go for the day.
Athens, Ga., is a college town, so sometimes there were many people sharing our day.
My father would make a big production of carving the turkey while all eyes were on him with great anticipation.
After we finished our feast, everyone went into the living room, where there was always a roaring fire waiting for us in the fireplace.
My mother had a Steinway grand piano, which she played accompanied by a friend of my grandfather playing his violin.
Coffee, sherry and brandy were offered to the grownups, and the children had chocolate milk.
There were all sorts of board games, but Monopoly was our favorite. Once in a while we would get into a fight over one of the Monopoly squares and my mother would toss the game into the fire.
We learned to quietly argue at least for that day. Nothing like seeing all of your winnings go up in flames.
It was such a cozy scene, and one I try to recreate each year. We don't always have a turkey. I have cooked leg of lamb, ducks, geese, cornish hens, ham and for some crazy reason one year I cooked a salmon. But nothing holds a candle to a good old turkey stuffed to the gills and browned beautifully.
Yum, I can't wait.
If you are from the South, you have probably heard of ham and red-eye gravy. It consists of slices of country ham fried in a pan with a bit of butter until browned. Remove the ham, pour in a cup or so of coffee and stir until heated.
You can also use Coca-Cola in lieu of coffee. This dish is traditionally served with biscuits fresh from the oven. Country ham is salty, so the coffee or Coke cuts it a bit.
This is a cold weather treat to many.
We are waking this morning to a new or old president. I hope you voted, because if not please don't complain about anything. Voting is a wonderful privilege many fought to have.
Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street.