Recipes for Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving postcard, 1908

Thaksgiving postcard, 1908

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, our program director and food maven Hanna Griff-Sleven remembers the tastes of her family celebrations.

When my mother was a child, and her family was newly arrived in Portland, Maine from Lithuainia, they didn’t understand Thanksgiving at first.  After my mother, uncle and aunt begged and begged my bubbe, she and my zaide finally understood it was an American holiday, not a Christian one and allowed Thanksgiving.  On the menu for the first few Thanksgivings for the Simansky family were hotdogs, requested by my mother and her siblings because they never got to eat them and it seemed special!  After a while, the dinners became more traditional and I have many fond memories of spending Thanksgiving with my grandparents in Maine and eating turkey and stuffing and all the American trimmings.

Here is a recipe for mashed potato stuffing (Maine is the potato state):

Cut the potatoes up and place in boiling salted water.  When done, mash, adding chicken fat, onion and seasonings.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well each time.  Potatoes will be light and fluffy.  Stuff the turkey with this mixture or serve it on the side.

To render chicken fat

Cut up fat from chicken into small pieces.  Place in saucepan with cut up onion.  Fry until onion browns. Then strain liquid from the fat and cool.  Since chickens come with little fat these days, ask your butcher.

And of course there was a sweet potato dish:

Sweet Potatoes Royal

 Wash the apricots and soak in 2 cups of water for 2 hours.  The bring the apricots in water to a boil and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until tender.  Stir in the sugar.  Slice the cooked and peeled sweet potatoes 1/2 inch thick.  Alternate layers of the potatoes with the undrained apricots in a casserole dish.  Pour the fat or margarine over the top.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, basting twice.  Sprinkle with the almonds and bake 10 minutes longer.

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