Thanksgiving Then And Now - Hudson Valley Handymom Blog at - 290650

Hudson Valley Handymom

Thanksgiving Then and Now 
Nov. 26, 2012 2:29 pm 
Updated: Nov. 28, 2012 8:46 am

Thanksgiving always leads me to think about holidays of the past.  While I'm preparing food, my thoughts turn to my grandmother who was the self-proclaimed matriarch of the family.  Whether or not she actually was is undetermined when you're one of many independent women in the family, but we let her believe it.

My grandmother - AKA "Betty Baby" when we wanted to make her laugh.  She kept those fabulous legs until the day she left this world.
Betty Baby
My grandmother didn't socialize much outside of the family after my grandfather passed away.  Holidays were important to her.  In particular, Thanksgiving was important to her.  She proclaimed Thanksgiving to be "her" holiday, and, at the height of 5'2" with eyes of blue, she was a dominating force.  The look on her face while in preparation mode was one of determination, and walking into the kitchen made a feeling come over me as though I was being more of a hindrance than a help.

I don't think it was just my grandmother's insistence that had us go to her house for Thanksgiving.  When someone is a great cook and WANTS to take on the task of Thanksgiving, who can deny her?  Hey, if you want to take on the work, then, by all means, help yourself to the task of feeding 13 people.

Although my grandmother only had two daughters, with each of the daughters having four children, the gathering at Thanksgiving was quite large.  My grandmother would set out some small appetizers to hold us over and wait for the meal.  There were a few pies made.  Over the years, the table varied when things were brought by other family members.  Take, for instance, my mother making a rainbow Jell-O salad which has now become some sort of requirement for Thanksgiving. This Jell-O salad has 12 layers....which also means that it's a bit time consuming to make and easy to mess up.

I always noted that my grandmother served a lot of vegetables.  I asked her why at one point, and she told me it was due to her grandfather who raised her.  He had a vegetable cart where he sold fresh vegetables daily, and she had a passion for them due to how she was raised.

She made a stuffing that I loved, and when my mother introduced a cornbread sausage stuffing, my grandmother continued to make HER stuffing for me.  Sometimes, I think that was a source of pride with her...that I preferred her stuffing over what my mother brought and that it was the only stuffing I wanted.  I remember watching her tear up the bread, and sprinkle on the seasonings.  There was no recipe, just taste testing to get it right.  Later on, I ventured to try my mother's stuffing and ended up taking both types of stuffing on my plate.

As I prepared food for my family, I looked around at the enormous amount of food that I made and that only five members of my family were here.  I was so thankful that I had them with me.  At the same time, I longed for the days of being a kid again and having a large family surrounding me for the holidays.  I missed seeing those moments of my grandmother in the kitchen...back in her heyday of being full of life.  I wondered, for a moment, if she might have been granted a moment with us from the great beyond for "her" holiday.

Our Thanksgiving dinner with the infamous 12 layer Jell-O salad at the end.
With my sisters scattered across the country, my parents in a faraway state, and my eldest daughter with too short a vacation to come home from graduate school,  I sat down and thought how great it would've been if they all could have been here.  Then, I thought...maybe, one day, they will be...and, day I'm going to be the grandmother with Thanksgiving being "her" holiday.  After all,  I'm a mother and already feel like it IS my holiday.

The best Thanksgiving and best holiday consist of having the people you love around you.  Life is constantly evolving with new family members and additions.  Perhaps, one day, my house will be the one where I have more than 13 people to feed and a house full of family.  I can't think of anything that could possibly make Thanksgiving better.  I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving full of love and memories.



Nov. 27, 2012 4:08 pm
I enjoyed your blog. I too am missing the big reunions. I like your spin on it and now instead of being sad that everyone is dying off, I am going to focus on the future when maybe I will have a house full of people.
Nov. 28, 2012 8:46 am
I was thinking that so many are missing their loved ones during the holidays...none of us are alone. I have to tell myself that with four daughters, I am bound to have a house full of grandchildren one day (not that I'm pushing to get any older anytime soon). Have a wonderful holiday! By the way, your picture looks like one of my sisters, and you're from the area my father is from...kind of making me wonder if there's a connection. :)
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About Me
I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a volunteer position), and I am not compensated for my work with Products received from advertisers are only used for experience-based reviews on my personal blog. The reviews, content, and opinions expressed in this blog are all my own. **************** By the age of seven, I would wander into the local library to check out cookbooks to make creations at home. When I became a mother to four daughters, I had a good sized family to feed. I became great with saving money and making wonderful meals without breaking the bank. I started using the original Allrecipes sites when I was in my 20's in 1997. I made the discovery by typing in "" to see what would happen. From then on, I became an addict. I didn't "officially" join until 2010, but I've been here the entire time. :) Allrecipes saved me many times over for parties, pot lucks, graduations-even my oldest daughter's college senior recital.
My favorite things to cook
I love to bake breads, cookies, cakes, and pies. I have a smoker and love to grill. Whenever I want some company, I fire up the smoker and make my own homemade BBQ sauce for pulled pork. If that doesn't get you company in NY, nothing will. I create my own recipes, but love learning from other people. I love to see ideas, promote them, and share creativity. I can't think of anything I don't enjoy making. I just love trying to make anything. Holidays are some of my favorite times of the year. Allrecipes contains the secret to my success regarding making succulent turkey (yes, I once was a dry turkey person- NOT ANYMORE). I enjoy coming up with new ideas, new ways to use products, and I always like to test out new items that hit the shelves at the stores. I consider my kitchen to be my laboratory. However, I'm not opposed to quick and easy meals when life makes the call for it! After all, life was meant to be enjoyed...and, sometimes, that means quick and easy meals!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Holidays and birthdays are my favorite times of the year. I enjoy making old family favorites and spending time together with my family. For Thanksgiving, I turned to Allrecipes years ago and discovered what putting a turkey in a brine can do. I tried it that year and never turned back. My husband proclaimed that I made the best turkey he ever ate. So, every year, I cut up all the vegetables ahead of time for the Thanksgiving meal. Then, I put the remains into a stockpot and create my own vegetable stock for a turkey brine. After soaking the turkey, I cook the turkey in a bag to make the most succulent turkey around. It's so juicy that it's hard to believe it's Thanksgiving - and there's no need to buy a special brand of turkey to get this result. I also love the old family go-to recipes. However, for stuffing, I found that making a homemade Challah bread creates the most unbelievable stuffing ever. Using a bread machine can make the whole process easier. You won't regret it!
My cooking triumphs
I started creating my own recipes when I had to live out of a pantry with little funds. I enjoy being creative, and this led to me becoming published. Later, I became an Allstars Brand Ambassador. I love the program because it let me be a part of a company that I respect and love so much in a way that I couldn't have imagined. Being a Brand Ambassador has been such a huge honor and great experience. I've met so many wonderful people due to it, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Allrecipes through roasting pumpkin seeds on the Better TV show. I just want to give a big shout out to Better TV for giving me the opportunity to represent Allrecipes - a website I've been visiting for over 15 years. Here are the links to the pumpkin seed roasting:
My cooking tragedies
I started cooking at a young age, and most of my mistakes took place during that time period. As a child, company was constant in our home. My mother knew I loved to cook and asked if I could make some of my Blonde Brownies for dessert that night for our company. I was 12 years old, and gladly started to prepare the dish. Unfortunately, my mother was out of vegetable oil. I went to the fridge and took out some reserve oil she had filtered after using it for deep frying. I figured it was still good and added it to the brownies. That night, when dinner was finished, the brownies were brought out. I took a bite of mine, and dropped it on the plate. The company ate the brownies and stated how good they were. My brownie had a horrible taste. It was at that moment that I realized the reserved oil was from my mother frying fish. Never again did I test the waters of used oil.
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