'Come, Ye Thankful People Come'

by Don Bingham

My wife, Nancy, and I grew up in families that celebrated the holidays, beginning with the Thanksgiving feast! We have continued the traditions through the years, and even with all the children married with families of their own — our table remains open-seating for the family to come and go during the holidays.

The rooms are decorated with “everything fall,” including all wooden items, pumpkins (both ornamental and fresh), over-sized fall foliage arrangements and canisters throughout the house filled with popcorn, candies and fruits.

This year, we will transform our garden dining room into a “Holiday Restaurant” with the larger table to seat 16, and two round oak tables to seat six each. With 12 adults and eight grandchildren (four of them in highchairs), it takes space for each feast.

The smaller, traditional dining area will be turned into a cozy corner, filled with eclectic collections from through the years, warm fall-colored fabrics and art — all geared for the afternoon coffee/tea conversation gatherings.

My wife does most of the Thanksgiving Feast, with our assistance when needed. The recipes have been collected through the years and are time-tested to be winning combinations. New recipes find their way to the table, but only as a fresh addition to the favorites from generation to generation.

On my “bucket list” is the desire to attend Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Until that happens, the next best thing is watching it on TV while the cooking process is taking place. My assignment is to set the tables, do the centerpieces and empty the trash. It is my pleasure to do so!

The recipes given here are typical of our annual feast; some of them have appeared in cookbooks and local TV food segments for many years — but there is never a year when someone does not call or write for another copy of these favorites. As with most homestyle Thanksgiving meals, there is enough to last for the next day or two, some to give away and some to freeze for those busy December nights when there is no time for cooking.

Whether served on Thanksgiving Day, a day or two before or after, these are recipe favorites we look forward to for days ahead of the actual feast! What a joy to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4)” — with family and good food — a traditional blessing that we do not take for granted.

Holiday Ambrosia
1 red apple, diced
4 oranges, sectioned
1 fresh pineapple, diced
2-4 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup shredded coconut Maraschino cherries for garnish Sugar, if necessary

Mix all ingredients, toss gently and serve. Serves 6-8.

Heavenly Cranberry Sauce
2 pounds cranberries
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped 3 cups granulated sugar
Juice and grated rind of 2 lemons 2 cups orange marmalade

Wash and drain well cranberries. Place in shallow baking dish and cover with chopped walnuts, sugar, juice and grated rind lemons and orange marmalade. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Makes 2 quarts.

Broccoli and Cheese Bake
1 large bunch broccoli, washed and cut 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 3-ounce garlic and bacon cheese White Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk

TO MAKE ROUX: Melt butter, add flour and salt mix, add milk. Cook until thick. Makes 2 cups.

Cook broccoli until tender; prepare white sauce; when thickened, add garlic and bacon cheese; cook white sauce until cheese is melted. Arrange broccoli in buttered baking dish; sprinkle fresh mushrooms over broccoli, cover with cheese sauce. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Great to do ahead for company dinners.

Company Carrots
1/4 cup margarine
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 cups milk
4 cups cooked carrots, drained 6 slices American cheese

Cook onion in margarine until soft. Stir in flour, mix, add salt and pepper. Stir in milk, bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes until thick.

In 2-quart casserole, layer carrots and 3 slices of cheese; repeat; pour sauce over all. Top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Cornbread Dressing
6 cups cornbread, crumbled 2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1/2 teaspoon sage
Coarse ground pepper to taste
1 stick butter
4 cups rich chicken or turkey broth 4 eggs, beaten

Saute onions and celery in 1 stick butter, for approximately 2 minutes. Mix all dry ingredients (except eggs).

At this point, check for proper seasoning and adjust as needed. Add eggs, mix well. Bake in oiled, heavy iron skillet for 30 to 45 minutes in 375 degree oven. Serves 12.

Turkey with Dried-Fruit Stuffing
2/3 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
8 cups day-old bread cubes
2 1/2 cups chopped, unpared apples 1 1/2 cups chopped, dried apricots 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 12-14 pound turkey

In 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, cook celery and onion in hot butter until tender, stirring occasionally. Add bread cubes, apples, apricots, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Remove from heat.

Fill neck and body cavities of turkey with fruit-stuffing mixture. Fasten neck skin to back with skewers. Tie legs together or tuck in band of skin at tail, if present.

Place turkey, breast-side up, on rack in large roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer deep into inside thigh muscle. Roast at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 1 hour. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees.

Continue roasting 2 to 3 hours longer or until meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees.

During roasting, spoon off accumulated fat at 30-minute intervals. Transfer turkey to platter; remove skewer or string from legs, if used.

Let turkey stand 20 minutes for easier carving. Garnish platter with celery leaves and with celery cut to resemble roses, if desired.

Bran Muffins
2 cups water, boiling
2 cups 100% Bran (Nabisco) 5 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping cup shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 quart buttermilk
4 cups All Bran (Kellogg’s)

Pour boiling water over 100% Bran, set aside. Sift together and set aside flour, soda and salt. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix buttermilk with All Bran.

Mix the four mixtures and store in large container in refrigerator for up to 1 month. Bake in muffin pans, greased, 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 6 dozen muffins.

Holiday Asparagus
2 (15-ounce) cans asparagus 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
Basic White Sauce with mushrooms (from previous recipe)
2 cups bread crumbs, tossed in butter

Layer half asparagus in large, buttered baking dish; use half cheese, half sauce, repeat layers; spread bread crumbs over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serves 6.

Pumpkin Bars
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 15 oz. can pumpkin 2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda 2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all. Pour in 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool.

1/2 cup butter
1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Beat until smooth. Ice cooled cake. Cut into bars.


Cinnamon Roll Cake

3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder 1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 cups powdered sugar 5 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix everything together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9 by 13 pan.

For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 28-32 minutes.

Buttermilk Carrot Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded carrots (4 medium)
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3 eggs
1 can (8 1/4 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained 1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 teaspoons light-color corn syrup

Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 9 x 1 ‘/2 inch round baking pans; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Stir in shredded carrots, 1 cup of the walnuts, eggs, drained pineapple, coconut, 1/4 cup buttermilk, oil and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in a preheated oven 40 to 45 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup butter and corn syrup. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook and stir 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Pour evenly over tops of cakes. Let cakes stand in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on racks.

To assemble, frost one of the cake layers with some of the frosting. Add remaining layer; frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup walnuts. Cover; chill to store. Makes 16 servings.

Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat two 3-ounce packages softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter or margarine and 2 teaspoons vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar; beating to spreading consistency.