Our Thanksgiving table

My wife does most of the preparation for the meal. I am relegated to some of the decorating, some of the baking and much of the pre-meal dish washing. All of the adult kids actually do the cleanup. It’s really nice to sit and enjoy their company in conversation as they take care of all the ending details to the meal.

Nancy’s dressing is still our favorite adornment to the table. She has made this for years — it is both her original recipe and has had the influence of her mom and grandmother. It is a cornbread dressing, not really a stuffing, as it is baked separately from the bird with the eggs added just before baking. It is seasoned just perfectly with the right amount of sage and full strength broth.

The cranberry sauce is another family favorite. It’s a sweet citrus wonder — a small serving is all that is required to enhance the turkey. It is a dish that can be prepared days in advance and the recipe makes enough to share with neighbors and friends for their holiday table.

The side dishes will vary from year to year — but Company Carrots is a regular. This dish is rich and colorful. It can be assembled the night before. If time is short, canned carrots will work, but if you really want the delicious sweetness of nature’s bounty, grate, slice and boil your own carrots. The carrots are layered with cheese, alternated with a white cream sauce, and all baked together before placing on the Thanksgiving buffet offerings.

The meal is always “overkill” but nothing that cannot be shared, delivered to others, kept for leftovers or frozen for the future.

The ending desserts remain a combination of everything possible to fit in the schedule of cooking and baking, squeezed in between cooking the turkey, dressing, side dishes and homemade breads. Some of the family like pumpkin, some like pecan, some like coconut cake, some like egg custard. The solution is to find a sideboard or other piece of furniture that will house the multiplicity of sweet delicacies so everyone can try anything they wish!

This year, we will take the time to share, as a family, the ways we have all been touched with the Giver of Blessings. We are not embarrassed to speak aloud of the many ways we have known Truth and Mercy dwelling among us. To celebrate around the table gives us a delightful venue to make our heartfelt gratitude for God’s presence and blessings. It is a perfect time to share with each other.

Here are a few recipes – some of our favorites – that make an appearance at the Bingham Thanksgiving table.

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 cranberries. Place in shallow baking dish and cover with chopped walnuts, sugar, juice and grated lemon rinds and orange marmalade. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 2 quarts.

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
Buttered bread crumbs

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 three 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
A tried, tested and much loved recipe.

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

Sauté 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 broth. Add eggs, mix well. Bake in oiled, heavy iron skillet for 30 to 45 minutes in 375 degree oven. Serves 12.

Corn with Thyme

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups light cream
2 cups whole kernel corn, drained

Melt butter in saucepan; add flour, thyme and salt to form a roux stirring constantly on medium to high heat. Add light cream. Cook until thick. Pour over corn, stir. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Serves 6.

Vegetables Mornay

3 (10-oz.) packages frozen mixed vegetables
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3/4 teaspoon salt
Place vegetables, water, salt, seasoned salt and butter in saucepan. Cover and heat to boiling. Simmer for 5 minutes, drain vegetables and reserve cooking liquid. Pour vegetables into shallow casserole and prepare sauce.

1/3 cup butter or margarine
4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon leaf thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
Cream or milk
1 /2 cup grated Parmesan and Swiss cheese mixed
Buttered bread crumbs

Heat butter in saucepan. Blend in flour and seasonings and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in reserved vegetable liquid with enough cream or milk to make 3 cups. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Stir in cheese and pour over vegetables. Cover with crumbs and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Casserole may be assembled except for crumb topping the day before and refrigerated. Serves 8-10.

Bread Pudding with Orange Butter Sauce and Cream

1/3 cup raisins
1 loaf (about 12 ounces) French bread, torn or cut into small – 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
Whipped cream, Grand Marnier, powdered sugar   

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread pieces in large baking dish that has been generously buttered. Sprinkle raisins throughout bread pieces. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread pieces, coating bread thoroughly.
In separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients (sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg). In bowl, beat heavy cream, milk and eggs together. Add dry ingredients to milk-egg mixture and blend. Completely soak bread pieces in milk mixture, pressing gently to ensure all bread pieces are soaked, and there is little or no liquids in bottom of pan.
Immerse pan of soaked bread into large pan that has been filled with water, to fill halfway up sides of bread filled pan, to form a water bath for bread pudding to bake. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until well browned, and risen as soufflé. Serve warm or at room temperature, accompanied with Orange Butter Sauce and whipped cream with Grand Marnier.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup butter or margarine

Place all ingredients in saucepan; boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier   
2-3 teaspoons powdered sugar

Whipped cream, add Grand Marnier and powdered sugar. Dollop on sauced pudding.