Tag Archives: Thanksgiving


This dish has been on our family’s Thanksgiving table for as long as I can remember. We have chilled canned cranberry sauce, too. That way everyone can admire the indented rings that come from the can when the cranberry jelly slides onto the serving plate. But no one would consider eating turkey without cranberry-orange relish. The recipe comes from Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook, published in 1957. Helen Corbitt was the doyenne of Texas dining and is widely considered to have single-handedly  changed Texan tastes from exclusively chicken fried steak (Nothing the matter with that, I might add.) to things like asparagus and fancy desserts. She was from New York where she got a degree in home economics before becoming a therapeutic dietician at two of New York City’s most prestigious hospitals. From there she moved to the University of Texas at Austin to teach and run a laboratory kitchen. She was recruited away from that to star in several country club and hotel restaurants before landing at Nieman-Marcus’ flagship store in Dallas. She established her celebrity there, and was regarded to be the arbiter of good cooking in all of Texas.

For our version, we follow Helen Corbitt’s original recipe almost exactly – except we add a cup of chopped Texas pecans. It is my observation that at Thanksgiving, everything should contain a few pecans. Usually we grind the cranberries and oranges in a meat grinder as instructed by herself, but in this latest cross-country move we have squirreled away the grinder, not sure where in the unpacked boxes. Besides, when we did it that way, orange juice always ran out of the back end of the grinder requiring a pan on the floor to catch the mess. I thought my Vitamix might work well as a substitute, and I was right. The relish turned out just as I remembered it, and the cleanup was much easier.

Here’s a wish for all of my blogging friends: Have a Happy Thanksgiving.


Vitamix Cranberry-Orange Relish


  • 1 quart whole cranberries (about 1½ packages of commercial cranberries)
  • 2 large navel oranges, cut into eighths
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped coarsely


  1. With the Vitamix setting on VARIABLE and power at 3, add the cranberries to the beaker. Pulse and use the plunger to move the cranberries to the blades of the mixer. When the cranberries are chopped to your liking, transfer them to a large bowl.
  2. Working in three batches, add the orange pieces to the beaker. Pulse at the same settings, using the plunger to ensure even chopping. Transfer the chopped oranges to the bowl. Stir in the sugar and pecans until the mixture is evenly combined.
  3. Chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Serve the chilled relish as part of your Thanksgiving table.


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Well, Thanksgiving is over, and it often has the same feeling: too much food and too much stress. Rich Table was closed, so our family, Sarah, Evan and their boys and Peter, Rene and their girls, took over the place. Sarah had planned to do the cooking, but because of the baby’s three-day illness and her being up for three straight nights, Evan took over. That was a busman’s holiday for sure.

I had baked rolls for the occasion in Sarah’s kitchen, including Sibella’s recipe from her blog. They turned out ok though not as beautiful as hers, but they were done in when Sarah forgot them in the oven while reheating them. They were sort-of edible cinders. Rene brought kale chips and stuffed mushrooms, and Evan made tacos from the turkey legs along with the usuals, including three kinds of cranberry sauce, as if one is not enough.  A pastry-chef friend, Bill Corbett, sent a spectacular pecan tart.

There was a play about pilgrims performed by the little ones, and then everyone pitched in to leave the restaurant as clean as we found it.

Apologies for the images. They are shakier than usual, but I had to give you an idea of the cinders and the spread.

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Thanksgiving for nearly every American family is a special holiday where grandparents, parents, children and often more distant relatives and friends gather around a bounteous table to share fellowship and a delicious traditional meal. The meal has become almost ritual, and each family table is filled with particular foods that absolutely must be there. There is usually the roasted turkey, although in recent years more and more families are substituting roast beef, ham or some other protein. Then there are mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with miniature marshmallows on top, dressing or stuffing as the case may be, gravy, cranberry relish, and green bean casserole made with canned mushroom soup and canned fried onion rings.  All of this is followed with both pumpkin and pecan pie with lots of whipped cream. (How can one possibly choose – so of course you need “a little sliver” of both!)

One of our family traditions is creamed onions. No one eats them, but the whole family complains if the onions are not on the table.  What nobody complains about is the bread dressing. The recipe came from Susan’s aunt who used to visit the family around Thanksgiving-time and always brought good food and new recipes from Delaware. Her dressing  has been an all-time hit so that we always double and usually triple the recipe to have plenty to eat with leftover turkey the next day. I suspect that she got her recipe out of a newspaper or magazine, because I have seen a lot of similar though not identical recipes since then. Still, this is a family heirloom which has to be made exactly the same every year.

Our family Thanksgivings have been both days of joy and family happiness (There are three birthdays in November) as well as days of sadness when one of the clan has been diagnosed with a serious illness or when a loved one is no longer at the table.  The day can also be one of discouragement for the cook or cooks who have been baking and preparing for days ahead. They often arise before dawn on the big day to put the finishing touches on the meal. Hours of hard work, sweat over a hot stove, and attention to details all seem to be for nothing when everyone sits down, only to have the meal disappear in a few minutes. That’s so folks won’t miss a minute of the football games on television or conversations around the fire. Mountains of dishes still have to be done by the kitchen crew.

Cubed French bread

Crumbled corn bread

This year we are doing things differently. We will be going to the dining room of a local hotel where they will serve a traditional turkey dinner ending with a huge buffet of desserts. When everyone has eaten his or her fill, the leftovers get packaged up to take home for the next day. No hot work in the kitchen and no dishes to clean up. Everyone seems happy including the usual cooks.

Ready to eat

Still, we will miss AA’s all-time best bread dressing. We might even make some beforehand to make sure we have it on Friday.


AA’s All-Time Best Bread Dressing


5 Cups cubed French bread

5 Cups crumbled cornbread

1/2 Cup butter

3/4 Cup minced onion

1/2 Cup minced green pepper

1/2 Cup minced celery

1 chicken bouillon cube

2/3 Cup hot water

1/2 pound bulk sausage

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 eggs,beaten

3/4 Cup chopped pecans

  1. The day before, cut French bread into 1/2 inch cubes and spread them out to dry overnight.  In a separate pan, crumble the cornbread and spread it to dry overnight.
  2. In a large, heavy skillet, saute the onion, green pepper, and celery in the butter until tender.
  3. Place the bread cubes and crumbled corn bread in a very large container.  Dissolve the bouillon cube in the hot water and sprinkle over the dried breads. Stir in the sautéed vegetables.
  4. Using the same skillet, saute the sausage until browned and finely divided. Set aside.
  5. Add the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, eggs, and pecans to the crumb mixture. Stir in the sausage and pan drippings and mix well.
  6. Bake in a large greased pan, covered, at 325 for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.

Yield: Enough for 6 to 8 with no leftovers

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