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Thanksgiving Dinner

Every year our families, and occasionally a few friends, come for dinner at our house on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a traditional celebration with turkey and trimmings made by my husband and me, and the other essentials brought by those who join us.

In the Piedmont of North Carolina the fall color is great in mid- to late November most years and the temps are moderate, so it’s usually pleasant outside. While some of us rush around in the kitchen getting things ready for the table and others cave up in the den to watch parades or football, the rest go out to do trampoline tricks or hang around the fire pit.

When you get so many people together (18-25), more than likely someone will be really happy about something and someone else will be really sad. You know, life happens to us all. And so does politics these days. Omg the politics — both ends of the spectrum. I’m always worried another Civil War will break out when someone forgets (or just refuses) to bite their tongue. No doubt there will be a dog or two losing its mind with excitement, too.

But in spite of, or even because of, everything there will be plenty of laughter. And stories. And more laughter and more stories. And of course good food.

Just your typical American Thanksgiving over here.

Here’s the menu for 2018:


Our Southern Thanksgiving

Brined and Smoked Turkey Breast

Cornbread Dressing

Turkey Gravy

Pot Roast

Beef Gravy

Rice

Homemade Yeast Dinner Rolls

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Kale Salad

Corn Pudding with Red Pepper Garlic Sauce

Roasted Root Vegetables

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans or Marshmallows

Crockpot Mac and Cheese

Green Beans with Almonds and Lemon Zest

Pecan Pie (made with sugar, not Karo)

Cheesecake (got my fingers crossed for chocolate raspberry)

Iced Tea, Coffee, Water


Granted, pot roast is not traditional, but my husband decided to make it one time and everyone loved it and started to request it, so now we have it every year.

I make the dressing with cornbread, bread cubes, saltines, plenty of celery, onions, and butter, stock, and eggs. We’ve tried adding other things over the years, like pecans or bacon and so forth, but always come back to the plain. It’s hard to beat…one of my favorite parts.

I started making fresh cranberry relish a few years ago and haven’t looked back. It’s lighter and brighter than the cooked version, and it keeps really well so you can make it ahead or just make extra for after Thanksgiving.

My son-in-law’s mother, a fabulous baker, always sends a cheesecake over for this day. The younger ones especially love that. Mom and sisters bring their anticipated veggie dishes and special extras.

We’re still undecided about a couple of things (and will be until the very last minute, most likely) — apple pie, pumpkin bread, brown sugar brownies, deviled eggs, and mashed potatoes, all maybes. And also pickled beets or squash pickles. We do our best to make everyone full and happy.

What will be on your table? What will your day look like? I love to hear how other families celebrate.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.

Oscar Wilde, 1893


Vintage postcard image credit: Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1919). Best Thanksgiving wishes. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-5316-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

On a Clear Day: The Hilltop Garden of Ruthie Burrus

Our conveniently provided garden notes had told us that Ruthie Burrus’s hilltop garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and Monarch Waystation with a spectacular view of downtown Austin, so before we got there I already expected to like it.

What I didn’t expect was the stunning way pollinators would be provided for. A sparkling mini-prairie / meadow covered the entire hillside along the drive all the way up to the house.

Hot hued wildflowers with cool blue agave — it’s a sight I’ve never seen in North Carolina. With its mix of annuals, perennials, and grasses, I bet there’s something interesting going on there year round. Quite the pollinator happy place, it was one of my favorites of the Fling, too…just hanging out with the butterflies in the sunshine-spangled flowers was pure joy.

I spent more time than I should have on the slope (and sleuthing out a couple of plant IDs) because I ran short of time for photos. Up top, besides the panoramic view, there is a stone garden haus, a children’s play area (with another great view), and a pool. There’s also an environmentally friendly rainwater collection system that allows for watering the garden without using treated city water, and a pizza oven that I’m sure makes for lots of fun times with family and friends.

The drama of the setting and the beautiful plantings make it a wonderful place to entertain which was one of the main goals of the homeowners. And…on a clear day, you can see forever and ever and ever more up there…or at least it seems so.

Click the photos below for larger pictures with captions.

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