The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine - November

I have had a lot of pushback about trying new dishes and alternative cooking methods for Thanksgiving. This is one of the holidays where the meal menu is set in

stone. "This is the way we always served it, and nobody will eat it if it is not the way "Aunt Hettie" fixed it."

The one side dish that I always try to change is the sweet potatoes. I am not fond of canned or over-cooked sweet potatoes drowning in butter and brown sugar and with crispy browned marshmallows floating on top of the liquid sea of syrup and then with pecans that are so water logged, they sink to the bottom of the dish and have lost their natural crunch.

My contribution to an alternative side dish for Thanksgiving has some brown sugar, but no marshmallows, no pecans and no sea of sugar syrup. I found many recipes for different ways to roast sweet potatoes. I seem to be getting more popular to not raise your blood sugar when you eat sweet potatoes and to add some zip to the dish.

I have mentioned in previous articles of prepping a meal with the intention of using the leftovers as a base for another meal. I just finished eating what I think was my greatest repurposing of a meal so far. It started with making Chicken Pozole, a traditional soup from Mexico, and ended as a flavorful chicken potpie. Thickening the leftover soup and adding peas and carrots made the base for the potpie. In addition, I checked how much chicken was still in the soup and added more. The hominy in the soup substituted for the potato in the chicken potpie. I lined the bottom, and sides of a casserole dish with pie shell pastry. You can use either, store bought or homemade.

Added the filling and topped with more piecrust. The only changes I would make for later potpies would be to par bake the shell and top the casserole dish with puff pastry. I still have leftover soup frozen in Mason jars to make individual potpies in the future.

You know how to distinguish difference between a Southerner and a Northerner? Southerners have dressing with their turkey, Northerners have stuffing. Southerners also have a recipe for their dressing that has been handed down from generation to generation. And to keep up the tradition I am posting our family's recipe for our dressing, handed down for at least 5 generations. This weekend was the "make the dressing for the family's day at our house." Besides just making the dressing for our family my wife, Anne, has two friends joining her to make enough dressing for their families.

Grandmother Tucker's Dressing

(Notes about the recipe are from Anne learning from her grandmother.) My notes from watching her cook!

1. Make cornbread – I use buttermilk and lots of bacon grease (You can also use saved and frozen cornbread from other meals.) Crumble cornbread in a large bowl.

2. Cut 6 stalks of celery and 3 medium onions salt and pepper to taste, cover amply with chicken broth; cook until tender; set aside. The other thing I do is I cook the onions and celery in chicken broth and butter rather than water and adding melted butter later.)

3. Add to crumbled cornbread: 8 slices of toasted or dry bread, 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, 8-10 biscuits or dinner rolls and 1 sleeve saltine crackers. Crumble and mix together.

4. Add: 1 can cream of chicken soup (I add 2 or 3 cans.)

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can chicken broth (I use the boxes.)

3-4 eggs add by the spoonful , including the broth, celery and onion to taste salt and pepper to taste sprinkle of sage onion powder and celery salt to might not need this poultry seasoning if needed to taste.

(You will need more broth than this... You mix all of this with a big spoon or your hands until all of the crumbles of the breads are broken's the feel and texture of a thick cornbread mixture with onions and celery. You do not want to be able to see parts of a piece of bread or a biscuit. I use a hand mixer to mix everything completely. I also add about a half a stick of melted butter.)

TASTE ...even though it has raw eggs in it! I would be dead by now if it were dangerous! You want to check the salt pepper and sage flavors. Some broths are very salty and I don't like a lot of sage. Bake in a greased baking pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – check often to be sure it does not burn.

I keep a baggie in the freezer and save those extra pieces of bread at the end of a loaf and the slice of cornbread that might be left over or biscuits so when it is time to make dressing... I have the breads ready. Originally dressing was a way to use all the stale breads. This is also a good time to use all of those frozen baggies of left over broth or the broth you put in ice cube trays over the year! Grandmother Fuller used to keep a large mason jar in the freezer and she would add to it when she had any left over broth. This recipe is exactly like my Grandmother Fuller's except she loved sage (and I think she used too much)

I make dressing on Veterans Day since I am usually off from work. It "freezes beautifully"! On Thanks - giving morning, I defrost and bake.

Serves 20


1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can chicken broth or more to make the gravy as thin or thick as you like. You can also use the broth from the turkey 2 or 3 boiled eggs diced – this will thicken the gravy some. Cooked onions and celery to taste chopped liver from the turkey or small pieces of dark turkey.

Pumpkin Roll-Up

"No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a dessert that has pumpkin in it. The problem is that after a heavy meal, no one has room for a pumpkin pie or any calorie laden pie.

This dessert may take awhile to make but your guest will love it."


3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup granulated sugar 3 large eggs

2/3 cup canned pumpkin (or homemade pumpkin puree)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


8 ounces cream cheese , softened 2 Tablespoons butter , softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar , plus more for dusting.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan (15 x 10'') with parchment paper, leaving an extra inch of parchment sticking up on both long sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the cake out after baking. (You can VERY lightly grease the parchment paper, if you want to, but you don't need to!)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Add dry ingredients to the bowl and stir just until combined and no dry streaks re - main. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 14-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately lift the parchment paper and hot cake out of the pan and onto a flat surface. While the cake is hot, starting at one of the short ends, use your hands to gently and slowly roll the cake (and parchment paper!) all the way up. Allow it to cool completely, on top of a wire cooling rack. (This allows it to cool underneath the roll, and keeps the cake from sweating).

While the cake roll is cooling, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until it is fluffy and smooth.

Once the cake roll is cooled completely, unroll it very carefully. Gently smooth the filling in an even layer over the cake. Roll up the cake without the parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, before serving. Dust the top with powdered sugar, if desired. Cut into slices and serve. Store in the fridge, covered, for up to three days.


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