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Tag Archive: Thanksgiving

Nov 24

Bread is king at Thanksgiving dinners

“Bread is the king of the table, and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king. The countries are the soup, the meat, the vegetables, the salad, but bread is king.” – Louis Bromfield, American novelist, 1896–1956.

Thanksgiving Day is here, and dinner smells wonderful, yes it does, but nothing, absolutely nothing, has a finer aroma than light yeast rolls baking in the oven.

Each autumn, as the fourth Thursday in November draws closer, I think a lot about turkey and all the trimmings, including my Dad’s sausage-pecan-apple dressing, a green-bean casserole, fried apples, cranberries, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, sweet potatoes and a large dollop of whipped cream atop a piece of luscious pumpkin pie.

A Thanksgiving feast could possibly be the most wonderful collection of food one enjoys during the entire year, but since childhood, ‘light’ yeast rolls have been my favorite Thanksgiving Day food.

Yours, too, or perhaps not? Some say yes, some no.

However, I know this to be true, at our house kids pop these heavenly rolls into their mouths like candy. Everyone else around the table eats at least two, and my husband would think the world came to an end if we served Thanksgiving dinner without yeast rolls.

The late Emily Post, renowned newspaper ‘etiquette’ columnist and author, wrote once “bread is like dresses, hats and shoes—in other words, essential!”

When families and friends break bread together, we are indeed sharing an essential food staple that has been a part of our world since the beginning of recorded time.

Bread is important. In fact, noted American chef James Beard once called it the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods.

Out of curiosity, I researched the history of bread and learned, to my surprise, that bread, beer and yeast went hand-in-hand in ancient Egyptian culture, where bread is thought to have first originated. Bread and beer were staples of every meal there. At some point, yeast was accidentally discovered when someone dropped it in the dough, as the story goes. Possibly someone had too much beer, but nevertheless, the rest is history. The Egyptian’s flat, hard crusty bread eventually evolved into light, heavenly manna from heaven.

Today when we think of Thanksgiving dinner, we know that bread is a major element in its own right, but it is also an ingredient in stuffing or dressing, whichever you choose to call it.

Inspired by this talk of yeast rolls and dressing, I decided to search for my Dad’s legendary sausage-pecan-apple dressing recipe and found Grandma’s ‘light rolls’ recipe as well. Two undeniable stars of our turkey dinner this Thanksgiving.

After all, bread is the king of the table.

Note to readers: There are many yeast rolls recipes to be found, and you probably have your favorite, but here is my Dad’s aforementioned stuffing recipe in case you would like to try it for your next year’s Thanksgiving dinner. It’s good.

Sausage Dressing with Apples and Pecans
8-10 ounces of sausage, chopped
14 cups dried bread, cut in cubes with crusts removed
1 ½ sticks butter, melted
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onions
4 large apples
3 cups pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh sage
2 teaspoons dried sage
4 large eggs, beaten
5 cups turkey stock, maybe more if needed
Fresh chopped or dried parsley to taste
Dried thyme to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking dish with oil or cooking spray. In large skillet, cook sausage. Drain and remove, cool. In bowl, add bread cubes to sausage. Melt butter in skillet and add onions and celery and cook for a 3-4 minutes, add apples and cook two more minutes. Pour this mixture onto bread and sausage mixture. Add seasonings, mix, and finally stir in pecans.

Mix eggs in turkey stock and add to dressing mixture, stirring completely. Sometimes it takes more stock to moisten the mixture. Put in baking dish, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is slightly browned and crisp, usually takes about 20 more minutes.

Serves 10.

Nov 25

Amazing Grace—a song loved around the world

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”
– published around 1779 by John Newton, English clergyman and seaman

Recently a story caught my eye about the history of the song, “Amazing Grace”, one that most of us can sing by heart.

It is a hymn that resonates with people everywhere in a way that almost no other song does and thus could be the perfect Thanksgiving hymn.

“Amazing Grace” is, quite simply put, adored worldwide.

In this country, it is sung at countless Thanksgiving Day and Veterans’ Day events and at such sad and unhappy occasions as the memorial services after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

However, its unfailing optimism and uplifting message makes it popular with scores of recording artists, such as Judy Collins, Elvis Presley and Leann Rimes.

For more than two centuries the song became a fixture across spiritual and secular cultures worldwide, according to Joe Edwards, AP religious writer.

He notes that according to www.allmusic.com, “Amazing Grace” has been recorded more than 6,600 times.

Edwards explains why it is so popular: “It crosses denominational doctrine…and is unfailingly positive…the word ‘grace’ is mentioned three times in the second verse alone.”

How “Amazing Grace” came to be written is what I find intriguing.

For example, Newton’s lyrics “that saved a wretch like me” are understandable considering the fact that as a young midshipman he endured great suffering at sea with unbearable living conditions, public flogging, exchange into service on a slave ship and brutal abuse.

As the son of a merchant ship commander, Newton learned seamanship from his father and eventually signed on with the H.M.S. Harwich, a man-of-war.

Al Rogers authored a magazine article in 1996, “The Story of John Newton”, in which he explained that conditions on board were so intolerable that Newton deserted. He was soon recaptured, publicly beaten and demoted to common seaman. He was exchanged into service on a slave ship that took him to the coast of Sierra Leone and eventually rescued by a sea captain who had known John’s father.

This ordeal coupled with a violent storm at sea led Newton to write about these life-changing experiences. Rogers explained, “on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, Newton experienced what he was to refer to as his great deliverance.”

Newton later recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, this self-described non-religious sailor asked for mercy and was saved. He believed, according to Rogers, that “amazing grace” had begun to work for him.

After retiring from sailing, he decided to become a minister, furthered his education and was eventually ordained. He accepted the curacy (“guiding the souls of the parish”) of the church of Olney, Buckinghamshire. In little time, the services became so crowded that the sanctuary had to be enlarged.

Newton wrote his own epitaph using words that mirror the lyrics of his beloved hymn:
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home”.

The lyrics of “Amazing Grace” offer reassurance, while at the same time, the music is easy to sing with few high notes.

Many of us know the words of this enduring hymn and love the melody. And like John Newton, we are grateful for what he most aptly described as “amazing grace”.

Indeed, the perfect song for Thanksgiving Day.

Nov 25

Amazing Grace—a song loved around the world

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” – published around 1779 by John Newton, English clergyman and seaman

Recently a story caught my eye about the history of the song, “Amazing Grace”, one that most of us can sing by heart.

It is a hymn that resonates with people everywhere in a way that almost no other song does and thus could be the perfect Thanksgiving hymn.

“Amazing Grace” is, quite simply put, adored worldwide.

In this country, it is sung at countless Thanksgiving Day and Veterans’ Day events and at such sad and unhappy occasions as the memorial services after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

However, its unfailing optimism and uplifting message makes it popular with scores of recording artists, such as Judy Collins, Elvis Presley and Leann Rimes.

For more than two centuries the song became a fixture across spiritual and secular cultures worldwide, according to Joe Edwards, AP religious writer.

He notes that according to www.allmusic.com, “Amazing Grace” has been recorded more than 6,600 times.

Edwards explains why it is so popular: “It crosses denominational doctrine…and is unfailingly positive…the word ‘grace’ is mentioned three times in the second verse alone.”

How “Amazing Grace” came to be written is what I find intriguing.

For example, Newton’s lyrics “that saved a wretch like me” are understandable considering the fact that as a young midshipman he endured great suffering at sea with unbearable living conditions, public flogging, exchange into service on a slave ship and brutal abuse.

As the son of a merchant ship commander, Newton learned seamanship from his father and eventually signed on with the H.M.S. Harwich, a man-of-war.

Al Rogers authored a magazine article in 1996, “The Story of John Newton”, in which he explained that conditions on board were so intolerable that Newton deserted. He was soon recaptured, publicly beaten and demoted to common seaman. He was exchanged into service on a slave ship that took him to the coast of Sierra Leone and eventually rescued by a sea captain who had known John’s father.

This ordeal coupled with a violent storm at sea led Newton to write about these life-changing experiences. Rogers explained, “on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, Newton experienced what he was to refer to as his great deliverance.”

Newton later recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, this self-described non-religious sailor asked for mercy and was saved. He believed, according to Rogers, that “amazing grace” had begun to work for him.

After retiring from sailing, he decided to become a minister, furthered his education and was eventually ordained. He accepted the curacy (“guiding the souls of the parish”) of the church of Olney, Buckinghamshire. In little time, the services became so crowded that the sanctuary had to be enlarged.

Newton wrote his own epitaph using words that mirror the lyrics of his beloved hymn:
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home”.

The lyrics of “Amazing Grace” offer reassurance, while at the same time, the music is easy to sing with few high notes.

Many of us know the words of this enduring hymn and love the melody. And like John Newton, we are grateful for what he most aptly described as “amazing grace”.

Indeed, the perfect song for Thanksgiving Day.

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