This morning while I was filling the stock tank in Pipi’s Pasture, I was thinking about what I’m going to take to Thanksgiving dinner. We always celebrate with our son’s family, and I usually bake pies and cook up something else. So I was making a shopping list in my head.
That got me to thinking about Thanksgiving dinners when I was growing up on the ranch. I’m sure that my mother had a shopping list, but it probably was for the basics (flour, sugar, and seasonings) because most of our dinner was homegrown.
For example, turkey was the main dish, and we raised it on the ranch. The dressing was made from homemade bread that was sliced, dried, seasoned, and cut into cube-size pieces. I can’t remember not having turkey on Thanksgiving, but if we had ham, it was homegrown, too, and even smoked in our smokehouse.
Mom made her own rolls from a “Three Hour Roll” recipe. They were served with butter that was churned from cream that came from our milk cow.
My mother wouldn’t have given ready-made pie crusts a second thought. Hers were made by using lard which she said made the crust flaky. The lard was rendered from the ranch pigs. Apple, cherry, pumpkin, and mincemeat fillings were all made from produce grown on the ranch, some of which was canned during the summer. (I’m not sure about the mincemeat ingredients. I know that the filling was homemade, but perhaps Mom used raisins which had to be purchased.)
Applesauce cake was also a favorite dessert for Thanksgiving. The applesauce was usually made from wind fall apples (those apples that fell off the tree and were often a little bruised). Mom made the applesauce in the summer and canned it.
The desserts were topped with whipped cream, not to be confused with whipped toppings we use today. The whipped cream was made by whipping cream, courtesy of our milk cow, with a little sugar.
Each summer when Mom canned she put up “special” jars of relishes, jams, jellies, and pickles. These were set aside for holiday meals. So Thanksgiving dinner might have included watermelon pickles, spiced apples, and dill pickles made with a special brine. There was almost always chokecherry jelly, a favorite. All of these were served on pretty glass dishes.
Mom’s homemade fruit cocktail was used in making gelatin salads. The fruit cocktail even contained grapes and cherries, just as “store bought” fruit cocktail does today.
So while my Thanksgiving shopping list is apt to be quite long, even for a few dishes, Mom’s list probably included cranberries and sweet potatoes, produce that we couldn’t grow on the ranch.
Happy Thanksgiving from Pipi’s Pasture!
Copyright Diane Prather, 2012