The family is much smaller now. My brother and his family will be eating with his wife's parents and the Taller Half and I will be celebrating at home with more food than we can eat, football on TV and a long walk on the beach. After all the years of traveling, it's rather nice to stay put and nap on my own couch. Even though we are only two, family members who have passed are still with us in the funny stories we remember (with the details changing a wee bit year by year). My Grandmother's china and table linens are used on our table now and then there's the annual watching of the old home movies and never being able to identify some of the relatives (or were they neighbors?)
Mostly, though, the memories are still here in the recipes I use - some written, most just memorized with instructions only I understand. Three handsful of flour are about half a cup, the streak-o-lean in the pole beans is salt pork, and water cornbread doesn't have buttermilk in it. The "drunk sweet potatoes" have brandy in them and no matter what anyone tells you, you don't put the dressing in the turkey's butt - that's why it's called dressing not stuffing. The Taller Half really loves Stove Top but I just can't bring myself to serve it on Thanksgiving. He can have that anytime but good old cornbread dressing with plenty of sage is a once a year delicacy.
Here's the recipe for Uncle D's famous "drunk sweet potatoes. He served them to the kids too since the alcohol burns off during the cooking - or at least that's what he claimed. Maybe that's why the kids got so quiet...hmmm. Enjoy!
RD's Drunk Sweet Potatoes
☼ 4-5 medium size sweet potatoes
☼ 3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
☼ 1/3 cup water
☼ 2 tablespoons butter - use real butter!
☼ Orange zest - at least 1 tsp but more if you like it
☼ Brandy - it doesn't have to be the pricey stuff
Scrub the potatoes and boil them whole until they are tender. Cool for a bit then peel and cut in 1/2" slices. Melt butter in large saucepan and add water and brown sugar. Stir until sugar melts. Add zest. Add the potatoes and stir gently - try not to break them up. You can keep these covered on the back of the stove for now while everything else finishes up. Right before serving add a blurp (my mother's word) of brandy - 1/4 - 1/2 cup depending on your taste. Turn the burner up fairly high and bring the sauce to a good bubble. At this point I'd like to say if you are using a gas stove with an open flame, don't turn it on until after you pour in the brandy. Trust me, it's better this way. If you have any extra brandy you had better drink it before it goes bad!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Enjoy your family and friends whether they are with you at the table or safely tucked into your heart.