Bob Howell

It’s almost Thanksgiving. That means it’s time to cut back on our consumption of food and drink so that we’ll have lots of room left for the “eating holiday.” 

Since there are several moves afoot to change the names of traditional celebrations, why don’t we change Thanksgiving to “Eat as Much as You can Day.”  

That new holiday would free us from the guilt and shame of overindulgence that we have lived with for many, many years.

I consulted with my lovely and talented wife about her thoughts on the foods we consume on the holiday ... regardless of its name. 

We found some uncanny similarities between the bill of fare from her childhood and mine. Let us begin with the star of this culinary show, the turkey. 

She never liked the way turkey tasted until sometime in her mid-teens. She said that her maternal grandmother felt the same way because she always had alternatives on the menu. She would have chicken — fried, and in chicken and dumpling. 

Since there would be a house filled to overflowing with relatives, each family that showed up was expected to bring a vegetable, rolls, or dessert ... or maybe a gallon or two of sweet tea. (I’m getting hungry just writing about that meal). 

Meanwhile, at the Howell house, my father was in charge of the Thanksgiving Day meal. 

If you were thinking about the traditional turkey and dressing with all the trimmings, you’d better look elsewhere. Daddy would bake a big ham complete with cloves inserted into a pattern he carved on the outside of the ham. He also made cornbread dressing and delicious giblet gravy served with pieces chicken. And there were lots of vegetables, too.

My mother was queen of desserts on Thanksgiving. I can remember turning my nose up at only one dessert she made ... ambrosia. Everybody who liked her ambrosia LOVED it. I cannot recall anyone being lukewarm when it came to her ambrosia — except me. I was stone cold against it. 

Now, let us get down to my favorite dessert that she made every Thanksgiving ... Lane cake. That cake was, in a word, “fantastic.” 

It was layers of cake, held together with a delicious, terrific “goo” highlighted with shredded coconut and pecan pieces ... not to mention a touch of bourbon whisky or wine. Boy howdy ... that was some kind of good. 

Did I mention the dinner rolls? They were my maternal great-grandmother's secret recipe, which I have kept since my mother passed away. And it’s a well-guarded recipe to this day. 

These rolls would melt in your mouth. In fact, I could make a meal on nothing more than a plate of rolls and a glass of my mama’s sweet tea.

But now it's time to skip a culinary generation. I‘m not into cooking. I leave it up to Paula, who is an excellent cook, if I do say so. 

Because of my less than accommodating schedule anchoring the early and late news, Thanksgiving did not get the same emphasis at our house as with most families. But that has changed at least for the orthopedic surgeon in the family. Whenever he is not on call on a Friday after Thanksgiving, Dr. Brock loves to fry a turkey. And let me tell you one thing, he really makes a dandy fried turkey.

He has one of the indoor versions of turkey fryers, which make the absolutely best turkeys I have ever tasted. It is moist and done through and through. 

One of these holidays (regardless of the name), I’m going to round up all the recipes that I have tucked away and get the wives involved in the biggest culinary celebration our expanded family has ever enjoyed. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In the meantime, get cracking in your kitchen bring some of those old recipes to life.  And you can let me know how it worked out. 

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving,

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