Monday, November 19, 2007

Being Truly Thankful

We are so excited that our daughter and her husband are planning to host their very first Thanksgiving celebration at their beautiful new home in Sumter, SC! My cousin, Sandi, and her husband, George, will be joining us from Elgin. It will be a small group, but I'm so grateful that we have family to enjoy over the holiday, and especially grateful for little 2-year old Mary, who will keep us all very busy!

Working in food service, there was no way our son and his fiancee would be able to come home for Thanksgiving and we resigned ourselves to that. Yesterday, however, Rob gave me a call to tell me that he and Kelsey were able to get today and tomorrow (Monday & Tuesday) off work together and they are coming up from Sea Island to be with us! Of course, we're going to have a special Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow at our house and Lyndsey, Daryl, and Mary will come join us for that. (We'll still have Thanksgiving Dinner at Lyndsey's on Thursday, too.)

Yours truly has been cooking up a storm of holiday favorites, sides only because Kelsey has brined a turkey and is bringing that along with some things her chef made. She also made a pumpkin and pecan pie. She said she hasn't had a Thanksgiving celebration dinner with family since she left hers back in Oklahoma and started working in restaurants years ago, so this will be a special time for her with her "new" family.

What a joy it is for me to have my family together for any occasion. There are few guarantees in life, so if this holiday finds you sharing with family and friends, I hope you count every moment as a blessing.

Now I must clean the house (and the collards!) but in the meantime, here is our family's favorite sweet potato casserole. I always just throw it together (as many of you probably do, too), but in case you want to try something "measured," this recipe adapted from an old Southern Living is what we enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato Casserole

5 pounds sweet potatoes
Finely grated peel of one large orange
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk, or enough to moisten potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Miniature marshmallows

Line a large baking sheet with foil. Wash and dry sweet potatoes and place on pan. Cover tightly with another layer of foil and bake at 400° for about 1 hour or until tender. Let cool to touch; peel and mash sweet potatoes.

Mash sweet potatoes, orange peel, sugar, and next 5 ingredients, first with a potato masher, and then stirring in the other ingredients with a woooden spoon. (I like mine to be a bit lumpy.) Spoon potato mixture into a greased 3-qt. baking dish.

Combine cornflakes cereal and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. (Will take longer if you've made this ahead of time and the potatoes are cold.) Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with marshmallows; bake an additional 10 minutes or until marshmallows soften. (Have someone watch the marshmallows or they will go from soft to burned in just a minute!) Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Make ahead: Make the casserole, but package the topping in a little zippy bag for storage. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe as written.

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