Tag Archives: Thanksgiving recipe

Thanksgiving Recipe: Turkey Dressing

Holidays at my brother and sister-in-law’s house are filled with delicious food. EVERYBODY cooks. Paul William and Norma Haggberg Kaser both cook. Their sons Michael and David cook (especially Michael, who is a trained chef).  So it is no surprise that this delicious recipe for turkey dressing comes from the Kaser household.


Dressing that not only includes apples, but apple cider; not only pecans, but SPICED pecans!

It came to me just in time. I was wondering how I could include turkey dressing in the Thanksgiving recipes I am sharing with you at Ancestors in Aprons.  Dressing is one of my favorite dishes on the Thanksgiving table, but my own is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink concoction that includes whatever I happen to have on hand–nuts, fruit, sausage, oysters, vegetables. And for the bread, I stow leftover ends of all kinds of bread in the freezer for months, and then use the hodgepodge for dressing.  So you can see how it might be difficult for me to pass on my “recipe.”

Norma Kaser’s Spiced Pecans

Norma Kaser’s Spiced Pecan Recipe

Prep time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 50 minutes
Allergy Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 4 cups pecan halves
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup dark maple syrup


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Toss together salt, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Add the pecans and toss well.
3. Drizzle melted butter over the pecans and mix well.
4. Turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet, scraping spices and butter from the bowl and spreading all into one layer.
5. Bake until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally for about nine minutes.
6. Drizzle the maple syrup over the nuts, stir to combine and bake about 10 minutes longer.
7. Let the nuts cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then scrape nuts and drippings into a bowl.


While these are made for nibbling as well as for use in the turkey dressing, be careful that the cook does not nibble more than two cups of the pecans before making the turkey dressing!

Photo by Susan Smith from Flickr, used with Creative Commons license.

Norma Kaser’s Thanksgiving Turkey Dressing

Norma Kaser’s Turkey Dressing Recipe

Serves 8-10


  • 6 cups bread cubes (Norma uses a mix of white and whole wheat)
  • 2 cups raw wild rice
  • salt, white pepper
  • 2 medium onions (diced (1 1/2 cups))
  • 4 ribs celery (diced (1 1/2 cups))
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 2/3 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups (before chopping) Spiced Pecans (below) (coarsely chopped)


1. Cook wild rice according to directions and cool
2. Saute' onions and celery in 2 TBS olive oil.
3. Remove from pan and stir in herbs, pepper and salt
4. Peel, core and dice the apples.
5. Add oil and butter to pan
6. Add to hot pan, diced apples and sugar and cook until the apples begin to brown.
7. Add 2/3 cup of cider and reduce heat for one minute.
8. Add apples and liquid to onion and celery mixture.
9. Combine rice, bread and apple mixture.
10. Add remainder of cider and stock and mix in candied pecans. Stuff turkey, and pile remainder of dressing in buttered Pyrex dish for oven. NOTE: Roast turkey as soon as you have stuffed it. (Never let warm dressing sit in cold turkey.)


The photo is by Elena Gailliard, from Flickr, used with Creative Commons license.


Thanksgiving Dinner: How to Make Turkey Gravy

Mother always said that Aunt Rhema made the best gravy. That is Rhema Anderson Fair (1901-1996), about  whom I will be writing more on Thursday this week. My recollection is that Aunt Rhema  was good at many things, but on family dinner occasions, she for sure would be assigned the gravy detail.

 recipe whisks


Of course the thing about perfect gravy is not so much the flavor (although I’ve eaten a lot of over-salted gravy)–its the smooth texture that is so elusive. I found it difficult to get smooth gravy or white sauce, until I started stirring with a whisk instead of a spoon. But having proved that I could do it, I now use a turkey gravy from a jar, and stir in the turkey drippings and giblets to give it more oomph. Shame on me.  But at least I draw the line at marshmallows on my sweet potatoes and mushroom soup-sauced green beans with onion rings–the two dishes that were must-haves from the 50s through the 70s.

What do we need gravy for anyhow?  If you cook the turkey right, it will be juicy and won’t need disguising and moistening.  Mashed potatoes don’t excite me. The only possible reason for making  mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner is to make  fried potato patties with the leftovers and I like leftover turkey gravy on the potato patties.

Come to think of it, the best reason to make a Thanksgiving dinner is to have leftovers! Turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches, turkey enchiladas, a bowl of dressing with gravy poured over it, like milk over cornflakes. Pie for breakfast…bring on the leftovers! But I digress….

Gravy is one of those things that mothers and grandmothers are just expected to know how to make, so of course nobody bothers to write down a recipe. Since I don’t have Aunt Rhema’s gravy recipe–or mother’s or grandmothers–I’m going to look at two vintage cookbooks and see what they say.

I know that in my family giblet turkey gravy was the assumption, and almost on auto-pilot, I cook the giblets in water, chop them up and mix them into stuffing or gravy. And I’d use low salt chicken broth instead of water to supplement the drippings. One more tip–baste the turkey with lots of butter to get the best possible drippings.

1925 Cook Book

1925 Cook Book Cover

In 1925, The Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book does not list turkey gravy separately, but includes it with their Roast Turkey recipe.  By the way, they roast a ten -pound turkey for four hours, which would leave a shriveled turkey jerky with our modern turkeys that cook much more quickly.

For gravy, pour off liquid in pan in which turkey was roasted.  From the liquid skim one-fourth cup of fat, return the fat to pan and brown with 5 Tablespoons of flour; add slowly three cups of stock in which giblets were cooked,[I don’t recommend this as it can be bitter], or add two cups of boiling water to dissolve the glaze in bottom of the pan and substitute for broth. [We would say ‘deglaze the pan with 2 cups boiling water or broth]. Cook five minutes, season with salt and pepper and strain; add the giblets chopped very fine.  The giblets may be used for force meat balls or chopped fine and mixed with the stuffing.

By the way, the Buffalo Cooking School gives helpful information about choosing fowl. Here’s what they say about turkey.

Turkeys are old when they have long hairs, and the flesh which shows through the skin is purple.  Turkeys are at their best in mid-winter. In the spring they begin to deteriorate.

Thanks goodness for Butterball or for the naturally-raised turkeys sold at natural food stores. You can see more of the Buffalo tips for fowl in my roasted chicken article.

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook 1953

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook 1953

Now fast-forwarding about 28 years, let’s see what the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook has to say about turkey gravy. Their gravy instructions come in four steps, accompanied by four pictures. And they suggest four variations–brown, cream, chicken, or giblet gravy.


Turkey Gravy

Gravy from Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

1. Measure the drippings.  Lift turkey or roast to warm platter; it will carve better if it stands about 20 minutes.  Leave crusty bits in pan; pour out fat, meat juices.  When fat comes to the top, skim it off.  For each cup gravy, measure 2 Tablespoons fat back into the pan.

2. Add flour.  Set the roasting pan over very low heat.  Measure 2 Tablespoons flour for each cup of gravy.  We’re adding 1/4 cup flour to make 2 cups of gravy enough for 8 servings. Be sure to blend fat and flour well. [Note: their illustrations show the cook using a whisk.]

3.  Cook gravy till frothy.  Keep on stirring.  For richer flavor and color, brown the flour until its light tan.  The liquid for gravy should be lukewarm. Use the meat juices plus the giblet stock, milk or water.

4. Add liquid.  For each cup gravy, measure 1 Cup liquid.  Pour into pan all at once.  As you stir, blend in the crusty bits on bottom of pan.  Cook till thick; simmer about 5 minutes.  Pour into a hot gravy boat, serve to climax meat and potatoes.  It’s perfect gravy–smooth, rich, and full of flavor.

For Giblet Gravy, add chopped cooked giblets and use giblet broth for part of liquid.

Want a modern recipe for turkey gravy?  I looked at several, but Bon Apetit had the most delicious-looking picture, and an easy recipe. Take a look. You’re going to want to lick the screen.

So there you have it. Do you make turkey gravy? What do you put it on?

Thanksgiving Recipe: Hilton Corn Pie, aka Killer Cornbread

cornbread at First Thanksgiving

“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe
Date 1914. This painting is in the public domain.Corn in one form or several seems a natural at the Thanksgiving table. After all, it is one of the foods the Natives taught the Pilgrims to use, and they could make a rudimentary cornbread.  In fact, a Smithsonian article quotes  Willliam Bradford, Pilgrim leader, writing of that first Thanksgiving feast:

“And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion.”

Having researched the matter, I’m convinced that my foremothers–from Pilgrims to mother and grandmother– when they donned their aprons at Thanksgiving, worked some corn into the menu. But those early Pilgrims could not have made this recipe–poor things. They had no dairy (no butter or cheese), no chiles, and probably did not have hen eggs. Forget baking powder, let alone a pyrex dish!

Although this is a modern recipe that I added to our Thanksgiving traditions, I still have the presence of other generations in my kitchen.  Thinking about what kind of corn recipes they made. Heeding my mother’s hint about greasing the pans. Save the butter wrapper when you dump the butter in the mixing bowl, and wipe the buttery residue over the inside of the pan.

I’ve been making this particular cornbread recipe ever since the late 60s when I found it on the recipe pages of the Scottsdale Progress. Yes, there WERE newspaper pages totally devoted to food stories and recipes back then. During the 60s, somebody came to the conclusion that women were also interested in sports, the stock market and breaking news, and little by little the “Women’s pages” disappeared from the newspaper. (And now the newspaper itself has disappeared from Scottsdale.)

First to go was the Society Page, where all women were either Miss Smith or Mrs. Thomas Jones–as though they had no identity of their own. And the coverage ran to bridal stories that detailed what everyone in the wedding party wore–including the mother of the bride; reports on who was inviting whom to tea; and Hints from Heloise. I appreciated the new attitude toward women readers, but I would also have appreciated having my cake (recipes) and eating it too.

Corn bread from Scottsdale Hilton

Scottsdale Hilton

Feminist rant aside, I am grateful for the interview in the Progress with the chef of the then-new Hilton on Scottsdale Road at Lincoln Road.  I have used the recipe he shared for what was called Corn Pie, Scottsdale Hilton, at many a potluck and family dinner since.  It is one of those dishes whose absence is noted if I ever dare to neglect it at Thanksgiving time.

At that time, chefs in upper scale restaurants were just beginning to realize the benefits of incorporating Mexican ingredients, if not whole recipes, into their fancy menus, and stressing the Southwest. Corn pie sounded like tamale pie, hence the recipe name for what is really cornbread.  I’m inclined to call it Killer Cornbread, with the subtitle–“The dish you never want your cardiologist to know you are eating.”

Hilton Corn Pie


  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 4oz green chiles (diced, mild)
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1/2 cup cheese (Cheddar, shredded)
  • 1/2 cup cheese (Monterey Jack,shredded)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Cream together buter and sugar
2. Beat 4 eggs and add to the butter/sugar mixture
3. Mix in chiles, creamed corn, cheese.
4. Sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
5. Killer Corn Bread batter
Stir flour mix into other ingredients. Note: Mixture will look lumpy.
6. Killer Corn Bread in dish
Pour into greased and floured 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 pyrex baking dish.
7. Bake at 300 degrees one hour, until slightly browned on edges and pulls away from sides of dish.
8. Serves 12 or more.