Invite a Firehouse Cook for Thanksgiving and you get a smoked turkey

We got through Thanksgiving with flying colors – literally. What a beautiful spread, with colorful contributions from friends, neighbors and relatives, some of whom are very colorful themselves. But that’s another story.

At Thanksgiving, we usually think about traditional dishes. What would it be without Grandma’s green beans with the little canned French onions on top, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce from a can, butterflake rolls from Costco . . .

I was invited to two Thanksgiving dinners. Lucky for me, they were on different days so I got to go to both. For the one I did my infamous smoked turkeys, which are Helen Johnson’s favorite, as my contribution. Clemencia Macias made cranberry sauce from scratch once she found out that it didn’t take Julia Child over her shoulder to do it. Larry Sharp not only did yams with a brown sugar topping, he did the dishes. There was a dessert the Italian name of which I never caught, which was sort of a crust with a filling spread across it – one olallieberry, one pumpkin – and then a lattice made of crust across the top. Not only did I not catch the name, I didn’t catch the recipe.

At the second dinner, the food was a little more traditional, but there were two dishes which were twists on the traditional that I had to get the recipes for. My buddy, Wayne, who is 87, very carefully copied these over from handwritten cards and entered them into an Atari computer, only to have that go obsolete too. Now he keeps up with the latest, greatest technology but the recipes remain the same.
Now, I’ve been accused of cooking “fat.” Here’s the deal: Back in the days when people actually did physical labor, extra butter, sugar and flour didn’t cause the problems they do today. My mother’s parents lived into their late 90’s and my dad’s mother lived to be 102. These old traditional recipes are probably up there on the list of high fat and sugar, but firefighters work hard and cooking this way for the firehouse wasn’t a problem, either.

You have the choice of using diet versions of everything, and substituting for the sugar but it’s not going to taste the same and don’t blame me.

Cranberry Salad

Dissolve 2 pkgs raspberry Jell-O in l C boiling water and cool.

Then add l can whole cranberries with the juice, one #2 can crushed pineapple
with juice. 1 C port wine and l C chopped walnuts. Allow to set in a
large rectangular pan.

Spread with a topping of 4 oz. pkg cream cheese mixed smoothly with 4 oz. sour cream. That’s equal to a little less than a yogurt container, which is 6 oz.

Chill several hours, then cut into squares to serve l2 to l6.

Cheesy Beans

2 cans green beans
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
white sauce
Mild cheese – l/2 c. grated
Sharp cheese for topping – ½ c. grated
To make the white sauce: Melt two tbsp flour and two tbsp. butter. Add one cup of milk. Stir until smooth – I’d recommend a whisk, but don’t beat it.

Pour off half the liquid from the beans.
Add butter and sugar to beans and cook uncovered until liquid evaporates.
Add cheese to white sauce and cook until cheese melts.
Put beans into casserole. Add sauce and mix – top with l/2 C sharp cheese.
Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

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