Thansgivin' From the Fat of the Land

Reckon lots 'o folks is thinkin'  'bout Thanksgivin'.   Got yore assignment?  What's on the menu up yore way?

Y'all know we's a clan, multiple families piling in from over yonder an' right heah. Dawgs an' babies, ole' folks too. It's a Big Deal.  An evr'body is only happy iffin' their must-have dish is on the sideboard.

This year, Thanksgivin' is hosted by young clan kin in a city a little up from us. Know it'll be wunnerful. Uncle ain't sure (Turkey Day bein' held in his own backyard, most years).  

It's been many a year since the turkey an' dressin' warn't our obligation.  Nope. This year, we gits the greens an' acre peas (iffin' ya doan know acre peas, when ya' git to heaven they'll be on the table.) An' so, dear readers, thas' how come Uncle went to growin' his very own collard greens for the feast.

Uncle holds  them greens like a bouquet of roses, "Belle!! Ain't these the finest ya' ever did see?"

Well, yes, they is. I be bound to admit these is the most perfect collards ever--oughta be, too. This fella babies his greens daily--sometimes twice a day, croonin' love song to 'em while they grow.

 Looky--two grocery bags full.

 Next we go to trimmin' them, jes' right--cain't have no stems a 'tall.


 Uncle say, "Oh Belle, now these heah greens is the color of a healthy gator in spring time."(every fella had his standards)

After the greens is trimmed, given a broad chiffonade cut, we blanch 'em...

then toss 'em in an ice water filled cooler (to stop the cookin'), then load 'em in freezer bags until the day a'fore Thanksgaivin' when Aunty will cook 'em wif' a smoked ham hock (or two). 

I can hear some of y'all grumble, "That's a whole lotta work for one day's feastin'." Reckon it is.  But the love is in the doin' as much as the eatin', ain't it?  Why, it makes family lore: "Y'all remember back in two-thousand an' twelve when Uncle Aloysius grew his own greens?  I can still taste 'em in mah mind's mouth. Them were the days, huh?  Long a'fore digital taste-o-meters."  

But thas' not all--Uncle has been in a death match wif' the squirrels over his pecans--them varmints vexed him one year too many, so he wrapped aluminum 'round the tree trunk, called in the tree trimmin' boys, cut back branches that wuz kissin' the oak tree, thus eliminatin' leafy bridges to his coveted pecans ( pee-cahns  --ahh, that is, not pee-cans).  

This epic battle looks to be a draw--squirrels git outa they nests earlier than Uncle, and the fat little theives scurry off wif' most of the fallen nuts a'fore Uncle saunters out to fetch the paper an' the nuts. Still, fer all his trouble, Uncle did git hisself sufficient nuts that we's gonna have us a pecan pie wif' our very own home grown nuts (of the tree variety).

Jes' when youse thinkin' thas' a lotta work fer a pie--an' youse right--now ya' gotta think, "Them folks is looney!" 'cause we's  whippin' up a home made key lime pie too! (huh? I know, I know, key lime is not a Thanksgivin' -ish selection, but when ya' have a bumper crop of key limes, ya' make pie, thas' jes' all thar' is to it.)

We's gonna go to squeezin' an' freezin' --freeze the juice in ice cube trays so we'll have the juice year round.

  Next door to the key lime is our two year old tangerine tree--it won't be throwin' ripe fruit for Thanksgivin', but come Christmas time, Aunty's table will have a crystal bowl of these heavenly jewels. 

   At t'other end of the back 40, up at the door of the dawg-pen garden, the poor kumquat is fightin' fer its life--the plumbago along the fence line is chokin' it---Aunty hacked it back durin' the summer, but the shrub is ferocious--an' mercy on me, I forgive it, for it covers a multitude of fences wif' its showy petticoats of true blue.  I woan be the first to forgive a purty thang what makes up fer bad behavior by swishin' its skirts.

 Still...by Christmastime the kumquat will sacrifice what remains of its former vigor to give us a decent spray or two of perfect globes to nestle in the fir an' pine and magnolia swags that dress the front parlor fireplace. 

Iffin' yore family has the tradition of ambrosia fer Thanksgivin' an' Christmas, you'll know why tart -sweet citrus fruits are so considered "ambrosia"--it must truly seem the food of the gods in a long grey winter to peel back the sunny yellow jacket on a grapefruit an' inhale the citrus mist that bursts into the air: Clean and sweet with promise, something about citrus says "holidays" to me.  Thas' a legacy of Pappy Cracker--whose own boyhood Christmases in Mississippi  was sure to have an "apple, an orange an' a handful of nuts." An' ambrosia wif' shredded coconut.

  The dawg-pen garden itself be forlorn. Aunty traipsed up an down the state most of September an' October, so it ain't no surprise that mah neglect gave the vines plenty of time to scamper over fence and post, pots and planters-- oh, the tenacious peppers glisten Christmas red in the early grey light, they survived all insult an' injury of abandonment.

See how the Bougainvillaea reaches for the oak limbs?   An' iffin' y'all could zoom in enough you'd see the gold finches is heah fer their annual visit--tiny yellow breasted beauties flitting through the trees an' roses. 

 The pots of Marigolds keep the driveway cheerful--"a welcome we's glad youse heah," to visitors--or jes' Uncle comin' home at dusk-thirty.

 Open the gate an' follow along the back path whar' Granny's begonia lives on, pink an' green an' healthy--a reminder from her to me to keep watch over the flora-- an' spare a bread crust fer the birds. How she loved any critter---I doan need ter say how hurtin' mah heart is this time of year wif' Granny gone--many of y'all know this same pain.

Look over thar', across the lawn down toward the tangerine tree-- notice how the Sansanqua be peekin' out? It's the first of the Camellias to bloom. Aunty adores Camellias: They have the lovely habit of bloomin' in the shade, in the winter, just to remind ya' on the days that yore heart be overcast like the sky above, that thar's a heap more to be thankful fer than to worry over, iffin' ya' jes' take the time to notice the goodness in yore own backyard.

 Well, now see how I done run on...an' on? 

 Uncle an' me wishes all y'all a delightful Thanksgivin'. Make time to call an ole friend or a family member y'ain't seen fer a spell...help in the kitchen, read a story to some chile nearby, an' play wif' the dawgs. Indulge in sweetness of heart as ya' fill yore tummies wif' the bounty of this great, blessed land.  Y'all all truly does know in yore bones that blessin's start at home, in yore neighborhoods, at work, whar' ya' play an' be a friend to another soul.  Let's us'uns make the community whar' we live the best we can make it.  All over this dear country, if we does jes' that much--make our own communities a special place--thangs will  recover.  The original spirit of our Founders is under our noses if we but LIVE it.

 An' iffin' any of y'all be passin' down this way, why ya' know we'll leave the light on fer ya'.


Aunty Belle said...

I really does wanna know what's on yore menu--what's new, what's a "must have." An' though it be hokey--what is y'all thankful for most this year?

BlazngScarlet said...

You surely did bring a tear or two to my eyes this chilly Sunday morn!
I miss my fruit trees ....
I miss collards from my ex-SIL garden ..
I miss the flowers and trees still in bloom ....

Uncle has done a fine job with his greens, and I am quite envious of the puh-cahns!

My must-have? Green bean casserole.
It was always mine & my Mothers favorite.
As always, I am most thankful for my family. Even when they make me drink far more wine than I should! lol

I hope & Uncle and the rest of your kin have a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with happiness, laughter, peace and love.

darkfoam said...

What's on my menu this year? Well, whatever the boathouse in Central Park is serving on thanksgiving cause that is where you will find the foamsters plus cousin and her hubby.

However a normal thanksgiving will usually find mr foam plus young uns early at church with other folks cooking for several hundred shut ins plus other folks in need. During that time I fix a few side dishes to take on over to the in-laws later that afternoon.

Uncle's greens look gorgeous! I love greens. I bet they will be delicious when you have finished them. I also love those acre peas or field peas as I call them. Nothing better!

I do think key lime pie can be very much about thanksgiving. You seem to have a bountiful harvest of them. No better time to enjoy your seasonal fruit then at thanksgiving!

Anyway, enjoy the gathering of the clan! And I know you know your mama has a great view from which to watch the festivities.

Anonymous said...

What a fine visit to start my day off with a smile.
Did you make a video of Uncle crooning to his greens?
It would surely be a YouTube mega-millions hit!

I find it endearing that folks like you and Uncle keep the traditions and pass 'em along. From the growing to the preserving to the freezing, the cooking and the decorations. I love, love, love y'all give tangerines pride of place in a crystal bowl in the Dining Room.

One disappointment is, here in the Carolinas,
we have to buy our citrus! I can tell you that first heavenly scent of Citrus spray from peeling the fruit is never the same in store bought fruit as it is fruit just plucked from the tree. I guess the counterpoint is we will be blessed with massive bowers of every kind of Camelia and more magnolia, evergreens and holly than I can use in ten holiday houses.

Another blessing is the acre peas are plentiful most years. I hope to fetch some home today. That's the only thing I know is on the menu. Blowfish has been perusing the recipe book that came with that dern turkey frying vat he fetched home last year. He said the other day he might like to try dropping a pork roast in there. I reckon we are about to have ourselves another Thanksgiving in the driveway with the fire extinguisher at the ready.

But ... we will have a fine time laughing at our foolishness, hit a croquet ball or two, tell stories and share a tear or two for those who are gone to Heaven.

A present of a post Belle.
Blessings on you each and every one.

FISHY, unsigned in.

Aunty Belle said...

I likes GBC too. A reminder of spend-the-night nights at friend's homes--growin' up that casserole was a popular company dish. Have a happy Thanksgivin' Sugar.

Foam! Central Park? Wow, wow!
Knowed I could count on another Mississippi lass to love acre/ field peas. Though I beleive in some parts of Alabama they call 'em "lady peas" an' I'se heered some say, "cream peas".


Why thanky---traditions is a thread of unity fer us'uns---I envy yore wealth of greens--I might need to run up the road an borry some from ya' --ahahaha!

Sandcastle Momma said...

Those greens sure do look good! Greens are my husband's #1 requirement for Thanksgiving. Everybody else worries about the turkey or ham and the first thing he says is "There'll be greens, right?"
My must have is a Hummingbird Cake. I love them but they are so decadent I save them for the holidays.
I hope y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

moi said...

I love greens of all kinds. Those are beautiful! As is your post. I know what you mean about the delightful surprise of citrus in the dead of winter. My in-laws send us Honeybells each year in December. Mmmmmmm!

Which is where we will be for the holiday. Then back home for another dinner on Saturday with friends, local family, and the dogs. (We take them to the babysitter late this afternoon and it will be newcomer Louie's first time away from home and I'm more than a little anxious about it, so I hope his sister Maddie will show him the ropes.)

My Thanksgiving must? Sweet potatoes. I don't care how they are prepared, as long as they ARE.

Hope your Thanksgiving is filled with love and warmth and good food!

R.Powers said...

Uncle's greens look perfect and I approve of your plans for them. I ate a satsuma off my Dad's tree yesterday...like tree candy it was.
Confession...I say P -can.
Dawgs and dawg play here too.

Buzz Kill said...

We northerners don't do greens, we do green bean casserole and I've assigned that to The Mrs.' sister. Uncle is right about his greens, they are the finest I've ever seen.

This year we're back up to the ridiculus number of family that will clamor to Stately Buzzkill Manor (especially to see the new north wing). That number being 28 (31 if you count my youngest brother and his family stopping by for appetizers only).

I'll be doing a 26 pound maple glazed turkey with my standard herb, apple, pear stuffing. Sister K will be bringing the Buzzkill traditional cranberry relish and a sweet potato dish. Sister L will be bringing a peach pie.

Other family and extended family members will bring liabations, desserts and appetizers. And we'll see how it goes.

Wishing you and Uncle a happy Thanksgiving.

Sharon Rudd said...

Dearest Aunty, so glad you ran on here, and shared your gorgeous photos.

I hear my sister in Iowa has prime rib on the T-Day menu, so I'll roll with it. Then we celebrate Xmas on Friday, since this is the only time we'll be together. Talk about a holiday whirlwind.

This year I am particularly thankful for a bunch of new foodie and bloggy friends I've met during the past year, including folks from the local Slow Food group, a bunch of Kentuckians, and some swell folks I worked with on a benefit for the local foodbank last weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Uncle - and to the rest of our bloggy clan!

xoxo, eggy

Aunty Belle said...

Sandcastle!! Hey hey!

Yore hubby is on the right track--funny how folks gits they favorite meaningful food--a fella we knows doan care if a turkey or a ham shows up, all he wants is his mama's macaroni an' cheese casserole. We'uns doan have mac'n'cheese on our menu an' he wuz aghast. Y'all have a blessed day.


oh really? youse comin' eastward? Gonna have a Lousiana Thanksgivin'? Wow--could be I'se a mite jealous. Honeybells (and FC's Satsumas below) are citrus for the cognoscenti. Hope new puppy does OK.


The greens is cooked--an' the foretaste pronounced 'em "fittin'"
A fella what set hisself up a "soul kitchen" whar' I gits mah buggy tuned up said "cook them greens in chicken broth an' youse never gonna cook 'em wif' out that secret again." So--these greens is cooked in chicken broth wif' a ham hock--mercy!! Pet Bear an' make sure he gits a tasty bone.


28 at BK Manor?? Awesome-how fun to host the clan. break that new wing in all proper -like. Og, I could go wif' some green bean casserole--granny put almonds in hers, but I likes the crunchy onion thangs. I'll take a good portion of that stuffin'==pear? never tried it, but it sounds so natural to stuffin'--yum! But, a peach pie? A pie. as in ONe PIE? FER 28 Folks???


Ha! Two holidays in one?? not a bad gig--an' Prime Rib??? heh. Nuthin' spared up yore way. So happy about new bloggy/ foodie connections--luv to hear of goodness goin' all around.

Happy Thanksgivin' to one an' all!

Julia G said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely flowers, Aunty Belle! It's a bit grey up here in New England. And it's not Thanksgiving without key lime and pecan pie!

Bless Granny's heart - my mama loved the critters and the flowers too. She always had shells and pine cones in her pockets, and I miss her this time of year too. Hope your holidays are full of happy memories.

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