The Odessa Record -

Holidays are upon us, what's your meal plan?

Series: Welcome to my Kitchen | Story 18

November 21, 2019

Thanksgiving Day is one week away. If you are the head cook for your family celebration, you may be planning how you will pull it together. Delegating salads and other side dishes to others in the group takes some of the work load, but there are many dishes needing preparation the day of.

For many Thanksgiving diners, gravy is the most important item. Will there be enough and will it be smooth and creamy, seasoned just right? The good news is, you can make gravy ahead. Former Odessa resident Karen Porter, shared a recipe with me a number of years ago, and I have been using it for big dinners ever since.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

4 turkey wings (3-4 pounds)

2 medium onions, peeled and quartered

8 cups chicken or turkey broth

3/4 cup chopped carrots or 2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 tsp dried thyme

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place wings in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Scatter onions on top. Roast 1 1/4 hours or until wings are well browned.

Place roasted wings and onions in a six quart kettle. Add 1 cup water to the roasting pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Add to the kettle. Add 6 cups of the broth, the carrots or celery and thyme.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 1 1/4 hours.

Remove wings from the kettle. When wings are cool, pull off skin and remove meat, saving for other recipes.

Meanwhile, strain the broth into a 3 quart saucepan, pressing the liquid out of the vegetables. Refrigerate broth to solidify the fat and skim from the surface. Discard vegetables.

Whisk flour into remaining 2 cups broth until thoroughly blended and smooth.

Bring broth in saucepan to a gentle boil. Whisk in the flour mixture, and continue at a gentle boil for 4-5 minutes to thicken gravy and remove floury taste. Stir in butter, and pepper if desired. Season with salt to taste.

Chill in refrigerator then freeze if holding more than 3 days. Thaw in refrigerator and reheat over medium low until bubbly. Yield: about 8 cups gravy.

Note: You may use cornstarch for thickening if you prefer, but it does not freeze as well, so plan to make only 2-3 days before the meal. Also note: If you can not find turkey wings, a turkey hindquarter works as well.

Exciting for me, I have been hearing of more youth interested in cooking. Several are cooking meals for the family from time to time and eager to try new recipes. Younger cooks parents are reluctant to have them using the kitchen range, but are comfortable with microwave oven use.

Overnight Tuna Casserole is a microwave dish most young cooks can successfully prepare. Served with a salad and additional vegetable, or fruit, this recipe will serve a family of four, or one starving teenager.

Overnight Tuna Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery or mushroom soup

1 cup milk

1 can (6-7 ounces) tuna, drained

1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/4 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large mixing bowl, combine soup and milk, mixing until smooth. Add tuna, macaroni, onions and peas, stir until well combined. If you like cheesy tuna and noodles, stir in 3/4 cup of shredded cheese.

Coat the inside of a 2 quart microwave safe dish with cooking spray. Pour tuna mixture into the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

To cook, microwave covered, on high for 15 to 17 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. Let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

Note: This dish may also be baked in a conventional oven at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until bubbly. Also note: Other frozen vegetables may be substituted for the peas.

Some families like to do Christmas baking while together over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Springerle, a traditional German, hard, sweet cookie confection is an old fashioned treat making a comeback with all the fun decorative rolling pins on the market today.

These sweet anise flavor cookies are best made a month or so before Christmas to fully develop the flavor. These are definitely a dunking cookie, with a licorice flavor and the crunch of biscotti.


4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 eggs

1/8 tsp anise extract

2 cups granulated sugar

2 Tbsp anise seed

Powdered sugar

Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat eggs on high until thick and lemon colored (about 5 minutes)

At medium speed, gradually beat in granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until mixture is thick and smooth (about 10 minutes) occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix by hand with a wooden spoon until dough is smooth and well combined.

Refrigerate dough covered overnight. Also refrigerate Springerle or decorative rolling pin.

Next day lightly grease two cookie sheets and sprinkle each with half the anise seed.

Divide dough into 3 parts. Refrigerate until ready to roll out. Sprinkle pastry cloth or wooden board with a dusting of powdered sugar. With a regular rolling pin, roll one piece of dough into a rectangle about as wide as your Springerle pin.

Remove Springerle pin from refrigerator and dust lightly with powdered sugar. Roll pin firmly but slowly across the dough surface. With a sharp knife cut the dough along lines to make 1 1/2 inch cookies. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Let stand, uncovered at room temperature over night.

Next day, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake cookies 15 minutes, or just until light golden. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in tightly covered containers along with the loose seeds left in the pans, at least 3 weeks before using. Yield: 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Share your favorite holiday recipes by sending them to: Welcome to My Kitchen, c/o The Odessa Record, P.O. Box 458, Odessa, WA 99159, email or drop them in the Welcome to My Kitchen mail tin in The Odessa Record office. Follow us at Welcome to My Kitchen on Facebook. Garden catalog gift certificates are a welcome gift for all your gardening friends and family members.


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