Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And We Give Thanks......

                                                  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

                   Thanksgiving to me has always been truly about giving thanks and family. Of course, food traditions certainly play a part in these memories. But growing up in northeastern PA on a dairy farm, all the family came home to the farm for Thanksgiving. I always looked forward to this. My parents now have a farm in NYS, and with the way we work, holidays like today included, those days of the big thanksgiving on the farm are not the same anymore. My significant other's family has a lovely family gathering though and it is just next door at his sister's so it is still in the country, where I feel it should always be.

                  After all, we are thankful to God for the harvests and what we have been able to reap with His blessing. So at the farm where the abundance of produce is plentiful makes sense. It also makes sense in being surrounded by the natural beauty of the earth.

                  This holiday has so many food traditions from house to house and region to region, that it could be celebrated every day with a totally different array of food at each meal! So, I thought I would share a few dishes from around my region with you. 

                  My mother's menu often looked like this:

Roast turkey with herbed filling
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Mashed butternut cinnamon squash
Corn Pudding (which is like a bread pudding)
Green Bean Casserole
Candied carrots
Apple cranberry salad
Fresh dinner rolls and bread
Her apple and pumpkin spice pies

I am here to tell you that the squash and corn pudding I will often make at other times as well, and that salad cannot be beat! They are also simple to make. Another staple here in this part of Pennsylvania is potato stuffing. I love both, can you lose! So I will share that first!



  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 2 slices white bread, torn
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


  • In a large saucepan, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Remove from the heat. Stir in the bread, potatoes and parsley. Spoon into a greased 1-qt. casserole.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 45 minutes or until top is lightly browned. 


This is actually more of a slaw.

   1 lb bag of fresh cranberries washed
   7-8 fresh apples
   orange zest
  1/4 C sugar (can add more to taste)


  • wash and shred in food processor or hand grater the cranberries and peeled and cored apples
  • zest a bit of orange rind
  • add the sugar to taste
  • combine and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving

Cinnamon Squash Mash

   1 butternut squash
   3 tbs butter
   1/4 C brown sugar
   1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • cut squash lengthwise and bake face down on a greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees about an hour or until tender.
  • after pitting seeds, scoop flesh out in large bowl
  • add the butter, sugar and cinnamon 
  • mash and serve


(Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer)

Let us give thanks to God above,
Thanks for expressions of His love,
Seen in the book of nature, grand
Taught by His love on every hand.

Let us be thankful in our hearts,
Thankful for all the truth imparts,
For the religion of our Lord,
All that is taught us in His word.

Let us be thankful for a land,
That will for such religion stand;
One that protects it by the law,
One that before it stands in awe.

Thankful for all things let us be,
Though there be woes and misery;
Lessons they bring us for our good-
Later 'twill all be understood.

Thankful for peace o'er land and sea,
Thankful for signs of liberty,
Thankful for homes, for life and health,
Pleasure and plenty, fame and wealth.

Thankful for friends and loved ones, too,
Thankful for all things, good and true,
Thankful for harvest in the fall,
Thankful to Him who gave it all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tree

                                                              I am studying a tree.

                                                          I don't think it had a name.

                                                                  I gave it one.

                                                         It is the Rush Baptist Tree.

 I have been taking pictures of my tree for almost a year now, in differing lights and seasons. Why? I have no idea except that this lone tree atop Rush Ridge speaks to me. Maybe it's because it sits atop the ridge, silhoutted against the sky and surrounded by 200 year old tombstones that murmur of times gone by in a differing era of rural life. Off to the side sits the quintessential little red country church, that still holds services rain or shine or snow or bitter cold and that all the local old farming families still attend.

Perhaps it is that this stately tree reminds me so much of the tree of life. Symbolic in so many ways to Christ, of life and the life cycle. Perhaps it is that I feel God's presence here among the residents of the cemetery  whom the tree seems to watch and preside over, like a preacher to his congregation on a sunny Sunday morn.

Whatever the fascination, I love my tree. And I'll continue to photograph him in case that day comes that through the ravages of time he is no longer there to comfort me, or his other patrons. You must admit, trees like this are so regal and are symbolic of so much in life.

The gnarled bare branches heading into winter reminded me, of all things, my grandmother's hands. They were bare and gnarled in her elder years, but had accomplished much. They were the hands of an amazing dynamo of a tiny woman who gardened, sewed, canned and loved.

Yesterday, as I visited my parents, I sat next to my mother. My mother was busy laying out goodies to eat (something we both love), and as she sat next to me with her hands resting upon the table, I noticed that her hands were starting to look like my grandmother's. The arthritis that has made the joints larger, the finer skin, the callouses from being a ranch woman and working outdoors so much. Beautiful hands that cook the yummiest things and create the most beautiful pictures of animals and scenes in pastels, and that can write comforting words of counseling and wisdom and just pure beauty to a soul.

I then looked to my own hands, hands starting to show the midlife age wear and tear with a little arthritis starting, callouses, finer skin etc, just like my mom's. And I thought to myself that I have a preview here, and that if I'm lucky, one day, my hands will be as beautiful as my mother's and my grandmother's. Just like my bare winter tree, with it's gnarled and bare but ever so strong and comforting branches encompassing its silent congregation on the ridge.