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November 16, 2023 5 minute READ

Gourmand Gatherings

tags At Home | Recipes
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Tasty dessert option

Ah, the holidays. Perhaps a better reference would be Food-a-Paloosa! Think about it. Beginning at Thanksgiving and running through New Year’s Day (or Old Christmas on January 6 if you’re so inclined), can you name one gathering that does not have a food component? Office lunches, holiday open houses, neighborhood gatherings, Secret Santa get-togethers, Christmas parties... The list can be staggering. And that’s OK. Nothing brings a group together better than a good meal. So, let us prepare to lay a beautiful table and fill it with tasty fare from the best cooks around.  

Taking Stock 

The last months of the year are the busiest in the kitchen. Before Thanksgiving arrives, it’s a good time to take stock of what’s in the pantry. Do you have the staples right at hand? It’s better to write your list and make a grocery run now than to be up to your elbows in the potatoes that are ready to mash only to find out you don’t have enough butter. Oh, and the store is closed.  

Pick up some self-rising flour, plain flour, sugar, brown sugar, canned cranberries, milk, shortening, cornmeal, butter, bouillon cubes, cornstarch, vinegar, eggs, and whatever else you can imagine you might need based upon your usual menu.  

Tune Up Your Cast Iron 

A cast iron skillet isn’t just a skillet – it's a piece of family heritage that can be passed down from generation to generation. My cornbread skillet is my husband’s grandmother’s. Blanche could whip up a mean mess of mixed vegetables in it. No matter what I do, mine never tastes like hers. I wish I had asked her secret.  

Every once in a while, it’s a good thing to re-season your cast iron. Some folks recommend re-seasoning a couple of times a year, but depending on how much you use your pans, once in a blue moon might be enough. My cornbread was beginning to stick in some places, so that is a sign that my skillet needed a little care and feeding.  

Re-seasoning cast iron

Re-seasoning is really easy. Pre-heat your oven to 450°. Wash and completely dry your skillet. Using a cloth or a lint-free paper towel, apply a thin layer of oil over the entire skillet. Do not apply too much oil. It’s best to use corn or vegetable oil or even vegetable shortening to season your cast iron. Avoid olive oil because it has a lower smoke point or reduce the temperature of the oven if you choose to use it. Some people believe that seasoning done with olive oil will degrade more quickly than others.  

Place your skillet upside down on the middle rack of the oven. You’ll want to put a pan or a piece of foil below the skillet to catch any drips that may fall from it. Bake for 1 hour then allow it to cool in the oven. Voila! It’s a brand new skillet! 

If your skillet becomes rusty, don’t throw it away. Just use some steel wool to clean away the rust and then follow the steps above. 


Here are a few things to try this Thanksgiving. 

Favorite Turkey 

Turkey Recipe1 turkey breast 
Olive oil 
Garlic Powder 

Pre-heat the oven to 375° and remove one or more racks to create enough room for your roasting pan. Remove the skin from the turkey breast and wash it in cool water (remember to remove the gravy packet). Place the breast in the roasting pan.  Pour a little olive oil on the turkey and use your hands to distribute it evenly. It’s good to have an extra set of hands for this part because they can help rotate the turkey breast to enable “perfect seasoning.” Sprinkle garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper to taste on all parts of the turkey. Set the breast in the center of the roasting pan.  

Fill 3 to 4 ramekins with water and place them around the turkey to “prop it up.” Then add about ½ to ¾ inch water in the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover and place in the oven. Follow the directions for the weight of your turkey breast. Carve and enjoy!  

If you don’t have a roasting pan with a lid, you can always use foil to create a “tent” over your turkey.  

Easy Pumpkin Pie in a Skillet 

Pumpkin Pie in a Skillet1 ¾ to 2 cups fine gingersnap crumbs (about 40-50 small cookies) 
6 tablespoons butter, melted 
1 egg, separated 
¾ cup brown sugar 
½ cup sweetened, condensed milk 
1 15-ounce can pumpkin 
½ teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
Whipped cream and nuts for garnish 

Preheat oven to 350°. Use a food processor to crumble the cookies or put them in a freezer bag and crush with a rolling pin. Melt the butter in your skillet rolling it up on the sides of the skillet as it melts. Mix cookie crumbs and butter together in the skillet and press to form crust. Take care that your corners are not too thick. Bake crust for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, whip egg white until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar, milk, salt, vanilla and egg yolk until smooth, then fold in egg whites. Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell and return to oven for 30 minutes. (I left mine in the oven for 5-10 minutes longer.) 

Cool completely before serving, at least 2 hours. Top with whipped cream and nuts.  
Recipe adapted from the Lodge Cast Iron website. 

Wishing you and your family a table filled with tasty food, engaging conversation, and lots of laughter. Happy Thanksgiving!  

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