Chapter 6 – Thanksgiving

Hostessing Thanksgiving often seemed to fall to my mother; I am not sure why. She and Auntie Margaret and any adult females present generally had the cooking under control, or if they needed another pair of hands, my dad would be allowed in the kitchen. So Diane and I were free to watch the Macy’s parade on TV during our early grade school years. Maybe we saw some football, too, but we thought it was boring. After all, our male relatives fell asleep watching it after dinner! Those who did not succumb to football or tryptophan often played a lively game of Tripoli after washing dishes- this was a card game that involved poker chips, but was quite different from poker.

Thanksgiving 1967
Thanksgiving 1967


Diane and I were not entirely off the hook though; we got to help set the table and help with clean-up, and as we got older, we had more of a hand in the side dishes. The main part of the meal was the standard Midwestern turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, sometimes the green bean casserole would be there, but not always. One rather fussy side dish we may have helped with was pan-glazed sweet potatoes, round slices dipped in brown sugar and fried in butter. Other vegetables and sides varied year to year, and yes, sometimes there was a jello salad. Pumpkin pie was a given, other desserts might depend on the number of guests. Sometimes my mother made Lowell Inn crescent rolls, but the one bread that had to be on the table was Limpa, a Swedish rye bread. Perhaps it was a favorite of my grandfather or uncles on the Nelson side, but everyone loved it, so it’s hard to say. It has some unusual flavors, but the sweetness appealed to us as children.

Limpa ( Swedish Rye)

Recipe by Donna Nelson Simonian

2 loaves

4 1/2 teaspoon Yeast
1 1/2 cup Water ; warm
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Molasses
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Orange peel
1 tablespoon Anise seeds
2 tablespoon Shortening
1 cup Rye flour
3 cups Bread flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Place rye and half of bread flour in mixer bowl with bread hook. ( this can be done with a spoon and hand kneading as well) Stir in dissolved yeast, brown sugar, molasses, salt, shortening, anise and orange peel. Stir in enough bread flour to make a kneadable dough.  Knead in bowl or on board, gradually adding more bread flour as needed, until smooth, elastic, and springy.

Place in greased bowl in a warm spot. Cover and let rise until double. Punch down and let rise until double again. Punch down and form into  2 round loaves. Bake at 375 degrees 30 -40 min. on greased pans.  Brush with butter after baking.

Limpa (Swedish Rye)
Limpa (Swedish Rye)

Stuffing was always my favorite part of the dinner, though. If I did not have much room for seconds, I would just have another helping of stuffing. It seems a good stuffing recipe has been in the family quite a while–from my mother’s memoir, on the subject of my great-grandmother Magdalena’s cooking: “When I was small I remember celebrating some holidays at my grandparents’ farm. These occasions were rather subdued, but my grandmother was a wonderful cook and baker so the meals were always wonderful.  Some of the things I remember were her wonderful bread stuffing and fried eggplant.” I don’t know how close this recipe is to Magdalena’s. It is fairly close to what my mother usually did, though she was known to experiment. So do I, so there may be further variation.


Recipe by Donna Nelson Simonian

Enough for a 12 lb bird

1 1/2 quart Bread cubes ; old, dry best
1/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup Onion ; chopped
1/2 cup Celery ; chopped
1/2 teaspoon Sage
1/2 teaspoon Marjoram
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Rosemary
1 pinch Paprika
1/2 pinch Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt ; optional and adjustable
1 tablespoon Parsley ; minced
3/4 cup Chicken broth
1 Egg ; beaten

Saute onion and celery in butter until translucent. Add seasonings and saute 1 min. to blend flavors.

Add to bread cubes and toss. Moisten with broth and egg, may need to adjust broth amount. May also adjust salt to taste.  If preparing ahead, this can be chilled at this point, NOT inside the bird.

Stuff loosely inside bird before roasting or bake in a separate buttered dish, covered at 350 for 1 hour.


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Chapter 6 - Thanksgiving by Nicole Marie Masika is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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