Celebrate the turkey this Thanksgiving

Judy O’Daniel’s “Country Gourmet” column appears in the Times-Journal. This column originally ran Nov. 19, 2008.

After the first thanksgiving in 1621, it was over 200 years later before Thanksgiving Day was officially proclaimed as a national day of thanksgiving, praise and prayer.

Sara Hale, a magazine editor, had written editorials and letters to politicians for 40 years when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving Day wasn’t declared a legal holiday to be observed nationally and annually until Congress did so in 1941.

Now just when the turkey became such a major part of Thanksgiving is not known. The meal in 1621 included venison and rabbit, but we aren’t certain about turkey. In fact, there are a number of possibilities on why turkeys are called turkeys.

Regardless of how the name turkey evolved, do you remember from your history class that the turkey could have been our national bird rather than the Bald Eagle? And it would have been if Ben Franklin had had his way.

Franklin thought the North American Wild Turkey should be our national bird. Of course, the turkey of this day was nothing like the domesticated descendants we know today.

The wild turkey of Franklin’s day was a brightly plumed, cunning bird of flight. In a letter to his daughter, he strongly expressed his opinion when he said, “For my own part, I wish the Bald eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a bird of bad oral character. He does not get his living honestly.”

Ben Franklin seems to have truly respected the turkey; and, perhaps, we should do the same as we enjoy the feast of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Whether or not you serve turkey is up to you. Just remember to take time to praise and pray for our country and make it a true day of thanksgiving.

Margaret’s Turkey Breast Recipe

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Parsley
  • 1 turkey breast

Place turkey breast in a baking bag. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over breast in bag. Seal bag and squish bag to coat turkey with marinade.

Place bag in a pan and bake at 300 degrees 4-5 hours. Remove from oven and let sit for an hour before slicing and serving.

Florida Salty Turkey

  • 1 (12 lb.) turkey
  • 1 cup salt
  • flour
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spread salt over outside of turkey. Let stand for one hour. Using a dry paper towel, wipe as much of the salt off the turkey as possible.

Melt margarine; add lemon juice and enough flour to make a paste. Spread paste on the outside of the turkey.

Place turkey in shallow pan. Bake 1 hour. Lower heat to 225 degrees and bake 5 to 6 hours.

NOTE: The ingredients in this recipe can be altered and used for cooking a turkey breast.

Southern Cornbread Dressing

  • 8 cups crumbled cornbread
  • 4 cups bread crumbs
  • 7 cups chicken broth (4 cans)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. sage or poultry seasoning.

Can add some butter or oil if broth is fat-free.

Pour some broth over onions and celery and microwave in bowl until tender.

Mix ingredients, except eggs in a large bowl. Let stand in refrigerator several hours or overnight.

Add beaten eggs and stir. If too dry, add more milk or broth if too runny, add more crumbs. Batter should be pourable.

Pour into large pan (10x15-inch) and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake 25 to 40 minutes longer until set and puffed in middle.

— Judy O’Daniel’s “Country Gourmet” column appears in the Times-Journal. This column originally ran Nov. 19, 2008.

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