Made With Love

Faulkner: So much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, and some timely recipes

For me, Thanksgiving will begin before my feet even touch the floor Thursday morning. When I wake up, I will be thankful for another day. When I sit up in bed and look around me, I'm will be thankful for the life and the blessings I've been given.

In general, I have a lot of gratitude.

At the end of each day, I consider how active or idle I was. If I was active, I am thankful that I took full advantage of my time to improve my surroundings. If I was idle, I am thankful that I used my time to catch up with friends.

I am infinitely thankful that I was taught to appreciate good books and learn from the lives of the great ... and the not so great.

I am thankful for the Holy Bible, from which I draw my strength and faith.

I am blessed for the friends I have. They make me a better person. I am grateful that we have a postal system that enables us to send cards and notes. Likewise, I appreciate social media, which helps loved ones stay in touch with me.

I am grateful for my health.

I am thankful that I made the decision to teach at St. Helena High School instead of staying to teach in Columbia. I came to a place of old bridges, little electricity and few paved roads, where I am proud to have come to know the Gullah people and to have taught their children.

I am blessed to have a kitchen where I can plan dishes and develop menus. I can go from cast iron frying pans to top-of-the-line LeCreuset there and put the Faulkner touch to whatever is being cooked.

I am thankful that even though I have a sweet tooth, I am able to exercise moderation.

I am thankful that I have readers with whom to share my favorite recipes and love of food.

And I am grateful that I am able to accept the challenges of each day. I can rest in knowing that God has a plan and that I am a part of his plan.

Most of all, though, I am so very thankful to have a family that loves me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

COLLARD GREENS

This is a favorite vegetable of mine. At one time in my life, I prepared them with smoked jowls. Now I use smoked turkey wings or smoked neck bones. When doing this, I add a little crushed red pepper near the end of the cooking.

1 package smoked neck bones or smoked turkey wings

2 bunches collard greens (I prefer purchasing them from a local farmer, fresh from the field)

Place smoked meat in a large pot with enough water to cover the meat. Allow to boil and cook until the meat falls from the bone. While the meat is cooking, use a cutting board to cut greens, wiping each leaf and stacking leaf upon leaf, usually 10 or more. Fold leaves as to cut and cut them in a vertical pattern. Wash thoroughly in a salt bath so as to remove any dirt that might be on or between leaves. Place greens in pot with meat and cook until greens are tender. Serve with chow-chow or vinegar.

Source: Ervena Faulkner's personal files

OKRA AND TOMATOES

Much of what I learned about canning okra and tomatoes was taught to me by Alberta Ladson. My greatest season of canning is nothing compared to her natural ability to "jar" vegetables.

1 pound okra

1 pound tomatoes

1 small onion

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Using hot water, peel tomatoes and place in Dutch oven. Cut up okra and sliced onion. Add garlic, sugar and salt. Stir gently and cover. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes or until okra is tender.

Source: Ervena Faulkner's personal files

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

2 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled

1/2 stick margarine

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract

1 cup sugar

pinch of salt

coconut or raisins, if desired

Topping:

1 small can pineapple

1/2 cup sugar

1 stick margarine

1/4 cup flour

1 egg

Mash potatoes and combine with remaining ingredients. Place in a 2-quart casserole dish.

Mix topping ingredients and spread on top of potato mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until brown on top.

Source: Ervena Faulkner's personal files

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