There is much to be said about the south. Some make fun of it as backwards or unsophisticated. Some refer to southern hospitality. But the one thing about living in the south is good food is a tradition.
A southern Thanksgiving dinner need not be fancy. Traditionally many in the south didn’t have a great deal of money and there still today is many that don’t have much money. In true southern tradition that just means making the most of what you do have. Creating a southern Thanksgiving dinner then does the same. Great food, good people and keeping mindful of one’s blessings rather than what we don’t have. Here are ten tips to make your Thanksgiving dinner southern no matter where you are.
1.Whether you use turkey, ham, beef or lamb – or any other dish, make it the best! This main dish is the star of the table. Many in recent years have made southern Deep Fried Turkey, which unfortunately makes it into funny video shows when it goes wrong. Other recipes have a great many ingredients that can be grown at home.
2.Cornbread is always good, but many use cornbread stuffing at the holiday time. Sometimes cornbread stuffing recipes will call for nuts – also a delicious addition to the meal.
3. Greens are a southern tradition and in a much bigger way than anywhere else. Sweet potatoes as well as standard white potatoes mashed with butter and seasonings are not only tasty but inexpensive and filling ways to stretch the menu when meat was hard to come by.
4. Keep side dishes simple. Basic recipes often with ingredients that were home grown are delicious without a need for being fancy.
5. Many hands make light work – have others chip in with small things from setting the table to putting a casserole in the oven.
6. Dessert can be simple or delectable. From simple maple baked apples to rich pies, cakes and other desserts rounds out the meal. Southern Pecan Pie is a treat when the pecan trees have been generous in production. Chocolate Coconut Pecan Pie is another southern dessert treat. Ice cream is popular prompting one southerner to say there was four meals per day – breakfast, lunch, dinner and ice cream.
7. An option for some is making casseroles which combine the taste of the season in a different but delicious way. This is also a great way to use leftovers that come when making a big meal as there is always plenty of food at most holiday tables.
8. Decorating for Thanksgiving (and other holidays) is often enjoyed but need not be fancy. Simple table and home decorations add beauty to the day.
9. Friends and family around the table make for a wonderful Thanksgiving no matter what else is happening in “life”. Make time to share and visit whether we see each other often or not so much. For many in the south football is a big interest be it the Vols, Ol’Miss or Alabama.
10. In the south it’s tradition to give homemade gifts. It’s not a matter necessarily of not affording but rather being personal. If a homemade gift is given consider it a compliment!