As the beauty of autumn fades and Thanksgiving appears on the horizon, it is time to take stock of our blessings.
After a couple of years of pandemic fears and uncertainty, things seem to be returning to normal. That slippery virus, however, has previously lulled us into a false sense of normalcy. I still have my fingers crossed that the pandemic and the social distancing are about over.
I grew up with four siblings. One of my sisters was not quite a year younger than me. When the three youngest arrived, our house became noisy and cluttered. I was 14 when the twins were born. I was 16 when my brother – the only boy, the baby – came along.
It was so long ago there were no disposable diapers. So, there was always a mountain of dirty diapers in front of the washer when the three of them were little and toys seemed to be scattered from one end of the house to the other.
There were many, many times I wished I were an only child.
By the same token, our house was also filled with giggles and laughter, little hands to hold, sweet baby kisses and immeasurable love.
Thanksgiving was one of my mom's favorite holidays. She worked for a week to make it special for us. Our house was filled with the delicious smells of applesauce cake, pumpkin pies, and chocolate fudge in the week leading up to that Thursday. On Thanksgiving day, she filled the house with the aromas of turkey and dressing, yeast rolls rising — well, you get the picture.
I still miss the sound of her voice and the touch of her hands, but I am blessed with a lifetime of beautiful memories.
The day after Thanksgiving, Mommy always made a huge bowl of turkey salad. We loved it as much as Thanksgiving dinner.
She used an old grinder, part of her mixer, to slowly grind the varying sizes of white and dark leftover turkey into a uniform consistency.
She then pushed sweet pickles and celery through that old grinder, and finally added mayonnaise into the mixture.
Mom never measured anything; she just kept working on it until she was happy with the taste.
When she gave up on assembling that old grinder and scrubbing its many pieces, she switched to a food processor.
For those who have leftover turkey Thursday, turkey salad may be a good way to make use of it.
6 cups of turkey, cut into small cubes
1 cup of celery, chopped into small pieces
1 cup of sweet pickle relish
1 cup of mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix until all ingredients are well blended.
If you think it's too dry, add a little more mayonnaise. I like to add a splash of sweet pickle juice to mine.
This recipe works well for cooked chicken as well. I also like chicken salad with grapes, or apples, or cranberries instead of the pickles.
One of my sisters likes to add a bit of onion, but she likes onions in everything.
Many people prefer dill pickles over sweet pickles, and some add a little mustard to the mix.
There are so many things that could be added to turkey or chicken salad, the combination possibilities are almost endless – lemon juice, sugar, pecans, plain yogurt, walnuts, apple cider vinegar, dill, boiled eggs, green or red peppers, sour cream, you name it. We are only limited by the adventurous nature of our tastebuds.
As always, play around with the recipe and make it your own.
As we take time to count our blessings this year, let's begin with our family and friends, the love, the laughter, and the joy they bring to our lives. And, this year more so than ever, be thankful for the simple pleasure of just being together again.