Thanksgiving has always been a major holiday in the Hamilton family. When my husband John was a child, the family gathered at various Oklahoma homes with parents and grandparents. Now we are the oldest generation.
This year the Hamilton clan will gather in Waxahachie with three generations forward to our grandsons and their cousins. We have invited 24 to share the feast. In addition to Texas and Oklahoma, they will be traveling from California, Colorado and Louisiana. If the weather cooperates dinner will be served in the garden.
The king of the feast is of course, the turkey, but the queen for the day is the stuffing. Yes, I do stuff the bird.Getting the seasonings just right is important.
A lesson I learned the hard way many years ago is you can add more sage or rosemary but you canít take it away if you have over seasoned. My mother-in-law used only sage in her stuffing, but I love a more blended flavor and include some thyme, marjoram, parsley and a little rosemary.
Since moving to Texas I have switched from dried herbs to fresh. What a treat it is to go to the herb garden in late November and gather bundles of green herbs for the stuffing as well as many of the side dishes.
Our niece Krista always prepares the rosemary mashed potatoes. A little lemon thyme added to the sweet potatoes has everyone asking what is the little something extra.
Add some chopped fresh mint to the peas for a tasty twist. Try tucking several sprigs of sage, parsley and thyme, and one sprig of rosemary under the turkey, along with some celery, carrots and onion to flavor the gravy broth.
Fresh sage leaves tucked under the skin of the turkey and butter rubbed over the skin deepens the flavors, crisps the skin and has guests reaching for the camera. Bunches of onion and garlic chives along with salad burnet and cilantro add zest to the salad.
Last year, everyone received a jar of homemade sage-cranberry jelly as a favor. This year I plan to make herbes de Provence jelly for all.
A few sprigs of basil, fennel, marjoram, savory, thyme, Mexican mint marigold (to replace the tarragon) and a pinch of lavender flowers makes a sweet treat to be served with cheese and crackers. Again, all of the herbs are still fresh and green in the Texas garden.
If you are making a custard pumpkin pie for dessert try adding a fresh bay leaf to the milk, heat and allow to steep for about 15 minutes then remove the leaf and use the flavored milk.
No matter where you celebrate Thanksgiving this year I hope it will be with people you love.
For more tips on growing herbs in Texas and general horticulture information visit the Master Gardener booth at the Downtown Waxahachie Farmers Market. The market will be open every Saturday through Dec. 21, at 410 South Rogers Street.