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Thanksgiving more than just a feast
Around the table
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Cornbread dressing


(serves 8)

• Corn meal, 3 cups

• Buttermilk, 2 cups

• Melted butter, 3 sticks

• Four eggs, beaten

• 2 cups onion

• 2 cups celery

• 1 bell pepper

• 3 16-oz. cans of stock

• 12-15 saltine crackers

• 4 slices of bread

• Poultry seasoning


• Mix corn meal with buttermilk, one stick of melted butter and four beaten eggs.

• Pour mixture into a large greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

• Chop onions, celery and pepper. Cook veggies in big pot with three 16-oz cans of chicken stock.

• Crush saltine crackers then add bread pieces.

• Chop cooked, cooled cornbread mix into tiny pieces. Mix all ingredients in a very large bowl with four teaspoons of poultry seasoning and two more sticks of melted butter.

• Mix well then pour into large baking pan and cook at 350 degrees for nearly two hours or until golden brown. Enjoy and be thankful.

Tomorrow afternoon, millions of Americans will gather around the dinner table to enjoy a grand meal with family and friends.

For most Americans today, the feast itself will be the cause for the celebration. According to, however, it wasn’t so for the men and women called Pilgrims, who celebrated the first Thanksgiving in November 1621.

Most Americans know about the more than 100 Pilgrims seeking religious freedom who boarded the Mayflower in Plymouth, England in September 1620, heading for the New World. The website documents their journey and the trials they endured to establish a colony in Plymouth, Mass.

According to, most Americans mistakenly use the terms Pilgrim and Puritan interchangeably. Although both sought what they called “religious freedom,” Pilgrims and Puritans were not the same.

The website agrees with numerous historians that the Puritans’ concept of “purifying” the Anglican Church of Catholic influences meant imposing their beliefs and doctrine on the Anglican Church. The Pilgrims, on the other hand, were opposed to the Anglican Church imposing its beliefs and doctrines on them.

They separated from the church and England in 1607 and settled in Holland, where religious tolerance was more widespread. The Pilrims were called Separatists.

A decade later, Holland’s truce with Catholic Spain was near its end. The Separatists feared they’d be slaughtered if Spain was to once again take over Holland.

By 1620, they had permission from the English government to go to the New World with support from financiers in London. The colonists’ religion was far less important to the government than the possibility of financial gain from a new colony.

The rest of the story is the one most Americans know.

Following a horrible first winter in New England, the Separatists — now called Pilgrims — were aided by Native Americans during the spring of 1621. In the fall, they celebrated their first corn harvest but, more importantly, God’s blessing that provided them with that harvest.

The Pilgrims invited members of the Wampanoag tribe, who had helped them, for a celebration we now call Thanksgiving.

The meal they had was probably much different than the spread found on American tables today. notes that Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow recorded in his journal that Gov. William Bradford sent men on a “fowling” mission for the event and that the Wampanoags arrived with five deer. This supports tradition that their meal included wild turkey and venison.

Without question, Thanksgiving meals today center around turkey, which is roasted, baked or fried. Some are stuffed with giblets or oysters. Here in the South, a baked ham may share the spotlight. In Coastal Georgia, you also may find large side dishes of fried shrimp, clams, scallops or oysters.

More common accompaniments include the all-important cranberry sauce, green-bean casserole, mashed potatoes, collard greens or a mixture of turnip and mustard greens, sweet-potato soufflé, and cream-style corn — canned from that summer garden or perhaps from Hinesville’s Farmers Market.

Desserts are many, but here in Georgia that usually means sweet-potato pies or pumpkin pie.

Most dinner tables include stuffing with gravy to go with the turkey. Here in Georgia, it’s probably cornbread dressing. Many commercial products are out there, but there’s nothing like real homemade dressing, so please enjoy the recipe I’ve included.

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