“Tradition” such a lovely word! (Musica for you girlfriends, it’s our tradition — welcome to my world!) That word brings up memories of childhood and feelings of security for the lucky ones.  Traditions are the solid foundation of a family . . . a bridge from the past to the future.  With our changing times, many traditions have been lost, but what’s wonderful is that we can start new ones!  Maybe one of these:

Tradition’s don’t have to be fancy, it’s just doing the same things the same way every year, for years and years; until a season, a holiday, or your birthday just won’t work for you until you’ve had your dad’s root beer floats, your mom’s brownies, or your Grandma’s Molasses Cookies! (These foolish things, remind me of you . . .♥)  I know some of you have tried my Grandma’s recipe, but if you haven’t, you should!  She made these cookies year after year for us, brought them to Thanksgiving, or sent them for Halloween, wrapped in waxed paper, through the mail . . . now I can’t have Autumn without them.♥

Old-fashioned, bendy, spicy, and frosted, they are perfect for tea in front of the fire, delicious with Pumpkin Latte! My dad loves them.  Here’s the recipe♥

And another tradition I could not go through the season without . . . because my house would just not smell right at Thanksgiving unless my Grandma’s stuffing, buttery, sagey, oniony, was roasting in the oven. I love to open the door and come into the kitchen from the cold outdoors just to smell that wonderful smell. It takes a little bit of preparation for this recipe, so I thought I’d remind you about it now, to give you time to think about if you’d like to try it this year. Unless you already have a traditional stuffing that your family could not live without! Then, of course, forget about this!

You can find the recipe on page 64 of my Autumn Book — but it’s so easy, with so few ingredients, here it is in a nutshell:

The way my mom did it . . . I remember her, three days before Thanksgiving, laying the bread out on cookie sheets; putting the pans on top of the hutch, on the washing machine, anywhere my seven brothers and sisters and dogs couldn’t get at it.  Nowadays, I set up my ironing board in my pantry and it works perfectly.  The bread is the plain, cheap stuff; get two loaves of white, one loaf of brown.  For three days, I turn the slices in the morning and before I go to bed at night.  I want them to be hard as rocks.  Fancy bread and/or trying to dry them in the oven does not work.  Packaged bread crumbs don’t work either.  This is very old-fashioned way of doing it; my grandma’s mom made it this way too. ♥

You need a big bowl, preferably the kind you remember from your childhood.

My Grandma always came the day before Thanksgiving . . . on Thanksgiving morning, the bread would be ready; she and my mom, and now me, fill our clean kitchen sinks with the hottest water our hands can stand, about six inches of water, and then, one at a time, we dip each slice of bread in the water, and immediately wring it out.  You can see my finger marks in the bread above.  It gets thick and chunky, doughy, chewy; you break it up, just a tiny bit, not too much, into chunks and bite-sized pieces.

When you’ve done all the bread, you melt 2 sticks of butter in a large skillet, then slowly sauté six stalks of chopped celery and three medium chopped onions until softened . . .

 While that’s happening you take an entire jar of dried sage leaves (not ground), and do what my mom and Grandma taught me to do: pour a little into the palm of your hand and rub it together over the top of the bread bowl; then, before you drop it in, look at it closely and discard any large or woody stems.  Continue rubbing the sage until you use the whole jar.  Then pour your onions and butter over the bread and, using your hands, being careful not to burn yourself, mix it all together well.  Now the tasting, which at our house was a family affair, I think half of it was eaten while we were tasting!  My dad was the final judge: He always knew . . . more sage?  More butter? Salt, oh yes!  It needs to be just a little bit salty, the turkey will absorb it . . .

You can add any other ingredients you want to make this your own; people always ask me if they can, and yes, I’m sure it would be delicious with cooked sausage, apples, nuts, oysters, or prunes, if you are of that ilk; but we have never done that and never would, because we are stuck in our ways; we like it plain and simple; the texture is glorious; with gravy, it’s pure poetry.  Have it your way, as the song goes, because tradition requires that you make yourself happy!

I miss my grandma very much; she was my friend.  See that ring on my finger?  She gave that to me for my thirtieth birthday; I’d been trying to pull it off her hand since I was two and she finally gave up.  She’s in heaven now, but when I smell her cookies baking, or her stuffing roasting on Thanksgiving Day, she’s here.♥  And that is why family food is so important, and why traditions mean so much.

It has been cold here this last week; Joe is still working in the barn, making us a wood box now, but he’s wearing a hat and jacket while he works.

And me?  You know where I am.  Tucked in, listening to the rain against the window, making our book.  There are lots more wonderful wall/winter RECIPES for you HERE,  candidates for possible Tradition-making inclusion to your family repertoire.  With love from the Heart of the Home, and me, my mom, and my grandma. xoxo. P.S. Did you love that song?  Then dancing is in order:  Play this, get up, twirling is a wonderful way to start the day — just ask Angie!  Love you.

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483 Responses to TRADITION

  1. Rachel says:

    Love the photo of you working on our diary 😉 It looks like such fun!
    Thanksgiving is one American holiday that I have gladly taken to, since I came over here from the UK.
    But then again, you can’t NOT like food 😉

    • sbranch says:

      It’s also kind of nice to have a holiday about gratitude, don’t you think? A national “count-your-blessings day!”

      • Marie (Long Beach, CA) says:

        I agree Susan, it’s really nice to have a holiday all about gratitude. Maybe you can add “count-your-blessings day!” on your 2014 calendar for Thanksgiving! 🙂 With love!

  2. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    Good evening Susan….

    Just got back home not long ago from taking our grandkids back up to Eugene, Oregon to catch the plane for Washington. What a marvelous week we all had, but it certainly went by way too quickly!

    Each year my mom and a neighbor of ours made cookies for the Christmas holidays. They are called “Cinnamon” cookies. I would watch them very closely. It took all day, as the recipe makes lots and lots of cookies. Then, they would frost them all. They made all sorts of decorative ones, but the ones I loved the best was the Santa Claus ones. Raisins for the eyes and coconut for the beard. I don’t know when I came to be sharing in this tradition, but I did. I don’t remember a year going by all my growing up that we didn’t make them. I carried on the tradition when I left home and then the kids came along and they looked forward to them each year as well. They are grown up with kids of their own, but I still make them for my husband and I.

    As for Thanksgiving, I still make all the trimmings that goes along with the turkey. There are friends that think it’s too much work and have given up and just go to a resturant, but I’m holding strong. I mean, who doesn’t love all the left overs and to have turkeys sandwiches in the days that follow?

    Well, it’s getting cold here on the north coast of California these past couple days. The weather held out for the week while the grandkids were here, but low temps and rain have arrived. My granddaughter said it was really cold in the house. With 12 foot ceilings in a Victorian home, what else is there? I said ‘welcome to winter’, haha.

    I FINALLY found your calendar and purse calendar at one of the malls in Eugene yesterday. I’ve been looking all over for one at all the stores that I could think of. We lost our book store last year, so it’s been quite the adventure in searching, but in the end…..

    Have a really good week ahead and don’t get too cold now.
    Carol M

    • Karen Saunders says:

      Good for you Carol, me too. This year our kids sup with their in-laws, (the every-other-year thing) and I am doing the same thing. It’s not a holiday if the aroma of food cooking is not floating out of that kitchen door. (My niece owns the Dutch Bros. there….treat yourself to a Pumpkin Latte.. it will make all your troubles go “poof”….and then there were none!!)

    • Hope you had a good time here in Eugene… It’s been pretty chilly here, too.

      I love Eureka! All those Victorian houses and you are not far from that restaurant that I can never remember the name of… the Old Samoa Cookhouse? I am dying to eat there!

      All the best.

  3. Bonnie Crawford says:

    Hi Sue!~~
    Happy Autumn to you too!! We sure miss you around here…. I am happy that you are so happy, in your beautiful home, enjoying all of the great changes of the seasons!~~ Your home is so beautiful, and I am so glad to hear the great progress you are making on the England book! Can’t wait until it comes out!! =)

    I don’t know if you remember me admiring your Grandma’s ring, but I think I told you that my Grandma had one very similar to yours…. We were at my Mom’s two weeks ago, celebrating her 85th Birthday, and guess what? We went through her jewelry box, and she gave me my Grandma’s ring! I feel so honored that she gave it to me, and I always admired it on my Grandma’s hand too! My Grandpa gave it to her for their 10th Anniversary, so that would have been 1930. I will treasure it always….

    You are right about how certain foods make you feel like your Grandma is right there with you… With my Grandma, it was when she prepared a leg of lamb, and the smell of all the yummy garlic slowly roasting in her huge roasting pan! Yummy!!

    Thank you for sharing your special family traditions with us, and reminding us of how special family really is!! Yes, every home needs a Grandma in it!! =)
    And our darling little Grandson Colby, just turned SIX, (can you believe it??), just called me to say, “I love you Grandma B.!!” xoxo

  4. Jan says:

    I adore all of your posts and look forward to each one. The little water colour sketches, photos of lovely countryside, homespun decor, trips down country lanes……..what an escape from southern California suburban ennui………….

    • sbranch says:

      Happy you are here Jan!

      • jan says:

        Thankyou! I check my email everyday to see if there is a Susan Branch post. The pictures of the UK remind me of our “second home”…..Southwell, Notts. And in my dreams I have always longed to have an extended visit in New England in the autumn, when the leaves have all turned russet and gold. Having spent childhood years in Ohio, I can remember that there is a certain scent in the air as the temperatures dip, just after a few days of “Indian Summer”. I loved to jump into the deep piles of leaves and gather apples and pears from the trees which grew in the back garden. I also remember sledding in the winter, making snowmen and also snow angels…….
        I remember savouring steaming mugs of hot cocoa with marshmallows, and eating the freshly baked cinnamon buns which always came with the holiday feasting.
        In the springtime, little snowdrops and crocuses peek out to greet the sunshine. And on Feb. 2nd, you would wait to see if the groundhog saw his shadow…….
        England and New England are quite alike. There are so many delightful scenes of Nature, ever changing, to intrigue your senses.
        Here in sunny California, I have to play cd’s of thunderstorms. I love it when it actually rains and the temperature drops into the 50’s and I can light a fire.
        The foods are different in your neck of the woods, as they are back home in England.
        Sunday roast, complete with potatoes, carrots, leeks, and Yorkshire puddings with gravy….it just smells heavenly.
        You have the home of my dreams. I love your style….and the whimsical touches to be found in every nook and cranny.
        It would be delightful to have a kindred spirit for a friend.
        Not many of your kind out this way. Sometimes I feel as though I have been dropped onto a wasteland……..but the saving grace is the sea……I can go there and hear the seagulls, the waves crashing upon the shore……and watch the sun go down. In that, I cherish my little corner of Nature’s sketchbook.
        Looking forward to your next post.
        I shall be leaving for the UK and the East Midlands in about a month. The gardens and stately homes will have closed down, but the pubs will remain open with welcoming cosy nooks, crackling fires, traditional English food and drink. The church bells will ring, we will take tea in the afternoon, and gather in the homes of neices and nephews, sisters and mothers……and sip sherry just before bedtime.
        The only thing I will regret is not seeing my little grandson celebrate his very first Christmas.

        • sbranch says:

          Oh it will be heaven, and cold … and the churchyards, with the bells! I’m so happy for you! How long will you be there?

          • JAN says:


          • sbranch says:

            OK, take me with you. 🙂

  5. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Lovely, cozy post. Put a lump in my throat seeing you there with your grandmother. I really, really miss my mother and grandmother this time of the year and pray they are with me in the kitchen when preparing Thanksgiving dinner and watching my favorite movie, The Bishops Wife.

  6. Dear Susan,
    Here it is a new day, and I should be in bed, but I just had to take a peek to see if there was a new post from you, and there was. I promised myself, I’d just take a peek, but I’ve ended up for quite a long time, enjoying not only your post but reading all the comments – so many kindred spirits out there. My grandmother lived with us from the time I was born, and she was always up before 5:00 am to put the turkey in the oven. We always cooked the stuffing in the turkey, and I remember much of it would spill out of the neck cavity, so we always had a pre- Thanksgiving taste – boiling hot from the oven, so we had to blow on it.
    I am looking forward to making your molasses cookies. I like the fact that they include a generous amount of molasses. My mom used to put molasses on her pancakes, instead of syrup.
    Thanks, also, for the picture of you surrounded by such a wonderful pallett of colors. I envy your ability to draw. I have even been doodling, inspired by you, but my doodles are quite lopsided attempts at creating cups and teapots. It’s still fun.
    I baked myself silly over the past couple of days and brought it all into our church fair- mini banana breads, brownies, pumpkin cookies, healthy dried fruit and almond balls, fudge. We are a really small congregation, but everyone rallied to the cause, and we had a nice assortment of baked goods, crafts, white-elephant table items, raffle baskets, and luncheon items. I think we cleared around a thousand dollars to use to help others.
    And now to bed! Thanks so much for brightening my day – or night, as the case may be.

    • sbranch says:

      Sweet dreams Carolyn, loved your comment, you’ve left me longing for that little crunchy bit of stuffing that “spills out of the neck cavity” the very best part! Soon!

  7. Jan from Northern CA says:

    It’s late and I’m ending a day of cleaning and getting the front room ready for the holidays. Always have to move the couch to a different spot. Inspired by your blog to find the little things that make the holidays so special as well…..just took the little pumpkins and moved them to another spot….getting out the little Thanksgiving turkeys for the main spot. Your mention of Grandmothers….brought back such great memories. Sigh, I miss my Grandma so much at the holidays. I do remember her daily….. I have a kitchen knife of hers that I use all the time, and also her hand egg beater…..she made the best scrambled eggs ever. (lots of butter in the pan…yum.) I’m tall, 5’10” and she fit under my arm….I used to step down off the porch at her house and then turn around to get my goodby hug. With family spread out so much, we don’t seem to have the family get-togethers like when we were young. I try to keep the traditions going in our home. I love to cook holiday dinners! We tried to have Thanksgiving dinner one time…just the two of us…..wasn’t right…so now if it’s just us, we invite others to join us. Well, enough babble….so enjoyed reading all the lovely posts…..all the memories…and all the recipes! Oh, today is my Mom’s birthday (78ys). She’s down with my sister in San Diego. I’ll celebrate with her when she gets back. And it’s cold here!! Snow in the mountains…..finally. Thanks again for the memories…….good night from Northern Ca.

    • Debbie in So,Ca. says:

      “The Front Room” Jan you must be from back East like me; no one out here says that. Reading those words envokes strong vivid pictures of my childhood front room, right behind the screened in porch with the gliding davenport!

      Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  8. Mary S. says:

    I LOVE the picture of you and your grandma!!! And you look so adorable!! I love your shawl-wrapped self, working at your England book!! I can hardly wait for it to be done!!

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  9. Joann says:

    Traditions are so important…. from foods to the very ingredients we use in our special dishes. I love your photographs, the fact that you are so generous in sharing your own memories, and that you treasure the simplest things….because they truly are the BIG THINGS and most important things in life….which, of course, aren’t things at all…



  10. Pam says:

    What a beautiful post. Your house looks so cosy and welcoming and that’s a lovely photo of you at your work table. I love family traditions, that’s part of what being a family is. It’s what helps to keep memories of loved ones with us as well isn’t it.

  11. cecelia says:

    Cannot wait for your new book! When will it be out?

  12. Barbara T, Wolverine Lake MI says:

    I have a couple of comments… is traditions. My mother died when I was 20, so my children never met her. I try to keep some of her traditions as “our” traditions so they feel a bit like they knew here. One is aprons! On Thanksgiving I pull out her aprons and my daughter and I pick which one to wear as we cook and make the pies. At first she thought it was silly and didn’t want to wear one. Now she is the one to say – remember to pull out the aprons!! 🙂 the other is regarding the stuffing! I remember calling my grandmother in Milwaukee that first Thanksgiving when I had to make a turkey alone (near Detroit)….Grandma! How do you make stuffing? She gave me the recipe over the phone, and followed it up by mailing me a handwritten copy for my recipe box. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Grandma’s stuffing recipe. I say a good recipe card is always splattered in drops of food and is stained from being used frequently 🙂 Holidays and traditions go hand in hand, don’t they?

  13. Jack says:

    Am I the only one that misses grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole , and that caramelized
    Brown sugar and butter — with Turkey Gravy all over it ……my traditions are causing me to drool ……

  14. BONNIE SHUCK says:

    It is raining here in Kansas, too. I’m loving it! Perfect day. Make some jewelry, go to an estate sale, clean house a little. Hard to do that in the middle of an upstairs remodel!!! So, mostly, I’ll goof!!!! Love to all, B

  15. Mardell Lamb says:

    Oh what a cozy, delightful post, Susan! Thoroughly enjoyable. Love the pic of you & your Grandma. My paternal Grandmother lived to be 106 & was famous for her potato soup & homemade bread. The stuffing tradition ~ aaahhh! Where can you purchase dried sage leaves?

    Yes, agreeing with gals, your home is so cozy & inviting! Can’t wait to see it decorated for Christmas. Very lovely pic of you in your studio.

  16. Christie Ray says:

    Going directly to my CD collection and pulling out my Rod Stewart singing this tune…must commence twirling, for I am a certified, card-carrying twirler…ask my older sister;)) Every time I sit in front of our roaring, crackling fire, I think about your fall and winter posts…there’s just something about curling up and knitting in front of a fire…with the clock ticking…yes, these foolish things..

    Had to let you know, the office and attached bath are now the color of your kitchen. The painter said, “You shore picked out a purty color!” (He’s even more southern sounding than me;) and I had to tell him about you…the confused look in his eyes did not slow me down one little bit…
    He will begin painting the kitchen tomorrow and it will be the “summer shower” because of the vintage blue and pink morning glory tablecloth I used to make the skirt on the farm sink..(if you travel over to my blog, you’ll catch a photo of it) The kitchen will be turned upside down, even more than it already has been…so thank you for taking us through the stages of your “update” so that I will be assured of an end to this long tunnel:)
    Happy twirling, darling,

  17. Judy from Maine says:

    Morning Susan,
    Thank you once again for a wonderful post and of course so timely. This morning my hubby and I are going to perform one of our traditions… Making the applesauce. We have a big bag of utility apples just waiting to be corded and dumped into the pot to cook down, that’s my part, then my husband runs the apples through the Folley Mill, skins and all. Next I add a little cinnamon and some sugar if needed. Put it in containers and freeze, to enjoy all winter long.
    I also want to thank you for the cookie recipe. Somehow I never got my mother in laws recipe for the molasses cookies, that was my husbands favorite. We have been married for 40 years and have been on the search, trying many different recipes, never quite succeeding. I don’t believe I have ever tried one with vinegar in it. I am hoping that is the ingredient that we have been missing, and using it will create the taste he has been seeking. No time this weekend to try them, but next weekend for sure. I’ll let you know if we’ve finally found THE RECIPE!
    Have a super Sunday.

  18. Sherry Palla says:

    Susan, you help so many hearts to be happy! Thanks for your kindredspirithood or kindredsisterhood! Your stuffing looks wonderbar!

  19. Carrie says:

    Dear Susan,

    My last two posts didn’t make it past moderation. . . just thought I’d check to see if all is ok?

    • sbranch says:

      All is good, as far as I know . . . I definitely approve them when they come in but they just get backed up, and then they come up newest first, so I do a few, and then more come in, and sometimes I miss the ones that are deep, but I’ll get to them soon! Sorry!

  20. Well, now I really will have to try those molasses cookies!
    I have been trying not to bake too much since I was an utter failure at last spring’s “un-fluffying” attempts. Maybe I can be good for the week and a half left before the holiday season begins! My family has many long standing traditions for holidays, many of which have to do with specific foods. YOUR sweet potato casserole and creamed onions made it onto the list years ago! Probably right after you published the Christmas book – I have a first edition!
    Sooo glad someone asked about the Full Moon bookmark! I have mine on my desk and always consult it! Would love to use it as a stocking stuffer this year…. ;0)!

  21. Julia says:

    I checked out your “Autumn” cookbook from my local Jacksonville, FL library. Such a different change from most other cookbooks. I enjoyed reading the book, such talent.
    Thanks for the recipes.

    • judi says:

      So funny Julia ….I ordered that book from my local library last month and I do believe they had to get it from Jacksonville:)

  22. Mary Ann says:

    Oh my, such a sweet photo with your Grandma. My stuffing is just the same! And I couldn’t vary either without everyone complaining including me. On all the holidays Grandpa would make the adults whiskey sours using a cocktail shaker and special glasses. And then he would make us all Shirley Temples which were simply 7 up with a dripple of juice from the maraschino cherry bottle and a couple of cherries of course.
    I am so anxious for “our” book Susan and it makes me happy so see how full of smiles you are as you work. All the happiness is pouring out into the pages for us too!

  23. Tawni urrutia says:

    What a marvelous post! I just love the photo of you with your Grandma…you can see the love and friendship between you! ❤ I was so blessed to have had a magic Mimi. She was only 44 when I was born, so right up until I was 41, she was my best cheerleader, ring leader, & partner in crime. I loved their house, every last detail of it. The way the lamps glowed, the way the oven timer gentley dinged, the scent of cumin wafting through the air, and the sound of her humming, strands of pearls rattling together as she glided from one room to the next. ALWAYS smiling, and welcoming, my grandmother had a big open door policy. We never knew how many people would be over for dinner, so it was like a party on regular ol’ wednesday night. Thank you, Susan for being such a beacon of kindness and generousity. That is the same spirit my Mimi radiated, I cherished her for it. Continued blessings to you and all the people that fill your heart with love and happiness in this beautiful season of gratitude and rememberance.
    Tawni Urrutia in Lodi Ca

  24. Yvonne Shafer says:

    Hi Susan! I had my Grandmother until I was
    55 years old! Lil was a vibrant 92 when she passed. One favorite moment – I took her shopping and we saw a little boy out with grandmom who was about my age. I told him I was out with my grandmom too! We both shared a smile of joy at the moment! Lil will always be in my heart. Thanks for your lovely post on traditions!

  25. Kathie says:

    Honestly, it’s the same recipe my grandmother and mother made, too. Exactly! The bread all over the place before. The early-morning assembly with the naked bird in the middle of it all. Yes, as a child, I thought the bird looked bare-naked. Well, he is, isn’t he? That’s why we can’t wait to get him DRESSED!. I’ve been growing my own sage for years and it even winters over, here. The same hand-rubbing goes on, too. LOTS of sage. My gramma was born in 1889 in Minnesota; my mother, in 1923, in Montana. I’m the third generation making that same recipe…..although it might have been my GREAT gramma who started it. I wouldn’t be surprised. She was born about 1870 in Iowa. We’ve never added anything to it. Some goes in the bird, and the rest, into a baking dish in, now, the crockpot; but years ago, in the second oven of our big electric range. Absolutely fantastic with gravy, for days after the feast! Thanks, sis, for the memories. I’m ready for the day and the gratitude to come.

  26. Donna Ray from Hamlin, NY says:

    Oh, so many wonderful memories evoked by you, Susan. My Grandma and Momma’s stuffing is so similar to yours except “the hot water dunk and wring out of the bread” (makes me so curious I think I’ll try it this year), instead we use lots and lots of homemade chicken stock. My husband’s people (originally from Arkansas) use corn bread, but same recipe.
    When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s in Southeast Missouri we never had turkey for Thanksgiving! What NO TURKEY?…you ask. Some of the girlfriends will relate to this. We were farm folks and none of our farm neighbors or relatives grew turkeys. We always ate what we grew so we had the same meats for every holiday: Chicken and dressing, chicken and dumplings, baked ham and kettle beef (what you all call potroast). And the pies…..good lordy, the pies! I’ve just gained 2lbs thinking about them!
    I love the quote about recipes keeping what kept us. I love my recipe box because of the treasures inside, many in the handwriting of my favorite women in the world and in heaven. Please don’t let the ease of googling a recipe on the computer keep us from sharing recipes on those lovely little cards…(order some from Susan’s store right now!) Let’s hang onto that, Girlfriends, like we’re hanging onto handwriting and so many of the domestic arts that make our lives rich. Must foster all this in our children and grandchildren.
    As always, DonnaRay on the south shore of Lake Ontario where it is 73 degrees today…..just lovely Indian Summer and a last chance to batten down the hatches!

    • There is nothing like hand written recipes! My brother saved all our mothers for me, so many in her hand, her sisters, and her friends from college days in Okla City! I treasure them! But, yes I confess, I find some on line I can’t resist also! So many recipes, so little time, Oh my!


      Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    9:00 on a rainy Saturday morning….making my Thanksgiving To-Do list and listening to my new Rod Stewart, “Merry Christmas Baby” cd…. my mind starts to wander away from To-Do’s and I find my heart in Thanksgiving…it’s so lovely there this time of year! My mind calls me back to To-do and I start list making again…and I realize my list doesn’t change much from year to year…it’s tradition…and once again my heart goes back to Thanksgiving…where I remember and visit Traditions…old ones, new ones, and I don’t know why ones! But, I get lost in this wonderful one, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Little, who do this!!!
    Bloomington holiday tree bigger, brighter than ever on Kare11 news
    On Thanksgiving night, feeling stuffed and happy hearted, we visit, “the Tree!”
    When I saw it for the first time, on a snowy December night…….WOW!
    When I stood underneath it for the first time ….Magnificent!
    When I looked up through the lit branches into the night sky for the first time …..I thought I could see heaven!!
    When I looked up through the lit branches into the night sky and TwiRLed….. it felt like little bits of heaven sprinkled down to earth!!!
    Soon we were all twirling…..and Mr. Little came outside laughing and saying, I’ve never seen this before…he was so happy and laughing at us…and my kids were happy and laughing too…..He was holding a big pork chop in his hand! He ate, we talked, and they twirled!!! It was a night full of pure little-kid happy!!! We are so lucky to have Mr. and Mrs. Little and their Christmas card to the world!!!
    Can you imagine all the happy coincidences when I read your post Saturday morning!!! And, one coincidence, I have always wondered about… you think our Grandma’s had the same jeweler? Your’s is Oval … mine is Round….different, but the same…full of traditions, hopes, dreams, and perhaps even a titch of old stuffing…..but one thing for sure…..Grandma’s Love! From one Grand-daughter to another….Have the most beautiful Thanksgiving…..and be careful, when you go outside to peek in the windows, okay?! Oh…..can I just tell you one more thing?
    When I saw YoU, all cute and everything cozy, in your painting corner… made me happy! And, when you said……”our book!” ….. it kinda put me over-the-moon happy!!! xoxoxoxox

  28. Gill says:

    I made the stuffing recipe today, we had turkey to celebrate many things…Remembrance Day, Martinmas, Norwegian Fathers’ Day and my Birthday (tomorrow)! It was delicious! I used fresh sage from my herb garden, there are still fresh leaves to be found after last week under snow! I am wondering about freezing the left over stuffing…have you ever tried that?

  29. Lori from Maine says:

    I miss my Nana and Farmor so much during the holidays. I’m so lucky to still have my Mom (she’s 94). I have a lot of my Nana’s recipes, bowls, this and thats. I think of her whenever I use them. I feel as though she’s right with me, looking over my shoulder. It sounds silly, I know, but sometimes when I’m using some of her things I talk to her. It’s not Christmas without all the different cookies they both made. I have about six “must makes” then do several more that I find during the year. Hubby isn’t feeling too well today and I think your molasses cookies will make him feel much better :)! Thank you for this post, it brought up a lot of wonderful memories!
    xoxo from SW Hbr. Maine

    • sbranch says:

      Healthy to talk to loved ones, even if they aren’t there…perfectly normal!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Absolutely! I firmly believe when we talk to them – ask their advice – fill them in on what’s going on, they ARE there… :>)

  30. Susan M says:

    Hello Susan
    Very touching post (as usual). Our traditions are ways of honoring our past and the wonderful people who have made our lives and our memories. Some years I think I will try something different to change things up a bit, but almost always go back to the holiday meals we remember Mom making-just should not tamper with perfection.
    Thanks for all you do for us.
    Susan M

  31. Karen Saunders says:

    Susan, late last night I was going through your Christmas book, looking for recipes for my Christmas Tea. In your blog the mol. cookies look so wonderful and festive on the plate. Is that a pink quilt on your table, and your table looks fabulous by the way. You have such a knack for entertaining. I want my table to look magical, it’s all in the presentation. I drew my own invitations and had them run off….and added glitter. My motto in life is ‘you just can’t have too much glitter’…. I can’t believe I am attempting this at such a busy time of year but last year my daughter couldn’t come….so she begged me to have another. I don’t really mind…..but the cleaning, (and my stacks of catalogs, where am I going to put them?) and my dogs….I let them out at 3 in the morning and they attacked a little skunk which I saved by throwing two flower pots at (my dogs). And now they AND my house smells like that cute little skunk. I’m doomed…. well maybe by the 8th of December it will be gone. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I think I’m going to make the mol. cookies….molasses is sooo good for you. We used to put it in the grain of our horses and it makes their coats absolutely gorgeous. Well….guess I better get busy and hide my catalogs…..

    • sbranch says:

      “I’m doomed” LOL! I just took a whole pile of catalogs, and did not look, just put them in the recycle bin. I figure, since they are there gathering dust, I must not care, although I have no doubt, if I would have gone through them I would have found a TRUE TREASURE, never-to-be-thrown-away thing in there. Oh well, I felt like I lost five pounds!

  32. maryb says:

    my mom’s dressing recipe (we never stuffed) used toasted cheap white bread (that was my job- toasting!) and cornbread with homegrown sage, lots of onion and the chopped giblets from the turkey. i can still smell it in my mind!! mom didn’t cook with too many recipes so i learned how things should look and feel and smell to make sure they were right! i think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday(not that i don’t love Christmas) because of the colors, the smells, the thankfulness without the rush of shopping! we might have all four of our kids here this year (?? one lives in new york and one in new jersey-we’ll see) three daughter-in-laws and all five grandsons. now that is something to be thankful for!! mb

  33. Anna from Herefordshire, England says:

    I still celebrate Thanksgiving even though I live in England now. Just the aromas of all those familiar things and the thought that my family at home is sharing the same meal are a comfort when I can’t be there. It’s those family traditions that bring your family close when you are far away. When I get homesick I cook one of my mother’s meals. I can close my eyes and almost imagine I’m in my mother’s kitchen.

    My husband, son and I started a tradtion several years ago. We go to the Forest of Dean to collect chestnuts, walnuts and cobb nuts for Christmas. We usually come home with blackberries and sloes as well. It’s always a great outing; the forest is still and peaceful.

  34. queenmum says:

    Hello Susan…I got to read this post while taking a break from one of my traditions – making and putting up applesauce. The Mccoun apples weren’t too plentiful or great this year because of our weather, but I am lucky to have gotten the bushel and a half I wanted. Love this post…Thanksgiving is the BEST holiday there is! It is very warm here today and I am missing last week’s crispness…but Thanksgiving is coming anyway, and this year our son will be here on leave. Unfortunately his wife is overseas…but I know she will be celebrating Army style!
    Thanks for the post,
    xoxoxoxo from queenmum

  35. Gail from Hingham says:

    Hi Susan,
    I so love the photo of you with your Grandma. It almost looks like it could be a Norman Rockwell painting! My Nana used to wear outfits just like the one your grandmother is wearing. She used to call them “dusters” – I think because they were worn around the home while doing housework. Those were the days. Have a lovely evening. xo

  36. Carla says:

    I love the photo of you and your studio. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your Grandma’s Molasses Cookies. I am going to make them for my boys…for an after school surprise!


  37. Susan, love the musica! You my dear, are so sweet to share your family traditions with little ole us! Made your cranberry sauce last year and love it, now I can’t wait to make your stuffing (dressing) and cookies (they look scrumptious!) They might not make it into the cookie jar! What wonderful memories you have, cherish them, I know you do!

    Oh! guess what I found at the flea mkt today! A round ceramic bank with Beatrix Potter rabbits on it by Royal Daulton! I have a little cup I found at an estate sale months ago marked Wedgwood. Was there not a copyright? Or maybe one was from before copyrighting? I don’t know, but I thought of you and had to get it! Don’t have a collection yet ( only 2), except my aunt gave our 1st born a Peter Rabbit along with the little book when he was born, that doesn’t count! Isn’t it fun to find things that mean something? That my friend is the thrill of shopping fleas, antique and thrift shops!!!! 🙂

    Hugs, chirp chirp!

    Jeannie~~~~~~~~~~ 🙂 🙂

  38. Ro from Rose Cottage, New Jersey says:

    Hi Susan and all SB girlfriends.
    I am back in my house (November 11th) after loosing electric on Oct 29 from the ‘Frankenstorm Sandy’!
    I missed your blog SOOOO! You are such a comfort!
    But I am so lucky (thank you God) I did not have any house damage, and I had a fireplace to burn wood to keep warm. My friend Jim brought his generator down to run the ‘fridge to keep his and my food from spoiling. We used the feather blanket and three other blankets on the bed to keep warm. Our local Fire house provided a ‘warming center’ and hot meals. they had a big gererator! and our local TA truck stop let us ‘townies’ take hot showers there.
    on November 7th Jim got power at his house so we (me, my cat and Jim) moved to his house!
    Now i’m back at my cottage, my house plants suffered from the cold, but might make it back.
    I weep when I see so many have lost so much! I am so greatful for what I have. and now is the time of year to share with others.
    Thank you Susan for your ‘Sunshine’, now I will slowly read your blog and savor your warmth!

    • sbranch says:

      What a story Ro; I’m so happy you’re back, and were so well cared for. Stay warm, aren’t we lucky?

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Hang in there, Ro…. and thanks for sharing what you’ve been dealing with! “Rose Cottage” too – isn’t that just the sweetest-sounding place to be from? Bet it comes back from Sandy even more beautiful than before! Take care! :>)

        • Rhonda D. says:

          Glad that God has taken pretty good care of you, Ro through all of this. You’ve all been on our hearts and in our prayers. Take care.

  39. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh Susan…you really inspire us! smile… That music is always so soothing…. We got out our Rod Stewart CD and had it playing while we cooked and worked around here this morning! Thinking of you the whole while…

  40. Gert~Iowa says:

    I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong but only half of my comment posted…

  41. Gert~Iowa says:

    I’ll give it up for today…and maybe write this again another day! Just doesn’t want to post properly.

  42. amy says:

    Susan~your grandmother was exquisite:) and she seems if she might be humoring you in the picture:) Thank you for another loverly post.

  43. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    hello and good afternoon susan, hello everyone!!! what wonderful memories, i can remember Thanksgiving at my family’s home every year with cousins running about outside, the women in the kitchen cooking and the men out in the enclosed patio watching the turkey turn round on the spit and basting it with butter, herbs and wine that mom mixed up for the basting. the ladies were in the kitchen making the stuffing, and doing grandma’s recipe for gravy, and making mashed potatoes and roasting veggies for the family feast. i remember one year just after Thanksgiving and at the start of the Christmas holidays, mom got the flu so my cousins and i got to make the holiday cookies, and we had a ball baking all the cookies and decorating them all but the gingerbread cousin did those and she decorated them all blue, a really yukky shade of blue. when my mom came out to check on us and see how things were going, she saw the gingerbread cookies all done in blue and got sick. since then we never did gingerbread men cookies again, and never again did we let my cousin do the frosting…LOL!!! 😉 its almost my most favorite holiday again and i look forward to wonderful smells of sage, onions, turkey and pumpkin pie baking in my kitchen again. it takes me back to all those wonderful Thanksgivings when i was little and all the fun we had playing with the kids in the neighborhood and my cousins that day and betting on when the fire dept would come and put out the fire the neighbor’s kitchen. every Thanksgiving we had a neighbor who somehow managed to set fire to her kitchen and it became a neighborhood event to go watch and bet on when the turkey would blow up and when the fire dept would get there. we had alot of fun Thanksgivings with that, sort became a neighborhood tradition. well off to go address cards to send to some friends and get busy on cleaning out the henhouse and put new fresh straw in for their warm fluffy nests. Happy Fall everyone. hugs…… 🙂

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I never set fire to the kitchen but flooded it once while trying to defrost the Thanksgiving turkey in the sink!

  44. Sarah Maldonado says:

    You had me at “traditions”. I’m all about that and a fun personality test I took recently even said how important traditions are to me. Slowly at first and then suddenly and unexpectedly our big family gatherings have ended with everyone in heaven….but new traditions will be made this year as my husband and I go to a cabin in the woods and a Victorian village close-by for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. I’m grateful for the warm memories of times gathered with the hearts I loved and will find new ways to celebrate while keeping those familiar recipes and foods to share with friends on other occasions. I’ve already stocked up on cranberries to make your Christmas Jam….my favorite since making it a few years ago! Let us all remember the hearts we love, the memories of those gone now, and the love they taught us through traditions! Thanks, Susan, for always knowing about the important things…

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely Sarah, xoxo

    • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

      Heartfelt wishes that you will have a good Thanksgiving together, making new traditions along the way. The cabin in the woods and dinner in a nearby Victorian village is a wonderful idea for this year.
      Warm hugs,

      • Sarah Maldonado says:

        Thank you, Dawn! Hugs in return and prayers for peace and strength for all who struggle. We recognize our blessings but know that some are having rough times for many reasons and can’t yet do that. The sisterhood here is so supportive and caring…a one of a kind place. Group hug to all!

  45. Susie @ Persimmon Moon Cottage says:

    Very often, but especially around the Holidays, it feels like our moms and grandmas are right here cooking along with us as we use recipes that have come down to us through our families. The smells and tastes bring them back so vividly. One of my favorite things about the Holidays. Your stuffing recipe looks delicious. I’m a mostly white bread, stuffing fan, too. Just a little brown bread for color.

  46. Carla says:

    Ah, the dressing! ( Not stuffing – An Ohio-ism, maybe…) My mother did it almost the exact same way! I have never been able to replicate it exactly, but have tried numerous times. My mother wrote it down: a hunk of butter, lots of onion and celery… sure, Mom! I’ll try your measurements this time, Susan! It made my mouth water just thinking about it.
    I plan to try the molasses cookies, also. I still have your butter cookie cut-out recipe. It’s our favorite for cut-outs! Cookies are a huge part of tradition for us. There are always the old favorites (peanut blossoms, mint surprise,and cut-outs of either gingerbread or butter) and always something new, just for fun.
    Thanks for the memory lane trip!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I watched The Chew yesterday and they said more people from the South called it “dressing” while most Northerners called it ” stuffing”. They also said 1% actually call it ” filling”!

  47. Elizabeth says:

    Dear Sandra, this is my first time posting, proud to be one of the girlfriends!! I needed to post because I wanted to tell you that my own dear grandma and I were best friends, too, and she taught me to bake…I have a picture of me at about 5 years old, with an apron on and standing on the kitchen chair (those chrome and red cushion kinds from the 50’s you know!) and I have flour on my nose and she is letting me stir something into the yellow bowl, very like the one you showed a picture of. Some of my treasured recipes are written in her hand and she wrote them on the white pieces of cardboard that used to come with the nylon you know what I mean?? She was frugal that way, growing up in the depression in Chicago…but OH, how she could bake!! I never could quite get her bread exactly right…but my tradition has been to make her Christmas Sugar Cookies….her recipe is special and I have never seen it repeated anywhere, and it makes THE most delicious cookies. I (and my daughter) use cookie cutters that I used when I was little. LOVE traditions like that!

    Oh, how I loved grandma…I was her only grandchild and she was in this life for 91 years, and now she is somewhere beautiful and happy, with my dear grandpa, and her son, my dad.

    Thank you for letting me write about her 🙂 And thank you for writing such joyful posts, Sandra…they are very comforting and inspiring.

    Elizabeth in Mississippi

    • sbranch says:

      Well, you mean Susan, but I know that! 🙂 Love your Grandma story Elizabeth, and happy to have you here!

  48. Loved the post, Susan <3 The cookies and dressing look yummy! I must thry them out 🙂 I like the idea of the bread, then you dont' have to guess at how much water to add

    Love Rod, Angie and Susan 🙂 he's a doll!
    Denise of Ingleside

  49. Rosemary says:

    A nice treat to have a post to read today as we have returned from a camping trip this weekend. My, how the wind blew and today it rained but it did not dampen our good time with friends. My friend and I were visiting as the guys took a hike to explore a fort at the campground. She is a watercolorist and said she would give me some “lessons”…just for fun. Something I have always wanted to do so will look forward to that.
    Molasses cookies….yes, my Grandmother and also, my sweet Madaline whose apartment I lived in my second year of teaching. Both made wonderful soft molasses cookies and I am happy you reminded me about getting some made. My Mother and I always loved to have a piece of cheese with a molasses cookie. Yes, it is true.
    The drying bread….precious and definitely was my Mother’s way to get the bread ready but she did not do the water method. I will try that. Love left over dressing! Just three of us for Thanksgiving but we will do it up, anyway! But, Christmas! Hooray! Son and his family….meaning my two precious grands…will be coming! from North Carolina..and my brother from New York state. Our son is very sentimental and loves the traditions.
    Wonderful picture of you and your Grandmother. And, the picture of you at your table…true happiness. The book! This will be the treasure! to add to my collection of SB books.
    Tried to read all the comments and it is just amazing how like minded we are. Must be what attracts us to you. Enjoyable.

  50. Nicole says:

    You make my day, Susan, you really do. 🙂

    I have a question about your art. What kind of paper do you use for the paintings that you are working on for your current project? What size? I’m just very curious about the process. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • sbranch says:

      I am using a rather thin notebook paper, because this was a diary I was working on in England — it’s not really art paper. I actually bought a diary and cut out all the pages to use for this, so I could do the art on them individually. The paper itself is bigger than the actual pages for the book will be, so those wide edges you see in the photos will be gone.

  51. Rhonda D. says:

    Such an awesome, heart-warming post, Susan. Enjoyed seeing your fire…it’s so cold here in the maritimes today. (I love your fireplace btw, it had to be one of the reasons you bought your home). It’s going to be warm here tomorrow, and everyone is planning to do their outside Christmas decorating.
    I was so happy to see this post about making stuffing. (Holidays are really all about the stuffing, you know). The last number of times I’ve made stuffing, it has not turned out that great. I had to start asking questions as to why it wasn’t turning out well. I’ve actually been wanting to try a new recipe. So, now I have a whole post to show me how and a new recipe. Can’t wait to try it.
    Interesting how life changes when you become a grandmother. Traditions that were so important just seem to mean that much more now. And you are helping me to see that, for which I am truly thankful. I want to be the best grandmother…you know, the kind with the mischievous twinkle in her eye, and is always up to something usually good!! LOL!! You are teaching me well.
    Love how you think we can be what we want by pretending. We do all our own work on our home, and I always liked to pretend I was Trisha Romance, a Canadian artist all about family that you would absolutely love, if you don’t know of her. It helped me to believe I was doing something great, to do my best work, and to actually get the work done. It works! Loved seeing the picture of you in your creative space. We know all is well in the world when we see a smiling picture of you at work, doing what you love to do. You are so very fortunate and I love to see that, for anyone. A very, very dear friend of mine, who does some very important work on this planet, is going through some very tough work related issues right now. He’s being kept from what he loves to do . He has one of the best hearts of anyone I’ve ever met, and this is extremely unfair. He is sooo creative and I only wish that you could meet him someday Susan, and he, you. A very bad situation (he’s “fragile” right now) and I don’t want to see anything happen to him; so he could use some prayers from the girlfriends. When you see things like this happening, and your heart is breaking, I really need to see Susan happily at work, just to balance that out. You show me (us) with every post that there is always hope for everyone. You make me not want to ever give up, and to keep doing better with the really important things in life. A beautiful post. (Sorry for writing so much).

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely comment Rhonda. Please tell your friend no matter how bad it is, nothing ever stays the same, this too shall pass. You are a good friend; how lucky that he has you! xoxo

    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      Rhonda….sending my prayers to you and your friend ……strong friendships do give us strength in those “fragile” times. May he never lose sight of his hope/faith…..for it is the one thing stronger than fear!

      • pat addison ( cave junction, OR) says:

        Rhonda sending along my love and prayers for your friend, this will pass and things will work out…you have to believe that. hugs… 🙂

      • Rhonda D. says:

        Thank you so much for the thoughts and prayers. I’m worried because we know he’s not in a good place, and he’s not answering any calls, texts, or emails. All we can do is send the emails and hope he reads them, and pray. I thought if the girlfriends are able to re-route a storm, then we can do something for my friend. He’s a beautiful, creative person, just like Susan; and yet their lives are on totally opposite ends of the same spectrum. Things are as bad in his life as they are good in Susan’s. Now that’s an eye-opener! Nothing hurts more to me than to see great people in the wrong place in life. Thanks again for the prayers. xoxo

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Me too, Rhonda! Sending positive energy, thoughts and prayers winging your friend’s way. Along with 3 of the most powerful little words in the English language – NEVER GIVE UP! :>)

        • Ro from Rose Cottage, New Jersey says:

          Rhonda, know that your friends are sending Love and Prayers to you and your Friend!

        • Rhonda D. says:

          Susan, this comment has been waiting moderation for a bit, so I’ll try posting it again. Thank you so much for the thoughts and prayers. I’m worried because he’s not in a good place, and he’s not answering any calls, texts, or emails. All we can do is send the emails, hope he reads them, and pray. I thought if the girlfriends are able to re-route a storm, them we can help my friend. He’s a beautiful, creative person, just like Susan; and yet their lives are on totally opposite ends of the same spectrum. Things are as bad in his life as they are good in Susan’s. Quite an eye opener! Nothing hurts more to me than to see great people in situations like this. Unfortunately, it happens. Thanks again for the prayers. I have passed your messages on to him. xoxo

  52. kit says:

    I totally agree! A friend asked me recently if I added anything new to my Thanksgiving menu. I said. “No way! My family wants their traditional food each year. I can change the decor but not the feast.” 🙂 Your stuffing recipe is the same one I grew up with. 🙂 Happy Thankgiving! Kit

  53. Sara D NW Georgia says:

    I just love that picture of you and your grandma. Her cookies sound wonderful! I think I will try them this week. We make our stuffing very similar to yours. I wouldn’t have it any other way! Thaanksgiving is when we also start our pomander balls for Christmas and the day after we will start our Christmas cookies. It is the most wonderful time of the year!

  54. Karen says:

    Susan, I love the photo of your working on our diary. Would you tell me about your paints? Are they water colors? What brand? I like to dabble and pretend I have a smidge of talent. Thanks, Karen

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, they’re watercolors…all kinds, I just buy any I see, not really by the brand, but just because I don’t have them, and I love lots of colors. But I have windsor newton and prang, and some from Michael’s Crafts.

  55. Evelyn says:

    Dear Susan, I was wondering where you get your paints. I have never seen such a nice assortment like the ones you have. I just dabble for the fun of it.
    But deep in my heart I wish I could be an artist. What you say about traditions is so true. I try to keep them alive with my grandchildren. I am known as the old fashioned Gramma. I had a glass jar of fresh milk from a local farmer in my refrigerator, [we live in the city] My granddaughter asked “Gramma is that old fashioned milk?”

    • sbranch says:

      Sweet! I get my paints wherever I can find them… in art stores and craft stores, I always look for them, and love it when I find one I don’t already have.

  56. Jan says:

    What an adorable picture of you and your Grandmother. My Grandmother was my friend too. I was named after her and she taught me many useful things. She taught me to sew,( using her old peddle machine), knit, crochet, garden,etc. I cherish her recipes written in her handwriting. She always made her escalloped corn for the holidays. I really do miss her too – and my Mom, who was the best cook and baker. I think my love of cooking and baking comes from my Mom. Lucky us huh? To have the love of family and traditions! Must say you look right at home there working on your book. Excited to see the finished product.

    • sbranch says:

      Lots of books written in this spot! Lovely memories of your family … funny how food is so connected to those memories!

  57. Jenny says:

    Susan, how do you season your turkey? We like to stuff ours with old fashioned bread stuffing, too, and the brining, etc makes the stuffing taste funny. Do you have a trick for tasty, moist turkey?

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t really (I feel like this is blasphemy) do all that stuff to the turkey. I just wash it inside and out, dry it, stuff it, smear it in butter and roast it. Then every 20 min or half hour, I baste it with the drippings, and/or more butter. If it gets too brown (before it’s totally done), I cover the top with a piece of brown grocery bag (like my Mom and Grandma did!). It always seems moist to me, but I am a dark meat person, and then of course, I drown it in gravy, which makes it perfectly moist! 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        I’m kind of the same way–Norm puts the turkey in the electric roaster, I season it and put pats of butter on it and under the skin, put the lid on, and don’t open it until we are ready to eat! (as long as it smells like it is getting done, that is! 🙂 We like it browned well and I can’t say it has ever been “dry”. And then I use the baster to get the drippings out of the roaster into a fry pan to make gravy, which–if it were dry–would moisten it all…I know what you mean about feeling blasphemous and will go a step further by telling you I never stuff the turkey any more! I add turkey flavored “Better Than Bullion” to the dressing and cook it in a casserole dish. Our “crowd” is just too small and I’m just a little leery of the inside of the turkey being safe…but that is a personal opinion that all do not agree with, I know…

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Not blasphemy! My mom did the same exact thing! Simple is almost always the best! Her dressing was almost the same recipe – except she dried her bread on top of the clothes dryer and I don’t think she used an entire jar of sage – but I can’t say anyone would have objected if she did. And all that went on the turkey was butter, salt and pepper. And my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. :>)

      • Jenny says:

        That sounds wonderful – I am going to keep it simple this year, too :).
        Thank you!! You are a kindred spirit – I have loved your books for years.

  58. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Hi Susan and girlfriends! Thought you’d be interested in this: Norm and I drove an 87-year-old Norwegian friend of ours to Wisconsin yesterday to a church lutefisk dinner. She loves getting out and we have made taking her here a tradition. Menu: Lutefisk with cream sauce or melted butter, meatballs with gravy for the timid-hearted (me!), mashed potatoes, mashed rhutabagus, coleslaw, cranberries, lefse, rolls, and pumpkin or apple pie for dessert with LOTS of coffee! The two Norwegians (Norm and our friend) were extremely happy with their “yearly lutefisk fix”. If you are not familiar with lutefisk, google it. (It isn’t really as bad as it sounds! 🙂 Garrison Keillor talks about it on the Prairie Home Show on public radio. On the way home, as we got closer to St. Paul/Minneapolis, there was a lot of traffic and our friend commented from the back seat, “I wonder where all of the cars are going?” and Norm answered (sort of in the “Science 101 vein”), “Probably going back to where they all came from.” We all had a good chuckle! This is the kind of conversation that Norwegians have after having a large lutefisk dinner… LOL! Oh, Susan! If you like the Honeycrisp apples–just wait until you taste apple cider made from them! It is like drinking nectar!!! Really wonderful with salted popcorn!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I was wondering if they had a cider made with it. Norm…funny! 🙂

      • Karen P. - Green Bay, WI says:

        Susan, don’t believe Pat! Lutefisk IS as bad as it sounds! Creamy white fish! YUCK! LOL! I married into a Swedish family. Every Christmas they had lutefisk…and limberger cheese…and pickled herring. The only thing I liked was the lefse…could eat that forever, warm with butter melting and sprinkled with sugar! My in-laws always went to lutefisk dinners, too, at the Norwegian church…a tradition.

        • sbranch says:

          How fun!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            Believe it or not, we actually know people who make it their Fall tradition to attend many different lutefisk dinners–as many as a dozen!!! My response? “Uff-da!!!” LOL! 🙂

        • pat addison ( cave junction, OR) says:

          i am so glad someone said that, Lutefisk is nasty…yuk i have tried it only once and that was it, never again i stick to the meatballs and gravy. but i do love the abberskivers, can’t get enough of those.

          • Karen P. -Wisconsin says:

            Oh yes!! The aebleskivvers and Swedish meatballs and noodles….yummy! And rice pudding with raisins. 🙂

      • judi says:

        Ah, Pat, your post warms my heart. I never had the nerve to try Lutefisk but my husbands Mom, 100 % Swedish, and her family all went to the local Lutheran churches for it. We used to go to Luck, WI where the Danes hang out for Abbleskiver(?) and fruit soup. I miss not being able to buy lefse in the grocery store down here at holiday time.

        • sbranch says:

          You guys are making me want to go to north for Christmas!!!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            You and Joe are welcome to come for Christmas–or any time, I hope you know! 🙂 We make fruit soup at Christmas time and Julekaka. I am German/Dutch/English but try to keep the Scandinavian holiday foods for Norm–ha, except for cooking lutefisk! I draw the line there!!! 🙂 He has gradually gifted me with the equipment for making lefse (the turning stick, the special rolling pin, the covered board to roll it thin, and the big lefse griddle). Now that I am retired, I’m thinking some snowy Saturday I’ll get brave and try it! 🙂

          • Sandy Richmond says:

            Pat and Norm used to take my parents out to lutefisk suppers. What a treat, especially for my dad (1/2 Norwegian, 1/2 Swedish). I have to confess I enjoy the Swedish meatballs more than the lutefisk… This was always our Christmas Eve dinner when I was young. I’m with you Karen P, love the lefse. I wish I had learned to make it from my mom, but I didn’t. I have relatives that have mastered it, and they have my mom’s tools for it. I know we are talking about Thanksgiving, but this was a nice Christmas tradition memory for me… And my uncle making glogg… Oh, and my Norwegian grandma, Inga, could make a delicious batch of cinnamon rolls without looking at a recipe… Now why didn’t I learn that too? I was a late bloomer when it came to cooking…. LOL

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            I saw Alton Brown from the Food Network do a piece of lutefisk on his “Feasting On Asphalt” program. For anyone who’s unfamiliar, he traveled up the Mississippi from New Orleans to Minnesota with his crew and the one rule was that they could not eat at any chain or franchise place. So they ended up at the best little Mom & Pop type places you could imagine, met the most interesting people, tried all kinds of “native” dishes from file powder in Louisiana to a full smorgasbord in Minnesota. Highly recommend to all if you get a chance, you’ll just love it. There’s a book too [which of course Janet the Crazy Book Lady has]. :>)

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            I remember one Christmas Eve, when I was little….my Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles went Julebukking! They got all dressed up in silly outfits….I will never forget seeing my Grandpa in a woman’s wig! They left the house laughing and singing ….and went from house to house, of family and friends, singing Christmas carols….and being welcomed with treats and beverages. My sister and I stayed home with Uncle Steve….. that Christmas I got wooden Tinker-Toys …and I got to stay up late to watch a movie with Doris Day! Funny how some memories are so vivid….or should I say Lucky!!!

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          🙂 Judi, I should check it out! My Grandpa Everson always said, we had a “dash of Dane”….to go with our Norwegian and Finn!

          • Tawni urrutia says:

            Oh Pat that is hilarious! This past Sunday Garrison was telling a story from Lake Wobegon, about skipping the lutefisk and just serving meatballs! We love that Prarie Home Companion!!! Have a great day❤
            Tawni Urrutia from Lodi, Ca

    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      Hi Pat!
      “…where they all came from!” 🙂 It sounds like you had Christmas Eve dinner at my Grandma Miller’s house…. she made me the meatballs too!
      She also made Oyster Stew with oyster crackers, and coffee cans full of Christmas cookies! I loved her warm lefse….with nothing on it….and my most favorite dessert was a slice of bread and her gravy……oh, and her Russian tea cakes, and her spritz cookies, and her sugarplums, and her sugar cookies and……. everything Grandma! My Mom and Uncle still go every holiday to a Lutefisk Dinner….. “Uff-Da!” Have a 🙂 day Pat!!!

      • judi says:

        Susan, once Thanksgiving is over we will have to go over the Christmas traditions:) I used to make over 15 kinds of cookies for the holidays.

      • I don’t think I have an authentic Scandinavian bone in my body, but when the annual Scandinavian Festival comes to Junction City (about 10 miles north of Eugene) every August, we are there! I love Scandinavian food! OK, I haven’t tried Lutefisk, but maybe next year…

        Every Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, I break out the cast iron Aebelskiver pan and make a huge batch. Eight kids and a Danish-descended wife make quick work of them as quickly as I get them out of the kitchen!

        For some reason, Scandinavia and Christmas just go together…

        Dawn, you mention Spritz cookies (I call them God’s own cookies… I even wrote a poem about them I love them so) and Russian Tea Cakes. Now, why doesn’t anyone pack all those cookies in coffee cans anymore? My wife’s grandmother used to give us a big can of all of her cookies and candies every year. Happy memory!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I do not know how I can have any Nordic blood in me! I am always freezing cold
      ~ except July~ don’t eat or care for the food (except desserts ) ~ the rest is mostly based on a dare~ I guess you could always drink it with Akvavit (kerosene) that could kill the taste of anything!


      To Pat Mofjeld, My Mom who was born and raised in Iowa spoke of lutefisk suppers rather fondly. My Dad was born in Minnesota but some how missed out on lutefisk ! (if you recall, you encouraged me a few weeks ago to use my electric roaster for my Thanksgiving turkey this year…since then I have experimented with two chickens and both were so moist and delicious ! Looking fowared to having the same luck on Thanksgiving.

  59. Pamela Jo says:

    I just loved this post! Susan, you never fail to stir so many fond memories! My grandmother (Nana) always made the stuffing for Thanksgiving, and now my mom and I make it…Nana passed away. We do not ever change the recipe and we do not ever change any of our family traditions during the Holiday season…to continue to do everything just the same at this time of year keeps us close in memory to our loved ones who have gone. We even set one place at the table every year which is there simply in memory of our departed family members. I’m so glad I have all of my Nana’s recipes, and also have many of my Great-Grandmother’s, too. They will always be my favorites!

    I fear I may be without my sweet kitty, Molly, soon. Our power was off and no heat for a week b/c of the hurricane. Molly got a very bad cold which has now turned into a major infection. The Vet gave her the strongest antibiotic he had, but says if she is not better by Friday, she may have to be put down. She has stopped eating. I am so, so sad about it, as she is my baby. I know haw you love your babies. Molly looks so much like Girl Kitty. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

    Pamela Jo

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Pamela Jo, I am so sad for you 🙁 You are in my thoughts and prayers. Molly kitty, xoxo

      • judi says:

        Prayers on the wings of angels to you and your sweet kitty.

        • pat addison ( cave junction, OR) says:

          ohhh poor Molly prayers and love coming to her, poor baby. i do hope she gets better. my lil baby Tabitha was sick for awhile and wasn’t eating one day. scared me to death. she is fine now, a little chicken broth goes down well when a little one doesn’t want to eat, she drank a whole bowl of it.

        • Lisa Muncy says:

          Praying for your sweet kitty! I hope she gets better!

        • Rhonda D. says:

          Pamela Jo, these little guys are our babies and so precious to us. Praying that Molly Kitty will get better. xo

        • Laura says:

          Sending love and strength to Molly kitty and to you Pamela Jo. Love lives forever Xoxoxoxoxoxo

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      Praying for you….

    • Chris Wells from West Texas says:

      Praying for Molly…hope she can rally.

    • Deb from Dixie says:

      Sending up prayers for Molly and for you. I know how difficult it is to see our furry kids ill, love and strength to Molly Kitty and to you.

    • Debbie in So,Ca. says:

      Pamela, prayers going your way for you and Molly, I know the pain all too well. The day before Thanksgiving last year the neighbors dog killed my cat and I heard it all. Sending you lots of love and lots of prayers! You know all of us ‘Girlfriends’ stick with each other!


      • sbranch says:

        Oh you poor thing!!! I’m speechless. I can’t even imagine. I’m sorry Debbie. That’s just awful. xoxo

  60. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Morning Sunshine! I Woke Twirling into The Sunrise… 😉 Brewed The Coffee…Began a Few Chores & Now I Dragged Out Herbster’s Old~Laptop…(Till Santa Brings Me a New One…Wings Crossed Very Tightly) 😉 & Flew Right to Your Blog…A Huge Smile is on My Pumpkin~Face Sweet Sue…& I Thank~You…for The Joy Your Bring! 🙂 The Photo of You & Your Grand~Ma…Beyond Beautiful! & You are so Right about “Traditions”…All Your Yummy Recipes…Truly~Scrumptious! When September Enters…My Heart ♥ Skips a Beat…The Excitement Begins…& Halloween Starts The Holiday Season for Me! This Past Weekend Herbster & I Ventured Out & About….I Bought a Few New Christmas Lights…& Was Amazed at All The Holiday Cheer that is Around…in Our Town They are Beginning to Put up The Glittery Holiday Decorations Everywhere! I keep singing that Song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”…. wow All This Magic Before Thanksgiving…I Guess in Today’s World Folks Need Extra Time to Shop & Prepare….I am Filled with The Christmas Spirit…I Love Being an Elf! 😉 I think I can Smell Your Grand~Ma’s Stuffing From Here Sweet Sue…Yum! Wishing You & Joe & The Kitties & All Us Girlfriends & a few Boyz…a Week Filled with “Traditions” as We Prepare for Our Thanksgiving Day Feasts! Love & always a Bit of Pixie~Dust xoxo Poof!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ P.S. Sweet Sue I Love That Photo of You In Your Studio Working on “Our” Book! Adorable My Dear! Hugzzzzzzzz 😉 ♥

    • sbranch says:

      And what a fine little pixie elf you are Angie Tink!

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        ♥ 🙂 ♥ “Fairylicious~Kisses” Everywhere Sweetest Sue! xoxo Poof! ♥ (Thank~You!) 🙂

        • Rhonda D. says:

          Attended a Christmas Decorating Seminar last evening. There were beautiful Christmas elves in one of his displays. I immediately thought of Angie Tink and thought to myself, “We know a real pixie elf.” I plan to go buy some of these elves and they’ll always remind me of our very own twirling Angie Tink! (And my new granddaughter will love them too).

  61. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Susan, you are so right about traditions. There is something so comforting about doing or making the same things over and over at various times of the year. The aspect of November and Thanksgiving that I love the most is just that: Memories. Loved ones. Favorite recipes. Long honored traditions. I love how it all comes full circle every November and enriches my life once again. There is something about the fullness of deep autumn that feels so rich. And it seems to come best in November when we need that boost for the long winter days.

  62. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Traditionnnnnn……….! Great picture of you & your Grandma (& THE ring!), & Grandma hangin’ on your every word! Also, love the picture of you working on our book, pretty girl! The music is wonderful! Don & I helped serve cake at the monthly Birthday celebration at the senior complex where Mom lives. Entertainment was Karaoke – a few folks tried it, & we all helped them out! The 90 year old singing two old WWII songs, was the best! Betty normally speaks haltingly with a tremor & that was gone while singing! Tissue time! Thanksgiving aromas & traditions keep bouncing around in my head…thank you for the beautiful blog….gotta twirl! xoxo

  63. peggy sweeney says:

    Thanks for the cookie recipe, soooo good! makes alot too! going to do them again for thanksgiving… ok, need help, having 29 people for Thanksgiving! yikes, need ideas for decoration and food… I have been going through your recipes… just like to see what you are doing…
    Peggy in England (AF base)

  64. Oh Susan! What would life be without our family traditions? I am singing the song from “Fiddler on the Roof” right now! And my kids wouldn’t have it anyother way. They love traditions just as much as my husband and I do! Thank you for sharing this post with us. My favorite part is the photo of you and your Grandma!!!

  65. Meg Ambabo says:

    Oh my goodness, your stuffing recipe brings back all kinds of WONDERFUL memories. As kids, it was our job to tear up the bread and lay it out on our ping-pong table, which was covered with newspaper. Every day after school, we would come home and turn all those lovely pieces of bread and then we would gather it up on Thanksgiving morning for my Dad to start preparing the feast. He would serve up to 40 people each year, the ping-pong table having been converted to a dining room table after the removal of the bread.

    • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

      Hi Meg,
      Growing up we always had our Thanksgiving feast at our ping-pong table, too! It looked festive with a white lace tablecloth and all of the decorations. All of the relatives could sit together. I can still hear all of laughter. Thanks for the happy memory!

  66. Barb says:

    Hello Sue,

    I loved this post……thank you for sharing your traditions with all of us girlfriends.
    Your stuffing your grandma made looks delicious. My Mom made one similar although she would use Royal Milk Crackers. We grew up in a home filled with love and plenty to eat. My Mom also wore those beautiful aprons too back in the day and would make pies from scratch and set them to cool on her ironing board. My goodness how many uses an ironing board has…not just for ironing.:)

    We also had other traditions…..gathering chestnuts with my Dad off a tree, plus going to find bittersweet and then Mom would hang the bittersweet in her kitchen on the wall. Mom would dry out the wishbone from the Turkey and we all each had a turn holding the ends and when it broke whomever got the bigger end got to make a wish. We also always played cards or a board game in the afternoon or worked on a craft. It was so enjoyable. My parents are passed on now so I keep up as many tradtions as I can.

    The picture of you and your Grandma is priceless and what a nice picture of you in your study….the smile you have tells it all……happy and content.:)

    Its quite warm here today around 58degrees. Have a wonderful day.
    Hugs & Smiles……….Barb, EW CT

  67. Sharon says:

    Just loved this post Susan, especially when you said how it makes you feel when you smell your Grandma’s cookies baking and her stuffing roasting. I know exactly how you feel – I got goosebumps — you couldn’t have described it better. My Mama died when I was 30 and the other day for my birthday I got a wonderful surprise package in the mail from my brother Wayne and sister-in-law Millie. It was a painting of Mama’s house that we all grew up in (I say Mama’s house because she bought the house after Daddy died when I was 9 and raised 8 of us all by herself). Of course I cried when I saw it and I cried again when I called Millie to thank her. Just looking at that painting brings back all those wonderful memories of all of us being together in that house. Thanks again Susan for this beautiful post! Sharon in Florida xxoo

  68. Carmen Wyant says:

    Your post brought so many memories of my Grandma to the front of my mind. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, but usually not so specifically. We were very great friends and I was her first grand-daughter-I also have her brown eyes. When I got married she brought her glads on late so we could use them to decorate the reception tables with and when I finally started to garden, I was surprised by how much I already knew-just from being around my Grandma who was a wonderful gardener. She grew the BEST tomatoes and knew I loved them and would save some for me so when I visited I could sit down and eat a whole plate of her garden tomatoes with just salt. I always knew that she loved me to the moon and back and I felt the same way about her. I miss her terribly, but the memories are always there.

  69. Carin from Central California says:

    Thanks for another thoughtful blog. I’m the oldest of five kids and there is 20 years between me and my brother, Charlie, who is the youngest of the five of us. When he was little, he was very frightened of the uncooked turkey. My mom would have to cover the turkey with a dish towel or put the turkey in the oven before he saw it and started crying. One year before the turkey went into the oven, one of us wagged a turkey wing at him and said “Hi, Charlie” in a high, squeaky voice. You would think he had seen a ghost! We thought it was hilarious, of course. We still tease him about it and he is 42 years old now. Hard to believe. That must make me ancient, but I feel like I just left high school. My great grandma’s molasses cookies are the kind that are rolled in sugar and crinkle when they bake. I think the “secret” to her cookie recipe is that the shortening is melted first. I will definitely try your frosted molasses cookies and your stuffing recipe. Both sound mucho yummy. Thanks, again, Susan for good memories, good recipes, good music.

    • sbranch says:

      So funny. Once my mom was drying my sister’s sweater in the oven, and it actually burned and turned black, and that sweater was the most frightening thing my 4 year old sister ever saw. If we mentioned it at all, she would scream. We could even make a face that made it LOOK like we might mention it, and that was enough. There are plenty of books about how parents do things that ruin the psyches of their children for life, but what we need is how sibling torture affects a child!

      • judi says:

        OMG I am laughing so hard almost fell off the chair. Carin, did you ever send your brother a “rubber chicken” for his birthday??? A burnt sweater, uff da. That musta smelled good. With 5 kids, whenever I made cookies I hid some of them. Once I put a ice cream pail full of chocolate chip cookies in the over to hide. Oldest daughter was just taking cooking in school and came home to try a recipe to surprise me. Ha, all that was recognizable in the oven was the metal handle of the ice cream pail:) Amazingly when it cooled we were able to get the mess out of the oven:)

        • judi says:

          in the “OVEN” to hide.

        • Carin from Central California says:

          That’s a great idea, Judi. This brother is the same one who was afraid to go floating on inner tubes in the Kings River after he saw the movie Jaws. Who knew my baby brother would grow up to be a 6 foot tall husband, father, and law man. He’s a Gulf War vet and a sheriff now and yesterday I sent him thanks for serving his country. I love him up to the sky and back again. I remember my Mom using the oven to dry lots of things including our Keds tennis shoes. We used to open the oven door and hang panty hose over it to dry, too. Necessity is the mother of invention 🙂 We had a washing machine, but no dryer for a lot of my growing up years. I still love me a clothesline.

    • Pat Mofjeld says:

      LOL! My sister once took a chicken, prior to putting it in the roaster, and made it sit on the edge of the counter, flapping its wings and making its legs dance! That is my explanation why I can hardly stand to see a whole raw chicken now–would rather a deboned, skinless chicken breast! My husband is “in charge” of getting the turkey cleaned and into the roaster at Thanksgiving–in case you are wondering… LOL! 🙂

  70. Natalie W. says:

    Oh Susan! This post made me tear up quite a bit! I live with my own dear grandma and she peeked over my shoulder at this post and we enjoyed it together. The first snow just stuck today and she is here knitting while I work at the computer. I adore her, and can’t bear the thought of her being in Heaven, but you are so right…she will always be around us in the recipes, stories, and songs she taught us. And the memories grandmas are so good at giving us! I cannot wait to try the cookie recipe, and the stuffing, too. She said your bowl is exactly like the one her own mother had. I also had to say that you look so much like Marjorie Tudor in that last picture, I almost thought it was her! My very best wishes to you, Susan! ~Natalie from Tasha Tudor and Family

  71. Lisa Nelson-Jones East Tn says:

    How I wish I could be standing over your shoulder at that art table watching my favorite author in the whole world work her magic 🙂

  72. Lynn Slosson says:

    Susan –

    I have noticed for a while the lovely quilt on your ironing board. I am a quilter, and would like to do the same. Did you cut down the quilt or just pin it to fit your board? Thanks for the blogs. You have made me more hooked on Beatrix Potter than when I read the stories to my children, more wanting to see the New England Fall (my Dad was born in Worcester, MA), and more wishing for colder Fall weather out here in California. Thanks so much.

    • sbranch says:

      I found it at a big antique mall when we were traveling across the country. Mine was made from an old quilt, I would think it would be very easy to make, especially for you … and what a wonderful Christmas gift it would be! I really love mine, it’s nice and thick, perfect for an ironing board cover.

  73. pat addison ( cave junction, OR) says:

    hello susan, hello everyone, good afternoon. its raining here, dark and cloudy and chilly so i have a warm fire going to keep the house warm, and i loved all the warm and happy memories that came back, we always had Thanksgiving at our house. the front lawn was full of youngsters, cousins and kids from the neighborhood, the ladies were busy in the kitchen and the men were on turkey duty with the turkey on the spit going round and round over hot coals in dad’s indoor BBQ ( he was so proud of that) and of course sampling dad’s various recipes for cocktails. it was a happy family time and some of those Thanksgivings were downright hilarious, like when the neighbor kept blowing up her turkey and setting her kitchen on fire, it became a holiday tradition to gather on the neighbors’ lawns across the street and await the explosion and the arrival of the fire dept. we had fun betting on the exact time of the explosion and when the fire truck would pull up. went on for 5 years. i can also remember one Thanksgiving when my cousins brought their boyfriends over for dinner and one of the guys was coming off an 8 day fast, talk about watching the turkey disappear, i only got 1 helping of everything and i lost count on how many this guy got, somewhere between 5 and 6 of everything including pie. we had a 35 pound bird and that was the Thanksgiving we had no leftovers for turkey soup, turkey sandwiches and turkey nooodle casserole. i have a Thanksgiving question, every year my MIL makes stuffing and stuffs the bird, when the bird is done cooking she removes the stuffing and puts it into a dish and thats it, and then when the bird is carved up she serves that stuffing to us, and every year someone gets sick from it, last year it was 2 friends of the folks who got really sick from eating that stuffing. i was always told you either cook the stuffing separately rather than in the bird or if you do cook the stuffing in the bird, you pull it out when the bird is done and put it into a casserole dish and bake it another 20-25 minutes to prevent any problems. what do you do??? i put the stuffing into a casserole dish and bake the extra 20-25 minutes and i have never had anyone get sick but my MIL thinks this is the way to do it and every year somebody gets sick. what do you all do about the stuffing/dressing????

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve only just cooked it inside the turkey, pulled it out when the turkey was done and served it in a separate bowl; knock on wood, everyone is still alive.

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        well the way you dry your bread and prepare the stuffing i have no doubt its safe, its the same way i do and i was taught by my grandma. but with my MIL her idea of drying the bread is to stick the loaves of bread on top of the dryer (still in the wrappers) and just let them sit there until Thanksgiving, by then those loaves of bread are sopping wet, she then shreds itall up, shoves into the bird, no seasonings and no onions or celery and cooks it that way, when it comes out its a wet mushy glop and i would never serve anyone stuffing like that. i was just wondering how everyone did the stuffing, do you cook it in the bird and finish it up in a dish an extra few minutes (25-30 min) or just bake it separately and play it safe??? thanks everyone…hugs….. 🙂

    • It shouldn’t be a problem to cook it in the turkey as long as you don’t put the stuffing in ahead of time they say, but then I’ve never cooked a 35-lb. turkey! I didn’t think they even came that large. Perhaps the stuffing never reached the proper temperature because of the size. If you want to be sure, just stick the thermometer in the stuffing while it’s still baking to see if it’s reached the same temperature as the turkey. I would think that’s why you don’t stuff it ahead of time and then refrigerate it. It’s probably that the stuffing needs to be at room temperature to start out in order to reach the proper temperature. Stuffing right out of the turkey is always so much better than the part baked separately. Here’s the USDA website for more information. They have a hotline to call if you have questions:

  74. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    It is such a coincidence that this morning my girlfriend from Paris and I were walking through the David Hockney gallery in Titus Salt’s mill in Saltaire (an English Heritage village) when they started playing Rod Stewart’s music which you have actually advocated in your blog, how strange is that we both said how much we loved it. Unfortunately she goes back to Paris tomorrow so I shall miss her company, we have been friends since we were young girls. How happy you look working away in your study. I have to get back to my work room tomorrow as I have to finish a Kindle cover for Fleur for Christmas, wash bedding ready for my youngest daughter Penny and my eldest granddaughter Robyn who are coming to visit me for the weekend. Busy, busy time. It will soon be your thanksgiving so have a great time to you and all your girlfriends in America.

    • sbranch says:

      You are so lucky to live where Paris is just a hop away, and have your girlfriend nearby!

      • Pam Fortune says:

        Yes I am very fortunate as I have an American cousin who owns a small chateaux in North West France and I caught up with her this summer and her mum, my aunt who is 101 and absolutely marvellous, her expertise is scone baking, they melt in your mouth.

  75. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Good evening Susan! Sweet picture with you and your grandma…makes me miss mine too! Thank you for the recipes, can’t wait to make the “alassis cookies” (that is why my niece calls them. 🙂
    Also, you look so peaceful at your table painting our England Book. I love the wrap you have on, at least I think it is a type of wrap. xoxo Joy

  76. Lisa Muncy says:

    Susan I was starting to cry when I read about how much you miss your grandma. I miss mine, too. And my mom is almost 70, so the thoughts of someday not having her with me makes me burst into tears. The hardest and saddest part of life is losing a loved one. Sometimes we wonder how we can go on. I lost my only sibling when I was 19, and I remember thinking life was over, that I’d never be happy again. My boss at work assured me I would be, although I’d never totally heal. He was right. I know my brother would want me to live a happy life, and I have, but I was never quite the same. I miss him terribly. Although we all must live through personal tragedy, and see tragedy that affects others(such as Sept. 11, hurricanes, etc.) we have to go on living. If we don’t focus on the beautiful side of life, we’d all lose our minds, wouldn’t we? So I try to stay focused on the big and little things that make life as happy as it can be! This year I’m going to do what all the ladies in your family have done for years, I’m going to make your Grandma’s stuffing! My ironing board will go up 3 days before the big day, just as you instructed. . .I can’t wait to try it! I’m going to add some chopped apples and chopped pecans to mine, I can’t wait to taste it. . .and I’ll let you know how it turns out. Wish me luck!

  77. Jackie P says:

    For many, many years we spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws at their house on the Vineyard. We would take the ferry over the day before (standing room only!) with our Springer Spaniel who was practically drooling with excitement by the time we reached the dock in Vineyard Haven. Thanksgiving morning was spent getting wood for my father-in-law — my husband would split and I would stack. We would often go for a walk in the woods, enjoying the sweet smell of earth and the refreshing salt air. Then we would return home to build a fire in the room that overlooked Vineyard Haven harbor. Dinner was always formal and gracious — we had to “dress” for dinner but it was fun and worth the effort. A full traditional Thanksgiving dinner was always the menu (including freshly shucked oysters prepared with cracker-crumb topping). My mother-in-law always set a lovely table complete with family linens and we enjoyed a elegant meal with family and dear friends.Those memories are the reason that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Fresh air, exercise, warm fires, yummy smells of turkey and pies filling the house and family. (And, of course, a trip to the bookstore and the silversmith shop on Main Street was also on the schedule the day after!) So thankful for those memories!

  78. Julie Marie says:

    Hi again Susan… I just received permission today from Kellee to borrow some of your photos and do a post about you… so, I just did!… you are SUCH an inspiration, and I want my followers to my blog to meet you if they have not already… (where on earth have they been if they have not met you through your wonderful books and everything!)… excited for my Robin cup to arrive… much love, xoxo Julie Marie

  79. Susan in SC says:

    Another heart warming post. Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. . . the food, the history, the traditions. It is to my heart what Christmas is to my spirit.

  80. Kathy P says:

    Thank you Susan for recommending The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. I loved it! I could not put it down and was so sad to see it end. It is so beautifully written. Can’t wait to read another of her books.

  81. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    Hello Sue and everyone! We’ve been enjoying a little Indian Summer here on Lake Ontario. And wind, though nothing like Sandy! Turning colder again tonight. Like everyone, getting ready for Thanksgiving. Every other year the whole family is together. In the “off” years those with in-laws visit them, those without get together and party but no matter what, we always have the Traditional Menu. Getting pretty close to having everything taste the way Mom made it – but of course we’ll never quite nail it down, I’m sure. My youngest sister is hostess this year. My assignment is the relish tray and cranberry sauce. So of course I’ll be making yours, Sue – the one where all you do is pop the berries in the oven for about half an hour and just stir them every 10 minutes or so! Delicious and could not be easier. If there’s any leftover, I’ll use it on inch-and-a-half thick slices of hot, hot French toast with butter and orange zest.

    The photo of you and your G’ma is so cute! Is this the same Grandma who used to take you on shopping excursions that always seemed to involve chocolate éclairs at some point? When I was little I often stayed with my grandparents since my Mom was always having another baby – and with my Grandma it was ice cream [my favorite sweet thing in the whole world – except for chocolate pudding]. :>)

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, she is the same one, the one of the red shoes, and chocolate eclairs and so many other things. I love chocolate pudding too.

  82. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    PS – forgot to tell you, you just POP in your chocolate brown and plum purple – colors rule! :>)

  83. sandi says:

    hi susan, i love this photo of you at work on the england book. you look so happy to be creating. i have a quick question, i noticed in another post about the english book a while back that your finished pages are in some sort of plastic sleeves. may i inquire where you find these? they would be great to put my little guys artwork in for safe keeping…and for displaying his art without a big investment in frames, as i switch out his art by season and when he creates something new. thanks, sandi in maryland…

    • sbranch says:

      Plastic sleeves, let’s see … they are made by Uline — I don’t have the box here, see if that will help you.

  84. Isn’t this just the best time of year?! Thanksgiving is neck and neck with Christmas for favorite holiday in my book. We eat the same thing every year, of course, and at the very end of the day break out the Christmas records. NOT CD’s and certainly not IPODs, but good old records! Love the crackling sound on our old Burl Ives record…

    I might just try your grandma’s stuffing this year. I have my own that I make with Marie Callender’s Garlic and Cheese croutons, but I could always make TWO stuffings! Afterall, there’s no shortage of mouths to feed around here!

  85. Gert~Iowa says:

    Hi Susan! Question on your Mom & I always make it exactly like you do.only we add ‘egg’…I didn’t see that in your recipe. Love sage dressing..nothing quite like it!

  86. Diana C. says:

    I have been a long time follower ,admirer of you and your blog and I have never commented before ,but when I saw the bread all layed out all over the place it brought tears to my eyes. My Mother would have bread laying all about 2-3 days before Thanksgiving and made the best dressing in all the land. Thanks for the wonderful memories and great pic’s.
    Just wanted you to know that I come from a long line of fabulous southern women who could really cook and made their dressing about the same as you!

  87. Jenny says:

    Your Grandma’s stuffing recipe is exactly the same as MY grandma’s stuffing recipe!! It is the most treasured tradition of the holiday for me and my family. I love it so much and my children look forward to it each year. It may be simple, but it is simply divine!

    I love the photo of you working away on your new book. I hope in my next life I come back as an artist and live in your house.

    • sbranch says:

      I will probably have to sell this house someday, when and if that happens I am going to give the blog girlfriends first crack at it, you should start practicing your art! xo

  88. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Hi Susan *

    “Tradition”. Lovely, absolutely lovely new post. Just the mere mention of that word conjures up so many wonderful traditional memories for me.

    I agree…traditions, whether old ones or new ones, are a bridge from the past to the future. This Thanksgiving, I’ll continue one of my Mom’s traditions, as I do every Thanksgiving, baking cookies, German cookies…Pfeffernussen and Lebkuchen (love cookies). I was just barely in my twenties when I lost my sweet Mom…she’s in heaven now too. So, even though we didn’t have as many years together as I would have wanted, the years I did have were precious, as was to me and the memories I have of her now.

    The photo of you and your cute Grandma is a delight. Thank you for sharing it with us! You and your Grandma in the kitchen! A beautiful “tradition” unto itself. Oh…I loved that other pic of you. You look so adorably happy “working” on “our” book. Actually, you look too happy to call it “work”…it’s more a labor of love!

    Having this little visit with you, through your heartwarming new blog and reading all the wonderful comments from our girlfriends, is such a joy for me today!

    Guess what? I’m going to add your “Grandma’s Frosted Molasses Cookies”
    to my Thanksgiving cookie baking list this year. They look so delicious…and another “big, soft old-fashioned cookie”, along with my Mom’s German cookies, will be a new tradition for me and my family!

    Hugs from,
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  89. Carol says:

    I will spend this day giving thanks for my mother and grandmother, who are both in heaven, enjoying each other’s company. I am going to the kitchen right now to bake the Molasses Cookies to share with co-workers today. Thank you Susan.

  90. Anne says:

    Susan, I made a half recipe of your molassis cookies a month ago thinking that it would be just me that would eat them. My husband used to put molassis on stale hay for the milk cows when he was growing up and he won’t eat it now. Well, my daughter’s 4 year-old friend came over to play and she loved the molassis cookies so much – she finished them off – about a dozen! Now the girl comes to the door and before she even asks to play, she asks if there are any molassis cookies. We never know what memories we are making for someone else!

  91. Georgie says:

    Ah! Another visit makes me want to linger. Thank-you for sharing all of the yummy recipes 🙂 How wonderful for you to share your grandma with all of us! I miss mine terribly too. Family ties… so precious.

    Yardville, NJ

  92. Traditions is a word that has come at me from several angles today. The most amusing is from a dear friend who is baking for a WI competition for the first time and asked advice. I don’t think I helped much by telling her to stick to the traditional recipe and don’t go down the modern route of coating the shortbread with chocolate, no matter how delicious, as the WI are creatures of tradition. She agreed, and added that she was yet to discover what those traditions are . . we laughed heartily, for the WI are a tradition all to themselves and I love the organisation dearly.
    Always pay attention to unspoken messages . . I have just bought a fresh jar of molasses for my wholewheat, honey, and molasses bread. Up pops your recipe for cookies . . well, guess what I’ll be baking tomorrow . . not bread 😉
    Thank you for yet another lovely tradition . . your blog posts!

  93. Carol C says:

    I’ve been making your stuffing since the Autumn book came out. It is so good! Your turkey gravy also needs a plug. I could never get enough gravy before but your recipe is delicious and makes a lot. If I only have mashed potatoes and gravy on Thanksgiving, I’M HAPPY. That recipe is in the Christmas book, isn’t it? We just got back from a trip to Mexico and the cupboard is bare…..that’s the only reason I haven’t made the cookies yet! Tomorrow for sure!

  94. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    hello everyone, good afternoon to you all. i’m sitting here by my warm fire, sipping on a cup of tea and enjoying a wonderful catalog i got in the mail. have no idea who signed me up for it, but i am glad they did as i love looking at all the goodies in here. its a catalog from the Victorian Trading Co., and some of things in there are lovely, they have cameos, even a santa cameo for the holidays and hand painted teacups and teapots, some beautiful robes and slippers, laces and the jewelry is fun to look and drool over. already picked out what i want for christmas, doubt i will get some of it but i can dream and hope. they are online so go look them up and take a look and see all the goodies. have a great afternoon everyone…hugs….. 🙂

  95. Kathy from Heafed to the Fell, Brevard, NC says:

    Hi Susan,

    I just noticed in the photo of your sweet self that you have your sweater pulled down over your left hand, probably to keep it warm. If that is the case, it occurred to me that a nice finishing touch to your winter working ensembles would be the cute fingerless gloves or knitted cuffs that people are knitting now. At least you might be able wear one on your left hand. I know that I have seen them in catalogs and online too so you wouldn’t have to start a new project before your scarf is finished. Just a suggestion. . .looking after a Girlfriend. . .have a great day!



  96. Kim DeMichele says:

    Dear Susan, Great, great post!!! We are all about traditions in our family too!!!! And yes they are mostly centered around food!!! Such a wonderful picture of you at your desk. It shows the “you” that we see everyday in your words, thankyou!!! Fondly, Kim D., Dublin, OH

  97. Anne says:

    Mmmmmm…..stuffing! My Grandmas called it “dressing” I always liked that description…so elegant 🙂

  98. Ginger Tew says:

    Susan, love, love, love your work ~ Willard, books, blog ~ it’s ALL wonderful! Several years ago you posted a story entitled “Pancakes.” The girl in the story could be me ~ what a heart treasure! I wanted to print it so I could have a hard copy, but was not able to do so. When I asked about it, you commented that it was going to be a part of your next book. Has the book w/ “Pancakes” been released yet? I’ve been looking, but maybe I’ve missed it. Happy Thanksgiving to your family!

  99. Becky says:

    Do you remember the lovely story you wrote last year about your Grandmother and your Christmas memories? I thought the post said you were going to publish it in a little book available for purchase this Christmas but I can’t find it. Was I mistaken?
    My Grandmother stayed with our family every Christmas and I have been telling my kids what wonderful memories those are for me (even though she would let me get almost to the door to go and peek what Santa had brought before she was say my name! Very frustrating as an 8 year old!)
    I would like to buy several for my sisters!

    • sbranch says:

      I have been spending a few evenings rewriting that a little bit . . . I will make it into a little book as soon as I can.

  100. Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    I agree with the comment about liking the picture of you working on ” our book.” I love that you call it that ! Thanksgiving is, for me, memories. None of the family members that we used to celebrate and have dinner with are with us now, only my mother. Most of the rest of them have passed on, leaving just a couple of cousins . We are in various parts of the country and don’t get to see each other. But the memories are precious and a cozy blanket to wrap up in. I have to share that I’m so excited that your book Autumn (got it from ebay) arrived today and I’m looking forward to some quiet time to read it ! It’s the only book I have. I’d be a big fan of reissues !

    • sbranch says:

      I’m thinking of doing that when I get a little time, so glad you found Autumn! Happy Thanksgiving Susan!

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