We Gather Together

It’s almost Thanksgiving and in honor of the holiday, I’ve created two fall floral arrangements. Not one, mind you, but two.

This summer, I had a bumper crop of okra. When I boasted about this on Facebook, a friend informed me that if I got tired of eating the stuff, I could dry some pods for decorating. Hmm, I thought at the time and then forgot about doing so. However, I also forgot to pick the last of the crop, and Mother Nature did most of the drying.

Here’s what I salvaged from my garden. I like what I’ve done with these few stalks of dried okra, even though my husband’s comment was a lukewarm, “Well, that’s different.”

Photo by Sammy Bowles (grandson)

Arrangement number two was started at a meeting of the Rocky Mount Garden Club. One of our members, Kathy Hutcheson, demonstrated how to arrange fall flowers and foliage, using a carved-out pumpkin as a base. (She had a vase inside the pumpkin filled with water-soaked florist sponge.) The rest of us tried to copy what she was doing.

I began with a big sprig of nandina out of my yard combined with $8.00 worth of Harris Teeter fall flowers. Later at home I added the pumpkin base, nandina berries, and snips of cypress. I’m really quite proud of how it turned out, although it’s SO BIG I won’t be able to use it as a centerpiece when we eat. No one could see over it to talk to anyone on the other side of the table.

pumpkin arrangement

I haven’t just been flower arranging to get ready for Thanksgiving. I’ve already made two big grocery runs. My frozen 17-pound turkey has been thawing in the refrigerator now for three days and has a couple more to go. I’ve learned from past experience it’s smart to give a big turkey plenty of time to thaw before game time. One year, I was running cold water over a still frozen bird on Thanksgiving morning.


My mother was an excellent cook. In addition to her biscuits and chicken pastry, I’ve never been able to duplicate her oyster dressing. In fact, I’ve given up, and just stir in a can of oysters in my finished Stove Top dressing.

stovetop with oysters

Photo by Sammy Bowles

But I’ve got Mama beat in one area: cranberry. Mama’s idea of cranberry at Thanksgiving was to open a can of the jellied kind (no whole berries), slice it along the lines left by the can, and serve it on a cut-glass plate.

I like to bite into the occasional whole cranberry, so over the years I’ve played with recipes using whole canned cranberries. Here’s one I’ve tweaked:

Cranberry Gelatin Salad (Yield: 8 servings)

  • 1 6-oz. package of cherry gelatin
  • 1 20-oz. can of crushed pineapple (undrained)
  • 2 cans (14 oz.) of whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 1½ cups of seedless grapes, sliced
  • ¼ cup of chopped pecans

Dissolve the gelatin in 1½ cups of boiling water. Stir in pineapple and cranberry sauce. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Stir in grapes and pecans. Pour into 2-quart serving bowl. Refrigerate until firm.

cranberry salad

To read what I’m thankful for this year (last Sunday’s Telegram column), click here: http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/Patsy-Pridgen/2018/11/18/Thanksgiving-Calls-for-Counting-Blessings.html

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.


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