I was tasked with preparing the green beans for Thanksgiving this year. I love green bean casserole; but I have been gluten free since March and the casserole contains gluten. It’s in the soup and the french fried onions. I thought about making a gluten free version, but decided I would go a different route entirely. I looked in one of my vintage cookbooks The Household Searchlight Recipe Book and came across the yummy recipe for “Spanish String Beans”. I’m not sure why they are called “Spanish” there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly Spanish about them, but this recipe is from 1945. I’m thinking its the garlic, green pepper, catsup (ketchup). They were a hit at our house! Enjoy!!
Food & Entertaining
As a Florida girl citrus- specifically oranges- have always played a role in our Christmas decorations. My mother often used oranges and greenery for centerpieces and fireplace mantle decorations. Oranges have been a part of Christmas decorations in Florida and other southern states for generations. They are in season in the winter; so they are easily obtained, and of course they look beautiful with garland greenery! I used oranges and Florida Sand Pine cuttings to make a locally sourced centerpiece. Using the same oranges and greenery three different ways- I showcased the endless possibilities of these beautiful fruits!
Sugaring oranges is an easy way to add sparkle to a traditional fruit centerpiece. You can sugar any fruit really, but oranges are my favorite, especially at Christmas. My grandmother used to sugar oranges at Christmas when my mom was growing up. She shared the tradition with me. I loved it so much we had them in the centerpieces at my wedding. Although, for the wedding we used spray glue and glitter. To make the real thing you use egg whites and sugar and it is insanely easy!
What you need:
When you think of Thanksgiving you think of Pumpkin Pie! Okay, maybe you think of turkey or green bean casserole or Jello- but I’m sure pumpkin pie is pretty high on the list. Pumpkins are the symbol of Fall. In early September they start appearing everywhere. Pumpkins in the grocery store, pumpkin patches on the corner, craft pumpkins, pumpkin recipes, pumpkin wreaths, pumpkin spice lattes, pretty much pumpkins galore! They are a major part of Halloween and Thanksgiving, and are sort of a national seasonal obsession. I for one am part of the obsession! I LOVE pumpkin spice candles and admit to lighting them in August!! Pumpkins decorate my home from September to December; and I make Pumpkin Pie almost every year.
One of my most memorable Thanksgiving memories is the moment when my grandmother, Mama Ialeene, would let me dig into her red, fruit filled jello salad. It was one of those jiggly, molded ones with the fruit suspended inside of it- chunks of pineapple and little sliced cherries. I’m sure your grandmother probably made something similar. I don’t have Mama’s original recipe- but I do have one of her cookbooks. It’s a lovely old book, published in 1945; called The Household Searchlight Recipe Book. My grandmother wrote her new married name on the inside front cover (how cute is that!). I think it might have been a wedding gift or maybe a shower gift. I found it when we were cleaning out her house after her death. I kept it, mostly because of her name in it. I felt drawn to it- she was a new bride and giddy to start cooking for her new husband- thinking about it now makes my heart smile!
For my Thanksgiving place setting and place cards this year I wanted to incorporate some of my blue and white plates. I always use my Spode Woodland Plates. They are brown and white with woodsy animals in the center. They are very “fallish” and I love using them at Thanksgiving. I thought the blue and white would add a pop of color to the Fall colors in the Woodland pattern. I chose to layer the Spode Woodland plates with Spode Blue Room salad plates, and My Great-grandmother’s Spode Buttercup salad plates on top. I topped it off with a mini pumpkin. Then I got the inspiration to write names on the mini pumpkins and use them as place cards. I think it turned out pretty cute!
One of my favorite dishes of all time is the elegantly simple- chicken and yellow rice. The secret to the yellow rice is saffron, which gives it it’s distinct flavor and beautiful yellow color. It’s roots are Spanish, and it is of course, very popular in Latin American cuisine.
Yellow Rice dates back to the Moorish occupation of Spain in the early middle ages, they brought Saffron to Spain. The Moors were a North African Muslim people, who sought to bring Islam into Europe. They ruled a territory that spread across Northern African and onto the Iberian Peninsula (Which holds the modern day countries of Spain and Portugal). Moorish occupation of Spain lasted from the early 700’s until 1492. The Moors heavily influenced Spanish culture, especially in the South. However, they were never fully accepted by the native Spaniards, nor was their religion. After years of struggle by the native populations, they were finally overthrown- the same year that Columbus arrived in Hispaniola.
Saffron is not just a spice that can used to flavor and add rich color to food. It also has a rich history of medicinal uses. These days it is not particularly known for it medicinal properties, but in the ancient world it was highly prized for those qualities.
It is derived from a flower- the crocus sativus– or Saffron Crocus. When purchased it is almost always found in dried, thin thread-like pieces. These threads are actually the stigmas of the Saffron Crocus flower. The flower is a lovely lavender color with the vibrant red stigmas in the center. Because the threads are hand picked, and each flower only produces four, Saffron is the worlds most expensive spice.