For nearly 300 years, Americans have celebrated a family event called Thanksgiving. In countries around the world, some form of ‘thanksgiving’ is celebrated at this time of year - the Fall - in gratitude for a good harvest and a hope for continuing good fortune in the coming darker days of winter. Most of these are linked to religious festivals.
The American version of Thanksgiving is unique because the celebration crosses all ethnic, religious and cultural groups as a family celebration. For many of us, it is a major family get-together, celebrating the creation of this country. Thanksgiving Day became a recognized national holiday in the later part of the 19th Century. During the Amerian Civil War, Abraham Lincoln encouraged Americans to gather together to give thanks for the bounty of our freedoms.
In my family, my mother began her efforts days before the fourth Thursday of the month, making fudge, stuffing dates, decorating the house, ironing table cloths and napkins. We were (and still are) a large family. Until late in her life, my mother was the sole cook, hostess and bottle-washer. We young ones eventually stuffed the dates, mixed the fruit salad, prepared the stuffing (always made from scratch). But Mom was the only one of us who made the Parker House Rolls.
I have never been able to match my mother's rolls, though I have mastered the stuffing and my basted turkeys are well-received. My husband is the king of the stuffed dates and one of my daughters-in-law has conquered the pumpkin pie.
This year, our celebrations will be very different because my husband and I are living far from our family. I know that many of my fellow writers on the Classic and Cozy Books blog are amazing gourmet cooks and have treasured family recipes they may be sharing but I wanted to share one that is always a big hit with adults and children alike.
This is also simple and great for children to participate in the preparations of this wonderful family event.
1 package (or more) of dates (pitted is easier but not necessary: the pits separate from the fruit without much effort)
Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter, Hazelnut Chocolate Butter and/or other favorite creamy spread (Cookie Butter Cream, anyone?)
Open each date and drop a ½ teaspoon or so (personal taste is the final determinant!) of any of the above spreads into the center of the date.
Arrange decoratively on a pretty plate and try to get them to the family before they disappear.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and best wishes for a joyful Christmas season too.
© 2014 Photographs, Leigh Verrill-Rhys, taken in Wales