A few days of calm after Thanksgiving. We know we have just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday and the Christmas rush has started, but why can’t we retain the thoughts of Thanksgiving as well as thanksliving, at least while it is still November? We need the elements and attitude of gratitude and not take for granted all the blessings of our lives. Having a thankful heart is a factor that has the potential to add years of quality time to our lives.
An extra blanket on the turnip bed. Turnips are a root crop, and as we near the end of November, the soil around the turnips is getting colder and so are the turnips. Even though you may have some crushed leaves between the rows, it is a good idea to apply more leaves on top of them to assure the turnip harvest will last all winter without any danger of the turnips freezing. With this extra layer of insulation turnips should produce a winter-long harvest.
A bowl of turnip “pot licker” soup. Boil a pot of turnips for a break from the rich diet of the Thanksgiving table. Fix turnips like you would mashed potatoes. Peel and cut turnips into half inch chunks and boil until they are tender enough to stick a fork into easily. Drain off the liquid and reserve it for the “pot licker” soup or sauce. With the mixer, beat the turnips until creamy smooth, add sugar, salt, and pepper and light margarine to season the turnips. Add a little milk to moisten the mashed turnips. For the “pot licker” soup, bring the liquid from the turnips to a boil, add one cup milk, one stick light margarine, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer two minutes. In a glass of cold water, add three tablespoons cornstarch and stir until creamy. Pour an ounce at a time into the liquid until liquid gets as think as you desire (about the consistency of gravy). Pour over the mashed turnips or mix cornbread in the “licker.”
The aftermath of Saint Catherine’s Day. On Friday, Nov. 27, we celebrated Saint Catherine’s Day. There is a bit of weather lore of her day, and it says that on her day that if the weather is fair or foul, that’s the way the whole month of February 2021 will be. That sounds great, but November is a far comparison to the bitter cold of February. In November, we may have a few cold days, but no deep freeze nights or hefty snows that are a trademark of February. Catherine’s predictive lore sounds more like an old wives take than believable weather lore.
A Christmas cactus will make wonderful Christmas gift. The gift of a potted Christmas cactus would be a gift that keeps on giving. Christmas cactus are now showing up in garden departments at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Food Lion, and Lowe’s Foods and at many nurseries. They cost between $5 and $10 depending on what size you purchase. If you would like to buy them as a gift, go ahead and purchase a larger container and a bag of cactus starting medium. Bring it home and transplant it to the larger container in a sunny location in the home. When you are ready to give it as a gift, wrap Christmas foil and a bow around the container. Water it once a week until you give it away.
A bit of extra greenery in your home as cooler weather arrives. Take a large sweet potato that you have left over from Thanksgiving and place the raw potato in a tall flower vase or wide mouth quart mason jar and keep it filled with water. The potato will soon sprout and send forth runners that produce dark green leaves sprawling from the vase or jar. They will give that welcome touch of greenery to a room as we approach the season of Christmas.
The simplicity of the Moravian star. Today is the first Sunday of Advent and no other Christmas decoration is as simple and beautiful as the Moravian star as it shines brightly on cold winter nights during the season of Advent. They should shine tonight and every night (preferably all night long) until the Day of Epiphany which is Jan. 6. Moravian stars are simple to assemble and can be purchased at Moravian Book stores, Gullian’s, Salem Gift Shop on Hanes Mall Boulevard in Winston-Salem. Invest in a star to be part of your Christmas decorations. They come in sturdy boxes and make great Christmas gifts especially for friends of relatives that live outside our area of the state. In keeping the Moravian star lit all night, you are symbolically lighting the way for the Christ Child.
A stick of winter green, an orange, and a blanket on the front porch. What a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of the season of Advent. The air on the front porch has a certain nip to it, but the sky is Carolina blue. A blanket helps warm us up as we enjoy a foretaste of Christmas with a stick of wintergreen stuck into an orange with a cup of coffee. The wintergreen has a special Christmas taste that reminds us of our grandma who received oranges and sticks of candy in the early 1900s in the backwoods of Northampton County. The simple things of life are important, especially as Christmas approaches when many folks complicate simplicity.
A search for the decorations of nature. As we near the end of November, our thoughts turn to decorating the home for Christmas. Some natural decor can be found in your own backyard or garden. The dogwoods have plenty of red berries and so do the nandina bushes. Pine trees are loaded with cones and honeysuckle vines are filled with greenery as well as the Carolina Jasmine. The limbs of cedars and pines and boxwood’s can be used as greenery. You can also gather acorns and paint them red, white, and green. Pecans, peanuts, and walnuts can be used as decorations. In Colonial Williamsburg, they use plenty of apples and oranges as decor. Popcorn can be popped and thread on yard or sting and used to trim trees, mantles, and tables.
Hog killing time in Northampton County. The chill in the late November air signaled it was hog killing time in Northampton County in northeastern North Carolina. One of the by-products was the rendering of lard from the fat of the hogs. My grandma always did this chore outdoors in a huge black iron wash pot with an Oakwood fire under it. The task would take a half day as the lard was boiled from the rendered fat it was called, “cracklings.” At hog killing time, they were considered a treat even though they are loaded with cholesterol. Grandma always made crackling biscuits and cornbread and also scattered them around baked sweet potatoes from loamy Northampton County soil. These sweet potatoes had plenty of sweet, brown sap running out of a hot wood stove oven. As kids, we loved to eat them with a handful of cracklings.
Christmas traditional candies from yesteryear are still with us today. We are glad that some candies we grew up with in our childhood have survived into the Christmases of today. Treats such as chocolate cream drops, peanut brittle, orange slices, candy bons, coconut macaroons, Christmas hard and soft centered mixes, rainbow ribbons, sticks of peppermint, wintergreen, lemon, cherry, strawberry, spearmint, lime, and grape, spice and gum drops. Many are only around at Christmas time. You can find many of them at stores in downtown Mount Airy, most general stores in Winston-Salem, Ronnie’s County Store in Cana, Virginia, and at many special hardware stores.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Day late, a dollar short” – A one dollar bill met a twenty dollar bill, “Hey where have you been? I haven’t seen you for awhile.” The twenty dollar bill answered, “I’ve been to the casinos, went on a cruise, been to a couple of Major League baseball games, went to the beach, and Niagara Falls-all that stuff.” “How about you?” The dollar said, “Oh you know, same old stuff, church, church, church.”
“License Please” — Two young boys were fishing at their favorite fishing hole. The game warden came up behind them. One of they boys threw down his rod and ran through the woods with the game warden following behind him. After a half mile, the boy stopped to catch his breath, and the game warden caught him. “Let me see a fishing license,” the warden said. The boy pulled out his wallet and showed him his license. “Well, son, you must be dumb you have a valid license, there was no use to run.” The boy said, “Well, I do, but the boy back there doesn’t.”