Fran’s Favorites: Preparing for Thanksgiving


On weekends Mike and I really enjoy going home to Cedarville and spending time with our family.

Cross country season is over but basketball has begun, so last weekend we watched third grader Jeanie’s team play. Afterward, she informed me she had volunteered to make the dinner rolls for her school’s Thanksgiving dinner. She and I went straight home to start our dough. Jeanie is good at stirring up the dough and helping me knead it a little on the counter. After we let it rise, we divided the dough into balls. Jeanie rolled her dough balls into circles and spread them with butter about as fast as I could. I cut each ball into pie-shaped pieces while she quickly rolled each piece into a crescent and placed them on a cookie sheet — faster than me! We made a double batch, eight dozen. We put six dozen in the freezer to bake later for her school feast and saved the other two dozen for dinner. Our son-in-law Jeb, who is a crossbow hunter, got a 10-point buck the evening before. With the help of his brother-in-law Nick, he field dressed it. Jeb set the two tenderloins aside for dinner. To prepare them, he soaked them in ice water for an hour to take away any gamey flavor. Then he marinated them in Italian dressing and Worcestershire sauce until it was time to grill them. With Jeanie’s dinner rolls, Jeb’s grilled venison steaks and a big pan of macaroni and cheese, it was quite a dinner!

In the course of our official events last week we met with some pretty amazing people. We met with Nancy Cartwright in Cedarville to talk about the incredible anti-drug program she is doing in California. The voice of Bart Simpson and many other cartoon characters, she is actually a native of Kettering. What an amazing talent she has! She is also an accomplished artist and has designed many billboards for her anti-drug campaign. It was also a delight to talk with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Loren Long and his wife, Tracy, of Cincinnati. Loren has an adorable series of books about Otis, an old tractor who loves his farmer and farm friends and loves to work. Several of these books have been part of the Imagination Library selection of books. Loren and Tracy seemed excited to work with us to help us spread the Imagination Library to all Ohio kids! We also traveled to Cleveland to meet 83-year-old singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson with some of our kids. He is so talented — a legend — and it was a real treat for us. I think our children loved it as much as Mike and I did.

It’s been a week of preparations here at the Governor’s Residence. We’ve been preparing for Thanksgiving dinner but also for the Christmas season, since Thanksgiving is so late this year. Monday night I made my rolls, pie shells and noodles to freeze, while Mike wrote notes and worked at the kitchen table. Volunteers came in the next couple of days to help put up some of the Christmas decorations. Grandkids Jeanie, Steven and Grady helped me pick out a Christmas tree at Carl and Dorothy Young’s Christmas tree farm in Yellow Springs. I’m going to enlist all the kids to help me decorate it over Thanksgiving weekend. We like to do one with popcorn and cranberry strands and gingerbread men.

With all of that done, I can now prepare for our Thanksgiving feast. My son John always saves one of his organic turkeys for me — usually the biggest one. I think I will brine it this year to make it extra tender and delicious. My friend Emily swears by this mashed potato casserole recipe, which means I won’t have to worry about mashing the potatoes while making gravy and carving the turkey. Everyone will bring something. My girls will help me make Aunt Mickey’s green bean casserole and Grandma Hawkins’ corn pudding. We’ll also have some sort of good appetizer (Pat), roasted vegetables (Mark), carrot soufflé (Michele), Jeb’s grandmother’s bread pudding (Anna), banana pudding (Jill) and cheese cake (Alice). I’ll make apple and pumpkin pies, plus some cranberry-apple relish instead of cranberry sauce, which is very fresh-tasting. I can’t wait for the feast and family fun together!

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Mashed Potato Casserole

10 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup scalded milk

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

¼ teaspoon pepper

Whip together. Put in greased casserole dish. Bake 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot in center. You can make this the day before and refrigerate, then warm up for dinner.

Cranberry-Apple Relish

12 ounces fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)

2-3 medium apples, cored and quartered (crisp, sweet, apples are best, peel if desired)

1 large orange — Zest the orange (save), peel, and separate segments.

1 Tablespoon orange zest

¼ cup granulated sugar, (more to taste)

Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Put into medium bowl. Pulse the apples and orange segments until coarsely chopped. Add to bowl with cranberries. Stir in orange zest and sugar. Refrigerate for several hours. Best made day or two before.

By Fran DeWine

Fran’s Favorites

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

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