Thanksgiving is just three weeks away (Nov. 28 for those who are not sure), so it's not too early to start planning your menu.
And if you need some help with some of your dishes, there are restaurants in town willing to do the cooking for you that you can then take home. Some include:
• The Bluff View Art District will prepare the entire meal, beginning with a 3-pound, slow-roasted turkey breast ($28, serves eight). Side dishes include sour cream mashed potatoes ($18, serves 12 to 18); gravy ($10, serves 10); cornbread stuffing ($16.75, serves 12 to 15); lobster bisque ($25, serves five); yeast rolls ($3.75 per dozen); rosemary olive oil rolls ($4.50 per dozen); cranberry walnut rolls ($4.50 per dozen); pumpkin pie ($15, 8 to 12 servings); Italian cream cake ($35, 12 servings); New York-style cheesecake ($28, 12 servings); pumpkin cheesecake ($35, 12 servings); Stollen holiday bread ($16, 8 to 12 servings); and Pannetone holiday bread ($16, 6 to 8 servings). The last day to order turkeys is Sunday, Nov. 24. All other orders require 48 hours notice and must be made no later than Monday, Nov. 25. Call 265-5033, ext. 4, to place your order.
• Mountain City Cafe in Middle Valley will do the cooking, but you can take all the credit. Just bring your favorite casserole dish and take it home filled with squash, broccoli, green bean or hash brown casseroles, chicken casserole or traditional cornbread stuffing. Cranberry sauce, rolls and gravy will also be available. Prices range from $12 to $15 for a 9-by-13-inch casserole. If your dish is larger, the price will be adjusted a bit higher. And if you don't want to use your own dish, the restaurant will prepare your order in a disposable aluminum casserole pan to go. Orders must be made no later than Monday, Nov. 25. with pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 27. To order or for more information, call 847-1163.
• Mount Vernon Restaurant will be offering its lineup of Thanksgiving side dishes for the 48th year. Orders are now being taken for turkey (12 to 14 pounds) that comes with a big pan of cornbread dressing and a quart of giblet gravy ($79, serves 10 to 12), bourbon-and-Coke glazed ham ($54.95, serves 18 to 20) or a whole turkey with no sides ($54.95, serves 10 to 12). Side dishes may also be ordered: pans of cornbread dressing ($17.95), broccoli casserole ($19.95), sweet potato souffle ($19.95), green beans ($10), squash casserole ($19.95), potatoes au gratin ($22.95), gravy ($7.95) and yeast rolls ($6.95 per dozen).
Many also add a pie or two to the order, ranging in price from $18 to $25 each, they include amaretto, pecan, French chocolate, blueberry cheese, Granny Smith apple and pumpkin.
All orders must be placed no later than Monday, Nov. 25, for pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Orders may be placed by calling 266-6591.
• The Big Table, at the foot of Signal Mountain (118 Cross St.), will be roasting and frying turkeys, as well as making all the side dishes and desserts. Prices start at $52 for turkey, potatoes, dressing and gravy for four. Side dishes are $4.25 per serving. And pies such as pecan, pumpkin, chocolate chess and lemon are $16 each. All food must be picked up by 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27. Place your orders by calling 634-0772.
As a child years ago, I remember coming home one afternoon from school. Momma was driving, my big sister rode shotgun and I, being the youngest, was relegated to the back seat. Nonetheless, my view was clear as we approached our driveway and drove beneath the massive persimmon tree that overshadowed it. Nothing unusual at first glance, but then my father appeared, perched on one of huge limbs that was overburdened with its bright-orange fruits, often flattened beneath the tires of passing cars. Daddy waved as we drove beneath, a big smile on his face. I remember this like it was yesterday.
Since he was ever the prankster, we hadn't a clue as to why he had taken to climbing trees again. As it turned out, he wasn't reverting to his boyhood. Just picking persimmons, he said, a treat for which he'd developed a taste growing up in China, where persimmons are a much-loved fruit.
My Dad picked a bushel of persimmons that fall afternoon and turned them into some amazingly good jam. So you can imagine how this happy memory came flooding back when, on one of my daily walks, I found a persimmon tree at the edge of our property. I've lived in this house for nearly 10 years and have just now discovered the tree.
Unfortunately, the birds, deer, turkey, coyotes and other critters had gotten to the fruit before I could collect enough to make anything, but it got me exploring the possibility of buying some and trying my hand at making jam. When I went on the Internet looking for recipes, though, I couldn't resist trying this bread from allrecipes.com. With the rich flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon, it's a lovely bread for autumn. The recipe makes three loaves, so freeze two and enjoy them later.
Persimmons are available now through December at area Publix stores and most likely a few more in the area. Or, if you're lucky and have a friend with a tree, maybe he or she would be willing to share ... if the animals haven't gotten to them first.
1 cup persimmon pulp
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 6-by-3-inch loaf pans. In a small bowl, stir together the persimmon pulp and baking soda. Let stand 5 minutes to thicken the pulp.
In a medium bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Blend until smooth. Mix in persimmon pulp and water alternately with flour. Fold in nuts. Divide batter into the prepared pans, filling each pan two-thirds full.
Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note: To peel persimmons, a potato peeler works well on firm fruit. Or cut them in half and scoop out the pulp.
If you're looking for a great tea recipe, Margaret Mcneil sent hers in not too long ago after reading a column with some iced-tea trivia.
"No family function would be complete without a pitcher of fruit tea," she says. And with all the family holiday functions coming up, you may need this recipe. Iced tea is a year-round drink in the South, after all. Mcneil says the secret ingredient to this tea is ginger ale, and it blends perfectly with the lemon and pineapple juices added to the tea.
2-1/2 cups water
2 family size tea bags
1 cup sugar
2 (6-ounce) cans pineapple juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 (12-ounce) cans ginger ale
Bring water to a boil. Pour over tea bags; cover and steep 5 minutes. Pour tea over sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients; stir well and refrigerate.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.