Bring a Taste of Nostalgic Flavors of the South to Your Holiday Table
November 2023 Issue
By Leslie Rohland
Photography by Lucy Rosen
Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with traditions. From watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to a game of touch football in the backyard, to going around the table saying what you’re most thankful for, certain Thanksgiving traditions are carried on year to year by families everywhere. And when it comes to Thanksgiving traditions, perhaps nothing is more comforting than this holiday’s the traditional foods.
While many Thanksgiving menus are filled with holiday classics handed down for generations, it’s always fun to introduce some new appetizers, desserts, or side dishes that are based on tradition, but have a unique twist. In fact, adding a “new” vintage side dish is a great way to honor and continue family traditions when it comes to longtime holiday favorites. Adding both a touch of nostalgia and the flavors of the season, vintage side dishes can perfectly complement the traditional turkey dinner. This may be the beginning of some new family favorites when it comes to the holiday meal for years to come!
Here are some of my favorite vintage Thanksgiving side dishes—recipes passed down through the generations that have become part of my own traditions, and which can be part of yours, as well. Each is a unique take on a traditional favorite, guaranteed to go perfectly with whatever you’re serving. Equally as important, though, each will bring some old-fashioned flavor to your family dinner table this Thanksgiving.
Whether it’s my Sweet Candied Carrots (lightly drizzled with honey for extra sweetness), savory Sea Island Crab Fried Rice (made even more flavorful with bacon), or my simple, yet always perfectly cooked and seasoned, Buttered Green Beans, these vintage sides are sure to be a delectable and nostalgic treat at this year’s gatherings. And for dessert? In addition to serving up the go-to pies of the season, nothing says tradition like my Molded Cranberry Salad—light, fruity, and a delicious way to end a perfect holiday meal.
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving spent and a joyous holiday meal filled with old and new traditions!
SEA ISLAND CRAB FRIED RICE
2 slices Bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 Tbsps Vegetable oil, divided
1 cup Yellow onion, chopped
1 large Green pepper, chopped
3/4 cup Celery, chopped
1 Tbsp Garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Scallions, chopped
1 lb. fresh Crabmeat, picked
4 cups cooked Long-grain white rice
11/2 tsp Kosher salt and black pepper
1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup fresh Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Cook bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, turning often, until nicely browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to a small bowl using a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve drippings in skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to the drippings in skillet. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and scallions. Cook over medium-high, tossing often, until vegetables are fragrant and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add crabmeat to skillet, and cook, tossing occasionally, until crabmeat is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add cooked rice, salt, pepper, and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Cook, tossing often, until rice is hot and all ingredients are combined evenly, about 4 minutes. Add parsley and the reserved bacon to skillet. Crunch bacon into pieces and toss well to combine. Transfer crab fried rice to a serving bowl. Garnish with more parsley, if desired.
BUTTERED GREEN BEANS
2 Tbsps Butter (1/4 stick)
2 lbs. slender Green beans, trimmed
2 Tbsps Olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 oz Carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-size strips
Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer green beans to bowl of ice water. Cook carrots in same boiling water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Transfer carrots to ice water with beans. Drain; pat vegetables dry. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and toss until hot, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
SWEET CANDIED CARROTS
¼ cup Butter
2 lbs. Carrots, cut into bite size coins
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup Raisins
2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper Fresh Parsley, minced, for garnish
Place the carrots in a large skillet and add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-heat, and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes and drain. Add the butter, brown sugar, honey, raisins, vinegar, and pinches of salt and pepper to the skillet. Increase the heat and boil, tossing the carrots occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to a glaze, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with parsley and lightly drizzle with extra honey.
MOLDED CRANBERRY SALAD
1 cup Boiling water
14 oz can Crushed pineapple, in syrup
3 oz package unflavored Gelatin
14 oz can Whole-berry cranberry sauce
½ cup Dried cranberries
11 oz can Mandarin oranges, drained
Drain the syrup from the pineapple can into a large bowl, then add 1 cup boiling water. Set the can of crushed pineapple aside. Dissolve gelatin packet in the hot pineapple syrup mixture and chill for 90 minutes or until partially set. Fold in the cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, and the drained crushed pineapple. Lightly grease a Bundt pan, then pour the mixture in and let chill for 2 hours, until set. Once set, flip the Bundt pan over a serving platter and sprinkle with the dried cranberries.
Leslie Rohland, owner of the Cottage Cafe, Bakery and Tea Room in Old Town Bluffton, is an award-winning recipe creator who is known for her delicious and ever-changing menu at her extraordinary restaurant. She is also the owner of the popular healthy eatery The Juice Hive and the micro-roastery May River Coffee Roasters. For more information about The Cottage Cafe, visit www.thecottagebluffton.com or call 843-757-0508.