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Holiday Dinner TableThe dinner table, set.
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Side DishesA lineup of side dishes in an array of serving dishes.
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Holiday TurkeyAlison Wells carves the holiday turkey.
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Chuck BlackleyChuck Blackley, half of a husband-and-wife photographic team (with Pat) based in Staunton, Va.
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BRC WritersFrom left: Phil Atkins, Bruce Wicker, Su Clauson-Wicker, Leonard Adkins, Doug Hibshman.
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Elizabeth HunterElizabeth Hunter prepared her rutabaga dish in editor-in-chief Kurt Rheinheimer and wife Gail's kitchen.
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Berry dishFruits and berries glowed with festive color.
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Holiday DecorBesides contributing cake and recipe, Susan Mills also helped decorate for the party.
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SparkleDinner decorations were all sparkle and warmth.
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Holiday Dinner TableThe dinner table, set.
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PoinsettiasPoinsettias catch the late afternoon sunlight.
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RustyThe Wells family dog, Rusty, perfected his sweet, starving look in hopes of handouts.
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Spice JarElizabeth Hunter's rutabaga dish involved brown sugar and ginger.
When a magazine covers as much ground as Blue Ridge Country does, writers, photographers and editors don't connect very often. Seeing as the holidays are a time for friends and family to gather, we gathered some of our Blue Ridge Country family together for a winter meal.
Publisher Richard Wells and his wife Alison not only opened their Roanoke, Va., home to the crowd for an evening, but cooked the turkey (the recipe came from Norma Lugar, editor of our sister magazine, Mountain Homes Southern Style), gravy and stuffing.
You'll recognize some of the guests' faces and names: Contributing editor Elizabeth Hunter who's written "From the Farm" since the magazine began, here with her sweetheart Doug Hibshman. "The Hike" columnist Leonard Adkins with his wife Laurie, a few months before they started their Appalachian Trail through-hike.
Also attending: Contributing editors Su Clauson-Wicker from Blacksburg, Va., with her husband Bruce Wicker, and Deborah Huso from Highland County, Va., with her husband French Grimes. Husband-and-wife team Pat and Chuck Blackley, who've shot so many of our most stunning covers. Marla Hardee Milling, who's written for us for years from North Carolina.
Susan Mills, executive director of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, joined us with her husband Bob (Susan's grandmother's orange walnut cranberry cake is on the cover of this issue [Nov/Dec 2007]). Kurt Rheinheimer, founding editor-in-chief of Blue Ridge Country, with his wife Gail, and Cara Ellen Modisett, editor of BRC, with her husband Phil Atkins rounded out the group.
An heirloom recipe shared by the granddaughter of a good Swedish cook
Shared by Elizabeth Hunter
"[The recipe] is from 'Farm Journal's Country Cookbook,' Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1972 edition. I chose it because of the Swedish woman who married a local boy and came to my community back in the second decade of the 20th century, and because the rutabaga is one of the vegetables that the old timers in Bandana [N.C.] remember their families growing. Root vegetables that could be stored were valuable in a community without electricity until well up in the 20th century."
2 medium rutabagas, peeled, quartered, and sliced 1/4" thick
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon butter
Cook rutabagas in boiling salted water and drain. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, ginger, salt and pepper; mix thoroughly. Add with butter to rutabagas. Stir gently over low heat until sugar melts, 2-3 minutes. Makes six servings.
Shared by Cara Ellen Modisett
"I grew up with rice pudding (or rice salad) – my grandmother made it and so did her sister, my great-aunt – it was comfort food, nothing fancy. Some add raisins, but we haven't traditionally. My sister is carrying on the tradition, and made it most recently as a surprise for my wedding rehearsal dinner."
Cook 1-1/2 cups rice with 6 cups water until water is absorbed. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar and pinch of salt. Beat 4 egg yolks with 2 cups milk, 1 tsp. vanilla. Add to rice and bring to a boil. Cool overnight. Top w/Cool Whip and nutmeg.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Shared by Pat and Chuck Blackley
"The recipe actually came out of a local church's cookbook (St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Waynesboro) that I've had for ages," says Pat. "I've been in charge of sweet potato casserole for every family holiday dinner for at least 20 years, and that's the recipe I've always used."
3 cup cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Pour into two-quart casserole.
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2-1/2 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Combine ingredients and sprinkle over the casserole. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
Sweet-n-Sour Black Eyed Peas Salad
Shared by Su Clauson-Wicker
"I'd never had a black-eyed pea before I came South in 1972 to work at a children's home in eastern Virginia. Our cook was from Roanoke, and she made black-eyed peas two or three times a week. They were a good, cheap, local source of protein and I hated them. Usually they were just boiled plain and served with macaroni and stewed tomatoes.
"On Sundays though she sometimes served this sweet and sour version with carrots and peppers, which I came to love. Now I'm a vegetarian and I still make this dish every so often – but not three times a week."
Two 15-oz. cans black-eyed peas (I start by soaking, then boiling and softening 2 cups dry black-eyed-peas.)
2 cups sliced carrots, steamed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1/2 can of tomato soup
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red sweet pepper or small can of pimento, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Mix all together. Keep in refrigerator until ready to heat or serve cold.
This recipe comes from Norma Lugar, editor of BRC's sister publication, Mountain Homes Southern Style.
Defrost turkey. When thawed, rinse bird thoroughly, then rub the cavity with oil (corn or vegetable), followed by salt (this seals the area). Rub exterior with oil. (Stuff or leave vacant.) Roast at 325 degrees according to hours posted for weight, usually between 3 to 3.5 hours for larger bird. Cover bird with aluminum foil tent over breast and legs. In small bowl, mix together equal parts oil, soy sauce, grape or damson preserves and white wine. Stir to mix; taste and adjust if necessary. Sprinkle with garlic powder if desired. After one hour, begin basting turkey. Continue to baste every 20 minutes until completed time. Turkey will be brown and moist. Reserve drippings in pan and make gravy by thickening drippings with flour, then adding water and allowing the mixture to come to a mild boil before lowering heat to medium as it thickens. Stir constantly with whisk to eliminate lumps. Add more water if needed.
Walnut Cranberry Cake
Shared by Susan Mills
2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour / sifted
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cup chopped English walnuts
1-1/4 cup chopped dates
1-1/4 cup fresh cranberries
zest of 2 oranges
2 eggs beaten
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1-1/2 cup orange juice
1-1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Sift step 1 ingredients together into bowl. Mix step 2 ingredients and first mixture. Combine items step 3 ingredients with flour and fruit mixture. Mix and pour into tube pan. Bake 1 hour. Place on counter and let it stand until lukewarm so you can turn out on to the serving plate. Heat sauce ingredients in a pot on the stove and boil for 10-15 minutes. Using a wooden skewer, poke holes all over the top of the cake while it's still warm. Pour the heated orange juice mixture slowly over the top of the cake, waiting for it to sink in.
Note: For this issue's cover, we used confectioner's sugar instead of orange sauce for visual contrast. The cake is best served warm with sauce, as in recipe.
All photos by Enigma productions.