Retro Repast

When Jean Kallina and friends gather for a potluck Thanksgiving, it’s a blast from the past

For several years, photographer Jean Kallina joined a group of old friends for Thanksgiving at the country home of artists Tony Gray and Rodney Harder in Sullivan County. Each year, Gray made all the dishes he’d enjoyed as a child growing up in California. When Kallina (who is from Texas) offered to host the celebration last year, the friends decided to make it a potluck affair, but continue with the theme of favorites from childhood.

Kallina’s Kingston home, full of antique and vintage pieces she has gathered over the years, made an appropriately colorful, comfortable backdrop.

“I set the table with a runner down the middle and used my best Aynsley English china,” says Kallina, who tackled the turkey responsibility, but took the easy route with appetizers. “I bought crab cakes from the seafood counter at Adams Fairacre Farms. They take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook and they’re really delicious, especially with Adams horseradish sauce.” Kallina allows one crab cake per person, but cuts them into bite-sized chunks and serves them as finger food, along with olives, nuts and other nibbles.

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“We kept it simple,” she remarks. “Everything was brought ready-made, and just needed to be heated up. There was a ton of food, so everyone took leftovers home. We had a great time.”



Crabcakes served as finger food (top left) keep the appetizer course simple; Kallina uses her favorite English china, Aynsley’s “Snow Crocus” (bottom left)

Harder and Gray arrive bearing goodies (top right); Pressed autumn leaves and ribbon (bottom right) make for pretty place cards

Roast Turkey

1 turkey, 12 to 14 pounds • Salt and freshly ground black pepper • Small bunches of fresh thyme, sage, parsley, and rosemary • 2 small yellow onions, chopped • 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped • 4 cloves garlic, peeled • 1 stick unsalted butter • fresh herbs and small apples for garnish

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1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring turkey to room temperature, remove the innards, then wash and pat it dry. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Tuck a few sage leaves and pats of butter under the skin on the breast. 2. Mix chopped herbs, garlic and vegetables, season with salt and pepper and stuff the bird. Rub the skin with butter. 3. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, wings tucked under. Roast 1 hour. 4. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees, rotate roasting pan, and roast another hour. 5. Turn pan again, and continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees, or juices run clear, another hour or so. 6. Remove turkey from oven; let it rest 30 minutes. Garnish the serving plate with fresh herbs and small apples.

Jean’s Corn Bread Dressing

Follow package directions on cornmeal to make a loaf of cornbread. It’s best prepared a day or two ahead.
2 cups crumbled cornbread • 1 cup croutons (made from day-old bread) • 2 Tbs crumbled dried sage • 1 tsp chopped thyme • 1/4 tsp cumin • 1/4 tsp tumeric • 1/2 tsp salt • 1 cup onion, chopped medium • 1 cup celery, chopped medium • 1 egg • 1 cup chicken stock • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped medium

1. Heat oven to 355 degrees. 2. Mix all ingredients together and place in a large loaf pan. 3. Bake for 45 minutes, making sure that the top does not brown too much.

Mashed Potatoes

1. Peel and wash 7 or 8 large yellow potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender, then drain. 2. Add about 1/2 stick butter, a generous pinch of salt, and white pepper. 3. Mash with a potato masher, adding buttermilk until you reach the desired consistency. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Kaaren Schilke Cherns’ Roasted Autumn Vegetables

An assortment of vegetables such as fingerlings, purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips, pearl onions, garnet yams and Brussels sprouts. (Calculate amount by the number of people to be fed, and remember that vegetables cook down a little.) • Fresh rosemary, chopped, about 4 tablespoons • Coarse salt and cracked pepper • Olive oil

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1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Select equal amounts of each vegetable; wash and cut into bite-sized pieces, then place in a very large roasting pan. 3. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary. Coat generously with olive oil, stir, and arrange in an even layer. 4. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir vegetables once or twice while roasting. Test for doneness by inserting a fork into the carrots. If they are still firm but easily pierced, everything is ready.

Tony Gray’s Mom’s gravy

Turkey innards • 1 bay leaf • 1/2 small onion • 1 garlic clove • 1/2 cup flour • turkey drippings • salt • pepper

1. Place turkey neck, gizzard and heart in a pan of water with bay leaf, onion, and garlic clove. Simmer for an hour. 2. Heat a frying pan, then cover the bottom with flour and stir until brown. Slowly add turkey stock and turkey drippings to the pan, stirring constantly (supplement with chicken broth if necessary). 3. Season with salt and pepper and strain if needed.



Mama Sadie’s Macaroni and Cheese

1lb small macaroni elbows • 8 oz extra sharp cheese • 8 oz sharp cheese • 1 oz butter • 1/2 cup evaporated milk • 1 egg • 2 tsps good mustard • 1/2 tsp salt • pepper

1. Grate cheese. 2. Boil macaroni until al dente and save starch water. 3. Butter a 9-by-9-inch Pyrex pan. Layer macaroni with grated cheese until you reach almost the top of the pan. Dot with small squares of butter, tucking some in the corners. 4. Mix evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of starch water, egg, mustard, salt and pepper, and pour over the macaroni and cheese mixture, taking care not to let it get too near the top of the pan. Liberally pepper top of mixture. 5. Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 1/2 hour. When it bubbles and browns, it’s done.

Jean’s Pumpkin Pie

1 cup canned pumpkin puree • 3/4 cup sugar • 1/2 tsp ground ginger • 1 tsp ground cinnamon • 1/2 tsp ground cloves • Fresh nutmeg, grated for 5 seconds on a very fine grater • 3 eggs, beaten • 1 cup of half and half • Pastry dough, enough for one pie shell, with leftovers for decorations

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices. Add the beaten eggs and the half and half. Stir well and pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie shell. 2. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake for 45 minutes longer. A knife inserted in the center comes out clean when the pie is done. 3. Cut thin pieces of the leftover dough into shapes (leaves, or whatever you like) and bake on a cookie sheet until slightly brown on edges and golden on top. After the pie has cooled, place the pastry decorations on top.

Loretta’s Original Nilla Banana Pudding

3/4 cup sugar • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour • Pinch salt • 3 eggs, separated • 2 cups milk • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract • 45 Nilla wafers, divided • 5 ripe bananas, sliced (about 3 1/2 cups) • Additional wafers and banana slices for garnish

1. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler. Blend in 3 eggs yolks and milk. 2. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 3. Reserve 10 wafers for garnish. Spread a small amount of custard on the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish; cover with a layer of wafers and a layer of sliced bananas. 4. Pour about 1/3 of the custard over the bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make 3 layers of each, ending with custard. 5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Spoon on top of pudding, spreading over the entire pudding mixture. Garnish with more wafers and banana slices.  â—


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