BY PEGGY KNOWLES PRATHER
When my mother’s family arrived in America in 1622 the Thanksgiving tradition was just beginning. It was George Washington who proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving on Nov. 26 in 1789. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November. Then, in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday of November to be the official date for Thanksgiving.
It may have taken awhile to arrive at the official date for Thanksgiving, but my family never wavered in our appreciation for the holiday. They treasured the day and tried hard to follow family traditions.
My first Thanksgiving as a married woman was in 1967. I couldn’t go home but I asked my mom for advice. She wrote a heartfelt letter detailing how to fix a turkey, how to do the dressing and a list of traditional sides. But her underlying message was that the holiday for me and my new family would become something unique for us. She highlighted the importance of new traditions. I took this to heart and adopted a new dish that simply makes Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving.
My Sicilian husband grew up in a home where good food was as necessary as the air we breathe. One of the most treasured dishes was his grandmother’s breaded artichokes. Artichokes have been around long before the holiday, and may seem intimidating for the novice chef, but if I can pull it off, so can you.
We hope you try this dish and it becomes a family favorite for you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving!
2 artichokes, fresh
½ cup bread crumbs (Italian style)
1/2 stick of butter (melted)
oregano, salt and pepper, garlic minced or powdered (to taste)
¼ cup cheese, Parmesan or Romano
To begin, when choosing your artichokes, look for tightly-packed leaves; splayed leaves are a sign your vegetable is less than fresh. Cut base and head from artichokes, then trim bottom leaves and cut the pointy ends off all of the leaves. I use kitchen sheers for this task and it works perfectly. Mix bread crumbs, butter, oregano, salt and pepper, garlic and cheese. Gently open the leaves a bit, so they become flexible for stuffing and put the mixture into each fold. Put artichokes into a pan and fill halfway with water (to just above the base of the artichokes). Pour oil on top of artichokes to seal in the breading. Let cook 1 hour or until tender.