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Headlines (Thanksgiving recipes, real and imagined)


Fannie Flagg

Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Pie


1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 cup sugar, divided 2 eggs, separated 1 and 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes or pumpkin 3/4 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1 unbaked 9" pastry shell whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter with electric mixer, gradually adding 3/4 cup sugar, beating well. Beat in the egg yolks. Stir in sweet potatoes and next 5 ingredients. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they are foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the foamy egg whites, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into sweet potato mixture. Pour into pastry shell and back for 40 to 45 minutes, or until set. Cool; top with dollops of whipped cream.

Fannie Flagg began writing and producing television specials at age nineteen and went on to distinguish herself as an actress and writer in television, films, and the theater. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which was produced by Universal Pictures as "Fried Green Tomatoes"), Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, Standing in the Rainbow, and A Redbird Christmas.

Flagg’s film script for "Fried Green Tomatoes" was nominated for both the Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America Award and won the highly regarded Scripters Award. She lives in California and Alaba


Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith

The Order

You are a bit ashamed, but you have a custom apron for cooking. The apron has two front pockets. One the perfect size for a tall boy. That’s right, you cook with beer, sometimes you add it to the bird too.

Thanksgiving is a long day of indulgences, so you sleep in, rest up, ignore the cats and their desires. When the music comes on, then you rise slowly, moving to the bass line.

First: talk and threaten the bird. Tell it stuff like it better cook good and evenly and not dry out because in all truth you wanted green corn tamales and white menudo with cilantro and the pata.

Second: remember the crudite needs more than celery pieces, carrot sticks and slices of cheese. You want to signal hope and joy not barren days full of skinny mules, fish heads and children without crayons. Can’t miss with chorizo.

Third and more: fat gives it flavor, and if you don’t dare cook with butter use a grip of cream. Trust your tongue. Open another cold one, turn up the music. Think about all those Thanksgivings that came before, the one where the dog found the gravy. The other one where the two brothers pushed and shouted over which news show had fewer scared people watching. The television blitzing out and no one watched the parade or the game. The liquor coming out at noon.

Fourth: Pie will relieve us all of boredom and solitude. The extra slice is the delight of life, and forgetting nature has last ups. Insist your tia not bring the sheet of flan.

Fifth: Many years ago you were alone with college friends. All of you young and opening bottles of cheap wine. All of you claiming to understand the spinning of the world, the intentions of lyrics, and the words that were written between the lines in novels (so serious). Al, from Pittsburgh was one. He brought his guitar and sang everyone through the day of mistakes, silences and burned desires. A day of bustling magic, full, the apartment a classic mess and but everyone helped clean up. I miss Al. Don’t let memories rage, crush or scold against you.

No sixth: unless the table is cleared, wiped clean of the turkey crumbs and bacon seeds and the board games come out. There time stops. The colored tokens on the board waiting. The grains of sand clumping together, stopping in that hourglass that is older than the children. The necessity of sharing silences becoming the room.

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith, grew up in Tucson Arizona, in biracial/bilingual home. For a career he taught English at Tucson High Magnet School for 27 years. His writings have appeared in FreezeRay Journal, Books of Matches and other places too. Kelly, his wife, helps edit his work sometimes. Their cats just sleep and eat.


Virginia Elizabeth Hayes

KOO-cha-dot-eeze (aka: Cuccidatis)

When I was on chemo and wasn’t eating, my weight/strength was in freefall. My mom told me to stop at an Italian bakery that was situated between my doctor’s office and my house. She said to buy one item I’d never tried before. I shuffled in, saw the word: cuccidati, couldn’t even say it, so I pointed. I bought one. Within two days, I’D EATEN THE WHOLE DANG COOKIE!! (And it stayed down.) After each following chemo, I got one of those cookies, which I, eventually, ate a nibble at a time. I made the the co-owner of the bakery smile when I told her that her cookie may not be the cure for cancer, but, in my opinion, it was the cure for my chemo. (PLEASE! LOOK UP THE REAL RECIPE! It is tasty, but complex.) This is my ‘Americanized’ version, with several liberties taken. (Start the filling at least one day ahead of time. 3 is better.) (Line cookie sheets with parchment paper) FILLING: 12oz figs (pitted & chopped) 12oz dates (chopped) 4 to 6oz sultanas/raisins 4 to 6oz almonds (chopped) 4 to 6oz pecans/walnuts (chopped) 1 to 2oz candied orange peel (chopped) ½ cup Sugar ½ cup Red Wine (or water) ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 2 Eggs 2 Tubes of Pizza Dough (I like thin-crust) FILLING: Put a combo of the above dried fruits & nuts in a container ‘til it adds up to 2lbs or a tad more. Add sugar, red wine (or water) salt & vanilla. Cover, refrigerate up to 3 days. When ready to bake, GET THE FRUIT/NUT MIX OUT. ADD 2 eggs, stir well and set aside. PREHEAT OVEN to 350º (F) PASTRY: Get out the 2 tubes of pizza dough. Roll it out, on a cutting board, cut it in long, 3” wide strips. Spoon out along, narrow blob of fruit/nut-filling down the middle of the strip. Fold the two edges of the dough up and pinch edges together to form a roll.(Please check this technique in a real cookbook!!) Cut the roll every 2½ to 3”. Put cookies on the parchment-paper lined baking sheet. BAKE AT 350º FOR 15-18 MINS (or until golden) Remove from oven. Let cool. (If you’re taking them to the American Legion Hall GLOB ON WHITE FROSTING & SPRINKLES!) (I, personally, leave them plain.)

The ninth daughter of a surgeon who accidentally cut off the tip of his index finger, Virginia Elizabeth Hayes developed a keen eye for the absurd at an early age. She's spent the last 6 years fighting with cancer, chemo, radiation and oncologists. All, so far, remain afraid of her.


Pamela Sumners


When Mary was a girl, before Hoover’s Depression came, before there was Surrounded Hill and Charlie Potter, boys used to sit on the porch with a glass of cold tea and some cold chicken. They’d wait for Mary Manning’s mother to come out with the custard for dessert. Mary Manning knew how to make it from standing at her mother’s elbow, how to whisk the cold cream with the eggs, warm some cream over low heat without curdling it, knew how to roll out the gelatin sheets, knew how to get it just thick enough to put into the ice box with a little orange peel, blackberry jam. But then came the Crash, which really wasn’t of any concern to the dirt streets of Arkansas. The rich men timbered out what was left besides the swamp hardwoods, which they never could get at. The Cashe River flooded again in ’37, but by then Mary wasn’t making any custard. Charlie didn’t know the difference between custard and water pie, so she called it custard and they all ate it like it was. No one whined. *** After Charlie Potter lay down for the last time in the tempered dark, it only made sense for white-haired Walt and carefully coifed Cora to take Mary in. They had twice the room of Rachel or Sister, and Cora never was shy about putting on airs about it. Plus there were no stairs, and no trays of concretized ribbon candy laying out since last Christmas to tempt Mary’s diabetes. Cora’s help came once a week to make sure no slut’s wool accreted on the window sills, no spots built up on the faucets. Mary brought her poor folks’ Deco dresser and inlaid armoire that she’d had since she married Charlie. It was familiar and they thought it might calm her. Every night at dinner Mary grabbed my arm with great urgency, as though there were a tornado sweeping through the plains from Brasfield to De Vall’s Buff. “Do you know how to make custard? Girls need to know this, so listen. Pay attention. For your pie crust you need one cup flour, a stick of butter or if it’s easier you can use lard. Make sure it’s cool and then you mash it with your fork. You need a tablespoon sugar and two and a half tablespoons of ice-cold water, and then you just roll it all out flat as you get it—you don’t want a lot of air bubbles—and you chill that crust in the icebox. Then you fill that pie pan with three eggs and a cup of sugar, three tablespoons flour, a cup of softened butter—you have to have butter and not lard for the filling—and you soften it all up with a cup of boiling water. Then you put it back in the icebox until it’s all set and not watery. It’ll set while you make supper.” I just nodded like it mattered to me as much as it did to her and carefully removed my arm from Mary Potter’s grip.

*** If I told my son that both my Arkansas and Alabama grandparents crumbled cornbread in a tall glass of buttermilk and called it dessert for special occasions, I know he’d screw up his face and say “Gross.” If I told him there was also “cracklin’ cornbread,” which starred pig intestines, or told him about eating something called salt pork that you might get in a soul food restaurant today, he’d say, “Grosser.” If I told him that Cora, dead before he was born, fried up eggs with squirrel brains, he’d say. “No wonder they starved, Squirrels don’t have brains.” If I told him about the retelling of custard recipes and the careful pretense that it mattered to spare an old lady’s pride, he’d say “Good thing I never knew them then.” And some of me knows he’s right, that these tales in the retelling of them lose every year a little more meat off the bones, peel off an egg year by year, death by death, diluting toward the thin broth of water pie, a poverty of thoughtlessness and memory.

Pamela Sumners is a two-time Pushcart nominee--alas, always a bridesmaid, not yet a bride. She habitually submits to HITH. She was selected for both the 2018 and 2019 64 Best editions and has won or placed in a fair number of poetry competitions. Her work is included in a half dozen anthologies and has been published or recognized by about 50 journals or publishing houses in the US and abroad. She is the author of three poetry collections. A recovering lawyer and native Alabamian, she is now an empty nester in St. Louis.


Phyllis Schwartz

It's an old family recipe from my husband's Central California Japanese side of the family. Thus the asparagus and the teriyaki-like sauce that holds it together. Also mandatory to serve it with white rice and corn on the side. So the flavors and colors are perfect for fall and Thanksgiving. It has a starring role in my latest children's book'"When Mom Feels Great, Then We Do Too! which is being released September 23rd.

WIENERS AND ASPARAGUS RECIPE 2 pkg of wieners 1 bunch of fresh asparagus or bag of frozen 2 tablespoons sugar 3 tablespoons soy sauce —Mix sugar and soy sauce well in small bowl set aside —Rinse the fresh asparagus and microwave for 3 minutes (frozen per instructions on bag) cut into 2 inch pieces and set aside —Cut the wieners into small angled slices and pan sear them on a medium heat. Drain off fat —Pour sugar/ soy sauce mixture into pan with wieners and stir untill covered —Add in asparagus and stir until evenly distributed —Suggested sides: rice and corn (kernel or on the cob) Serves 2 adults and multiple kids

Phyllis Schwartz is a married mother of two, who, after a highly successful career in the TV news business, finally has the time to indulge in and focus on her “civilian” writing. Even as a kid, she kept a diary and wrote little stories and poems, a creative release that continued well into adulthood. She wrote news by day and poetry by night. And despite battling three different types of cancer over more than three decades, she is still filled with energy, joy, and optimism, and she looks forward to writing much more poetry and children’s books in the future. Her writing often centers on what she observes daily: including her friends, husband, and two children, as well as her garden and her beautiful beach town residence in dreamy Encinitas, all providing continued inspiration for her verse.


William Welch


Looking through a box of old recipes, you can tell which ones were followed often by how they were written out in a careful hand on three-by-five cards; how they are brown, and stained with fat. Thin layers of flour cling to them. The oldest only list ingredients, no advice on how to work the dough. They smell, almost, of the baked goods they would yield, if you followed their instructions—the gingerbread, and currant-jelly filled cookies, Welsh tea scones. There are others besides desserts—recipes for turkey soup, a quiche, and wassail, fragrant with apples and allspice, spiked with brandy... There is no recipe in this box for how to live a good life, or how to write a poem that will outlast its maker’s time. Ovid said, to write, one must have leisure. Aristotle insisted to live well meant maintaining balance in all things— never be too quick to anger, but not so mild that one becomes a coward— enjoy the weight of a lover’s body in one’s arms, but do not let lust move the compass needle of your soul away from north— be neither giddy, nor melancholy... Instructions, from a forme of cury to make noblemen, but cuisine has changed. I sit down at my kitchen table not full of cookies, their recipes spread out like unpaid bills in front me. Not sure which to try, I shuffle them, make a grocery list—disappointed none contain a hint, right or wrong.

William Welch lives in Utica, NY where he works as a registered nurse. His work has appeared in various journals, recently in Nine Mile, Rust+Moth, and Stone Canoe. New work is forthcoming in The Healing Muse, Willawaw Journal, and The Comstock Review. He edits of Doubly Mad (


Anne Rankin

Thanksgiving Post-Mortem

I ate the salmon, alone, if you must know. (Roast turkey is a feast for gatherings.) The emptiness of the kitchen made me sink. Later, when the living room’s walls told me to go, I walked into the night, fallen leaves crunching underfoot, the moon two days shy of being half full, and me seemingly years past the point of expiration. I startled some deer on a lawn and backed away slowly, understanding they, unlike me, had a meal to share together, some ones to belong to and somewhere to be. The city’s stars barely said a word, muted in the darkness and estranged as my family. Drawn to the framed lights in the windows I passed, a part of me was tempted to knock on someone’s door, to be heard somewhere, for a moment noticed. But then I remembered. In this multi-cultural metropolis of multi-family homes where I’m eking out half a life on my own, I cannot speak the language of my neighbors. Beyond ¡Hola!, I’d have nowhere to go.

Anne Rankin won first prize in Sixfold’s Summer 2014 Poetry contest. She has published poems in The Healing Muse, The Poeming Pigeon, and The Awakenings Review. Her poem, "left unsaid," was a finalist at the Belfast Poetry Festival 2022.


Diana Tokaji


Today my husband, being kind and sensitive to the fact that I was home with the flu offered me some lunch. I was on the couch.

It’s November so I’m craving carotene, edgy spices, and the subtle sweetness of squash.

He held up the bag from which he’d just pulled two chicken sausages, the bag cloudy with juice, pale links in his hand, dripping.

I’m a vegetarian so I refused his offer of a sausage sandwich. “Not quite what I had in mind,” I said.

“What would you like?”

“I was thinking of something along the lines of butternut squash simmered in spring water with sweet potatoes, carrots, granny smith apples, onions, zucchini, garlic, fresh ginger, herbs, an orange, and dashes of cayenne pepper to burn my throat... “...blended till creamy and served piping hot with toasted whole wheat baguette, feta cheese and Greek heather honey.”

“Oh,” he said. I love him and I’m learning to bend more so I said,

“If you don’t have Greek heather honey, a ripe avocado will do.”

Diana Tokaji is the author of SIX WOMEN IN A CELL, winner of the 2021 Best Indie Book Award for Nonfiction and semi-finalist for the North Street Book Prize; and SURVIVING ASSAULT: Words that Rock & Quiet & Tell the Truth, an intimate resource book for survivors of trauma and finalist in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Award. In 2020 she was honored to receive the Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Award judged by poet Richard Blanco for Split This Rock, and her poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in The Quarry, Bellevue Literary Review, Tiferet, Author, The New Guard (2019 Knightsbridge finalist), Solstice Literary Magazine (2022 nonfiction finalist), trade journals, parenting rags, humor anthologies, and feminist presses.


Jeanne Julian


On the day of laden tables, of giving thanks, I fled food, family, and ritual, and headed out to where twisted maritime forests give way to raw dunes, and waves keep rolling onto cold and empty sand—thinking that would meet my ornery need for solitude, a need to please

no one except myself. His sign said PLEASE HELP: a man in a wheelchair, roadside, thanks to war-wounds, poverty, or both—the kind of guy you meet on every urban sidewalk. But this panhandler was out in the middle of nowhere, beside a four-lane, rolling along the gravel shoulder, making his way

past Mike’s Muffler (closed) and a vacant lot, on a highway where on this holiday few travelers passed to see “Please Help”—no one except me, in my new Accord, rolling swiftly by, not stopping to be warmed by a hoarse thanks, a gratitude only imagined. Hiking, I tried to wipe out that witness of an unknown need that I chose not to meet.

Weeks later, at the cozy diner where townsfolk meet to gossip and complain, my friend assured me, “That’s the way they do it. A handler hauls the beggars out and parks them somewhere, so they look pathetic as you please.” Still, I was haunted by the roadside rambler’s mumbled thanks never heard. Unearned by generosity. The days went rolling

by toward Christmas. His glinting chair kept rolling through my guilty thoughts, forcing me to meet head-on the irony of seeking comfort on some unpeopled beach: thanks to circumstance, no doubt he daily dwelt (one way or another) in that solitary state I’d thought would please me more than forced togetherness. But his hand-lettered sign spelled out

an involuntary isolation I will never know. No out, for him, no luxury of choosing to escape the perennial rolling, grudgingly, over river and through woods to grandma’s. No peace, just pleas, on Thanksgiving Day, for him. I suppose that should we ever meet, I’d try to offer, along with some cash, a cup of coffee, a way to salute his contribution to my conscience with my thanks—

“Oh please,” I hear you say. “Cut it out. That sanctimonious ‘thanks’ goes rolling so glibly off your tongue. You know you’ll never meet. No way.”

Jeanne Julian (South Portland, Maine) is author of Like the O in Hope and two chapbooks. She has poems in Comstock Review, Hole in the Head Review, Kakalak, Poetry Quarterly, Naugatuck River Review and elsewhere and is co-winner of Reed Magazine's Edwin Markham Prize (2019). She regularly reviews books for The Main Street Rag.


Maxine Susman

Sweet Potato Pie

Thanksgiving 2020 with marshmallows. The best part how she concocted it every year no matter how it came out the year before. And last year the last year she made it she came to the table for awhile, propped by pillows, listing to starboard we’d tease her so we could bear to see her that way— the rod and screws in her spine not keeping her straight, back sagged like a marshmallow. Easy to make: big can of yams small can of pineapple brown sugar pinch of salt an egg or two? Maybe that was everything, a recipe leftover from her second marriage, about all he was good for in the kitchen or anywhere else, apart from his guitar licks and repertoire of dirty jokes. A recipe she knew by heart, adapted to taste, sweet potato pie, her once-a-year specialty— we did the stirring, pouring, lifting— she the slapdash vegetarian who wouldn’t eat anything with eyes still filled her plate: stuffing, cornbread, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, doubles on pie. All of us at the table. This year’s empty room. Delicious, she said, Everything’s delicious.

Maxine Susman lives in South Brunswick, NJ, with her husband and dog. She writes about the natural world, people and other species, history, and art. After a career teaching college-level English, she currently teaches poetry at The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Rutgers University and gives community workshops. The author of seven poetry collections, her work appears in The Paterson Literary Review, Fourth River, Slant, Earth’s Daughters, Crab Orchard Review, Canary, and elsewhere.


Tricia Knoll

My Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Magicians don’t conjure up traditions, obsessionals do. That’s how my pies began to end every Thanksgiving dinner.

Only my daughter knows that the doses of spices and sweet milk came years ago from the side of a can.

The singing ingredient (two parts aria) is for the pumpkins, the gratitude moment when the seeds go in, the months cajoling vines up the pyramid of lath, celebrating bees in the fluted yellow flower, waiting for slow golding of the green,

then cooking before the cooking.

Tricia Knoll has grown her own pie pumpkins for Thanksgiving pies for forty years. She is a Vermont poet whose work appears widely in journals, anthologies, and five collections – with two more coming out in 2023. Website:



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