Our Thanksgiving holidays turned into a two- dinner event this year as we first traveled to Navarre for a turkey-with-all-the-trimmings dinner with my cousin, Frank Kollar, and his family on Nov. 18. His wife, Tina; and their daughters, Missy and Chrissy; and my other cousin, Dorothy, called Suzy by those who know her best; all prepared some of the food, and it was simply wonderful. Those ladies are excellent cooks.
Another daughter, Wendy, was called to work as she is a veterinarian and animals have emergencies just like people.
My aunt, Victoria, who turned 90 last January, prepared her special applesauce, made with the addition of spicy, cinnamon hearts.
GUESTS — Purple Circle 4-H Club Achievement Banquet guests included, seated, from left, Mary Ellen Grafton; and Janine Yeske, 4-H youth development; and back, Frank Yeske.
-- Esther McCoy
On Thanksgiving morning, I climbed into the back seat of my brother-in-law, Larry's, truck with the appetizers I had made early that morning. We were traveling to Dover, the home of my other brother-in-law, Buddy, the youngest member of the McCoy brothers.
I tried to catch a nap by leaning my head on the window - there was little room to do much else with the boxes of food beside me - and my head kept banging on the window. Headaches don't go well with holiday dinner, I discovered.
I brought ingredients for making brushetta, and Hayden, the youngest boy in the McCoy line, and Buddy's grandson, wanted to lend a hand.
He did really well in putting the marinated tomato pieces on the Triscuits and helped sprinkle on cheese. I do brushetta different than most cooks. After putting the ingredients on the crackers, they are baked a few minutes to heat them and melt the cheese. The recipe was on the back of a Triscuit box several years back, and it was a winner for us.
Buddy warned that he was going to surprise us with a non-traditional meal. It was a pleasant surprise as we had spaghetti with meat sauce, grilled steaks -about 3 inches thick -and the same side dish of brussel sprouts that Cathy Davison made for the Holiday Cookbook in 2011.
My nephew, Barry, was flipping the brussel sprouts in the skillet just like I see celebrity chef Guy Fieri do on television. At one time, he wanted to open a restaurant, but now he is content with cooking gourmet-style for family and friends. And he grilled those steaks up proud with a homemade sauce to add extra flavor as well.
Just before Thanksgiving, Dragana Lazic, my cooking hero and a judge for the Holiday Cookbook Contest, had a wonderful array of foods that could be made for Thanksgiving in her cooking class. This is held at the Schiappa branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County once each month and is well attended by cooks from 11-year-olds to golden agers. Jessica Starkweather is the 11-year-old. I know her from the Holiday Cookbook. We learn new ideas and get to eat the great foods Dragana prepares.
There were Coconut Sweet Potato Balls, with a marshmallow surprise inside; Stuffed Shell Pasta Appetizers; a Chocolate-Peanut Candy; and Pecan Shortbread Bars.
There is another cooking class Monday, but reservations need to be made so Dragana knows how much food to prepare.
There was another dinner on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Purple Circle 4-H Club has practically adopted us as grandparents, and it is always a pleasure to attend their banquets. The food is great, and it is nice to see all the members get awards for good work during the club year. The entire Wood family takes part in being an adviser for the club, starting with Herk and Shirley Wood many years back.
We were joined by Janine and Frank Yeske and Mary Ellen Grafton at our end of our long table and had an enjoyable time.
Cliff Wood never forgets to invite me and whoever I might have with me on my search for stories and pictures at the Jefferson County Fair to come to their barn for a daily picnic.
I was not able to get to Buckeye Local High School for its Veterans Day program and between Coy Sudvary, principal, and Suzanne Smarrella, teacher, I was able to get a picture of the speaker and the list of Americanism winners in the four classes.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, a Vietnam veteran, was the guest speaker at the assembly organized and led by Charles Strizak, district 10 past commander. The Buckeye Local band played patriotic songs and Boys and Girls State students led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Americanism winners were:
Ninth grade, Robert Boyd and Ivy Weigle; 10th grade, Albert Barcus and Jocelyn Belon; 11th grade, Steven Sable and Miranda Buck; and 12th grade, Landon Partelli and Tara Whittaker.
Now on to the holiday at hand, at least the one where I have seen Christmas decorations in the yard since a few days before Halloween. I was amazed to see the home just off the George's Run exit decorated for Christmas when there were Halloween decorations on the house next door.
Our Maple Avenue street is usually one of the first to get decorated, but it was beat out this year.
As for me, our house is getting decorated in small segments at a time. Lamont and I rustled around in our basement trying to dig out things for the holiday. Along with smashed wreaths and melted candles, we found Star Wars figurines, G.I. Joe tanks and lots of Matchbox cars, all belonging to Darin in a time that seemed like just yesterday.
We have three choices of artificial Christmas trees to decorate - small, medium and large. Large was from a time when the kids were small, and we wanted something impressive; medium for the downstairs family room because that was all that would fit; and small when we didn't want to bother much with decorating.
It will be the medium one as there are small children still coming for Christmas and they like to look at all the ornaments their dad and uncles made, ones received as gifts or those bought on our travels. Looking at the tree is like traveling back in time, and how precious it seems now.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)