Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our National Bird instead of the bald eagle? He thought the bald eagle to be “a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly.”

He thought the turkey to be a bird of courage. In England, a bird is a girl. Did you know that on the first Thanksgiving there was not a turkey to be found? They likely served foods like duck, seafood, corn, porridge, cabbage, onions and squash. They had no potatoes.

The duck was cooked over an open fire. The first Thanksgiving lasted anywhere from three days to a week. It was celebrated at Plymouth in 1621 with the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians. They were celebrating surviving the winter and the colony’s first successful harvest.

Today, we serve about 46 million turkeys on our national holiday called Thanksgiving.

When I was little I remember one Thanksgiving where my mom made the broth with the neck and the giblets for the dressing. I was cleaning up the kitchen and just happened to pour out the pan that had her cooked broth for the dressing in it. She wasn’t very happy with me, but at least it got me out of the kitchen doing anymore dishes.

At our house, my mom and dad did all the cooking. We had ham with pineapple and cloves, sage corn bread dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans and, of course, there were the pumpkin and pecan pies.

My husband is from Texas and they always spent their holiday in Hockley, Texas, at his grandparents’ farm. They went deer hunting, watched football and plays Texas Domino’s.

My friend Cindy remembers pulling a lot of taffy at her grandma’s house. She remembers the brown gravy made with browned flour and chicken broth.

Another friend recalled when her dad married a Korean woman. For Thanksgiving, she put foods on the table my friend didn’t recognize and they had to eat with chopsticks. Fortunately, her dad made a ham and that is what she and her brother ate.

Recently, I had the pleasure of holding cooking lessons with the women from the Aiken County Mental Health and they asked me to help with some holiday dishes like Cornish Game Hens, Apple Corn Bread Dressing, macaroni and cheese, Roasted Rosemary Garlic Asparagus, Kartoffelkloesse ( German Potato Dumplings ), Cranberry Orange Muffins and Red Velvet Cake.

The women made up the menu and we used Egg Beaters instead of eggs because of a health issue. We also made a couple of dishes that the kids could help with. A couple of the women had never eaten Cornish Game Hens so it was fun to introduce them to these wonderful little birds.

It took a while for us to get all the dishes cooked because of the oven space that we had. We had to piggy-back the pans. It was nice to work with them because they looked after each other and worked as a team.

I had a couple people donate money for the cause and I’d like to thank George and Wendy Weeks and Lee and Ann Cross for their generosity. Also since this is the time of year that we give thanks for all we have, I’d like to ask you tom open your hearts to help Aiken County Mental Health with the Women’s Shelter and give your donations which are tax deductible to you. If you wish to donate please contact Kim Martin at 641-4177.

I want to give thanks for living in this country, being free. I say thanks for my family, friends, and fans. I wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Thanks for the watch on my TV show. Also go buy my new e-cookbook called MadJon Holiday on ITunes.

MadJon, or Eileen Hutson, is a local caterer and former restaurant owner. Her cooking show, “Cooking with Madjon and Friends” is shown daily on ASTV, Channel 95 on Atlantic Broadband Cable.


Kartoffelkloesse (German Potato Dumplings )

Total time: 40 minutes

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

12 dumplings

1½ pounds potatoes

1½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup flour

½ cup cornstarch

1 large egg

2 slices white bread

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons oil

Cook the potatoes and mash. Cool. Then add the salt, melted butter, oil, and bread that has the crust removed. Mix well, add nutmeg, flour, cornstarch, onion powder, and knead mixture until smooth. Drop in and mix your egg till blended. Add more flour if needed. Foam into dumplings by using about ¼ cup of mix per ball. Bring a couple of quarts of salted water to a boil. Then working in batches, like 4 or 5 dumplings at a time, cook dumplings for 10 to 15 minutes or until dumplings rise to the top. Using a slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to large bowl and cover until all the dumplings are cooked.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Total time: 1 hour

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Makes 12 – 14 muffins

1 cup dried cranberry’s

¾ cup orange juice

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter, plus butter to grease the muffin pans

Zest from one orange

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup milk

I cup walnuts, optional

Additional butter to grease muffin cups

Extra sugar for the tops when baking

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter. In a bowl, shift the salt, flour and baking powder. Add the melted butter, beaten eggs, orange juice, sugar and milk. Stir until well blended. Add orange zest and cranberries. Add walnuts if desired. Pour mix into greased muffin pan. Pour extra sugar on top of the muffins before baking. Place into oven and cook until brown. Make sure you grease your muffin pan with lots of butter.

Cornish Game Hens With Corn Bread Apple Dressing

Total time: 2 hours

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1 ½ hours

1 Cornish games hens per person

Cornish game hen

Cornish game hens, one per person

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons rosemary

1 ½ tablespoon each of onion and garlic powders

½ stick butter, melted

Pre heat oven at 325 degrees. Clean and dry the hens inside and out with paper towels. Melt butter and brush the outsides of the hens. Salt and pepper inside and out. Dust the inside and outside with onion and garlic powders. Dust hens with rosemary. Place hens breast up in a greased pan and bake covered for one hour and uncovered for 30 minutes. .

Dressing serves 12-16

5 cups corn bread

½ loaf toasted white bread, cut

Salt and pepper to taste

3 stalks celery, diced

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 apples, peeled and diced

1 bunch green onions, diced

Broth (recipe follows)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl


1 stick butter

1 bunch green onions, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 teaspoon dried sage

32 oz. Prepared chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients.

To make broth, melt butter in a pan. Add celery, green onion and diced onion. Cook until vegetables are clear. Add chicken broth and sage, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Pour over cornbread mix until the broth is blended into the dressing, you may not need all this broth so you may want to save the rest and add it with the broth from your hens and make a gravy with the mix. Bake covered on 325 for one hour and uncovered for about 30 minutes.

Macaroni and Cheese

Total time: 1 hour

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

12-14 servings

1 box macaroni noodles, cooked according to directions

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 stick butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

1¼ cups Egg Beaters

2 teaspoons yellow mustard

2-3 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 cup crackers, crushed

1 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 350. Cook your noodles, drain and place in a greased 9”x13” pan. Add butter, salt and pepper. Stir till the butter is melted. Add 4 cups of cheddar cheese and mix well. Add onion powder and mustard. Mix until blended. Add the egg beaters and stir. Pour milk over noodles until it reaches the top of the noodles. Mix remaining 1 cup of cheese and crackers together and place on the top of the macaroni. Cook for one hour.

Roasted Asparagus With Rosemary and Garlic

Total time: 40 minutes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Makes 8 servings

Fresh asparagus, 1 bunch, cleaned snapped

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

4 cloves garlic, mince

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to about 375 degrees. Place asparagus in a large bowl and toss with onion and garlic powders, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and olive oil. Place uncovered on a roasted pan, flat and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until desired tenderness.