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Hunter: The Centerpiece

11/18/11 5:55PM By Edith Hunter
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(Host) Decorating the table for Thanksgiving dinner is an activity that commentator Edith Hunter likes to do a few days ahead of time.

(Hunter) Give thanks for the corn and the wheat that are reaped,
For labor well done and for barns that are heaped.
For frost and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For roses and song and the harvest brought home.

When Aunt Mary was alive she was in charge of the centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. It was always made up of fruit - grapefruits, oranges, apples, and grapes - that she had bought at the market. Now I'm in charge, and it's all going to come out of my vegetable garden.

I can't make it too large since there has to be space around it for the small Thanksgiving candles that have accumulated over the years. Armstrong began buying them when the children were little, and Graham carried on that tradition. There is quite a crowd of them now since none has ever been lighted and burned. Some are a little faded from their years on the Thanksgiving table. There are small turkeys - a lot of those, Pilgrims, men and women, and some Indians who joined them at that first Thanksgiving feasts. These figures will surround my centerpiece.

We will also need room for individual nut dishes, dishes of olives and celery, the turkey, creamed onions, peas, mashed potatoes, squash, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and two kinds of gravy - regular, and vegetarian, for the growing number of vegetarians in the family.

For my center piece, I'll start with several large carrots. The color always amazes me when I pull one up out of the ground. How can something such a bright orange come out of that dark garden soil?  Next to the carrots I'll put two red onions. They did wonderfully well this year. And, for contrast, I'll put in a couple of yellow onions beside them. I'll put a dark green acorn squash in next, and beside it, a cream colored delicata squash with its pretty green seams. What a winter treat lies ahead when those squash are cut in half, filled with maple syrup and butter; and put in the oven!  Now for a small head of cabbage.  I'll need to scrub the Pontiac potatoes to show off their rosy redness, and put beside them a Kennebec and Green Mountain potato. And I mustn't forget to include some of the garlic which we harvested early in July.

The arrangement is large enough now. It is time to add a few decorations. First some of the deep green parsley growing in the kitchen. Charlie dug it up and put it in a pot to be available during the winter months. And a few sprigs of Rosemary.  I wish I still had some of my lovely nasturtiums to scatter around the edges. What a year it was for nasturtiums!

There it is! A sight for the eye, food for the stomach, and a feast for the soul!
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