I had a doctor’s appointment in Kingsport last Monday and as I was driving back in the cold, dreary rain, I started doing a lot of thinking. The first thoughts that came to my mind were of our local homeless people and wondering if they had a place to get in out of the rain. I had a wonderful hot lunch. I wondered when was the last time they had a hot meal. I knew that I was truly blessed.

My greatest blessing is that God chose to send his only begotten son to die on a cross for the sins of the world so we could all have eternal life. All we have do is believe, confess and accept.

Second, I am so blessed that God chose to put me in such a wonderful God loving and believing family. I wouldn’t exchange my family for anyone else’s in the world. Not Donald Trump’s nor Prince Charles’. My family was the perfect one for me.

I have a roof over my head and a bed in which to sleep. I have plenty eat (and then some according to my doctor!)

God gave me one of the greatest blessings of my life by permitting me to be a mother. Then becoming a grandmother on top of that was like the icing on the cake.

I have some wonderful friends and neighbors who would be there for me at a moment’s notice. I treasure each of them.

I live in a free country where I have the right to choose where I live, where I went to school, and also to worship where I wish. I have the right to vote for our political leaders both locally and nationally. I treasure that right, and I do vote.

All of these blessings stack up to make me one lucky lady. Especially during this Thanksgiving season I know I am truly blessed.

This is my last column before Thanksgiving so I’m sharing a few Thanksgiving memories along with my favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

When I was growing up and it was a couple of days before Thanksgiving, my Uncle Oscar Lawson would show up at our kitchen door with a turkey for my family. It’s true that we lived with my grandmother (his mother), and I’m sure he wanted to make sure she had a good meal. I’m also sure he wanted to see the rest of the family have one also. Uncle Oscar was a very good and caring man. He will always be a special part of my Thanksgiving memories.

As I told you, I’m sharing my favorite Thanksgiving dishes beginning with my most favorite of all’ no, not the turkey, but the dressing. I honestly think I could make a meal of dressing alone (with a little gravy.) This is my favorite dressing recipe.

My second recipe is a cranberry salad which I’ve been making for many years. I don’t even remember where I got this recipe, but it’s a great one. I love the taste of cranberry with turkey and dressing. As a child, we always had the canned jellied variety.

My next recipe is for potato rolls. My grandmother would always make these for holiday meals. This is not her recipe, but it is a great one. All the men in my family are bread eaters, and love these. The smell in your kitchen is delightful!

The final recipe is for a dessert that my brother’s granddaughter made. She loved to cook and was a sweet young lady. Unfortunately, she passed away four years ago as the result of suicide. This recipe is shared in her memory. It’s a wonderful alternative to pumpkin pie.

As always, enjoy, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Favorite Dressing

1 stick butter or margarine

1 cup chopped onion

3 cups chopped celery

5 cups breadcrumbs (leftover bread and biscuits-you can toast the bread in the oven first)

5 cups cornbread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

4 teaspoons sage or poultry seasoning

Chicken broth

In skillet melt butter or margarine. Add onion and celery. Cook until tender. Mix along with remaining ingredients. Add chicken broth (start with about 3-4 cups) until easy to handle. May be baked in 9 x 13 baking dish or pan. May be baked in iron skillet, or may be made into desired size balls or scooped out with ice cream scoop. Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cranberry Orange Ring

2-4 oz. pkgs. strawberry Jello®

1 ½ cups boiling water

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 tablespoon orange rind

3/4 cup finely diced orange sections

2/3 cup chopped pecans

Dissolve Jello® in boiling water. Stir cranberry sauce with fork or wire whisk until smooth; add to Jello® along with orange rind, blending well, Chill until thickened. Add oranges and nuts. Pout in 5-cup mold or bowl. Chill until firm, 4 hours or overnight.

Potato Rolls

1 cup mashed potatoes (unseasoned)

½ cup sugar

½ cup lukewarm water (drained from potatoes)

2 pkgs. yeast

2 eggs

2/3 cup shortening

1 cup lukewarm milk

1 teaspoon salt

6 or 7 cups plain flour

Mix potatoes, shortening and sugar. Dissolve yeast in the water. Add to mixture. Next add well-beaten eggs and milk. Add flour to make a soft dough. Let rise until double in size, about one hour. Knead down and melt margarine to pour over top. Put in refrigerator and let rise again. Roll out or put in muffin tin and let rise again approximately 30 minutes and bake at 450F until done.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix (could also use spice cake mix)

1 can (14 fl oz/398 mL) pumpkin, divided

½ cup milk

1/3 cup oil

4 eggs

1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided

1 pkg. (250 g) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese®, softened

1 cup icing sugar

3 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping®

½ cup caramel ice cream topping

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Heat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round pans. Beat cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, oil, eggs and 1 tsp. spice in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 28 to 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 10 min. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.

Beat cream cheese in small bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar, remaining pumpkin and spice; mix well. Gently stir in Cool Whip®.

Cut each cake layer horizontally in half with serrated knife; stack on serving plate, spreading cream cheese filling between layers. (Do not frost top layer.) Drizzle cake with caramel topping just before serving; sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate leftovers.

Note: I have made this cake numerous times, and prefer using the caramel dip found near the apples instead of the ice cream topping. It’s thicker and sticks to the cake better.