Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Secrets to HOLIDAY favorites from our community mothers

Naomi Goynes

Thanksgiving Day has a special place in American life, as we prepare to gather Nov. 25 to express gratitude for all that has made us happy and stronger throughout the year. In African-American households throughout Las Vegas, the holiday will often be celebrated at “momma’s house,” and is always best shared with family and others we love.
The meal is like a bullhorn that summons loved ones from across the country. Appetites build all day, as the aroma of Thanksgiving favorites wafts from the kitchen. In many homes, the menu is a seemingly endless procession of cultural delights. Turkey, sometimes Cajun fried, with other offerings like fried chicken, ham and gumbo at the center of the table. Side dishes galore — fried okra, mashed potatoes, succotash, macaroni and cheese, corn, dressing, string beans, greens, yams, homemade rolls and cranberry sauce. When dessert is served, it could be sweet potato pie, ambrosia or cakes in flavors like red velvet, pound, lemon and caramel.
An orchestra of prayer before the feast ushers in a spiritual environment, setting the tone for a day of unconditional love and thankfulness.
The soundtrack? When it’s not lively conversation on a day when troubles are set aside, gospel and old-school music fills our ears and hearts. It could be Marvin Gaye or the Clark Sisters, but the jams help order our steps while we move between rooms to check stovetops and football scores.
Before the holiday arrives and festivities begin, three of the community’s most respected mothers — Naomi Goynes, Brenda Williams and Sabrina Banks — agreed to share secrets from some of their special recipes.
Goynes, a lifetime educator who, along with husband Theron, is considered community royalty for contributions to the black community in Nevada:

“My secret for making a ‘good’ sweet potato pie is to use pure vanilla extract, instead of using the imitation kind. Always use Pet or Carnation evaporated milk, and bake on a cookie sheet two racks from the bottom in the oven, to ensure that the pie crust gets brown.”

Williams, a Las Vegas pioneer and community leader: “When I make my dressing, I use cornbread stuffing mix and boil chicken thighs with onions, garlic, and a little unsalted seasoning blend. After the thighs are cooked, I discard the skin and fat, chop the meat into small pieces and incorporate it into my cornbread stuffing mix. I also add chicken gizzards, celery, onions, poultry seasoning, sage and black and white pepper. The leftover broth from the boiled chicken thighs is added to my dressing mix, along with chicken broth from the can. That way, there is no waste. I bake my dressing in separate casserole dishes — and rarely stuff my turkey with the dressing, because of the hassle of getting it out of the bird once it is cooked. My family and friends love the idea of getting turkey and chicken all in one.”

Sabrina Banks

Sabrina Banks, mother of NBA star Marcus Banks and president of the Marcus Banks Foundation, on her secret recipe for a “Five-Step Louisiana Pound Cake”: “It is so simple to make, and will keep your friends and family on pins and needles awaiting dessert. I use one pound of butter at room temperature. Adding six eggs, one at a time, and beating them well after adding each one. I add one pound of white powdered sugar in a bowl, along with two cups of all-purpose flour. Finally, adding one teaspoon of vanilla and pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. After mixing all ingredients together, pour into a well greased and floured bundt pan and cook for one hour. I assure you, Louisiana Pound Cake will be a successful ‘slam dunk’ this Thanksgiving Holiday.”

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