Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving Ham, Thanksgiving Table, Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is my very most favorite holiday.

To me, it is full of everything a holiday should be. Quiet, gratefulness, stores closed and homes open, family, friends, cold weather, kids piled in spare rooms and basements, couches full to busting, and of course, food.

Lots of it.

A beautiful table, prepared by hands that have worked together with too many bodies in the kitchen, bumping against each other.

Excuse me, excuse me.  Coming through.  Will anything else fit in the oven?

And then another whole table, just for the desserts.

I can’t tell you how much I love it.  It is the fullest, most cherished day of the year for me.  And when I add up all my Thanksgivings from all of my 39 years, I am pretty sure I have enough love and warmth just within those precious days to say that I could check out right now and say that I had a good life.

Growing up we used to go to Castle Bluff (a camp in Northwest Arkansas) for Thanksgiving.  It was like going back in time.

Families from our church and other places around Arkansas would come and we would all bring pies and casseroles from home.  Daddy would fry a turkey, smoke a turkey and bake a turkey.  While he babysat his poultry, he would stand around in the cold with the other men and talk.  The mamas would sit around the wood burning stove and peel potatoes.

And the kids.

We ran hog wild doing whatever we wanted.

It was glorious.

We made the younger kids cry with our fairly rough rendition of Blind Man’s Bluff, a game where one person is in the middle blindfolded and the rest of you are circled around this poor child taunting them while they try to catch someone else to be it.

Seriously, how is that even remotely supposed to be fun?

We made the game more challenging by playing it in a room full of bunk beds.  Picture blindfolded children JUMPING from one bunk to another.  Little kids always cheated and peeked so I guess that’s why we never had a broken limb. My sister, Anna and I were usually in charge and I should also mention, almost never it.

We also played Kick the Can and Hide and Go Seek.  This was way before this camp had a climbing wall or a rappelling deck or modern plumbing.  We were basically running around in the woods.

Stay away from the cliffs! Those were the only instructions my dad ever gave us.

At night, we played marathon games of Bible Charades.  My parents had this one friend who was a drama teacher and she would do every bleeding heart in the Bible: Mary Magdelene, Mary, Mother of Jesus, Rahab, Ruth and Naomi and even Eve.  We laughed so hard at her that my side hurt. She would get up and we would just start shouting out women in the Bible.

In the middle of the night, after the big Thanksgiving feast, Anna and I would sneak into the kitchen (I use the term kitchen here very loosely) and eat pie and rolls until we made ourselves sick.

We talked our parents into letting us sleep in the rat-infested attic above the kitchen under the condition that our Grandmother slept up there with us.

To get up there, you had to crawl up onto the kitchen counter and pull down a trap door.  Then you would have to pull yourself up into this small A-framed attic space, using the attic floor for leverage while your legs dangled in the kitchen.  The process of getting into the attic was made easier by stacking ice chests on the counter, but we didn’t always have the foresight for that.

Needless to say, once we hoisted my poor Grandmother up there, she was loathe to come down again just to stop us from eating all the pie.  We loved her so much though that we were happy to bring her a piece when we climbed back up.

Of course then we’d have to climb back down and dig some Cool Whip out of the ice chest for her.  And find her a fork.  High maintenance, my grandmother.

We had to retire our Thanksgivings to Castle Bluff because everyone grew up and bought iPads with Game Apps, which are much safer than Blind Man’s Bluff.

Actually, we all just got so spread out as a family once we went off to college and got married and such that it became a journey just get to one of our houses for Thanksgiving.  There comes a time in your life when you just want to go home.

And so that’s what we do now.  We go home.  Only our Thanksgiving home has become my sister’s house in Illinois.  We gather there every other year in deference to the families we married into.

Since I am only with my sister and brother and their families every other year on Thanksgiving, we cheated this year and had a pre-Thanksgiving while my sister was in town last weekend.  This was an unusual treat brought about by some sad circumstances regarding my Grandmother’s health.  She is 89 and has been diagnosed with cancer this fall, so Anna needed to come and see her.  And make her some pie.

Together with my sister, my mama and my other sister, the one that’s married to my brother, we created a Thanksgiving menu around a beautiful Petit Jean Ham.

We used many of our old favorites and a few new ones too.  I always like to throw a little healthy onto the sometimes rather beige Thanksgiving table.

Thanksgiving Menu

Petit Jean Ham

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Sesame Kale Salad

Not So Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus

Grandmother’s Homemade Rolls

Deep Dish Apple Pie

I also get to give one of my readers a Petit Jean Ham! The ham will be delivered right to your door step in a cooler.  All you have to do is wrap it up and warm it in the oven according to the instructions and your Thanksgiving Ham is ready!  It is the easiest part of the menu for sure!

All you have to do to be entered for the ham is leave a comment on this post.  Tell me your favorite Thanksgiving food or tell me a sweet Thanksgiving memory of your own! UPDATE: This giveaway is closed but I would still LOVE to hear your favorite Thanksgiving memory!

I will choose a random winner from the comments on Friday. Giveaway closed.  Delta Moxie, you are the winner of the Petit Jean Ham!  Yay!

The Petit Jean Thanksgiving Ham for this Thanksgiving Menu was provided by Petit Jean Meats, a local Arkansas company.  I am a member of their Blue Diamond Club, which basically means they send me products which I select and then share with you.  Subscribe to the Chino House via email (box on the top right of web page) so you won’t miss a recipe!



  1. We always put our Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving. I loved spending the day at home, eating and decorating.

  2. The sweetest Thanksgiving memory was when I taught school and every year I would cook a full Thanksgiving meal for my students. It was my way to show them the love of God.

  3. we love petit jean ham at the holsted house …

  4. As a kid the only place we all could sit at the same table was at the ping table because there were eight in my family, then we added the cousins, aunts, uncles and Grandma and Grandpa. Of course we all played ping pong after dinner so we could work off the meal. The best part was that my uncle took all the kids bowling every Thanksgiving evening. I’m sure by that time of the evening the parents were all thrilled to have a quiet house and we thought our Uncle Bud was a super hero!

  5. So sweet. Laughed and laughed as I read this. You captured it well.

  6. Thanks for reminding me how many wonderful memories I have of Thanksgiving. It is also my favorite holiday and I also have great memories of Thanksgiving at the Bluff!

  7. I love ham for Thanksgiving over turkey. Love your blog and the way you capture life

  8. someday you have to write a book about life growing up loibner. seriously.

  9. Favorite menu items: ham, green bean casserole and my mom’s four layer pie. Favorite tradition: decorating the Christmas Tree.

  10. […] Chino House Skip to content HomeAboutGet OutsideChildren’s BooksCruisazyReadingBooks I read in 2011ConnectRecipes « Thanksgiving Menu + Chino House Petit Jean Ham Giveaway […]

  11. My favorite Thanksgiving food is pumpkin pie. That would pair well with a Petit Jean ham! The kale salad sounds awesome!

  12. Petit Jean Ham at my home would be surrounded by real vegetables as well as “pretty sweet sweet potatoes and a pumpkin cheesecake.

  13. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Some years we have as many desserts as we do people. It is the only day of the year that I see ALL of my cousins in my dad’s family. I go to my Grammy’s the day before to make sure we get to everyone’s favorite dish started. Papaw is in charge of the ham, Grammy is in charge of the turkey, dressing, and pound cake. I have happily taken charge of all other dishes. 🙂

  14. […] forget to enter to win a Petit Jean Ham!  Just leave a comment here on my Thanksgiving Menu! Tagged eat your greens, kale, kale […]

  15. I love having all the leftovers to eat the following days. Get to be creative in reusing good food.

  16. i love dressing and gravy! seems so special because you only have it a few times a year…and it goes great with ham.

  17. This year when we all picked our favorites, I picked Broccoli rice casserole!! Yumm!! My favorite memories are with my cousins, at my grandparents house. We played ghost in the graveyard, and ate little slivers of pie with GIANT piles of coolwhip!

  18. My favorite memories of Thanksgiving are from when I was a kid and we went to my Dad’s parents house. It was a very small house and there were lots of kids and grown ups crammed in it. There were too many cooks in the kitchen and of course the men just sat around and talked. The kids played Amazingly good food!

  19. […] forget to enter to win a Petit Jean Ham!  Just leave a comment here on my Thanksgiving Menu! Tagged family dinners, holiday meal […]

  20. This year we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with new family members. My brother recently got engaged and my sis should be engaged any day now (shhhhh she doesn’t know)! I am excited about new memories and yummy ham!

  21. […] forget to enter to win a Petit Jean Ham!  Today is the last day so leave a comment here on my Thanksgiving […]

  22. I use to love to go to my grandparents for Thanksgiving and see my dad and all the family. Since my Dad died we make a meal at my husband’s family and try to start new traditions. Our favorite food is Tator tot casserole.

  23. Love your Thanksgiving story!! My favorite Thanksgiving food is sweet potato casserole and my moms chocolate pie.

  24. I am not a big ham eater unless it is the holidays. Suddenly I am 8 years old stealing slices from the kitchen at Christmas.
    Would LOVE to win this baby.

  25. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday too..and I always have a petit jean ham at my holiday meals. The problem is having space to fit everything in my oven. So, Brad and Megan heat the PJ ham…their job…and she doesn’t even eat pork…but her husband does…and she loves my son.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  26. […] Mother used to make 3 apple pies, 2 blackberry pies and 1 pumpkin pie for the big crowd at our Castle Bluff Thanksgiving gathering. […]

  27. […] the week before Thanksgiving I was notified that I had won a Petit Jean Spiral Smoked Ham from Alison Chino’s Blog Chino House at! (One of my new Arkansas Women Blogger friends). And as promised it was […]

  28. […] Going to London for just a few days is like choosing to have only a piece of pie at Thanksgiving Dinner. […]

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