Life in Baltimore: Favorite Thanksgiving dishes


Autumn, with its array of beautifully colored foliage marks transition from summer into winter. The crunch of autumn leaves under your feet, the crisp chilly days and the smell of pumpkin spice, sparks the energy to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving may be the ultimate American holiday with turkey and cranberries being staples across the country, but depending on where the cook comes from there are variations on the turkey day menu including salmon in the Pacific Northwest, chili rubbed turkey in the southwest and clam chowder in New England.

In Baltimore, the Thanksgiving table may include turkey, a variety of dressings, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, candied yams, sauerkraut, green beans, collards or kale and cranberry sauce.

Baltimoreans April Polk, Artrice Diane Baker, Esperance Sutton and Tara Turner shared some of their favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

April’s Cornbread Dressing Recipe


April Polk makes cornbread stuffing for her family on Thanksgiving.

April Polk learned how to make cornbread dressing from her mother-in-law more than 30 years ago and continues to prepare it each Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Cornbread or cornbread mix

1 egg

1/3 c milk

½ c onions

½ c celery

¼ c peppers

Turkey stock

1c chopped apples

1 tbs poultry seasoning

1 tsp garlic powder

Salt, pepper to taste

Pinch Old Bay

To one box of cornbread mix add 1 egg and 1/3 c milk, stir and bake at 375F in the oven about 20-25 minutes. Saute onions, celery, and peppers.

In a greased baking dish place cornbread cubes or pieces add the sautéed vegetables, chopped apples, turkey stock and seasoning. Bake at 375F for approximately 1 hour

Artrice’s Scrapple Dressing Recipe


Artrice Diane Baker’s mother-in-law from North Carolina taught her how to make scrapple dressing when she married into the family. Scrapple dressing was always served with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Artrice’s husband and son loved it, therefore, she carries on the family tradition today.

Bread -white and/or wheat

Rappa Original scrapple

½ c onions

1/2c celery

Chicken broth



½ tbs parsely seasoning


Toast the bread on a baking sheet. Saute onions and celery in butter or margarine. Gradually add scrapple until lightly brown. In a greased baking dish, put in bread and sautéed mixture, add chicken broth, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Baked at 350 for 45 minutes.

Tara’s Mac n’ Cheese


Tara Turner learned to make macaroni and cheese from a friend’s mom back in high school.

Tara Turner shares her version of that family favorite, macaroni and cheese. She learned to make it as a teenager from a friend’s mom. “I fell in love with macaroni and cheese over 20 years ago while in high school,” She said. “I had a best friend named Stacy, whose mom, Jean, was a great cook. Stacy would bring me a serving for lunch from a batch that her mother made the night before. As we got older, Jean, who I affectionately called Ma, showed me how to make it. She walked me through her recipe, step by step. Over the years I have changed the ingredients slightly, but I always think about her when I make it.”

1 lb elbow pasta

16 oz cheese (sharp cheddar or cheddar jack) set aside 4 oz for topping

4 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1tbs Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

1 tbs onion powder

1 tbs dried parsely

½ tsp white pepper

2 tbs butter – cut into 5 parts

2 tbs bread crumbs

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 tbs salt

Add salt and vegetable oil to water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain pasta and let cool. Pour cooled pasta into baking dish and fold in 12 ounces of cheese. Beat eggs and then add in the light cream. Pour cream and egg mixture, Lawry’s seasoning, parsley, onion powder, white pepper and stir. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove foil cover and sprinkle the remainder of cheese, randomly place pats of butter on top. Lastly sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Put dish back into the oven and broil until the top is golden brown.

Esperance’s Oyster Dressing


Esperance Sutton displays her traditional oyster dressing

The Sutton family can hardly wait to enjoy oyster dressing on Thanksgiving prepared by Esperance Sutton. Oyster dressing is a southern Thanksgiving favorite.

Cube 10 cups of bread (mixture of garlic & herb bread, white bread, cheese bread, and wheat bread) Lay on a baking sheet until crisp and toasted. Once cooled, place in large mixing bowl.


½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced celery

4 tbs poultry seasoning

2 tsp sage

½ tsp tarragon

1 tbs Italian seasoning

1 tbs celery seeds

2 tsp salt (1 can seasoning salt)

Melt 2 sticks of butter (1 margarine & 1 butter) and add to mix

Add 4-5 cups of boiled water, mix well and place in a greased baking dish. Bake at 350 until golden brown.

Whatever your family favorites, we can agree that the Thanksgiving holiday is a festival of foods prepared to bring family, friends and neighbors together to give thanks for the goodness in life, to be grateful for what we have, to share with others and to bring hope to the future. Enjoy!