Friday, November 21, 2014

Festive Table Setting & My “Grandma Julia’s Giblet Gravy” For Thanksgiving

As we plan for our Thanksgiving feast, I thought it might be a wonderful idea to talk about some guidelines that may help you dress your table. I would love to share some ideas about the meal courses that you will be serving and eventually becoming your holiday traditions. 

Sitting at your home table is the place where your family and friends gather together for two important things in life, to eat and talk. You can’t go wrong when you use the traditional warm amber hues for Thanksgiving, the blues, whites, and silver of Hanukkah, and the classic red, green, white, and gold’s of Christmas. Traditional colors and table settings communicate love to anyone that shares a meal with you in your home. 

To choose a tablecloth really depends on your dinnerware. You could use a patterned cloth or a solid color. A nice touch is adding place cards to your table, and be sure to allow enough room for seating. I know that in my family, when we have a holiday or special meal, we sit at the table for most of the day, even after eating. So you want to be comfortable.

Worried about what fork to use? Don’t worry, I am going to give you some guidelines. The basic place setting for your holiday meal will consist of an appetizer, salad or soup, and a main course. In a traditional Italian menu, a dish of pasta is eaten prior to the main course. Following the main course will be dessert and coffee or tea. At this point of the meal, my mom would also put out fruit, chocolates, nuts, and mints. By this time everyone is stuffed and has been at the dinner table for over 5 hours or more. Another Holiday Dinner was a success!

One rule I always follow, is that the utensils are arranged in the order of which a person will use them. In our Western culture, this means that the forks, bread plates, and napkins are to the left, while the knives, spoons, glassware, cups, and saucers are to the right. In many other countries the left-right order is reversed. Often, in less formal settings, the napkin and /or cutlery may be held together in a single bundle by a napkin ring. Napkins rings are very rare in the United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, and Italy. In informal dinners you can even place the napkin on the plate.

Some final table details, don’t forget the salt and pepper shakers. If you find some room on your table, a floral centerpiece and unscented candles would be a beautiful warm finishing touch to your holiday table. One last item I would love to share is a little hostess gift that I give to my guests as they leave my home. It can be something small, even a cookie cutter with a lovely ribbon on it, which is a thoughtful thank you for coming to my dinner party. 

I think back when I was still living at home, my mother would always have the family over for the holidays. The smells in the kitchen would always give me that warm and toasty feeling, especially the aroma’s that would float all the way up to my room, which was on the second floor. Food is a big part of my Italian family and it always centered around the kitchen. My mom’s dinner table was simple, but beautiful, especially with the proper placement of forks, spoons, and knives. We always had to have a centerpiece with candles on each end of the table. Everything sparkled, from the good china to the sterling silverware. As my family would be seated around the table, I could see how proud my mother was as she would hear her guests, admire her elegant table. My memories of how my mom prepared for her holiday dinner parties will last me my lifetime.    
My mom's Table at Thanksgiving

Everyone has a favorite recipe they look forward to enjoy at a family holiday meal. The smell and taste of a special dish can evoke memories from the past or create new ones for the next generation. My recipe this week is “Grandma Julia’s Giblet Gravy.” This is delicious gravy to add to your turkey especially on Thanksgiving..  

“Grandma Julia’s Giblet Gravy”

Chopped cooked giblets
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of flour
2 1/2 cups of water (saved from boiling giblets)
3 chicken bullion cubes
Salt and Pepper to taste
Gravy Master

My grandma Julia
The giblet bag in the turkey you purchase usually includes the heart, liver, gizzard and the neck. (Exclude the liver) Boil giblets in water for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain water. (Don’t forget to save some water for making gravy later) Pick meat from neck and finely chop all the giblets, so you can add to the gravy. (This was always my job when I was young)

Heat oil and add flour, brown lightly. Stir in water, bullion cubes, and seasonings. Cook, and continue stirring until thickened. Then add the giblets and reheat gently. Gravy Master may be added for coloring, a drop at a time.

Yield: This recipe makes 3 cups of gravy.

Till Next Time……..

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. What a lovely tradition to pass on, Dottie. Yes, food is the center of the Italian family for sure! I love your gravy recipe, and must admit, I've never used the giblets (I use them in boiling the stock, but I throw them away afterwards!) Oh dear, that's a crime isn't it? Yours looks lovely, maybe I'll be brave enough to try it next time! (This is coming from someone who loves haggis! haha!) Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Dear Christina,Thanks for stopping by and your lovely comment. You know it, where there is a table, there is always food. Oh, the giblets are so yummy in with the gravy. As you take some gravy on the turkey you can taste the little bits, and it just adds to the flavor. It is a crime, that you throw away the giblets. One rule of Italian people is never throw anything away, it can be used up for something else. You have to try it, but make sure you cut the pieces up very small, like a diced. I have never had haggis, but I may like it. Have a wonderful and fun weekend Dottie :).

  2. Thank you for your tips for the Christmas table. You have grown up in a lovely caring family environment and that will stay with you forever.
    I love your recipe for gravy. I am never quite sure how to make it. Usually my husband who is English makes it. He grew up with it so he is more experienced.. lol! Have a lovely weekend my friend xx

    1. Dear Alida, Thanks for your comment and stopping by. I do agree, I did grow up with a loving family and all the trimmings. Glad that you like this gravy recipe. It really is very tasty. Your husband's gravy must be delicious as well. Now you have an easy and yummy gravy to try. Alida you have an awesome weekend too! Dottie :) xx

  3. Hi Dottie!
    Great table setting tips!!! My mother always went wild preparing the table for Thanksgiving. I remember the "look" well:) I did the same thing when the holiday was "transferred" to my house. My husband actually built me a table large enough to sit everyone for Thanksgiving. Trying to find a festive tablecloth for a 90 inch round table at that time was next to impossible. Eventually we sewed one, lol...

    It was always my job as a kid to take care of the giblets for the gravy and for the peas with mushrooms and onions and of course giblets. I can honestly say i saved the neck bone for last so I could pick, pick, pick, lol...We didn't use gravy master but I do remember the gravy being oh so good. My sister always preferred the turkey gravy so more for me )and my dad who liked the giblet gravy more:)

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips and recipe Dottie. There is a very good chance I will be down in New York for Thanksgiving this year. Marion has finally conceded to taking the trip and it's looking like Monday the weather will cooperate! Fingers crossed:) Just in case I don't "see" you before then, I wish you and yours a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving Dottie with lots of leftovers!!!

    1. Dear Louise,
      Thanks for visiting and your lovely comment. I agree, everyone is doing there own thing , getting their plate with food and watching TV, playing video games, cell phones, etc. When I was growing up we were told no phone calls from friends during dinner time, and we had one phone for the whole house on the kitchen wall. We need to get back the kids to the table with the family, it is so important. Wow what a big table, plus I like the idea it is round, better than a long table. Your husband must have been a wonderful table maker. Then you sewing a table cloth, fabulous. I know what you mean about the neck, so many bones, you really had to pick through them. I was telling Nee that my grandmother used Gravy Master one or two drops, just to deepen the color. But the flavor is so yummy especially with the giblets in it, such flavor. I am glad that you liked this post and the recipe. So happy for you and Marion to be going on a road trip. I am sure you will be with your sister. That will be wonderful. I would say that Monday will be a perfect day to travel. It is supposed to be really mild here, considering it has been in the 30's during the day. Thank you for your wishes, I wish that you and Marion have safe travels and also a blessed, fun, and wonderful, Thanksgiving with your family.I will be at my brother's in Garden City, they do Thanksgiving every year. We do we take turns. I am bringing the desserts, as that is my forte. Cheers and here's to leftovers!
      Dottie :)

  4. Good evening Dottie ,
    This is a much needed post lots of people have gotten away from a great family dinner and just grab a plate and flop in front of the TV to watch the football game . Dinner time is family time , a time to enjoy and relax and talk .
    What's a holiday without giblet gravy .
    Never have used Gravy Master , down here we cook the Rue down to the color we desire , like making gumbo , the more you cook the Rue
    the better the taste .
    Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend . ~~Nee~~ :)

    1. Good evening Nee,
      Thanks for your comment...I agree with you dear friend, everything now a days is like a buffet, take a plate, get your food, and watch TV. With cell phones, electronic games, and such no one speaks even if they are sitting at a table. When I was growing up, no phone calls from friends on the one phone we had during dinner time. We have to get the kids back in the dining room to eat at the table with everyone else. The brown gravy is very important especially on a turkey or chicken.The gravy master was only used with a drop or two just for a deeper color. But her recipe is so good I could just have it over a slice of bread, or even over mashed potatoes. Thanks for your visit. Have a wonderful and blessed weekend...
      Stay well, Dottie :)

  5. Dottie, thanks for the tips. I like to do the holiday table this way also, flowers, candles, the works. It's festive, puts everyone in the mood and maybe makes the food taste even better. The gravy sounds good, but not sure what gravy master is. I just always remember my mom telling me to "get a good scald" on the gravy. She was right. :-) thanks again for your great post and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Pam,
      Thank you so much for your visiting and your lovely comment! So glad that you enjoyed this post and you also set your holiday table like my mom and myself. It is so festive as you said, and makes everyone feel at home, maybe the food does taste better! Yes, this "Giblet Gravy" of my grandmother's has been used so many times, it is so delicious. Yes, a lot of people have been telling me about making a roux and a good scald like you said gives the gravy that dark rich color. Gravy Master is in the aisle of the gravies at the supermarket. It just gives the gravy a little color, no flavoring. We use just a drop or two,for color if you need it, if not you don't need to use it. Have a good rest of the week, and my wish is for you and your family to have a blessed Happy Thanksgiving.
      Dottie :)

  6. Dear Dottie, It is wonderful to have a beautiful table setting. I remember my mom getting the table ready the night before. I would love to follow in that tradition; however the table is a bit smaller these days.
    The gravy sounds wonderful. It really helps to have a delicious gravy to add to the feast.
    xo Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine, Thanks for visiting. I agree that the table is so pretty when you set it with the dishes, centerpiece, and the candles. My mom still does that for Christmas. Thanksgiving we go to my brother's in Garden City. I also agree that the table has gotten smaller. Glad that you like this gravy, it is passed down from my grandmother. It really adds to your turkey dinner. Have a blessed week... Dottie :)