Janie Pearl’s Thanksgiving Kitchen


By 3:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, she had a chicken in every pot, a cast-iron skillet of cornbread in the oven and homemade biscuits ready to bake. These were all key ingredients for her legendary Chicken and Cornbread Dressing with her own special gravy.

What she pulled off in her little kitchen no bigger than most people’s walk-in closets was a Thanksgiving miracle of monumental proportion which can only be replicated in our memories. I’m talking about my wife’s Mother, “Miss” Janie Pearl.

Before the meal was served at 1:00 p.m., the star of the show, her chicken and dressing, would as if by magic be surrounded by creamed potatoes, Southern fried corn, fresh green beans, macaroni and cheese, crisply fried okra, lima beans, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, fruit salad, dressed eggs and homemade rolls.

Among all these dishes would be a personal favorite for each family member, so I think the true magic of the meal was the love that went into it.

My personal favorite . . . real banana pudding . . . came at the end of the meal.


Part of Miss Janie’s mindset was that food was at its best only when prepared and eaten on the same day, so she did almost no advance cooking. Her only variance from that was her Frosted Cranberry Salad which she would make the day before. This salad isn’t an old family recipe – there are many variations of it on the internet. I’m not sure how she came by it (although I am positive it wasn’t from the internet) but she liked to make it because its blend of sweet with a hint of tartness paired perfectly with her chicken and dressing.

Black and white photograph of Janie Peal and a handwritten recipe for Frosted Cranberry Salad.

Here’s the recipe she used:


1 – 15 ¼ oz. can unsweetened crushed pineapple, undrained

1 – 6 oz. pkg. lemon Jello

1 – 16 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 – cup ginger ale

1 – cup finely chopped celery

1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 – 8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed

1 – cup chopped pecans, toasted

Drain pineapple and set aside, reserving juice. Add enough water to juice to make 2 cups. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add Jello and stir. Add cranberry sauce, stirring until blended. Stir in ginger ale. Chill until the consistency of unbeaten egg whites. Fold in drained pineapple and celery. Spoon mixture into a slightly oiled 13 x 9 x 2 inch dish. Chill until firm. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over salad. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.


If you’re a follower of Col. Littleton, you know we’re all about Americana, history and traditions.

Even though our traditions may vary, in this special season of thanksgiving it’s good to pause and remember our parents, grandparents and great grandparents who passed down those traditions that are so important to us today.

All of us at Col. Littleton wish you a wonderful and memorable day as we count our blessings on Thanksgiving.

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