Thanksgiving is coming, and my taste buds are already gearing up for the annual feast!

My family does Thanksgiving potluck-style, which means nobody’s expected to bring anything in particular, but let’s face it – it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Ashley’s cranberry-apple crisp, Amy’s potato casserole, Granny Nell’s coconut cake, Judy’s turkey dressing, and Dad’s Italian herb bread.
Every year, I look forward to these treats, and every year, I’m reminded of one unavoidable truth: I’m a woman without a dish.

Over the years, I’ve made everything from homemade pumpkin ravioli to lime-buttered snow peas, and my serving bowls always come home empty.
But the unavoidable truth is that in Southern families, real cooks aren’t defined by their culinary skills, they’re defined by their signature dish. You know, THE dish, the one everybody waits for.
Probably in accordance with some antebellum law, counter space is specifically reserved for “So-and-So’s Famous Thingamajig,” and the rest of us have to squeeze in where we can.

Stack of cookbooksMy husband says that the signature-dish thing is more about repetition – or, as he puts it, “If you make a red-brick casserole enough years in a row, some guy will eventually start to crave it.”
And, in truth, lots of famous signature dishes are nothing more than various combinations of pudding mix, whipped topping, cream of mushroom soup, and crushed up Ritz crackers (again, those antebellum laws). Still, I don’t have one!

So, once again, I’m beginning my annual recipe search – what will it be this time?

Pumpkin cheesecake?
Chop suey?
Foie gras?

And, being a newlywed this year, there’s nothing like being showered with gleaming serving pieces to add a dose of institutional pressure! June Cleaver, where are you when I need you?

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Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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