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Trisha Yearwood reveals the one Thanksgiving tradition she'll never change: it's 'just unbelievable'

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Country music icon Trisha Yearwood is big on maintaining tradition around the holidays. 

"For me, tradition is what carries us to the next generation," she tells Yahoo Life as part of the Yahoo Life Holiday Home and Tell series. "It's what helps us remember people that we love that we've lost. So if you have something that you've done with your family or your grandparents, when they're gone ... you continue to make the food your grandmother made. You continue to set the table the way your mother did. Those things become so important to pass to our own children."

Country music icon Trisha Yearwood
Country music icon Trisha Yearwood shares some of her favorite holiday traditions in the first installment of the Yahoo Life Holiday Home and Tell series. (Yahoo Life)

Yearwood, who hosts Trisha's Southern Kitchen on the Food Network and is author of the Trisha’s Kitchen cookbook, says culinary traditions are especially important to her. "The reason that I cook is because I grew up on with a great cook," she explains, noting that both her mom and dad were "fantastic" in the kitchen.

That's kind of what Thanksgiving is all about... making things that remind you of people that you love, and also sharing those with your family."Trisha Yearwood

When she first moved to Nashville at age 19, Yearwood says she "really didn't cook much" because her family had always done it for her; but she asked her mom for her potato salad recipe, and learned that she could cook on her own. "I realized I can cook," she says. "It doesn't have to be hard ... When people that I don't know say, 'I make your grandma's cornbread for our Thanksgiving,' it makes me so happy because then I realized that my family traditions are now becoming other family's traditions."

Country music singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood arrive for the 42nd Annual Kennedy Awards Honors in Washington, U.S., December 8, 2019.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Yearwood says she and her husband, country singer Garth Brooks, enjoy hosting a "misfit Thanksgiving" at their home. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Yearwood says her family loves to hosts a "misfit Thanksgiving," where they invite people they know who don't have a place to go for the holiday to their home. "We didn't get to do that last year because of the pandemic," she says. "So we're really excited about that this year."

Yearwood, who is married to fellow country music star Garth Brooks, says that Thanksgiving "is probably a bigger holiday at my house than Christmas" because her family loves the traditional meal. Yearwood says that Brooks loves to tell stories about how his mom used to stay up all night to baste the turkey before Thanksgiving. But she's discovered a hack to get a moist bird without all the hassle: She leaves it covered in a pan of water in the oven overnight.

In the morning, Yearwood might serve Brooks what she calls a "breakfast lasagna," which features different breakfast meats, greens, vegetables and cheeses. "It's so good because it's great for breakfast, but it's good all the time," Yearwood explains.

Desserts "were always more than one thing" at Yearwood's family Thanksgiving spread growing up, and she's continued that tradition with lemon pecan slab pie and pumpkin pie.

And one thing that will always be on her Thanksgiving table? Granny's teacakes. "When my mom and dad first married they lived in an apartment, and their landlady — her name was Mary, but we called her Mamie — she became like a grandmother to us," Yearwood recalls. "And she made these soft teacakes that were just unbelievable."

Yearwood teacakes
Yearwood says granny's teacakes are a must on her family's Thanksgiving dinner. (Yahoo Life)

Mamie never wrote down her recipe, but Yearwood says she and her sister eventually tracked down a recipe that tasted like the original from a family friend, Helen Carter. "It will forever be on our Thanksgiving table," she says. "It's such a memory, and that's kind of what Thanksgiving is all about — is making things that remind you of people that you love, and also sharing those with your family."

Interested in making granny's teacakes for your own family? Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl, add the sugar and stir. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk, vanilla, egg, and shortening. Stir well.

Spread flour in a flat bottomed bowl or your countertop and drop heaping tablespoons of dough into the flour one at a time. Roll the dough into a ball, place it on a baking sheet and flatten it to about 1/2 thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, switching the pans halfway through and rotating them 180 degrees. Remove the teacakes from the oven and let them cool for two to three minutes before moving them to a wire rack.

Make the glaze by stirring together the confectioners' sugar and buttermilk. Drizzle it over the teacakes and let them set for 20 minutes before serving.

— Video produced by Olivia Schneider

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