For Thanksgiving this year, we're taking inspiration from Tessa Barton, a busy blogger who loves doing "anything and everything creative." She set up a killer "Friendsgiving" spread that left us blown away (seriously, wait 'til you see the details of her table), so we reached out to find out a little bit more about her secrets to perfecting a dinner party, what dishes she can't stop thinking about, and even convinced her to share her Mema's secret banana cake recipe.
Photos by Tessa Barton
What's your favorite part about Thanksgiving?
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is getting the entire family all together under one roof! I have always grown up being really close to my cousins, aunts and uncles. I don’t know that we have ever missed a year together over at my grandma's, sharing stories and eating ourselves silly.
Do you have any traditions that you like to carry out every year?
My mom long ago started the tradition of keeping a jar in the kitchen labeled “Turkey Jar." In this jar, you put any spare change you have throughout the year. Believe it or not, it really adds up. The week of Thanksgiving we collect the money as a family and head to the grocery store. We buy what usually ends up being about 25 turkeys and take them to the food bank. The jar is a daily reminder to think of others.
Is there one side or dish that your family has always made over the years that you always look forward to?
Oh, yes! My aunt is the most creative cook I know and every year, without fail, I fill my plate up with this dish over any other. We will call it "The Jill" - hot green beans with goat cheese and candied walnuts, smothered with a delicious spicy sauce that melts right in your mouth. THERE IS NOTHING BETTER!
Your Thanksgiving spread is AMAZING! Did it take you forever to set up? How did you plan it all out?
Ah, it was so much fun to put together and honestly only took a little over an hour to set up. It was easier than it looked. I first gathered what I had around the house, and the theme started to create itself. I ran to the Whole Foods down the street where I found three bouquets of flowers that I knew would be perfect. I used my dining table, hung a rope from tree to tree, draped some fabric, used some UO goods to light it up and make it magical and before I knew it I had a hippie dinner happening in my back yard! I kept the food traditional with a Thanksgiving turkey, bread and jam, veggies and banana bread.
Any tips for someone who is hoping to recreate your spread?
Find what you have around the house - candles, your own dining table, fabric scraps, break out some old Christmas lights, and don’t be afraid to make it messy. It doesn’t have to be perfect; that’s what makes it fun.
Three Thanksgiving dishes you can't wait to eat every year?
1. I don’t know if this is just my family but every year we have something called Monkey Bread. It's really buttery, delicious mouth-watering bread baked in a a bundt cake tin. YUM! 2. A classic slice of pumpkin pie.
3. And my mother's fruit salad - strawberries, crunchy grapes, bananas, mandarin oranges, chunky apples with homemade whipped cream and semi sweet chocolate chips.
Favorite Thanksgiving recipe?
Okay, this is a secret family recipe so don’t let them know I told you! This comes from my great great grandma, Mema, who lived deep in the south of Georgia, and I kid you not, it is the best thing you will ever have.
MEMA’S BANANA CAKE
-4 eggs unbeaten
-4 large bananas
-3 cups sugar
-3 cups flour
-2 sticks butter
-8 tbsp. buttermilk
-2 tsp. baking soda
-pinch of salt
-2 tsp. vanilla
1. Cream sugar and butter together in a large bowl.
2. Blend flour and powder and salt together in a separate bowl.
3. Blend the ingredients of the two bowls together.
4. Mush bananas and add in. Then add all of the rest, except eggs.
5. Lastly, add eggs one at a time. Cook for 1 hour at 350 degrees F. The cake is even better on day 2!
To see more from Tessa follow her on Instagram