Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

November 17, 2012

Turkey tradition returns Tuesday

It’s unclear exactly how long the United Methodist Women have been cooking up turkey spaghetti for sale this time each year, but more than 35 years is a pretty good guess.

On Friday, three brave cooks were once again facing the final push to produce 500 servings of the rich dish before spooning it into plastic quart dishes and freezing it. Ann Stites, kitchen boss, and her two intrepid sous chefs Donna Jackson and Lisa Updegrove, each knew their jobs and set out fairly independently to do them.

Stites has been doing this for nine years and although she’ll oversee the preparation of more than 1,000 servings of the dish before the last ladle is scooped out Tuesday, she doesn’t make the dish for her own family, and only one of her sons looks forward to turkey spaghetti each year. No one else in the family really likes it, and Stites herself is done with it after the Harvest Festival.

“After it’s over, I don’t even want to see a turkey,” she admitted.

For the uninitiated, turkey spaghetti is a rich pasta dish traditionally made with left-over turkey from the Thanksgiving feast. Around Corsicana, though, it’s a pre-Thanksgiving appetizer, a warm-up for what’s to come in two days.

The recipe was developed for large groups by Ruth Morris, who was the kitchen boss at First United Methodist Church in the 1970s and ‘80s, and who ramrodded everything from church suppers and MYF snacks to church cookbooks. The dish’s foundations lie in the post-World War II cookery style, which demanded huge bricks of processed cheese and rich dollops of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups.

It’s a diet disaster, of course, but turning it down would be like rejecting Grandma’s sweet potatoes with the marshmallows on top. It’s tradition. It’s delicious. You can’t not eat it.

Donna Jackson grew up with the tradition, and she and her family embrace its return each year like a cheesy starchy Easter Bunny.

“I buy some and eat it over the holidays,” Jackson said.

In order to pull off the miracle of the turkey spaghetti, Stites sets aside $2,000 from the women’s group’s budget with which to buy groceries. She buys 30 turkeys and sends them home with church members, who cook the birds, debone them, and chop up the meat. She and the women of the three circles then combine the meat with pot after pot of boiled spaghetti, canned soups, Velveeta, chilis, mushrooms and other tasty additions.

The numbers are staggering.

Before Tuesday, they will have prepared 270 quarts of frozen spaghetti. On Tuesday morning, they’ll arrive at 3 a.m. to start preparing an additional 650 servings to be dished up fresh to the community, alongside green beans, salad and homemade desserts.

An $8 ticket will buy either a lunch, or a quart of frozen spaghetti. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Take-out is also available. The church is located at 320 North 15th Street in Corsicana.

The money raised from the luncheon and the accompanying bake sale and silent auction will go towards the group’s favorite “missions” which include the House of Refuge, The Child Advocacy Center, Family Services, the Salvation Army, and Rainbow Room, as well as the Methodist Boy’s Home in Waco.

Guests can thank the cooks on that day, who can be easily tracked by their casserole perfume.

“Our clothes will smell like this when we’re done,” Updegrove said, smiling slightly. “You go home smelling like it.”


Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email:

Text Only
Latest News
  • 7-27-14 HayFire.jpg Hay fire closes Interstate 45

    A hay trailer fire Sunday on Interstate 45 near Richland shut down the highway

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • County values up for 2014

    The property value of Navarro County went up 5 1/2 percent in value for 2015, a rebound from the last two years when the city and county were reeling from the loss of some major companies’ plants.

    July 26, 2014

  • Mills place pool Home, sweet home

    Judy and Wayne Nelson had a family of visitors last week — the daughter and grandchildren of the architect who designed their 1927 house on Mills Place.

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • police stock photo Six arrested following drug raid

    Six people were arrested following the execution of a search warrant Thursday night by the Corsicana Police Department’s narcotics detectives, patrol officers and a Navarro County Sheriff’s deputy who works as a courtesy officer for the Arbors Apartment, 1300 N. 45th St.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-25-14 AgriLife additions.jpg AgriLife adds two new agents to Navarro office

    It’s been awhile since the AgriLife Extension office in Navarro County has been fully staffed, but it’s going great guns now.
    New to the staff are Meredith DeBorde, and Lorie Stovall, who will be heading up the 4-H programs and the family and consumer programs, respectively.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks salary shuffle

    Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner went to the County Commissioner’s budget workshop Thursday to ask for a change of how his officers are compensated, or, alternately, an 8 percent across-the-board raise.

    July 24, 2014

  • 7-25-14 CAC boat.jpg Floating a big fundraiser idea

    The big night is fast approaching for the 10 Grand Country Jam, an Aug. 2 fundraiser for the Child Advocates of Navarro County. What will make it a big night is the grand prize, a $31,000 pontoon boat.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Candelario Garcia Jr. (main) Honoring a hero

    Since March of this year, the family of Candelario Garcia Jr. has been so proud of him, they could burst.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • County Budget Commissioners start budget process

    The Navarro County Commissioner’s Court held its first budget workshop Wednesday, the first of a dozen or more over the next month or so.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-23-14 pianos main.jpg Public pianos invite players

    Corsicana has always been a musical town, with emphasis on country and western, rock and roll, bluegrass and Gospel, but now the parks and recreation department is moving towards bringing music to the masses in a different way. They’re going to put pianos downtown, on the sidewalks for anyone to play at random.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo