I wrote this article on November 26th, 2001 for our family website. My husband and I had had Thanksgiving for the first time without our family as we were stationed in Germany. I am still searching for that Holy Grail of Dressing Recipes so for once, my husband will like it as much as he did his late grandmother’s. But, I am starting to think that he may just be “funnin” me.
On Thanksgiving Day I spent most of my time in the kitchen, preparing the turkey, dressing and all the rest. I like the way my dressing tastes although it doesn’t really suit Bob. He says that the dressing that his grandmother made was the best he ever tasted.
That got me to thinking about the food that we had when we were kids at our grandparents’ houses. I know that we ate because I remember being there but I don’t recall how it tasted at all. I remember that Mamaw Webster always grew her own sage and thyme and it was a treasured ingredient in the dressing every year. I remember the ambrosia that Aunt Jeanine always brought and I was first in line for but I can’t recall how it tasted.
I remember that we always had great pies that my Mother was the major producer of so I can remember them because she continues to make great pies. I can remember preferring the dark meat of the turkey and sitting in the kitchen while the adults were in the dining room but I don’t remember how the dressing tasted.
I recall that my mother prepared at least two batches of cornbread before Thanksgiving Day and the cornbread was a major ingredient in the dressing. I think that I spent some time tearing bread into pieces to also go into the dressing and that some hard boiled eggs were also prepared ingredients but still, I can’t recall how that dressing tasted. It must have tasted good because as I grew up and started cooking on my own I wanted to know how it was done.
The first few years of our marriage my dressing was pathetic but as I have persevered it has improved and now Kate, for one, says that there is nothing better than my dressing. But, still, Bob longs for Mama Wera’s dressing. He says it was crunchy on top and smooth inside. Mine is too. But, it is still not what he expects. I remember the lemon meringue pie that I enjoyed every Thanksgiving and I still have trouble making it taste like my mother’s but I can’t for the life of me remember the dressing.
I remember the delicious Spinach Florentine that my cousin, Vicky brought to our Thanksgiving dinners when we were older teenagers. I definitely still crave that and remember how tasty it was. But, the dressing leaves me cold. Wish I could remember how food tasted when I was young. I can remember some food but not a lot.
I can remember the delicious Texas Hash that mother fixed and, of course, her amazing gravy. And, sometimes I recall the lumpy but very tasty mashed potatoes for which Junior and Jeanne were responsible. I definitely remember the great hambugers and french fries that Frisby’s served. They only served Pepsi and to this day, Pepsi tastes better with burgers than coke.
I remember the Pizza Burgers at Portas and the yellow rolls at Portas on Grand. I remember the smooth mashed potatoes at Woolworths with the smooth brown gravy. But, the dressing didn’t leave an imprint in my tastebuds even though I know it was great. It could be that I have struggled for so many years to perfect my dressing that I have lost the original standard.
Now there is dressing in the refrigerator and it probably won’t be eaten even though I had quite a bit of it on Thanksgiving Day and a few days after. But, Bob won’t eat it, he dreams instead of Mama Wera’s Holy Grail Dressing. I wish that we could return to the days of Thanksgiving at Mamaw Fletchers (and, sometimes, at Mamaw Websters) at least for a day.
I would love to once more sit down at the table with Vicky at my side, giggling about passing the butter and sugar. Then, maybe we could all recall how good it was, with Uncle Max, popping off jokes and teasing us, Daddy fussing that it was taking too long to get the dinner on the table, Mamaw Fletcher merrily ignoring him and Mother and Mamaw Webster hovering over the stove in the kitchen.
Everyone had their place and we were always playing our roles. Kids in the kitchen, sneaking into the bowls that still remained on the counter. Adults helping the elderly grandmothers or guests to their seats. Football on the tv. Dressing on the table, and it tasted so good. But how did it taste? Hopefully, like mine does nowadays.
Here is my recipe:
Description: Very old fashioned and good tasting. As good as Mama Wera’s. I usually double all the ingredients to make a lot. It will take two 13×9x2-inch baking dishes when doubled.
3 cups crumbled cornbread
2 cups coarsely crumbled day-old bread
2 cups chicken broth
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon dried whole sage, crushed
Directions: Combine all ingredients; stir well. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13×9x2-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown.
Number Of Servings:8 to 10
Preparation Time:1 hour