The tradition in my family has always been that on Thanksgiving morning, instead of my usual breakfast, I would eat a piece of cornbread spread with butter and crumbled up in a bowl with some warm milk. YUM.
Guess what Michael had for breakfast this morning?!
The first thing I made today was the cornbread.
It's important to make the cornbread so it can cool off before the dressing is made. Here in the south we make dressing, not "stuffing" and we put it in a pan, usually Pyrex or Corning Ware, not inside the turkey. [We don't even eat turkey at my house, we prefer pork roast.]
My mother's favorite food is her own dressing. Most people who have ever tried it understand why immediately. Nobody makes dressing better than Elva. Nobody. My friend Bronwyn said recently on Facebook that Elva's dressing was her favorite food! High compliment. She's from Louisiana and a good cook and gourmand.
This year, we let Michael do most of the work making the dressing. The whole process went a lot faster. My brother couldn't come over so it's just the three of us. We are trying to get Michael helping more in the kitchen.
The fact he has only one hand is irrelevant. He has a sharp knife he likes, and he has a method of chopping which is fast and accurate and involves no bloodletting. He breaks eggs easily. He loves to use the hand blender. He does make a big mess in the kitchen, but what man doesn't?!
The other aspect is that with his granny sitting at the table telling him what to do, he is learning valuable kitchen skills and he will eat a boatload of whatever is cooked, which is good. (He actually forgets to eat sometimes and he's skinny as a stick.)
the recipe is below - click on it to make it bigger
This year, Mom wrote down the recipe, and it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to scan it into the computer. She left out a few things. For instance, cornbread is much better if you add a big dollop of mayonnaise -- Duke's, of course. It's great to make it in a cast iron skillet, unless you're a small woman with arthritis and/or you don't have a strong person around to get the skillet in and out of the oven. [I actually wrote a blog a few years ago about how to make cornbread.]
Mom says "string" the celery. My memaw used to do that. I am a bit lazy. I use the tender inner stalks and don't fool with stringing the celery.
You don't have to dry out the bread. It's optional.
We like to take the chopped celery and onion and cook it in a small glass bowl in some chicken broth in the microwave for about 3 minutes, then macerate it with a hand blender. (Mom's teeth are bad and she can't eat anything chewy. Don't ever use the word "dentures" around her either, unless you want to get slapped.)
She didn't put precise measurements on the seasoning. We season HEAVILY. The more the merrier. Onions plus onion powder means extra onion flavor, which is always good.
We like to use Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup with herbs. Old-fashioned cream of chicken is fine too.
You mix the celery and onions into about 3-4 cups of crumbled cornbread and about 3-4 cups of bread torn into little pieces. Then you throw in your soups, melted butter, eggs, seasonings, baking powder (about a tablespoon) and chicken broth. The mixture should be pretty wet, not stiff.
A lot of times, we make 2 small pans of dressing instead of one big one, and freeze one. Then we've got dressing already made for Christmas dinner.
If I were a professional blogger I'd post a photo of the dressing but we aren't eating until tonight and it's not cooked yet.
I did take a photo of the pecan pie Michael and I made this morning. YUM.
One day in the future, when my mom is in heaven I will find this recipe, assemble the ingredients, and Michael and I will make the dressing, and think of Mom/Granny/Miss Elva, and hopefully we will smile. Hope that's a long ways away, though..