Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's really about stuffing

Tomorrow I will be with family, participating in the usual pot luck Thanksgiving dinner. I'm making the pies, a huge shift from previous years where I made the stuffing. That's what I've done most years. Ho hum. Except for a few exceptions:

There was that year I went with my old boyfriend to Colorado (why did we do that? I can't remember). And we stayed with his..ummm...cousin? (I forget) and ate dinner with the cousin's family friends. It was several layers removed from family for me, but there was much red wine involved, and a beautiful house with a great view of the Rockies, so who's complaining? Their kids couldn't be with them that year, so it was a mutually beneficial meeting of orphans.

There was that year I lived in England for study abroad so of course there was no holiday from school or anything but some American students organized a Thanksgiving dinner. In northern England, not much light to speak of in November but we all got together in the dark and had turkey and--more importantly--stuffing, and I didn't really know anyone but they all knew about Thanksgiving so it was the perfect place to be, that night in that place.

There was that year we lived in China, and the local American officials hosted a dinner for all the Americans in town. We went, and it was wonderful, and there was stuffing, AND the turkeys were served Chinese-style--cut cross-section with a cleaver. What I think of when I think lost in translation.

There was that year when I was two days past my due date, so we didn't make plans for Thanksgiving because you know, ha ha, we might have a baby by Thanksgiving. So Jeff took me and my eight-pound baby that had yet to make his appearance but was very much THERE, to the fanciest restaurant in Seattle and we had the best turkey dinner--and by that I mean stuffing--that I've ever had.

And the year that my parents decided to follow the lead of my newly vegetarian sister and have a vegetarian Thanksgiving. I've blocked it out but I do remember that there was carrot and raisin salad, and it was COLD, and there was probably no stuffing.

Now off to try to conquer the pie crust. Give me strength.


racheld said...

We call it "dressing" and it's made with cornbread, but it's a big part of the Thanksgiving Dinner. I have the cornbread cooked, crumbled, and bagged, with couple of cups of infinitesimally-minced sweet onion, and celery, ditto cut very small.

It has to be really little to cook completely in the 50 minutes to hour-and-a-quarter that the really-wet-with-stock-at-first pan of dressing takes to bake up, lovely and golden-crusted all around, and still moist and tender all through. I see that lots of people saute the vegetables first, before mixing, but there's something about that great silvery panful of crumbled cornbread, fragrant with crisp onion and celery, with the scent of sage and the decided ping of freshly-grated pepper, even before the stock is poured over---that's a scent-memory that bespeaks Thanksgiving Dinner, and I look forward to that small moment of familiar tradition each time I cook the dinner.

And I'm glad it's YOU and not me making those pies---I can make cakes up a storm, but I didn't get a "hand" for piecrust.

Lisa Milton said...

Growing up, I didn't much like stuffing, because my Grandma favored nasty turkey parts much like the ones that are in my trash can right now.


But now I love it so.

Hope you have a splendid day.

(PS: I just made my first shoo fly pie with my son. Some of the crumbs sunk in, but it still looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe.)

Stacy (mama-om) said...

My favorite thanksvgiving memory is the time I went to Germany to visit my good friend (who was living there with her German husband and new baby). We tried to recreate some semblence of "turkey day" but there were none of the usual ingredients.

We wanted to make a pumpkin pie (she had a can of pumpkin filling someone sent her) but we couldn't find a pie pan! So we ended up with a centimeter-high pumpkin "torte." And for some reason this made us laugh and laugh and laugh. Her husband had no idea what was funny, so that made it funnier.

Or maybe it was all the wine. :)

smalltownmom said...

I make a really great stuffing, with cranberries. It could even be vegan if vegetable broth was used instead of chicken.

And there has to be gravy...poured on the stuffing...and then I am in heaven.

JCK said...

I love making pies! But, tonight in your honor of Whopping Cornbread...I present...JCK making cornbread stuffing with a little of this and that.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you, Nora! And those are a wonderful array of Thanksgiving memories that you shared.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I hope whoever makes the stuffing does a good job!

Dani in NC said...

You've had some interesting Thanksgiving dinners! My Thanksgiving history is boring by comparison. Where we both agree, however, is that it is all about the stuffing -- actually dressing in my house. It is the one side dish that I eat at other times of the year but I always think of Thanksgiving when I eat it. I can't imagine a holiday meal without it.

Brian said...

I'm a little late here, but we went to Colorado to GO TO YOUR FRIEND'S WEDDING IN LEADVILLE. Remember the high altitude and anoxia, etc? And yup, he was my cousin. Just saw him again a few months ago. He's still there, and now he's breeding.