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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stuff(ing) of Legend

With all the heartwarming messages of thanks and warm wishes across the blogosphere, I thought I'd do something different and BEG for help.

My cooking is nothing to brag about. It's okay. It won't kill you. And sometimes it even looks nice on the table. But I have no finesse, none of the pageantry my kid sister puts into her meals, or the gourmet magic my father used to inject into his food. And my best friend? She could rival Martha Stewart with one hand tied behind her back.

Let's face it, despite being surrounded by good cooks and culinary fashionistas, I'm a washout.

Even my mother-in-law showed me up.

I'll be honest. I did not like her cooking. It was too dry for my taste and most of it too lightly flavored. Greg liked it, but that's what he grew up eating. Today, he'd never touch the stuff because God bless him, he got used to my cooking. LOL.

But there was one thing my mother-in-law excelled at. Stuffing. So help me, in 35 years I've never been able to duplicate it. And my mother-in-law died before I had the sense to ask her for the recipe.

I've tried savory stuffing, sausage stuffing, and crunchy stuffing. Last year I even made my own cornbread to make the stuffing. None of them could compare to hers.

I'm thinking she used a particular spice that really brought out the flavor in her stuffing. I mean it's bread, right? How hard could it be?

Yet, I've never been able to reproduce it for my table. Every Thanksgiving, I ask Greg if it tastes like his mother's and every year I fail. It's good, he says. But it's not Mom's.

Rats! There's always next year.

So fellow friends and hearty eaters, if you get a chance, can you share your stuffing recipe? Or at least tell me what seasonings you use. I'm tired of my mother-in-law's ghost snickering at me over my shoulder.

Regardless of when you celebrate, the sentiment's the same. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

30 comments:

Linda Leszczuk said...

Maria, I cheat. I start with Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix. All the seasonings are in there already. Then I fancy it up by adding pretty much everything in the kitchen - onions, mushrooms, apples, raisins, etc. Works for my clan.

I had trouble living up to my mother-in-law's cooking, too, but luckily she made all traditional Polish dishes and I stuck to the American so I didn't have to face comparisons.

Hope your day yesterday was a good one.

Marianne Arkins said...

My dad shared a "secret" recipe for Portguese stuffing that included sage (the only time I use sage in my cooking) and cinnamon (which I found weird, but which really made the dish). Sadly, no one but me will eat it because it also uses chicken gizzards. :-/

Good luck!

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I don't use fruit in mine. And I don't remember if she used it in hers. hmm...that might be something to try for next year. Thanks.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: I've used sage and I like it. But never cinnamon. Do you taste the cinnamon?

I love it with chicken gizzards! I do that too.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

i was going to say sage and cinnamon as well. I'm in a cooking club and last month we all made stuffing. The one that tasted most "traditional" had the most sage and also some cinnamon

jackie b central texas said...

Sorry no spices but black pepper for me and mine.... I make homemade cornbread, crumble it up into a pan and add chopped scallion onions and celery and about a pound of cooked ground chicken liver, 2 or 3 cans of Low Sodium chicken broth and of course sprinkle black pepper and mix it up and then stuff in and around Mr Tom Turkey.. My MIL uses sage in the same stuffing recipe with the result that we will not eat her stuffing...
I have a recipe gotten yesterday from a lady in Canada that is "English Stuffing" you might like too, will email it to you...

jackie >_<

Dru said...

Sorry I can't help you as I'm no cook and also I do not like stuffing or dressing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Cinnamon again. I would have never considered it, but that sounds like a spice she would use. (I've never been a big cinnamon fan.)

Thanks, Sarah!

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: I got your email. Thanks! I don't know about letting it sit in the garage overnight. I think British garages are colder than mine. LOL.

But now that I'm butchering my own chickens I will definitely use my own stock next year.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: I'm okay with takeout. LOL.

Mason Canyon said...

Sorry I'm no help either. My family and DH go for dressing. I'd say the sage, onions, celery, butter, an egg and maybe a touch of Oregano would work great with your cornbread mixture and chicken stock. Best of luck.
Happy Thanksgiving you and yours.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Sherri said...

I thought I had it on my blog but I guess I never got around to posting it and am too lazy at the moment to get it...so 'to be continued' LOL

I do turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas (usually) so I do two different versions. My Thanksgiving one is more of a harvest dressing with apples and nuts in it. While the Christmas one is more basic. Either way, I don't stuff the bird but cook the dressing in my crock-pot.

Happy Thanksgiving Maria. Hope you and yours have a wonderful day.

Melissa McClone said...

I don't have a regular stuffing recipe. Sorry. Last year I tried crockpot stuffing to free up my oven. It tasted good, but didn't look so good. I hope you find that perfect recipe and will share!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sue Roebuck said...

It's not a holiday here :-( and I'm an awful cook too! But since you begged for help, what could I do but try to help? My sister-in-law uses chestnuts in her stuffing. Does that help? LOL

Mike Keyton said...

Sage, porkmeat and black pepper essential. But I cheat. Get some 'Marks and Spencers' sage and porkmeat stuffing flown in and then sit back and take the compliments

Maria Zannini said...

Mason: I wonder if it's my ratio of ingredients that I'm getting wrong?

**

Sherri: I should have asked you from the start. You always have good recipes on your blog. I've never tried the crock pot method.

Who knows, may be I'll try dressing for Christmas too. I usually make a rib roast for Christmas dinner. Thanks!

Maria Zannini said...

Melissa: Your crock pot recipe didn't look good? I don't use my crock pot much other than making pulled pork, but I wonder if it's a case of too much liquid. I'll have to look into that.

**

Sue: Oh that brings back memories. I used to put chestnuts in mine too. I seem to think my MIL did too. I really should have asked her for that recipe! LOL. Thanks.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: It might be easier if I just flew you here to make the stuffing. LOL.

Poor guy. You and Greg will be doing an awful lot of cooking while you're here. B and I will go into Dallas and stay out of your way. ;-)

Carlos J Cortes said...

Shame on you...
Prepare some early draft stuffing, no spices or flavoring, other than salt and a touch of ground pepper (black.)

Divide your early draft into scenes, say a teaspoon's worth each, more like a paragraph.

To the first lump, add a pinch of ground cummin. To the second, a little ground nutmeg. To the third a whiff of rosemary. To the next one a touch of thyme. Continue until the end of the chapter.

Editing procedure.

Settle down with a piece of dry toast or a cracker, a glass of decent red and your stuffing sampler. Taste the first, annotate your impressions on a scrap of paper. Take a bite of the toast. Sip the wine. Taste the next sample, etc.

If one of your paragraphs rings a bell, set aside, divide into smaller portions, add a synonym, taste, continue editing.

If you finish the wine and the results are not conclusive, have some more.

Hey, you may never achieve perfection but your cheeks will take on an enviable rosy glow.

Maria Zannini said...

Carlos: Well, that explains the rosy glow on my MIL. LOL.

Ref: nutmeg
I've never used nutmeg in stuffing. I've obviously led a very sheltered life.

Hope you're with your family today.

Wenj said...

My mom makes hands down the best stuffing that I have ever tasted and truly it couldn't be simpler.

Simply crumble some bread (white or wheat, dried preferable) in to large chunks. Crumble some cornbread or cheat and use Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing Mix. Add 2 boxes of chicken broth (32 oz I believe), 3 eggs, 2 tbs. garlic, and then add sage. To gauge how much sage to use, simply use your nose. When it smells good, stop. LOL Add 2 tbs poultry seasoning and pop the bird on top! Or don't. Up to you.

Hope this helps some! Everyone's recipes look delicious!!

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Wenj

Joanna St. James said...

me who cannot cook to save my life is officially amazed at all the comments here

Maria Zannini said...

Wenj: I wonder if I'm over-thinking stuffing. It wouldn't surprise me. :)

I do remember sage being an ingredient in my MIL's stuffing, but I can't remember the rest.

It could be too that the stuffing 'gets better' with memory, turning it into a kind of urban legend--or in this case, a Thanksgiving legend.

Thanks!

Maria Zannini said...

Joanna, I say you, me and Dru connect the dots between all the commenters and just eat our way between homes.

I'm anxious to try some of these recipes. I will definitely make it for Christmas and report back.

L'Aussie said...

Like Joanna, I'm amazed at the attention to detail stuffing is worthy of! When I stuff a chook I just tear bread, add finely-chopped onion, minced garlic, mixed spices and a few herbs, a little water and squish it around and it tastes divine (to me and mine!) Hope you find your stuffing utopia Maria!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Maria Zannini said...

Denise: But isn't it amazing how many variations there are?

I have to admit, I'd much rather someone else do the cooking. I'll wash dishes. :)

Thanks for popping in L'Aussie!

Kaz Augustin said...

I'd say thyme with the sage but then again, I cook forcemeat rather than a straight bread-only stuffing. I prefer the taste. And I opt every time for goose over turkey! Delish!

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Kaz! What's forcemeat? Is that like sausage?

I asked Greg if he wanted goose, but he asked for turkey. I don't really care. I prefer the side dishes to the main dish.

Nick said...

In the original posting you said: Rats!
There you go.

Maria Zannini said...

Nick: There are some things I won't try. ;-)