Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Memories, Past and Those Not Yet Made

They're coming to my house for Thanksgiving this year. "They" are my family members: daughter, son, son's girlfriend, mother, maybe nephew. Counting my spouse, that's only six or seven of us planning to gather in my Winterville dining room this year. We'll dine on the usual: turkey, ham, dressing, cranberry sauce, vegetables, and, of course, pumpkin pie. I'm not an expert cook, like my grandmothers were. But I guess the point of this big meal on Thanksgiving day isn't the food. It's all about the family and others who eat the food together on this special day each year.

But the food sure comes in second on Thanksgiving day. Especially, the dressing. In my humble opinion, dressing, or stuffing, if you feel inclined to stuff the bird, is the star of this holiday meal. While I'm making my dressing, from cornbread I cook before I begin, I always think about my grandmothers' dressing from Thanksgivings past. Both contained cornbread, both were Southern recipes, but they were so different.

Grandmother Coile made her dressing in a big metal pan. It was greasy and featured a golden brown chicken in the middle of it, and it tasted heavenly. Grandmother Bailey made little dressing patties. First she mixed the ingredients, which included bell pepper. Then she carefully patted out each mound of dressing. Her dressing patties were to die for.

I'm lucky to make dressing at all (after looking up a recipe via Google). But I make it and somehow, it always turns out okay.

At least the family gathered in my Winterville dining room tells me the dressing is okay. And I'm thankful for that -- and my family. Happy Thanksgiving to you and
yours. I wish you a Thanksgiving holiday full of dressing and love.