Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving at My House

When I was a preschooler and kindergartener, my family lived with my maternal grandparents, Raymond and Eva. They were a typical Pennsylvania German couple, but extraordinary grandparents. At the holidays, Gram would take out her huge White Westinghouse electric roaster for making the bird--it created a lot more room in her modest oven for other things, such as her stuffing.

Gram believed in slow roasting, and so all night long on Thanksgiving Eve (and Christmas Eve), I would smell the turkey roasting. The only lockable door in the entire house was for the bathroom, and my bedroom then was at the top of the stairs. I can remember lying in my bed, letting the soft, golden glow from the kitchen enrobe me as I dozed off to sleep, my head full of the scent of roasting turkey.

As the only granddaughter, I had special privileges. One of those was receiving her "good dishes" when I became an adult and she was ready for me to take over making Thanksgiving dinner. She earned those dishes either from a grocery store or by making deposits in a banking account, but to me they are more valuable than any that might have a Tiffany label on them. It was my joy to be able to present a meal for my Gram after all those years of enjoying her food. Several years ago, as Alzheimers slowly took her memory and her sociability and she became more frail, she stopped coming to Thanksgiving dinner, but I would take a plate to her the following day.

This is my first Thanksgiving without my Gram. I sure do miss her, but I'll get through it by giving thanks for the wonderful years I had with her, by using her good dishes, and by making sure the house is filled with the scent of roasting turkey.

Gram's Holiday Stuffing

Makes one 9 x 13 pan (serves 8-10)

1 loaf of bread, torn into pieces
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 potatoes, cooked and mashed
Parsley, salt, and pepper, to taste
Other spices, such as poultry seasoning, to taste
1-2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2-3 cups milk or chicken broth

One or two days ahead, set out torn bread pieces to dry, occasionally tossing the pieces to ensure even drying.

Preheat oven to 350. In a skilled over medium heat, saute chopped celery and onions in a bit of olive oil or butter for about 5 minutes, or until celery is soft. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the celery and onions, cooled mashed potatoes, and seasonings. Add the eggs and chicken broth and mix with bare hands until well combined.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 30 minutes.

Gram's hint: To retain moisture in the stuffing, place a lasagna pan half-filled with hot water in the bottom of the oven.


Shirley Jump said...

Love that tip on the pan with water to keep the stuffing moist! I made a note on my Thanksgiving plan to do that too (hopefully I have room and not twenty other things in there, LOL).

Hugs to you on the first Thanksgiving without your Gran. I know how hard that can be. But I'm sure she'll be watching and smiling over the fabulous job you'll do :-)

Richard said...

Oh you brought a tear to my eye and fond memories of my grammy too. Like the year she fell in the garbage bag and we had to pull her out of it!!!


Kathryn Craft said...

We've lost touch--so sorry to hear about the loss of your Gram. That glorious table setting did her proud, as did, I am quite sure, your cooking.