Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bread Dressing

Growing up close to two sets of grandparents, the challenges of spending holidays with two different groups just became too difficult and an agreed upon division of holidays was established. Thanksgiving days were spent with the Schierlings.

This seemed appropriate, as my Grandma Schierling loved to cook - and loved to see her family eat. One could hardly visit without hearing "Are you hungry?" or "If you open that oven door, you'll find a pan of (brownies, pie, cinnamon rolls...)."

She wasn't an experimental cook, though. Oh, from time to time she'd try a new recipe or play around with an old one. But for the most part, she had her standards. Thanksgiving dinner consisted of the 1950ish menu of turkey, mashed potatoes (bowls of both instant ones because they were easy and real ones for those hard-to-please people), flour-thickened gravy, pistachio pudding, store-bought rolls, and homemade pumpkin pie. And her bread dressing. This was her signature Thanksgiving dish, quite distinct from any other stuffing I'd ever seen or tasted. As a youngster, I never much cared for it. I preferred the sweeter, stickier, straight-from-the-box stuff. But as I got older, I began to see the beauty in her dressing.

It's nothing fancy. Just some onions, celery, bread, and seasonings. All together, it comes out rather dry. But served with a little good gravy, it's rather tasty.

Two years ago, I called her and asked her for her Thanksgiving dressing recipe. She explained to me how she made it, and I jotted down notes, trying to get some specifics as we went. But after we hung up, she worried that she might have forgotten some things and decided to write it out for me:

I loved getting her card in the mail with the recipe written out in her distinct handwriting. However, I must confess - comparing it to my notes left me a little confused. One t. poultry seasoning and 1/2 c. butter are a far cry from the amounts called for in her recipe. And I have down to bake it at 325 (for an hour ... just in case you were wondering). However, my notes concur that all should be done "till tastes right."

This year, she's not here to make it for us, so we're going to have to give Grandma's bread dressing a whirl on our own. Hopefully, a year hasn't been too long to remember what tasting right tastes like. I have a feeling, though, that we're just not going to be able to get it exactly the same.


Aly sun said...

This is really touching. I am glad you have the recipe card in her handwriting -- that is special. Hope your Thanksgiving is full of happy memories and fun new ones.

sufferingsummer said...

great now I'm crying. My grandmother passed away this last year...not an easy year of holidays is coming up. This post is beautiful and lovely.
Are you going home for the holiday?

Melanie said...

Hi Summer -
Yes, I have been thinking about my grandma lately. Thanksgiving will probably be a little easier since we won't be with any family, but still...
We are going back to Oregon for a week around Christmas.

Steph said...

I have a bit of my grandmother's handwriting, and it's one of the most precious things of hers that I have. Such a gift you have here!

Congratulations - you won my tea giveaway! Please email me with your snail mail address at:

Sarah said...

This made me miss my grandma too and all the good things she made that were uniquely hers that I just can't reproduce, even with the recipes. I hope your Thanksgiving is meaningful for the two of you and you're not too homesick.