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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grandma’s turkey dressing


Last Wednesday my wife and I got up early for the annual trip to pick up turkey dressing ,that's almost as good as my mom used to make it. We went to Luby's in Sugarland. I know some of you are thinking, turkey dressing is pretty easy to make but for some strange reason, my mother might have put some exotic ingredient in her dressing to make us say," that's not how grandma use to make it." I once heard some Dr. Phil- like person, say that “it's not that mother's food was any better; it's just what we got used to.” Whatever, if we want to get all philosophical about it, it might've been the holidays, family that blended together and played on our minds. Perhaps in our own way, we're trying to bring back a part of yesteryear that will inevitably take a different direction.

My mother was into multitasking way before the computer age. She would wake up at some ungodly hour to warm up her gas oven. It got where she had to light the pilot with a strike anywhere match. My stepfather would have to wake up with her because he carried the title of “assistant chef," whose job was to make the coffee, clean the vegetables, get down roaster and place the turkey inside. Then he would be on standby, just in case she needed him to go to Dicks for that last minute item. My family knew if we got to my mother's house by 8:00AM she would have fresh tortillas, eggs, potato round fries, mashed beans, and chili piquin salsa ready. It was amazing because no one ever knocked at the front door because everyone knew grandma would be in the kitchen preparing breakfast and dinner at the same time every Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. My mother used to have a long cord attached to her land line but we finally switched her to a cordless. Her cordless came in handy because she didn't have stray too far from the oven when she took that important call from one of the family members that wasn't going to make it that year, but they wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. It's funny because it was only the men folk who ate the breakfasts, and then we would go out to the front porch and greet the family members as they made their way inside.

We didn't have a television show-like Thanksgiving because my mother's house was too small. About eight of us sat at the main dining table, three more sat at the kitchen table, the children were scattered around the living room, and some took their plates to the front and back yard to eat. The latecomers found open places as people finished their meals. I can't remember my step dad or mother ever sitting at the table with us because they were busy serving everyone, making more tea, or answering the grand children's questions. At the end of the meal, we made our long one-hour goodbyes and promised our distant relatives that we would see each other more often but that never happened. We could always tell when it was nearing 2:30 PM because just about everyone wanted to get home to watch the 3:00PM Dallas Cowboy game.My mother caught on very quickly, although she wasn't a sports fan she knew football was part of Thanksgiving.  She once told me that she was pooped by 3:00PM and she needed her rest anyway.   My mother didn't have a television set, and she sent it through the grapevine, that she didn't want any alcohol at the meals. She said she didn't  want a drunk messing up the happy events. If you spent the holidays at my mother's house, it was because you wanted to because good company and good food was all that was on the menu.

I was shocked this morning when I noticed a man I'd met at a seminar died; he was only 58 years old. My good friend's name is Roy. L. Pickens, who was a supervisor at Dow Chemical. Roy always had a smile on his face, and every time we met, we couldn't simply have a one a two minute greeting, our conversation invariably lasted 30 minutes or more. It's funny because he was just an acquaintance who grew into being a good friend. I will miss him and may he rest in peace. It was my pleasure to call him my friend.


Edith Ann said...

So sorry about your friend. We have a funeral tomorrow for an aunt. At the visitation tonight I got to see a whole lot of cousins I have not seen in a while. We talked about growing up and the things we remember. And that reminded me of large family gatherings.

My father always made the dressing for our Thanksgiving meal. He turned that job over to me several years ago along with the recipe he used for the cornbread. That recipe is in his own hand, and it was given to him over seventy years ago by a cook at the children's home where he grew up.

I have to say I come very close to exactly replicating his dressing and the history and tradition of those pans of dressing are not forgotten.

I have already passed the recipe and secrets on to my son so that we don't forget to do that one day.

Thanksgiving at your grandmother's house sounds wonderful! I know you must have many fond memories. Thanks for sharing, and in case it gets too hectic next week--

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mike and to your readers!

Mike said...

Thanks, I appreciate your sympathy and kindness.

As I was waiting for my routine doctor's appointment, I struck up a conversation with a nurse about old traditions. She had the same problem of not getting a recipe before her mother died. We're both agreed that it would been difficult anyway because our mother's used a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Thinking back it would've been great to tape the whole thing.

I imagine I will see some common friends I had with the departed and will be surprised that we knew the same people.

Same Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.