It’s that time once again to get your elastic waistband clothing out of the closet and prepare for another Thanksgiving feast. Diets will be discontinued on this special day and the folks who always enjoy throwing out bad news during fun events are doing it again by telling us that the average Tennessean may consume over 3000 calories at one sitting before the sun sets Thanksgiving evening. The good news is that the cost of the dinner to consume those holiday calories is down by a $1.70 from last year, only costing $42.91 for a turkey meal and all the trimmings. And, it is all because of a farmer somewhere.
As families across this country on Thanksgiving Day make their way from the annual Thanksgiving feast in their dining rooms, and settle down on the couch in front of the TV for an afternoon nap, I hope their dreams will include Tennessee’s and America’s farmers. Without our farmers none of the traditional foods of the season would even be possible.
It has also been reported that this year like last year, more people will be having their Thanksgiving meal at home and as Martha Stewart would say, “That is a good thing.” (She is a good one to quote this time of the year.) It is good because that is the way it should be. Families gathered together around the table in the dining room offering thanks for many of our blessings we too often take for granted.
One of our greatest blessings as Americans is the abundance we have in this country. As families gather around their dining room table on Thanksgiving, many enjoy a safe and affordable bounty of food products. Nowhere else in the world will the amount and variety be found like what will be exhibited on tables across this country. From the turkey to the pumpkin pie, and the cranberry sauce to the dressing, America’s citizenry will enjoy a day of eating like no other.
I am sure many of you noticed I used the term “dressing” in the last sentence. For those of you who do not know what dressing is, let me translate. In the South stuffing is called dressing and in the North dressing is called stuffing. Since this is my story and my Thanksgiving pondering, I will use the term dressing because I am from the South and the term stuffing is not very appealing to those of us south of the Mason Dixon Line.
To me, stuffing is something you would find in a couch or a previously live animal that now hangs on the wall. Dressing is made from a mixture of cornbread and other great tasting items that no one could put together like my mother. That is another thing to be thankful for on this special holiday. No matter where you live or what you call it, you have the freedom to do so without any problem or fear.
For you folks who have never made dressing, let me give you a recipe that won the 2008 National Cornbread Festival’s 4-H Cornbread Cook-off, which I just happened to have judged. Next to my mama’s, it was the best dressing I have ever tasted and it was so good I prepared it myself last Thanksgiving and got all kinds of compliments from the family. Using Lodge cast iron cookware, I fixed Meigs County 4-H member Justin Crittenden’s Country Cornbread Dressing recipe and got excellent results.
First, you preheat your oven to 415 degrees. Next mix together 2 ¼ cups of cornmeal, ½ cup of milk, ¾ cup of buttermilk, 1 egg, and 1 rounded tablespoon of mayonnaise. Pour the mixed ingredients into a well-greased 8″ cast iron skillet and bake for 30 minutes until brown. Once it is finished baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Your next step after the cornbread has cooled is to prepare the dressing ingredients. Crumble the cornbread and 2 to 3 slices of lite bread into a bowl. Next add ½ onion chopped, 1 tsp of poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 2-3 teaspoons of sage, rubbed. The amount of sage depends on your likes and dislikes. Mix all of the ingredients well and then add 1 stick of melted butter, 1 egg, ½ cup of half and half or evaporated milk, 1 cup of chicken broth, and ½ of a can of cream of chicken soup. Be sure to mix all of this well and pour into a greased 10 ½” square cast iron skillet. Spread the rest of the can of the cream of chicken soup on top of the dressing ingredients mixture and bake for 45 minutes in a 350-degree preheated oven until lightly brown.
It makes enough for 16 servings and get ready for someone missing out on seconds. And, if you have never been the one to make the dressing each year, get ready for a new responsibility. Just don’t call it stuffing.
As you gather around your table and offer your prayers of thanks, remember our farmers, our country and our soldiers in foreign fields of war. And, be sure to ask God to continue to bless America.
Enjoy the dressin’ and Happy Thanksgiving!