Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Stuffing--Monday Memory

Leave it to the Americans to create a holiday that is solely about feasting. I really regret it when I eat so much that my stomach hurts. But when you make certain foods only once or twice a year, it is so hard to moderate your intake.

Thanksgiving is all about tradition, as is Christmas. I find it interesting that each generation creates its own traditions. It is also the time to tell stories about family. The older I get, the more interested I get in the generations before. You'd think this wouldn't be hard, considering I'm into history, but it helps when you get to see photographs of the earlier generations and get to compare. Family resemblance is so amazing. Especially when you compare the photos of youth of each generation. It can be so shocking to see your brother, sister or cousin's face staring at you from the photo of your great grandmother or your grandfather.

Then there's the food. What midwest holiday meal wouldn't be complete without a Jello "salad?" You know the kind, orange jello with mandarin oranges, or orange jello with carrots and pineapple, lime jello cottage cheese salad, lime jello coleslaw salad, orange fluff, you get the picture. So, we did have jello with cranberries and a bunch of other yummy chopped up flavors, but we were conspicuously missing the lemon apple salad that I know is a recipe of my maternal grandmother's (though, she could have gotten it from a magazine). It includes lemon jello, apples, walnuts, and celery, mayonaise and marshmallows (what jello salad doesn't throw in marshmallows?). I can see some of you cringing and I was surprised when I found out all the ingredients, but it is one of my favorites. It was on the menu the next day, but I missed having it with the turkey. The cranberry jello salad is excellent and good with turkey, but still.

Our Thanksgiving dinner also revolved around a discussion of the merits of different kinds of stuffing. If you didn't know there could be so many kinds of stuffing, you should look it up sometime (oh, no, wait, check this out). My brother's (and also my parents' and sister's) favorite is a kind we make in a crock pot (slow cooker). I didn't know that it was a recipe out of a magazine from some time after my parents were no longer going to their parents' for Thanksgiving. I knew it wasn't my paternal grandmother's recipe, because I seem to remember rice in hers and cooking in one of those large throw away aluminum pans in the oven. But I didn't know it was not related to previous generations at all, until this year. Which was kind of funny to me, because it is not Thanksgiving or Christmas without generous helpings of it. My brother was all for it and my parents made extra so he could have some to take home. I, too, really like that stuffing. It has mushrooms, onions, celery, bread cubes, lots of seasonings and chicken broth. It is very soft stuffing. Ok, fine, it is mushy stuffing, but, oh, so good! My husband is not so keen on the mushrooms, nor the mushiness.

The characteristics of stuffing were mulled over as we asked my brother and his girlfriend what kind of stuffing they had at the two dinners they had the day before. My brother essentially said it wasn't as good as what we have. Mr. Wild put in his two cents and sang the praises of stuffing that MS made a year ago, I think, which was more firm and included cranberries. It was lovely stuffing, but it won't bring up the cosy feeling I get when I have the stuffing in the crock pot. Still, I have to get the recipe. Maybe it will be a new family tradition.

I wonder why I don't make these special dishes more often. I enjoy them, they are very tasty, yet I save them for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Ah well, 24 more days until I get stuffed again.

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