Stuffing

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. It’s been a very long, very difficult year with the Covid 19 pandemic. But I will talk about that another day…

Today, it’s about stuffing. Thanksgiving is upon us and this year, nothing is the same. Families are being advised not to gather to celebrate unless you all live together. People are planning outdoor meals, which may not be a bad thing because it’s been a very mild Fall so far…in fact, it’s hard to believe December 1 is just days away. My usual plans for the holiday were cancelled, just like so many other people. But I wanted to make the day as “normal” as I could. So it was time to make stuffing. Mom’s stuffing.

Mom always made her stuffing from scratch. No Pepperidge Farm or Stove Top for her! She would reach deep into the cabinet and pull out the old meat grinder. I’m not sure but I think when I was a kid in the 60’s, that old grinder was 100 yrs old….and I’m pretty sure either my sister or my brother has it now, complete with the falling apart shoe box she kept it in.

She would attach the grinder to the counter and run a couple of pieces of bread through it just to make sure there was no left over rust on the inside. And then in would go the onions and celery. By the time she was done grinding, she would be weeping tears from onion fumes but that was all part of the process. Out would come the cast iron frying pan and she would drop two sticks of butter in and melt that down. In would go the onions and celery and the aroma filled the house. It was wonderful. And then of course she would add a significant amount of the famous Bell’s Seasoning. Everyone uses that, right?

In a Revere pan on the stove, she would boil the turkey neck and gizzards and set it aside for later. She had a big yellow Pyrex glass bowl (I still have it!) and she would take “stuffing bread” and tear it into small pieces in the bowl. I always helped tearing the bread. Stuffing bread is really just plain white bread that is not sliced…but is marketed as “stuffing bread”…and yes, I buy it. Once the bread was ready and the onions and celery were soft, she would pour that over the bread and start to mix it up. That water she had that was flavored from the turkey neck would be used a cup at a time to moisten the bread and help mix the vegetables in. She would sprinkle some more Bell’s in as necessary. Can you smell it? I can….

It was a an art to get the water/bread mixture just right. You can’t have too much and you can’t have too little. But you just knew when enough was enough. I watched Mom make this stuffing every year at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas. And then that old grinder would go back in the box for another year.

I made stuffing today. I don’t have a grinder so I chopped the celery and onions by hand. And I weeped over the onions, just like Mom did. I have to confess that I make the stuffing a little different than she did. I add sausage and apple to the mixture. Other than that, it is the same. I tore the bread by hand and boiled the parts, just like she did. She would probably not approve of the additions I make but she would approve of me making it by hand, like she did.

So much is different this year. But I will have turkey, stuffed with Mom’s stuffing and it will feel a little more normal. I hope you can find a little normal in your holiday. And eat stuffing!

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