Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving For Two

Ever since I can remember, my brother, sister and I would all pile in a car with my mom and drive three + hours (usually stopping 6-10 times to pee and 4-5 times to get some toy from the trunk) to Grandma Ella Mae's house for thanksgiving. We'd visit with family, wander around her HUGE yard and of course, eat amazing food. Over the years my tastes grew and changed but the one thing I'll always remember is her cornbread dressing. It is truly a thing of wonder and like anything else wondrously made by a woman of the south it is maddeningly made straight from her mind (read: no recipe) and it relies heavily on the ability to make good cornbread (as Alton says "crap in, crap out"). My mother claims to suck at making cornbread from scratch but I don't know because she's never made any since I've been around. And I have spent many years appreciating cornbread and food in general but up until a few months ago was never heavy into cooking.

This year like many since I've been grown, I couldn't make the trip down to Ella Mae's for thanksgiving (alas the life of a third shift retail worker). However this did give me the chance to take a crack at cornbread dressing myself and test out the theory that some skills skip a generation (mom) and turn up in the next one (me!). With the help of food network magazine I tried my hand.

Honestly I think it turned out pretty good, amazing even. I made the cornbread from scratch (woo!) on Monday and had a hard time leaving it alone (not eating it all up) so it could get stale enough to use on Wednesday. I only ran into a couple snags when making the dressing, 1) I managed to buy every ingredient except parsley which I just skipped and it was just fine, and 2) my celery froze in the fridge ( as you can see) but a quick google told me I could muddle through and use it anyway and it seemed just fine in the end. I also took a chance and halved the recipe when I noticed it called for 6 cups of cornbread and 8 cups of white bread and I am SO so glad I did. I was kind of doubting myself when I was first mixing it up but seeing as there's only the two of us eating it (boyfriend and I) the full recipe would have us eating dressing for days.

baked chicken with sage, more practical than a whole turkey for two people

I also made my second pie ever, which was another recipe that had me worrying. The recipe had me making the crust from scratch but not blind baking it before I put the filling in which was weird. I was worried it wouldn't cook all the way through but just like everything else I tried from Food Network magazine it was just fine. I even looked on the internet and learned how to make the fancy waves on the edges. The only problem I ran into (aside from trying to roll the pie crust into the pan, which was impossible and I just ended up pressing it in)was that the crust itself was kind of more like a shortbread than really a sturdy frame so while it was delicious it basically turned into a crumbly mess when I put it on the plate. That said it was 1000 times better than any bought pie crust I've ever tasted so I'll say it was worth the mess. The other  thing about baking a pecan pie for the first time is that it goes through a weird cycle where the custardy layer starts out all mixed together  but pushes the nuts to the top as it bakes, and around halfway through it sort of looked like a volcano that would completely erupt and spill out over the sides of the pie crust. I tried to keep a good thought and hope it would settle out as it cooled, and luckily, eventually it did.

Bewitchingly delicious, I baked all this up yesterday afternoon and it's already almost completely gone. To food network magazine I tip my hat, I think we'll be sampling your wisdom again come Christmas.

An now one more piece of pie, and I'm off to brave black Friday.

Pecan Pie
Cornbread Stuffing #31 only I added chicken to it like my grandmother does

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think, or just say hello. Your comments make my day!