Monday, November 10, 2008


I consider myself to be a pretty good cook. I use shortcuts, and convenience items at times, but seriously? I prefer homemade.

Except for broths and stocks. I use pre-made stocks and broths for EVERYTHING…..and they are quite good in my humble, home cook opinion. So, for those of you that are chef-ey types, don’t criticize me for my shortcut techniques……

I made my stuffing last night for dinner. Man, was it a carb fest dinner!! A little ham, very little potato (don’t want to overdo on the carbs, now), a serving of rice and a HUGE PLATEFUL of stuffing doused with gravy. The boys wanted CORN of all things…so much for my green veggie…I skipped the corn. Not a huge fan.

I’m a stuffing snob. I like plain old stuffing. No fruit, no organs, no nuts… fancy breads……even cornbread is out in my book. Here is my recipe for plain old fashioned stuffing.

(NOTE: All amounts are guesses….it depends on how much bread one uses……)

3-4 ribs of celery sliced
1 huge onion, diced
1 to 1 and a half sticks of BUTTER (not margarine)
A lot of stale bread ( I used approximately 8 torn up sandwich rolls—toast the bread in the oven if you don’t have the time to let it get hard and stale on it’s own)
1 qt chicken stock or broth
3T poultry seasoning
Salt/pepper to taste

Sauté the celery and onion in the butter til veggies are soft.

Add the chicken broth, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to the veggies. Let it simmer a few minutes.

Put the toasted bread in a huge bowl, and slowly pour (in several batches is my suggestion) the broth and veggies over the bread. Stir frequently between liquid adding……add enough broth til the bread is equally coated (damp) with the broth. Some pieces WILL get saturated---that’s what happens when dry bread has liquid poured on it, but try to avoid COMPLETELY soggy bread.

Add a beaten egg for stabilization if you want to….I didn’t this time.

Pour mixture into a greased pan (9x13 for what I made) and bake until set and the top is crunchy.

Use your favorite gravy and EAT UP.

Oh, something else I am not fond of? Stuffing inside a bird, or other types of meat. I like my stuffing crunchy on the edges…..not soft and soggy from inside a bird. Besides, I’m poultry paranoid and despite all the proper cooking techniques, I’d rather not stuff up a bird. It sort of grosses me out.

Anyway, we had a spiral ham (pretty hard to stuff that)….and I threw the carb fest in for the rest of the dinner. Yum.

A funny story about stuffing making in my family: My grandma and Great Aunt Jessie would begin saving bread heels and misc. bread for what seemed like a REALLY long time before Thanksgiving and Christmas. They’d toss it into a paper bag in their kitchen and let it sit and dry out. I assume they’d shake the bag up occasionally to allow all bread to get stale instead of moldy……

Anyway, my Great Uncle A.J. one day, came into the kitchen prior to the feast making began and carefully cleaned the stray hair from his comb and threw it into the ‘trash’. Unknowingly, he tossed the clump of hair into the BREAD sack…….I don’t remember the ending of that story….if they picked the hair out (knowing Grandma and Jessie, they probably did), or just bemoaned the loss of the long saved stale bread.

I’m also going to give you all my family’s famous (or infamous) rice casserole recipe too. It’s been in my Paternal family for years. My Maternal family adopted it too, and we never have a holiday or special meal without it.

It sounds simple and unusual (plain)…but don’t knock it……it’s REALLY good.

2 cans of consommé (soup aisle). NOT BEEF BROTH
1 cup long cook rice (no minute rice here, folks)
1 small can of mushrooms (drained)
1/3 stick of butter.

Put all ingredients into a casserole dish (2 qt??) with a tight lid. Bake at 350 for one hour, or a little longer (until liquid is absorbed into the rice). It goes well with all types of meat---turkey, ham, roast beef.

It sounds all homey and soup-ish, but it is actually quite good, and quite easy. Kids LOVE it……..

Well, that’s all the cooking tips I have today. In exchange for my Holiday recipes, please PLEASE, tell me how to make good gravy. I cheated and used a bottled brown gravy last night---which isn’t too bad, but seriously? Using the drippings from meat to make gravy kind of grosses me out, too……… Grandma Winnie made the best gravy EVER….and I know she used drippings, but I didn’t have to see it. I just ate the final result. Anyway, I need good gravy recipes. I suck at gravy making.



saratogajean said...

I don't know if you can make good gracy without using drippings. My mom makes a delicious gravy by just cooking down (in a large saucepan) whatever juices are left from whatever she's cooking, then adding some water with corn starch whisked in it to thicken it up.

This gravy gets lumpy when you try to reheat it, though. -4 pts., Mom.

Kate said...

I'm all about the pan drippings. Sorry! But my mom's been known to use some broth with poultry seasoning thrown in, cooked down a bit with a milk/flour roux to thicken it. It's not the same though.