These days, folks seem to think that I should know how to pull together the traditional Pilgrim sort of meal and really expect it to sort of resemble Mama's. These days folks seem to think I might ought to know what I'm doing. These days, folks want the whole turkey and traditional sides and dressing.
That is one of those dishes that has never really been my favorite. I generally eat about one or two helpings of it per year. I started out eating it just to be polite even thought I didn't really like the taste of it. I have grown to appreciate the taste of it at this stage of my life, though.
How can I claim to be a southern woman if I don't like dressing?
For goodness sake! It is a staple of holiday side dishes!
Somehow for fifty-four years I have kept that on the down-low and squeaked by, I guess.
Anyway, this year, Mike and I are hosting the Thanksgiving Feast. We are the Grown-Ups. The Grandparents.
I don't have any qualms about the turkey. After all, we have cooked Big Tom and it turned out delicious. So, cooking a normal sized turkey should be a breeze. I have looked at all the resources for preparing a good turkey - Pioneer Woman, Martha, the Neely's, etc. I have delved into all the cookbook sources I have here - Paula Deen's, Martha's, Blue Willow Inn's, Betty Crocker's, Better Homes and Garden's, Nolensville Historical Society's - just to name a few. So, I think I'm ready to roll with my turkey.
I have prepared most of the sides at one time or the other - sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, cranberry salad, rolls, etc. All of that has been attempted with success at some point in my past. So, no worries there.
I do have just a wee bit of nagging anxiety about the dressing, though.
Yes, the dressing.
Mike tried to make me feel better and offered, "it can't be that hard. Lots of different people have cooked it for our family gatherings."
Lots of people have made it for our family gatherings over the years, too. I guess he just hasn't been in the loop, though. You know what I'm talking about. That cluster of folks who are together lingering in the kitchen or over at the table after everybody's belly is full and the children have been bundled and bustled outside to do their running and the men are kicked back in front of the television and half dozing.
That little cluster of women who are sharing recipes and talking about their children or grandchildren. That little cluster of women who are sitting over to the side nursing a slice of pie. Those three or four who are cleaning up the last little bit. One is washing the pan the rolls were baking on and one has the dish towel to dry and another is sorting the silverware and putting it back in the drawer. You know the clusters of women I'm talking about.
One year they quietly muttered about one of the aunt's dressing because it was, "just a little on the dry side." Another time somebody's eyebrows climbed up their forehead as they murmured that the dressing was, "a bit on the runny side." Yet another time, somebody twitched a little and whispered that the dressing was, "just too bland." Still another time, somebody snarled a bit and out of the side of her mouth uttered that the dressing, "had too much sage." I've heard it called, "cooked plum to death," or "not quite done," and "just too chunky," and lots of other things. I know you've heard the same sort of thing, now haven't you?
So, the pressure is on.
Being a grown up is tough!