The first Thanksgiving dinner I cooked was 26 years ago this year. Since then, I’ve tried to cook it each year or to cook at least a portion of this celebratory feast. The reason is simple, it’s my way to celebrate my daughter’s birth.
Susan was born on the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 1983. The funny part is that my wife went into labor on Saturday and we spent the entire evening timing contractions while I peeled 50 pounds of potatoes for a holiday lunch the next day at church (I was too stubborn to rely on “fake” instant potatoes and insisted on “real” mashed potatoes).
She snoozed the afternoon away, snug and warm oblivious to the weather or to the lack of heat. A couple hours later, I called the fuel oil company back and inquired when they might be arriving. I also told them that we were out of oil and had just brought Susan home from the hospital. The response was, “Well why didn’t you say so, I’ll make sure that you’re next.” We had a full tank within the hour. That’s the blessing of living in a town of 6,000.
We were planning on not doing a Thanksgiving dinner that year but I got to thinking. “If there were ever a time to truly give thanks wouldn’t it be in celebration of the birth of a child?”
So I called my Mom for advice. Mom’s not the world’s greatest cook but she gave me a couple of tips for putting together a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was a boned and pressed one which didn’t take much effort to slap into the oven. Stuffing was packaged as were the sweet potatoes and cranberry relish. The gravy was jarred but the potatoes were real, peeled and boiled. Lastly, the pie was frozen.
Over the years, my cooking of this feast has gotten a lot more involved and sophisticated. But, each year, I take time to not only be thankful for all that life has provided but also for that special little girl in my life who, even at age 26 and now engaged to a great guy named Nathan, is still “Dad’s girl”.
Susan & Nathan, Oct. 2009
Cheap Bastid’s Incredibly Fantastic and Simple Corn Bread & Sausage Stuffing
2 boxes Jiffy corn bread mix
1 lb breakfast sausage (regular or spicy—I like spicy)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup golden raisins (or chopped dried apricots)
1 large chopped granny smith apple
2/3 cup diced green onion
2 cans reduced sodium turkey/chicken broth
Make the corn bread according to directions in a 9 x 9 pan (you can do this the night before too). Brown the sausage in a medium skillet. Drain and set aside.
Chop all the vegetables. Now, dump everything but the corn bread in a big bowl and stir it up. Add some black pepper (plus I like some chipotle too). Crumble up the corn bread and add to the bowl and mix in. Then slowly add one can of the broth and stir everything together. (You’re looking for the right consistency here—not too dry and not too moist). If you pick up a handful, it should clump and feel damp but not feel wet. If it’s not moist enough, add about 1/3 of the 2nd can then test again. You shouldn’t have to add all of the 2nd can—maybe half at the most.
When you’ve got it the right consistency, test for flavor. You should get some spice, some meatiness, some sweet and just a little kick on your tongue. Adjust your seasoning if needed.
Put into a baking/casserole dish and either use a glass cover or a foil cover.
Put into the oven at 350 for an hour covered. Then uncover it and let it go another half hour. Check it then and remove if done or give it a bit more time. Enjoy it with your Thanksgiving bird!!
I’m not going to go through all the Cheap Bastid budget stuff with this recipe other than to say that it’s really quite reasonable in its ingredients and simplicity. Plus, this is really, really tasty. Enjoy it as you’re giving thanks.
And that’s the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good, Eat Cheap, Be Grateful!