Thanksgiving is just around the corner—although it’s kind of hard to tell with all the Christmas advertising that’s going on and it seems that Thanksgiving has evolved into “the day before Black Friday. So, I thought that I’d share a couple of recipes with you now just in case anyone wants to give it a try. But first, a little story about Thanksgiving:
The first Thanksgiving dinner I cooked was 27 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).
Anyway, Susan was born on Sunday morning and came home from the hospital Wednesday afternoon in the middle of an Iowa snowstorm. Our house was heated by fuel oil and as fate would have it, we ran out and the house was without heat. I called the oil company and was promised a quick delivery. In the meantime, I started a fire in the fireplace and put Susan’s bassinette in front of it.
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 27, is still “Dad’s girl”.
Cheap Bastid’s Incredibly Fantastic and Simple Corn Bread & Sausage Stuffing
1 lb breakfast sausage (regular or spicy—I like spicy)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup 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!!
Like most of my recipes, this is country/southern inspired. It’s the result of trial and error over the years of developing it until I’ve got it down. Many of my recipes I know by heart and just throw a little of this and a little of that into it from memory. But I only cook this a couple of times a year and so I use the recipe.
Give this a try and then send me a PM to let me know how it went and if you’ve got any suggestions for making it better.
In the next day or so I’ll post another dish for the Holidays—Mushroom Soupless Green Bean Casserole! It’s another Cheap Bastid original.