|The unachievable ideal|
This year is my first Thanksgiving cooking solo, a momentous occasion in the life of any American. Granted, the part of my turkey is going to be played by a chicken (we will make it a turkey with the power of belief) and the sweet potatoes are going to be roasted rather than covered with marshmallows (because I am English enough to realise that some American traditions are disgusting), but the stuffing, at least, comes with true American pedigree. It is not, indeed, just any stuffing recipe, because I have been entrusted with Grandma's Stuffing for Turkey. This marvellous and venerable piece of family tradition calls for, among other things, 15 cents of sausage meat. Fifteen cents of sausage meat! It's like a little piece of economic history in my hands.
Cooking from a handed-down recipe is like cooking with your ancestors right there in the kitchen with you, poking the electric scales and making disparaging comments about the price of butter these days. The fact of a family recipe is often much more important than what it actually tastes like - we have one recipe, the gloriously over-titled 'Phyllis's Mom's Icebox Rolls', which is brought out every Christmas morning and makes five trays of rock-hard, over-sugared death buns that then sit in the freezer for the next five months. And yet there's something about the teeth-chipping head-rush they bring that's part of what makes Christmas in the Bird household so special. Or 'special'. Take your pick.
And so, in honour of Thanksgiving, I give you Grandma's Stuffing for Turkey, with added translations by my mother.
Grandma's Stuffing for Turkey
1 1/2 loaves of stale bread crumbs (ca. 1 lb)
large onion fried in butter
The onion and celery being softened up
Celery. Use about the same amount as the onion and chop them up. Fry them with the onions.
ca 1 Tbsp thyme
2 tsp sage
1 tsp parsley
15 cents worth of pork sausage (!) I think this is about 1 pound.
(she says onion salt and celery salt, but I don't use these)
2 level tsp salt
Mix everything together except the eggs. Pour boiling water over the mixture until it's moist.
When you're ready to cook the turkey, beat the eggs and add 2 level tsp baking powder. Mix into the stuffing mixture and cook right away.
|Too much sausage?|
And talking about what it says on tins, my family's other great Thanksgiving classic, our pumpkin pie recipe, deserves a mention here too. English friends I feed it to often ask for the recipe, imagining, I think, something involving pre-dawn pumpkin gathering rituals and long hours boiling the gourds down to pulp afterwards.
Er. Not exactly.
What you do is:
1) source one tin of Libby's Pumpkin Pie Mix.
2) Follow the instructions on the back of it.
|The pastry and the pumpkin tin|
|Ready to blind-bake|
Cheat's Pumpkin Pie
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Filling goo in all its glory
425 g Libby's pumpkin filling
6 oz sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 pint (284 ml) Carnation evaporated milk - this is about 2/3 of the tin you get in supermarkets.
Put it in your pastry case, put that in the oven at 170 C and cook for 40-50 minutes. Leave to cool and then serve with whipped cream. And then have a heart attack.
|The finished pie.|
So, happy Thanksgiving, Americans and those who love them! If you haven't eaten your body weight by the time the day's over then you haven't really been trying.