My favorite recipe to make during fall, especially for Thanksgiving, is cornbread stuffing. The recipe that I use came from my mother. She was born and raised in Germany, so she never experienced a Thanksgiving until she met my father while he was stationed in her country with the army. They moved all along the U.S. west coast and ended up in Tucson, Arizona, where she first started learning how to cook “American” food. I made her recipe on Thursday this week, and while it was cooking, I decided to chat with her about it over coffee.
Me: How long have you been making this cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving?
Mom: Since 1975.
Me: How did you discover the recipe?
Mom: Your dad took me to a friend’s house in Tucson for my first Thanksgiving dinner, and his mother served cornbread stuffing like this.
Me: And you asked for the recipe?
Mom: Yes. It originally had apple in it, but I avoided adding that once you and your brothers came along.
Me: Did you ever have “traditional” stuffing on Thanksgiving?
Mom: Yes, your aunts make the regular stuffing, and it’s fine. We ate that if we were with them for the holiday. I just prefer the cornbread kind, so that’s what I serve.
Me: Did you eat anything like this in Germany?
Mom: Well, we obviously didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and turkey was not a very common food served back then. I ate potato salad, but not mashed potatoes.
Me: Did you like Thanksgiving dinner?
Mom: No, not really. It was weird to me, like most other foods. I only liked cheeseburgers, and this stuffing once I found it.
Me: What about now? Do you like Thanksgiving food?
Mom: It’s great. I love leftover turkey sandwiches.
Since I grew up with this recipe, it’s my go-to when I cook my own Thanksgiving dinners now. Cornbread stuffing is pretty common, but I don’t see it a lot here in the Midwest on Thanksgiving. I like that this version of stuffing is a little sweet, because in my opinion, it complements the mashed potatoes and gravy quite nicely. It keeps the meal from being a total salt-bomb, and I find that I miss having it if I am someone else’s guest for the holiday.
The recipe calls for two boxes of cornbread or corn muffin mix (my mother prefers to use corn muffin mix, so I use it too), about four carrots, about four celery sticks, about four eggs, an onion, a half-stick of butter, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and a half cup of chicken stock. I use 3-4 tablespoons of the poultry seasoning and salt and pepper it to taste.
The first thing to do is mix the batter (needs an additional egg and 1/3rd cup of milk per box) and bake the cornbread in a large glass dish for 15-20 minutes. Usually, this is done the night before Thanksgiving, so that the turkey can hog the oven. Next, the carrots and eggs are boiled, peeled, and chopped. About half of the onion is chopped and added to the pot with some butter.
I like to cut the cornbread into cubes and assemble everything together inside of the glass dish while the onion is sauteing in the pot. When the onions are browned, I add all of the remaining ingredients into the pot, add a little more butter and some water, season it well with the poultry seasoning, and let it cook on low for an hour or two.
The stuffing is nearing completion once everything is well blended and becomes “mush,” as we lovingly call it. The stuffing can be returned to the glass dish and baked for another 30-40 minutes (or as needed) at 375 degrees.
The end result should feed around 10-12 people. We usually have leftovers, because this is a pretty large batch.
I took a break from pumpkin scents this week and finally decided to try my Carrot Cake wax melts from Goose Creek. I’d been holding onto this particular melt since spring because I thought it would be best used as a transitional fragrance from summer into fall. I couldn’t be more pleased with this scent! There was nothing weak or artificial about it – I really felt like I was smelling the most decadent carrot cake baking in my oven. It was quite strong, too, although not as powerful as the Pumpkin French Toast experience I had last week.
The scent lingered for hours after only melting in my warmer for an hour or so. It was incredibly tempting, but I did not break down and go get my own *real* carrot cake for consumption. I would definitely recommend this one to any foodies out there.