My mother cooked all moisture and most nutrients out of all of the food she ever cooked. Growing up, I was a skinny teenager probably due to some vitamin deficiency caused by their lack of presence in our meals. I was never concerned about any diseases from undercooked food. That would never happen. There was always massive amounts of food at any meal but you could rest assured that it was always well done.
She enjoyed sausage for breakfast on many mornings. The way she cooked them, they would have also served well as miniature hockey pucks. I always enjoyed fried okra but was surprised when I ate it for the first time anywhere other than at home. Mom’s fried okra was always cooked to the extreme where the corn meal breading was barely held on the pieces of okra that had were black or at least a dark green color.
Thanksgiving was one of her signature meals and her dressing was the reason. I have never had any like hers. I understand that there are a variety of ways to prepare dressing. In the part of Tennessee where I live, you usually get cornbread dressing. It is usually baked in a pan with a variety of spices and broth to varying degrees of moisture. It comes out almost like a big flat cake. It is also served with gravy on the side but if it is moist enough, you don’t need any of this.
My mom’s dressing was different. It was made with cornbread but the cornbread was cooked about as dry as possible. It was broken up and more spices added. If there was any liquid added at this point, I don’t remember it but the dressing was put back into the oven and any moisture was cooked off. The consistency of her dress was similar to Post Grape Nuts. You had to add massive amounts of gravy to get any of it to begin to stick together. Mom referred to it as a “dry dressing”. She was right. She usually cooked large amounts that seemed to last from Thanksgiving until Christmas. We didn’t throw away much food at our house preferring to keep it until the last spoonful was eaten.
It was never my favorite meal. I think that’s one of the reasons it lasted so long around the house. But I’ve never had anything like it anywhere else and it didn’t taste bad. A few years after my mom passed away, my sister and I were talking about mom’s dressing and I told her how much I missed it and wished I could have it again. She felt the same way.
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