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Nov 14, 2012 11:08 AM

Seeking my mother's dressing for Thanksgiving

So, Mom died in 1986 after a sudden brief illness. Dad remarried a year later (almost exactly) to a woman who proceeded to erase from their house every bit of evidence that Mom ever existed. Including throwing away her recipe box, filled with a lifetime of index cards from her own hand and from friends and relatives, as well as recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers.

One of the lost recipes was for her dressing to be served with the turkey. (Being Southern, she didn't stuff the bird; the stuffing was served alongside and called dressing.) I'd like to find it. So far, looking through her old Betty Crocker and the clippings stuffed therein (I was able to rescue that before Dad's wife got rid of it), I've had no luck. I've not found it on the internet anywhere so far either.

Here's what it is: A basic bread stuffing -- I think she even used the Pepperidge Farm or whomever's stuffing mix in a bag -- with celery, onion, sage, etc. And she formed it into PATTIES before she baked it, rather than baking it in a casserole. I asked once, and her reason was she liked to eat the leftover patties cold out of the refrigerator for a snack -- or even for breakfast -- and that was tidier than dipping into a casserole dish.

Any thoughts? This is not a "gourmet" stuffing of rustic bread and fresh herbs and such; it's a homey, '60s suburban mom kind of recipe.

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  1. I wish I could help you but know that I can't but still had to reply. How absolutely horrible for you and I am so very sorry.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodieX2

      Thanks. Phyllis (Dad's wife) also threw away a wooden chest made by my great-grandfather and containing years of family letters, including my uncle's WWII letters about how hard he was fighting in this awful war (Big lie -- He spent most of the war in the brig on drunk and disorderly charges), as well as tons of family photos.

      I got my revenge; she had ordered all mention of my mom stricken from the "official" obituary to run in the newspaper. But I planned the funeral service and wrote the eulogy for the preacher and put mom back in.

    2. The old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook had a fairly simple bread stuffing in it that was quite good. Bread cubes, onions and celery sauteed off in a bunch of butter, salt, pepper, some poultry seasoning. I can't remember off the top of my head if it had fresh herbs in it, but those are easy enough to add. Being an older cookbook, this stuffing was stuffed into the bird for cooking. If this recipe sounds even remotely related to what your mother made, let me know and I can look up the recipe for you tonight after I get home from work. It might not be your mother's recipe, but it might be close enough that you could figure out the rest of it.

      1. Probably was Pepperidge Farm. I still buy it- can't buck tradition in this house! My mom added a pound of sausage meat- lightly browned but leave some of the fat and use less butter in the stuffing. We also add some lightly sauteed chopped celery and onion. Growing up in the sixties we only had it in patties as a leftover but they were good- fried in butter with leftover gravy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Berheenia

          This is very similar to a recipe that my Mom used and was given to her by my grandmother. I am so sorry that your Mom's recipe box was discarded. My Mom had a tin recipe box which I treasure. I did find many of the recipes in the tin box in a Cookbook called the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbbok. You can find tin recipe boxes at tag sales and perhaps you can put a box together sourcing old cookbooks or asking your Mom's friends for any recipes they may have. If you are looking for vintage recipes am sure Chowhounders will help you to create a nice collection. So sorry again.

        2. Is it possible the patties were just your mom's invention since she liked to eat the dressing as leftovers? My mother made a similar dressing with the 60s/70s style of Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs type of onion-sage-celery mix, and she added a diced Granny Smith apple and the chopped, cooked turkey giblets (although she baked it all in a casserole, no patties). I think originally her recipe called for sultanas/golden raisins in the dressing, but since I am anti-raisin, she replaced that ingredient with the apple. Just thought I'd throw that out here since it was the same era and it's possible they used similar ingredients or recipes.

          Also, I'm sorry for your loss and the step-mother's over-the-top reaction.

          1. that must have been such a painful experience for you - i'm so sorry.

            does this sound like it might be close?