I haven't posted much about my incredible, unbelievably 103 yr old, Grandmother on this site but alas, I've got to tell this story.
Grandmother and I have a special connection and her part in my childhood brings smiles to my face, images of a pink bedroom, memories of Days of Our Lives, and Skipbo. Lots and lots of Skipbo.
Grandmother's hospitality was without end. She loved to entertain and was good at it with plenty to eat & a place for everyone to sleep. We spent at least a weekend a month at her house. Me and my five brothers and my parents converged upon her tidy space along about late Friday afternoon, and sluggishly left it overturned & perhaps a little smelly on Sunday afternoon. I cried every Sunday as we pulled out of her driveway.
But the holidays at Grandmother's house were even better because the whole Rodie clan came and we filled that ranch style house to the brim! And the food....oh, the food. Copious amounts of mashed potatoes, jello salad, deviled eggs & potato rolls surrounded the platter of turkey (piled high and arranged into light and dark meat, of course.) But The Dressing is a story in and of itself.
Grandmother makes The Dressing from scratch every year which means cubing lots of bread and mixing the spices and stirring the bowl full of mushy looking stuff. (I think that's why some people call it Stuffing. Ours was never stuffed into anything, and to me it just looked like a bunch of stuff all smooshed together) But for my dear Grandmother, The Dressing is what makes the Thanksgiving. She even tastes the raw version of The Dressing just to make sure it's right. Then, once all components are approved and we have a final product, The Dressing relaxes in the fridge over night till baking time the next morning.
I've spent at least 20 of my 33 Thanksgivings eating turkey next to my dear Grandmother. We nibble on the dark meat, pour lots of gravy over our potatoes, slather rolls with extra jam and enjoy it all sipping ice water to cleanse the palate. But every year I can remember there is something wrong with...The Dressing. The Dressing for some reason, is simply not quite right every single year. Perhaps its not crispy enough on top, or too soft in the middle. It might lack salt or be debated if we should have used sage. The Dressing continues to erupt all manner of table conversation regardless of the empty baking dish it sat in. The fact that we all ate and enjoyed every bit of it, does not mean that it was The Dressing it was destined to be.
Tomorrow, my friends, is the day to make The Dressing. Grandmother and my mom and aunt will once again valiantly quest to perfectly combine unwritten ingredients and The Dressing will once again await its Thanksgiving Day cross-examination. God, help us get it right. And I mean that as a sincere prayer.
To The Dressing, y'all. *raises ice water glass*