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My Mother's Stuffing

It's not just food - it's memories

Thanksgiving is Thursday.

I love this holiday. I have so many memories tied up with so much food at Thanksgiving that it's amazing I don't start weeping over the parsnips some years. Ah, parsnips. My grandmother would boil them, mash them, drown them in pepper and salt and pepper, and serve them in one of her lovely delicate china bowls. Once a year I ate parsnips - Thanksgiving at Grandma's.

The Thanksgivings of my childhood are directly tied to my grandmother's house in Greenfield, MA. We'd get up early, put on nice clothes, and drive through the deserted streets of nine communities to get there. Everything in those days was closed (remember how it was a big deal that your dad remembered to gas up the car on the day before Thanksgiving?). The windy, curvy, hilly Route 9 always resulted in my brother and I feeling good and queasy by the time we got to Grandma's house. That's a way to start off Thanksgiving.

But she always had that bowl of salted peanuts on the sideboard, and a few handfuls of those got us back on track.

My mother took over hosting dinner when we were older, and the grandparents would make the drive to us. My grandmother always brought the Indian pudding for dessert, with the accompanying "hard sauce." We thought it looked gross, and would never eat it, no matter how much my mother and grandmother insisted on its deliciousness. I went with the apple pie every time.

I do Thanksgiving quite a bit now, taking turns hosting various in-laws and outlaws and blood relatives. I love putting together the big meal, and I always make my mother's stuffing. It smells so good when it is cooking and even when my family isn't with is on the holiday, it makes me feel that they are.

In the spirit of the holiday here is the recipe. I recommend making a double batch - it is that good.

My Mother's Stuffing

6 tbs butter

2 cloves garlic, mashed

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup celery, with leaves, chopped

1 cup apple, peeled and chopped

1 cup hot water

4 cups bread cubes (plain - make your own, they are better!)

1 tbs fresh sage, minced

1 tbs fresh thyme, minced

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

In a deep skillet, melt butter and cook celery, garlic and onion till soft but not browned. Add apple and cook about 2 minutes, stirring.

Remove from heat and combine, in a large bowl, with bread cubes, hot water, beaten eggs, sage and thyme.

Mix until well blended, adding more hot water if needed. The stuffing should be moist but not wet. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Single batch is enough to stuff a 14-pound turkey. Make the double and cook the extra in a casserole.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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