Writers Workshop: A Revisit to the “Grossest Family Recipe Ever”

Every family has its traditions. Apparently, one of mine is the grossest family recipe ever.

Originally published last year, talking about family food traditions was an important story to tell. With another year under our belts, Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is still part of my Thanksgiving tradition and it’s even more poignant when compared with others’ viewpoints of my favorite turkey day recipe. 

2012 has been a year of blessings. Our grown up kids are flourishing in their adult lives. Music Man and I are happily adjusting to my retirement and his more positive work environment. Our son is engaged to a beautiful woman whom we are eager to welcome into our family.  Libbie is now four, David is almost two, Jessie is expecting another family member in March, and I love being a great-aunt. Our band will grow and flourish and getting together at Thanksgiving is so very important to its health. Although it’s a pain in the neck to travel 600 miles, it’s worth it. We have a lot to be thankful for.

From November 19, 2011

As we enter our weekend of Thanksgiving and gluttony, I would like to pause and give thanks for the many creatures that give up their lives for us at this time of year.

 

Insert. Silent. Pause. Here.

My little family band gets together with my brothers and their families on the day after Thanksgiving. We have been doing this since 1976; I have not prepared a Thanksgiving meal in my own home since then. Every year, we drive the 600 miles round trip to be with our family to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year we decided to forego our gift giving to each other and donate to Heifer International instead. We’ll still be giving gifts to the young ones, and it will be fun to see them open their presents. We also sing Christmas songs — we are THAT family that could make our own Trapp Family Singers — and I’m looking forward to hearing three-year-old Libbie sing her part in The Twelve Days of Christmas.

For me and some of my family, it just isn’t Thanksmas without oyster dressing. It’s unclear where our family recipe comes from, but my mother started making oyster dressing for our holiday gatherings a long time ago. In fact, I can’t remember when she didn’t make it. It was just always there.

My mom passed away in June, and as the eldest child, it has become my job to bring the oyster dressing. I’ve been making it for events here in our Chicagoland home for a while, but no one loves oyster dressing as well as my brothers and I do. My niece Jessica wrote about our family recipe on herVanderbilt Wife blog, calling our treasured oyster dressing our “grossest family recipe.” I beg to differ, but as she is allergic to clams, I wouldn’t want her to get sick on oysters. I do, however, want to share the recipe for what I consider to be the crowning glory of our holiday buffet table.

And just we’re clear about the popularity of oyster dressing, even the fabled Ree Drummond published a recipe for Oyster Dressing on her Pioneer Woman blog. I’m not alone in my love for this succulent awesomeness. Ree’s is a little different from ours; hers is more like traditional tossed bread-cube dressing. Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is more of a souffle-like scalloped oysters. It might be fun someday to make both recipes and see which one we like better!

Grandma's Oyster Dressing

Grandma's Oyster Dressing

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • Four cans frozen or canned oysters (fresh would be fine, but not necessary)
  • Four ribs finely chopped celery
  • Four cans mushrooms
  • One box saltines crushed
  • one pound butter pats
  • About two cups of milk

Instructions

First spray a 4.8 quart (15" x 10" x 2") rectangular casserole dish with cooking spray, and then add a layer of crushed crackers. Begin layering the ingredients -- oysters, celery, mushrooms, butter, and another layer of crackers. After each cracker layer add some milk and the juice from the mushrooms and oyster cans. You should have about four layers of crackers and three of “goodies.”

Cover it with foil so that it doesn’t dry out and take the foil off for the last 15 minutes so the top gets a little crusty. Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour until the texture is puffy like a souffle. It is okay to prepare it in advance and let the liquids sink in.

A large Pyrex casserole dish will serve eight people comfortably as a side dish.

Notes

http://gotmyreservations.com/2012/11/22/writers-workshop-a-revisit-to-the-grossest-family-recipe-ever/

I’m linked up today to the Writing Workshop at Mama’s Losin’ It. It’s been a while since I’ve linked up because I’ve been converting my blog over to being self-hosted. If you have my old version on your blogroll (and I heartily thank you for your support), please change the link to gotmyreservations.com.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Food Cult: Oyster Dressing

As we enter our week of Thanksgiving and gluttony, I would to pause and give thanks for the many creatures that give up their lives for us at this time of year.

http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/for-the-moment-finding-pearls-in-paris/

Insert. Silent. Pause. Here.

My little family band gets together with my brothers and their families on the day after Thanksgiving. We have been doing this since 1976; I have not prepared a Thanksgiving meal in my own home since then. Every year, we drive the 600 miles round trip to be with our family to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year we decided to forego our gift giving to each other and donate to Heifer International instead. We’ll still be giving gifts to the young ones, and it will be fun to see them open their presents. We also sing Christmas songs — we are THAT family that could make our own Trapp Family Singers — and I’m looking forward to hearing three-year-old Libbie sing her part in The Twelve Days of Christmas.

For me and some of my family, it just isn’t Thanksmas without oyster dressing. It’s unclear where our family recipe comes from, but my mother started making oyster dressing for our holiday gatherings a long time ago. In fact, I can’t remember when she didn’t make it. It was just always there.

My mom passed away in June, and as the eldest child, it has become my job to bring the oyster dressing. I’ve been making it for events here in our Chicagoland home for a while, but no one loves oyster dressing as well as my brothers and I do. My niece Jessica wrote about our family recipe on her Vanderbilt Wife blog, calling our treasured oyster dressing our “grossest family recipe.” I beg to differ, but as she is allergic to clams, I wouldn’t want her to get sick on oysters. I do, however, want to share the recipe for what I consider to be the crowning glory of our holiday buffet table.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Another recipe can be found here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Seafood/OysterDressing.htm

Grandma’s Oyster Dressing

Cooking spray

Four cans frozen or canned oysters (fresh would be fine, but not necessary)
Four ribs finely chopped celery
Four cans mushrooms
One box saltines crushed
one pound butter pats
About two cups of milk

First spray a 4.8 quart (15″ x 10″ x 2″) rectangular casserole dish with cooking spray, and then add a layer of crushed crackers. Begin layering the ingredients. After each cracker layer add some milk and the juice from the mushrooms and oyster cans. You should have about four layers of crackers and three of “goodies.”

Cover it with foil so that it doesn’t dry out and take the foil off for the last 15 minutes so the top gets a little crusty. Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour until the texture is puffy like a souffle. It is okay to prepare it in advance and let the liquids sink in.

A large Pyrex casserole dish will serve eight people comfortably as a side dish.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

And just we’re clear about the popularity of oyster dressing, even the fabled Ree Drummond published a recipe for Oyster Dressing on her Pioneer Woman blog this week. I’m not alone in my love for this succulent awesomeness. Ree’s is a little different from ours; hers is more like traditional tossed bread-cube dressing. Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is more of a souffle-like scalloped oysters. It might be fun someday to make both recipes and see which one we like better!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m going to take a week off and enjoy my holiday with friends and family. Safe travels to you.

P.S. I’ve been collecting ideas for 25 Days of Christmas — I can’t resist doing it again this year!

Grandma Lill’s Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

I didn’t know my grandparents very well. My father’s parents were both gone by the time I was old enough to remember them, and my mother’s parents were pretty remote in their interactions with the rambunctious children of their youngest daughter. They were retired and moved back to their hometown by the time I spent any time with them, and I would not say it was quality time. My grandfather came to live with my mother and father when he was no longer able to live alone, but I was out of the house and long gone by then. So, when I see my friends grandparenting their own grandbabies, it makes me happy to see how involved they are with these precious children.

Recipes passed down from my grandparents? I don’t remember any, but I’m pretty good at appropriating other people’s family recipes . Over the years I have gathered together other families’ recipes and made them my own. We have only one “family recipe” that I know of, our famous Scalloped Oysters, but I don’t know where this came from.

Today’s recipe was not stolen, however. I’m lucky enough to be friends with Linda, whose mother we remembered on June 24. Everyone knew her as Grandma Lill, and although she’s not actually my grandma (she’s not even in the right generation to be my grandma), her recipe was freely given to us.

As I reread my niece Jessie’s post on Vanderbilt Wife which honors my father and her grandfather, it seems totally fitting that I honor Grandma Lill today. We paid tribute to Grandma Lill  at her memorial service and Jessie wrote her post on the eve of my dad’s memorial service just a year ago. At both events, there were new great-grandchildren who will not remember their great-grandparent, but life renews itself through the cycles of birth and death. We are also renewed through the memories we share with our children and grandchildren and that includes our recipes.

Grandma Lill embraced Italian cooking and passed her recipes down to her children. Her meatballs are famous — and I hope you will enjoy them yourself in her memory.

Lill’s Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

Meatballs
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 medium onion — chopped fine
2 eggs beaten
1 cup Progresso Italian style bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Small amount of oil for browning meatballs
Mix all ingredients together and form into “golf ball” size meatballs. Carefully brown meatballs in oil on both sides in a Dutch oven. Remove meatballs.
Add to pot:
1 medium chopped onion
1 sliced garlic clove
Sauté until tender.
Then add:
3  12 oz. cans Contadina tomato paste
1 14 oz. can Hunt’s basil and garlic diced tomatoes
5 cans water
2 tablespoons each of dried parsley, basil, and oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add meatballs. Cook uncovered 2 hours — stirring occasionally.

While you’re at it, try the scalloped oysters. It may seem weird, but for those of you who love oysters, this recipe will just melt in your mouth.
MANGIA!
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