The Morning After: Downton Abbey Brunch

Setting the table in Downton Abbey style was lots of fun. Hearing from so many of you was wonderful. Having my husband shout at the television last night, saying, “They’re measuring the silverware just like you said!” was even more fun.

GotMyReservations Downton Abbey Tablescape Intro

And so was actually eating at the table.

I will admit that I took down the big candlelabra and replaced it with a five-candle silver candlelabra so that we could actually see each other. Unlike what happened in Downton Abbey last night — remember when they “turned the table”? — my guests were allowed to talk across the brunch table. It’s just not that big.

We removed all the dishes from the staged table in order to serve the brunch plated. Since there were only five of us, it was easy to plate at my kitchen island and serve directly to the table. My husband made a wonderful footman and we had a relaxed couple of hours. We even broke every Downton Abbey rule by keeping the kitchen television on (muted, of course), so Music Man could keep track of the football games. Continue reading

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!

 

 

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