Suitcase Full of Memories

Unpacking History One Discovery at a Time

Holiday Dinner at the Sanford’s House

Mike and Gail, my husband and sister, are cooking up a storm here in Gail’s kitchen. She lives in Santa Rosa Valley, CA and we have sun and blue skies. A big difference from rainy, dark Seattle.

There will be 7 of us for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and she and Mike are making turkey, of course, mom’s stuffing, sweet potato and baked yam dish, brussels sprouts with lemon, cranberry jalapeño chutney, and my Aunt Georgia’s Butterhorns.

Mom’s stuffing was the favorite of everyone who spent the holidays with us. Then Gail started making pies and that was a big hit, too. If we’re really lucky my sister will do a guest blog tomorrow and share her famous Pecan Pie recipe.

Mom's Go-To Cookbook

Mom’s Go-To Cookbook

Back to stuffing. I don’t know where Mom got this recipe, perhaps out of the green tattered Home Institute Cook Book.  She got a lot of recipes out of this. After my parents married, Mom took Home Economics classes at Glendale Community College and this was her text book.  50 years later she was still cooking from it.  Now that’s a useful textbook.

Okay. Back to the stuffing one more time. A few days before we were putting in the turkey (and when I say we, I really mean my Dad), Mom laid slices of bread on sheet pans then put them in the oven with just the pilot light going. Then she’d get out the table linens and start ironing. Dad would take down the serving dishes, Mom would get out the china and silver and they washed, polished, and shined so the table was just perfect. Gail and I had the big task of staying out from under foot.

Mom’s Turkey Stuffing

The morning of the big day, Mom got the celery and onion chopping and sautéing, and start jostling with Gail for kitchen space. Dad was responsible for the turkey and the gravy. Dad liked to stuff the turkey and have a pan on the side for leftovers. He liked leftovers.

The Roth and Wright families, my dad’s sister Susan’s family and their cousin Mile’s family, would come about 1:00 pm bringing pies, cole slaw, and a box of See’s chocolates.

2:00 would start the big commotion with Dad and Mom working with ballet-like precision. We’d all sit around the dining Dad would say a blessing and we’d start passing plates, family style, full of  jello salads, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, and everything else.

We’d take a break, watch football, maybe some of us would do a short walk or the kids might ride a bicycle, but mostly we stayed inside.  Mom, Aunt Susie, and Auntie Irene would clean up and then we were back for dessert.

These were wonderful, magical days for me. As the youngest cousin, I felt so grown up to be with my big cousins and to sit at the big table – we never really had a ‘kids table’ unless we had too many extra people visiting.

Yesterday we laid my Uncle Ted to rest. Tomorrow we will eat turkey with cranberry sauce, Mom’s stuffing, Aunt Susie’s cole slaw, Aunt Georgia’s butterhorns and begin a new tradition of the holiday’s at the Sanford-Drabant House, cousin style.

I am thankful for my family, for the love, the memories, the time together.

I am thankful for my mom’s stuffing recipe.

Juanita Riggle Sanford’s Turkey Dressing

  • 1 large loaf of white bread (put on cookie sheet in low oven to dry out)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of powdered thyme and marjoram (we use fresh today)
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage, more or less
  • 2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cube butter, melted
  • Hot water or stock (we like stock) to make moist, about 2 cups

Bake bread in small pieces, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Giblets are good to add if you don’t use all of them in the gravy.

Stuff the turkey and hope it turns out OK.

One comment on “Holiday Dinner at the Sanford’s House

  1. Rachelle
    November 28, 2013

    How much of our family heritage is passed down in the foods we eat? Preparing them and them smelling and tasting their flavors brings back all the memories. May your holiday bring back all the very best memories and new ones too.

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