Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reunion Time

Risley Reunion~1991~Daddy front right (with suspenders)

The last weekend of September, my Dad’s family have gathered for over 30 years now to share a meal and catch up with each other on family events. It’s harder to do now since our family lives in several states, but somehow we manage to find the time to come home. My Dad’s family are native Arkansans, living in the Peel area over on Bull Shoals Lake.

Everyone brings a dish, or two or three…there’s always a spread of food fit for a King. My Aunt Joy’s apple pies were gone almost as soon as she set them down, with only a few lonely crumbs left in the pans. You didn’t dare wait until after you had your meal to get a piece of her pie, otherwise your sweet tooth would just have to go unsatisfied. It was more than the delicious ingredients that made the pies special, it was the tender loving care that she mixed into each one of them.

There’s lots of recipe sharing going on at the reunion as well. Happy and tickled-pink to share, why would anyone want to hoard a recipe only for themselves? We have some great cooks in the family. Nothing chef inspired at this gathering, but delicious all the same. Plenty of fried chicken, baked chicken, chicken and dressing, chicken and homemade noodles…the bird is revered in our family! These casseroles could make it into any of Paula Deen’s Cookbooks!

My Dad loved the gathering so much. His famous chicken and dressing was his offering, as much from his heart as from the simple ingredients that went into the dish. He had made it so many times for family and church potlucks that he could have made it in his sleep! If you’re from the South, it’s cornbread dressing made with unsweetened cornbread. Sauteed onions, celery and sage; slow simmered broth from the chicken and generous amounts of butter make this a cardiologist’s nightmare! But it is “Slap Dab Delicious” and comfort food at it’s finest!

This is the time honored recipe that Daddy used to make and has been passed down to me and to our daughters to share with their families.
Daddy's Chicken and Dressing
1 pan crumbled cornbread (no sugar in cornbread, please!)
1pan biscuits
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 bunch celery, chopped
1 stick butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons whole leaf sage
4-5 cups rich chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare cornbread and biscuits the day before. Cook onion and celery in butter and broth covered until tender. Pour over the crumbled breads in a large bowl, add beaten eggs. Rub the sage between your palms to release the flavor adding to bowl. Add broth to make a very moist consistency (almost soupy, as this bakes it will dry out). Adjust seasonings adding salt, pepper and more sage if desired. Bake 350* for 45 minutes until hot, or place mixture in crock pot on HIGH until hot then turn to LOW to keep warm.
Print Recipe


  1. OMG, I love Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding House! And I love reunions although our family doesn't seem to have them anymore. We used to meet every year at Hunting Island but since the "elders" passed, no one wants to organize.
    I will, however, be attending my 50th high school reunion next year! Can't believe it's been 50 years, unless I'm looking in the mirror; should be fun.

  2. i think it is wonderful that your family finds time each sept. to have a reunion meal together. what precious times. we don't end up having them much because we have felt that it has to be a production put on each year. but i like the meal idea. it is enough and everyone can still gab and catch up for hours(days if they want). thanks for the idea and i hope you all had a great time!

  3. I've printed this out and plan to make it on Sunday.
    Thank you so much!

    Not just for the recipe, but for the reminder that no matter the distance we always need to make time for each other.

  4. Tell your Daddy his cornbread dressing's heading Northwest. It's wonderful that you all still get together. I hope you are having a great day.

  5. I love family reunions and all the food and hugs that go with it. I always come away from "family time" strengthened, remembering "who I am."
    We do the food that way too...I will try this wonderful recipe..hope it turns out as good as his! Come say hi :D

  6. Fun times and memories. I missed my gatherings this year. Hopefully next year I will feel better and be able to make it. Reunions were always fun. I'd always look forward to the Spanish Rice that one Aunt would make and the Pigs In The Blanket. That recipe of your dads looks delicious but I can't eat that stuff any more.

  7. thank you for allowing me to be at your 'family gathering'. All my family is about gone so I don't have anyone to share with.
    i have copied your daddy's dressing and will try it one of these days.
    Elsie <><

  8. Hmmmm. My hubby's aunt is married to a Ralph Risley from around Washington, Indiana. I love reunions!


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