Thursday, November 25, 2010

Daddy's Dressing

My favorite Thanksgiving memory is still a part of our's the homegrown sage that comes from my Mom's farm. My Dad planted that sage over 40 years ago and even though he's gone now, the sage thrives in the garden at Lead Hill. Every fall before frost I pinch off several stems of the fragrant herb, bring it home and dry it. The fragrance of that sage reminds me of years of happy Thanksgivings on the farm.

My parents built the house in 1949 on land that had been in Mom's family since 1860. Across the pasture on Keeling Lane, her parents lived in what we have always called the "old place." In pictures from long ago, you can see the gingerbread trim at the eaves. When I was little, I'd look at those pictures and think of Hansel and Gretel! To Mom it was a memory, to me it was almost a fairytale. So long ago, when she was a little girl and her Grandmother lived in that house before her parents married. Things like that escape you when you are young, yet my Mother and Grandmother were intent on passing on that part of the family history. Now it's clearer, and dearer.

My Dad loved preparing his famous chicken and dressing for the holidays. It 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. It is remembered fondly in our family and immortalized in the Risley Family Cookbook.

Daddy's 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 dried 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.

Like everything in life, this dish is best when eaten at the table with loved ones...
Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving.. Interesting how thanksgiving was celebrated in all our lives.. It's a happy time for me and the food that is brought to the table was made by our mom's and dad's memories and even our aunt's and uncles and grandmothers.The recipes just get passed down and get served every year over and over.
    Ta Ta For Now...from Iowa

  2. Thanks for sharing that memory, Joycee! Sometimes it's the memories that keep us strong!...:)JP

  3. Family and the traditions passed down generation to generation are life's truest blessing. Happy Thanksgiving to all who gather with you today!

  4. it is so nice that you gave a thanksgiving tribute to your dad. i love the old photos and the recipe is almost like mine. i got mine from southern living and it has sausage in it and pecans. happy thanksgiving and i know your dad is with you in spirit...(lost my dad too)...jill

  5. Sounds exactly like Mom's recipe right down to the garden raised sage. I do the same with some minor changes. I add a can of cream of mushroom soup to mine, and skip the eggs. I don't know when I began doing it that way.

    These are the best kinds of memories.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. I could almost smell he sage...I will have to remember to do that even though I am not cooking the dinner:) Wonderful memories....

  7. That is such a great memory,,thanks so much for sharing and have a great Thanksgiving!!!

  8. Sounds delicious! What a sweet memory you shared today- Happy Thanksgiving to your and yours!

  9. sounds yummy! but the best part of Thanksgiving are the memories that come along with the food! hope you had a great Thanksgiving day!

  10. OK...that dressing recipe will be my next try. I usually have a turkey dinner every few months not just on it may even be as close as Christmas, LOL!

    Thank you the wonderful insight into your family!
    Bless your days.....

  11. What a wonderful story! Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. There's nothing like Southern cornbread dressing. Mother makes the dressing every year for our Thanksgiving (enough for 60-70 people). She made an extra pan this year, and I got to bring it home. We'll keep it for Christmas.


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