Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicken and Dressing

As a grown up I realize that through the course of life I have learned many valuable lessons. Some of them I learned from my mom and dad. Some of them I learned in school and through experience. Many of them I learned from my aunts. Now I am an aunt and my oldest niece recently started kindergarten. I know that they say everything you need to know you learn in kindergarten. I disagree. I believe that there are some lessons that one cannot learn in a classroom. These are lessons that can only be learned by living. So, here it is. A year's worth of tiny words of wisdom for all the nieces and nephews out there, or really for anyone who will listen. You may not agree with all of them and they may not work for everybody, but each is a rule that I either try to live by or wish I did.

# 49 Get your Grandmother's Recipes.... Trust me

It is officially the holiday season, especially here in NYC. The kids are rehearsing for the Macy's parade, black Friday is upon us, the halls are decked and the entire baking isle is on sale. There are a few dishes that refuse to spend the holidays without. My grandmother's chicken and dressing, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top, and chocolate chip bourbon pecan pie. My grandmother was an old southern lady and man could she cook. She made so many wonderful dishes that she never once pulled out a recipe for. These recipes were long since committed to memory. She had watched her mother make them and back for generations.
One day while I was in college, it it me that not a single person besides her actually know how to make any of these dishes. I also realized then, sad as it was, that Grandma was not always going to be there. If no one knew how to make these dishes then all of our holidays would never be the same. So... I took it upon myself to get the recipes...even if it killed me.
Mary Jo Richardson, my grandma, hated anyone in her kitchen besides her. She knew where everything was and didn't like to be disturbed in her kitchen. I warned her that during the week of Thanksgiving, I was going to come over and watch her prepare. I was determined to get these recipes. We began with the chicken and dressing because it was everyone's favorite. She didn't even own a set of measuring cups or spoons, so I brought my own. Every time she went to dump something into the mix I would stick something under her spoon quickly so i could catch it all and measure it. I swear that she even tried to add stuff when my back was turned, but for the most part we got along quite nicely. I let her humph and growl, but we got through it. In the end, I not only had the chicken and dressing recipe, but also chocolate pudding, fudge, chocolate pie, sweet potato casserole, and a few others.
I am the only one in my entire family who has these cherished family dishes. I keep teasing them saying if they want them, they will have to by my book, which hopefully will be published soon. I feel like I can hold out on them as long as I want to because this way they need me. I took the time to follow her around, annoy her and get the recipes and I will cherish them always. These recipes will end up in my family cookbook that I will pass onto my children or grandchildren one day.

Recommended Read: No Rocking Chair for Me, by my dear friend, Faity Tuttle

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