November 22, 2019
I’ve been sharing my Grammy’s unforgettable cornbread dressing during the week of Thanksgiving for several years now. It’s a neat tradition for me — both the sharing of the recipe and the eating of the dressing.
It finally dawned on me that folks might need a little more advance notice since you do have to start at least two days ahead of time so the crumbled bread gets good and dry. And it might require a special trip to the store to get the just-right ingredients — Grammy was very particular about the ingredients. So I’m sending it out to everyone a little earlier this year.
It’s been pretty cool over the years to bump into people who tell me they made Grammy’s dressing or that they remember a similar dressing or Thanksgiving tradition that they share with me. Grammy and my mother would have gotten a kick out of it, too.
I’d love to hear from you if you make Grammy’s dressing or if you want to share your family’s favorite holiday traditions of food, activities, whatever makes the holiday special and causes neat memories. Click this link and tell me about them. I’ll let my brother see them too. It’ll add to our family fun.
I’m reprinting the original Watson Wire that first proclaimed the preeminence of Grammy’s dressing just as it went out the first time. No changes (to the dressing recipe or the original Wire).
Here you go…
I do believe in ghosts.
Vesta Bryant Watson Cranor, a/k/a “Grammy,” made the best Thanksgiving and Christmas dressing. Second place isn’t close. Actually, there is no second place, because everything else really isn’t even dressing. Billye Faye Vanderslice Watson, Grammy’s daughter-in-law and my mother, made the same dressing — usually in the same kitchen with Grammy. Every time they made it, they’d ask my father to taste it before it went in the oven.
The exchange was always the same. Grammy would say, “Don, would you taste the dressing?” He’d always dip a spoon into the soupy mix, put it in his mouth and say, “There’s not enough sage.” Every single time. And every single time, they’d put a little more sage in and then ignore anything else he had to say. I still wonder if he even knew what sage tasted like.
Mother died in early 1999. Grammy wasn’t making dressing by that time and died a little later. We messed around with different dressings but they were never the same.
One holiday season, Liz and I were mourning the fact that we didn’t know the recipe and had lost the historians. We sort of chastised ourselves for not writing it down when we had those two around.
That night, Liz pulled a book off a high shelf and a 3×5 card fluttered out of it. On the card, in my mother’s handwriting, was the recipe to what she labeled “Grammy’s Cornbread Dressing.” It was very spooky. It felt like those two old women had been listening and sent us that recipe to take care of us again.
Here it is.
Grammy’s Cornbread Dressing
I’ve bolded what the old gals told us was important. Use WHITE bread for the toast and cheap biscuits, no butter or flaky stuff (not Grands). You MUST use bacon grease to cook the cornbread in … and you must make the cornbread plain. Also you MUST use a glass baking dish. We’re convinced that if we don’t, they will haunt us and say: “I could have sworn those boys were smarter’n that…..”
TWO DAYS BEFORE: