Today's first task is baking the cornbread for homemade dressing. As the bread bakes, I'm my own sous chef; methodically chopping celery and onions to stow away for an easy assembly on Thursday morning.
On Sunday, I made a rich chicken stock to use for my cornbread dressing; that boxed stuff just won't do. My mom used to simmer turkey gizzards on the stove and that broth would moisten her perfect dressing and finish her equally perfect, always lump-free, turkey drippings gravy. My dad's mother taught my mom how to make her southern cornbread dressing. That simple mixture of bread, broth, celery and sage was my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. I found out years later that it wasn't mom's idea of the best side dish. How could she make it so well and not even like it?
Of course cooking a big family dinner for the holidays brings back memories of dinners past. As I pull the 1st pan of cornbread out of the oven, the aroma makes me think about my paternal grandmother. Thinking of her leads to thoughts of my dad and how much I still miss them both so much. Once the 2nd pan of cornbread is slipped into the oven, I decide to strain my chicken stock and that's where the cheese cloth comes in.
I gather my kitchen scissors, a gallon jug to strain the broth into for easy storage and grab the new package of cheese cloth. I wonder if I need to wash the cheese cloth before I use it; that would add some time to my tightly scheduled day. As I turn the package over to check for directions on the back, I smile. A big cheesy smile in the sunny morning kitchen all by myself, as I read the package. I don't need to wash the cloth first but I do need to give thanks to the universe for the precious 'coincidence.' One little word has suddenly lifted my spirits to match the warm rays spilling in through the kitchen window. The name of the cheese cloth distributor is my maiden name. My daddy's name.
I choose to believe a connection to heaven was made this morning. These memories and the little nudge of recognition tell me so.
Rose Marie Bradshaw