cook: adventures in stuffing part one

thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday — in large part because of stuffing the magical combination of savory spices, sausage and bread.  if i could get away with it, i swear my plate would be filled with just it, i would skip the turkey and the cranberry sauce, the mashed potatoes and maybe even the pumpkin pie for just one more bite of stuffing.

around this time last year, i got it in my head that instead of eating a leftover sandwich on boring old white bread, i wanted to eat it on bread made from stuffing.  yes you heard me.  bread.  from.  stuffing.  how great does that sound and why in gods name has pepperidge farm not created this already?

so this year around halloween, i set about trying to make this dream a reality.  after some blood (yes i cut myself), sweat and tears, i did it. tomorrow i’ll show you how.  today, here is a look at my failed attempts on the road to leftover sandwich glory:

in summary

attempts: 5

band-aids needed: approximately 3 (2 cuts, 1 required 2 band-aids)

pounds of stuffing: approximately 12

hours of my life: 8

hours gained back in satisfaction: 9

homemade stuffing

round one: homemade stuffing

confession: i’ve never actually made an entire thanksgiving dinner and honestly the closest i’ve come to making stuffing was a box of stovetop.  so this was an accomplishment to begin with but i kid you not, this had ZERO flavor.  i blame this on the turkey sausage i used in an attempt to be healthy.  the loaf fell apart into crumbs.  discouraged, i threw it away without snapping a photo and i took a week off from cooking entirely.  wasn’t off to the best start but i powered through.

cranberry sauce

round two — cranberry stuffing bread

i decided that i needed some “glue” and since sugar and eggs are often the best, i decided to test the two.  the first version involved melting down a can of cranberry sauce.   once i had a syrup, i mixed it in with the stuffing (full disclosure: still in shock from round one, i used stovetop for round two and three).  it tasted heavenly going into the oven, came out in a perfect loaf but tasted like cranberry and only cranberry.

cranberry stuffing bread + egg washed stuffing bread

round three —  egg washed stuffing bread

round three was made using an egg wash (one egg mixed with 1/2 c. water or milk).  i got cocky and thought for sure i had solved this since egg washes generally work well as glue.  it came out of the oven in a perfect loaf which sliced beautifully, still tasted like stuffing but it also now tasted a bit like egg. scrambled eggs and stuffing.  close but not quite.  next…

stuffing loaf

round four — stuffing loaf

i convinced myself that bread from stuffing was not actually possible and realized that what i really wanted was a bread that tasted like stuffing but it didn’t have to actually be MADE from stuffing.   so i made white bread dough, rolled it out, brushed it with melted butter and spread cooked onions, celery, mushrooms, sage, thyme and rosemary before rolling it into a loaf.  then i crossed my fingers and threw it in the oven.  as you can see in the picture above, the “stuffing” sank to the bottom(ah gravity!) it sliced well and had good flavor but you would never be able to eat a sandwich on this.  it was more like a stuffing calzone (which would have been great dipped in gravy. just sayin’)

so all in all, not a bad start.  the best part is that when i finally succeeded not only did i make stuffing bread, i discovered the recipe for the best stuffing i’ve ever had.  i’ll share this with you tomorrow.

what is your favorite part of thanksgiving and has anyone else every worked this hard on a side dish?

modern dry goods

It all started with an apron.

Five years ago, I asked my mother to teach me how to sew — and by ask I mean that I brought home a pattern, a few yards of fabric and proceeded to turn her old mechanical sewing machine into a tangled mess of cloth and knotted thread.

While bewildered why anyone would want to learn how to sew if she didn’t have to, my mom came down to the basement, helped me untangle the mess and taught me how to thread the bobbin and to read a pattern.  With her bachelor’s in home economics, she was the perfect, albeit unwilling, teacher.  See, she had fought hard to ensure that her daughters would never have to make their own clothing.

the apron + my beautiful mother

If only I had obeyed.  Despite my bungled start, I fell in love with sewing, and that hobby fed into a growing appetite for baking and cooking. I now spend hours and days testing a recipe until I’m sure that I’ve made the best yet.

Recently, I’ve noticed that I’m not alone in this quest to rediscover the domestic arts.  Kristi and I met in the summer of 1997 when we were both camp counselors.  I can assure you that the most crafting that either of us had done up until that point was to make friendship bracelets in a schoolyard.  Yet here we are,  like so many others, in love with it.  For us this isn’t about stepping back in time or assuming a specific gender role; it’s about putting a modern twist on the traditions.

In this blog, we plan to celebrate these homemade arts, show what we are making, highlight others from whom we are learning, and give readers a chance to buy our items – all while honoring the people who allowed us to make this choice.

Mom, thank you for starting me on this path (and sorry that I put a picture of you on the Internet.)