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My mother, born in the 1920's, shone
on Thanksgiving. She knew she
was good and my success, or failure,
as ahousewife would absolutely
reflect on her mothering .

My Mother’s Stuffing Recipe

452 words


The perfect Thanksgiving food
by Dianne Roth



My childhood Thanksgivings were family affairs. We would gather at our house or at my mom’s sister’s house. We had grandparents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, and occasional guests. I always looked forward to Thanksgiving but, as the designated dishwasher, I also dreaded it.

Our menus were exactingly traditional. I don’t think the concept of vegetarian was even known in my family. My mother and my aunt served the same foods and probably used the exact same recipes. We had mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans with dried onion flakes, green jello salad (more onion flakes, celery, and cottage cheese), roast turkey, and stuffing. Oh, and apple pie.

I loved it all.

When I left home to live with my new husband, my mother solemnly gave me copies of her special recipes. Her words of wisdom were, “Don’t you ever change anything in the stuffing recipe. That is the best stuffing ever.” I must have looked surprised, because she added ominously, “I mean it!”

I believed her. I grew up thinking that the only reason we had the turkey on the table was to have a place to make that delicious dressing. My opinion hasn’t changed. Though, (shhh!), I have messed with the recipe.

There are somethings that have remained the same. It still gets a pound of sausage, but now I use what I call “happy meat”. That means local, free range, antibiotic free, no nitrates, preferably the organic variety. The whole cube of butter is still there, only now it is organic as well because all the junk settles in the fat and I suspect that my mother secretly substituted margarine. The celery and sage are still the main flavorings. After that, I have given myself freedom to experiment. I have added apples, mushrooms, nuts, chestnuts, and cranberries, though not all at once. All resulted in great stuffings.

The biggest change I have made to my mom’s perfect stuffing recipe is the wheat free bread I have been eating for over twenty years. My choice was to give up stuffing altogether or make it gluten free. The choice was easy.

She never quite accepted that change. She would eye my stuffing with a skeptic’s frown. She would take just a bit and say it was good, but I always suspected that she thought it was unforgivable to have messed with her recipe.

We still do traditional Thanksgiving feasts though I no longer make green jello salad. The few times I served it to my children, they acted like they were being poisoned. I miss it, but, in my memory, it still ranks with stuffing as a perfect Thanksgiving food.

A happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all!


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on December 4, 2013