Friday, November 21, 2014

Texas Senator Kirk Watson's Grammy''s Cornbread Dressing

Thanks to Kirk Watson for sharing memories of his Grammy and her recipes with us.

Happy Thanksgiving

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 X 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 just 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…..”
  • 1 recipe of Cornbread (Cornkits is the best — you can get it at HEB; Jiffy and others have too much sugar in them), preferably made with buttermilk or soured milk and greased in pan with bacon grease
  • 3-4 Large Biscuits
  • 3-4 slices toast
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 cup celery
  • 4 eggs – well broken
  • 2-3 cups fresh stock or 2 cans chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons sage
  • 1-2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Prepare cornbread and white bread 2 days in advance and crumble fine. Let sit covered with a dishtowel to dry out in a bowl.
  • Mix all ingredients.
  • Mixture should be very soupy in order to make a dressing that is not dry.
  • Season to taste.
  • Put in glass baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lightly golden/brown.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


3/4 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp shortening, chilled
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in the cheese and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the olives.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and toss gently with a fork until the mixture is just moistened; do not overmix. The dough will be sticky.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead once or twice with floured hands, sprinkling dough lightly with flour. Pat the dough into a half-inch thickness.

Dip a 1 12-inch biscuit cutter into flour and cut the biscuits, pushing the cutter straight down into the dough and pulling it out without twisting. Arrange biscuits about 1-inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps for more biscuits.

Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Best served warm.

Yield: Approximately 2 dozen biscuits.

Friday, November 14, 2014


In our poll regarding old fashion recipes at Thanksgiving 40% of respondents said they use mostly old fashion recipes while preparing their Thanksgiving meals while 60% said they use a few.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


1 can yellow hominy, drained
1 can white hominy, drained
1 small can diced green chilies
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Put the chilies, garlic, and soup, in a bowl and mix and add the hominy and cheese. Stir to mix well.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Note: File Photo

Friday, November 7, 2014


1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups milk
1 cup cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
1 cup sliced mushrooms, drained
1 small jar pimentos
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup French-fried onions

Bring the soup and milk to a boil in a large saucepan; remove from heat. Add the rice, chicken, mushrooms, pimento, 1/2 cup of the cheese and 1/2 cup of the onions to the soup mixture; stir to combine well. Pour into greased pan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove top and add rest of cheese and onions. Cook 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


This recipe is from King Arthur Flour and it is not a vintage recipe. It does, however, remind me of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at my grandparents homes so I am putting it here. It most definitely reminds me of vintage times.

While you can certainly add all of the ingredients straight to your mixing bowl or bread machine bucket as listed in the recipe, I like to break it into two stages. First add:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons instand yeast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup canned or puréed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) King Arthur Whole-Wheat Flour (white whole wheat or premium)
Mix everything together by hand and let the mixture sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. There’s a lot of moisture here, and it takes time for the flour to fully hydrate. By giving the ingredients a chance to sit, the flour can get a jump-start absorbing the liquids, which can save you from adding too much flour later on.
Once you’ve let the initial mix sit, you can add the rest of the ingredients:
1 3/4 to 2 cups (7 1/4 to 8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Now at first I was skeptical about adding spices to the bread. I didn’t want to end up with something that tasted like pumpkin pie, as much as I love it for dessert. Happily, the spices don’t overpower but instead play lovely background notes against the pumpkin. Like a whisper instead of a shout, they get the point across right when you need it.
Continue to knead the bread by hand, in your mixer, or using the dough cycle of your bread machine. Check to be sure the dough isn’t too wet and sticky, and add more flour by the tablespoonful as needed.
This dough will still be softer and moister than that of regular sandwich bread. As long as it doesn’t stick to you like glue, you’re good to go.
Some bread doughs are going to be naturally more sticky and wet than others, and even as you work more flour into them, it will keep getting absorbed; so it’s easy to add too much. By stopping here and working the dough gently by hand until smooth, you’ll have much better control over the final outcome.
Can you keep going in the mixer or bread machine? Absolutely! For me, I still like a little hands-on during the process.
Set the dough aside to rise, covered, for about 45 to 50 minutes. Be patient as you watch the dough; it doesn’t start to rise for about 20 minutes or so, but will be full and puffy by the end of the rise time.
Gently deflate the dough and shape it into a smooth log. Place itin a greased 9" X 5" loaf pan and cover again for the final rise.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a digital thermometer reads 190°F when inserted into the center of the loaf. Remove the loaf from the oven, and after a couple of minutes transfer it to a rack to cool.
Brushing the finished loaf with melted butter is completely optional, but yields the softest crust. Be sure to cool this bread completely before slicing, otherwise the interior can be gummy. I know it’s torture, but sometimes we just have to suffer for our art.

A baked loaf will keep in the freezer up to 3 months.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


This is one of my old recipes I have had since I first had a microwave many years ago. Not exactly a vintage recipe but an old one.

Click on pictures for easier reading.


1 large can Hawaiian Punch
Approximately 3/4 of a 2-liter 7-Up
1 can crushed pineapple
1 can (11-oz) mandarin oranges
1 pkg frozen strawberries

Stir together in a large punch bowl.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Our latest poll question ask which is your favorite Fall Holiday in the kitchen.

100% of the respondents choose Thanksgiving over Halloween.


1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
2 eggs beaten
1 stick butter, melted
4 heaping T. all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1/4 C. diced green pepper (you can use red, I only had green)
1 C. whole milk
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr. 20 min.