As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches my memory turns to those years 
that Nanny prepared an unforgettable meal to share with family.  She 
and Granddaddy Scott lived on their farm in rural Terrell County and 
that is where we gathered together for countless years.  Nanny was 
known for her delicious cornbread dressing and I realize that part of 
the reason it was so tasty was that she prepared a fat hen rather than 
a turkey and used those drippings as the base of flavor for the 

Before we go any further, if you do not know the difference in the 
taste of homemade cornbread dressing and packaged stuffing then this 
column is written for you because there is no comparison in the taste 
of those two items.  If all you have ever eaten is stuffing then you 
have missed out on one of the best dishes to ever grace a table at 

The primary ingredients in homemade cornbread dressing are plain, old 
fashioned buttermilk cornbread and some form of bread, sometimes 
biscuit or sandwich bread slices.  Even after they stopped keeping 
laying chickens on their farm, Nanny sought out and purchased eggs 
from farmers because she declared that they tasted fresher and were 
better for your health. She used those country eggs in the cornbread, 
in the dressing and then again hard boiled to include in the Giblet 

Nanny always prepared her famous dressing in a purple/blue enamel pan, 
which is still cherished in our family, in fact the pans are still 
sold in some markets, called granite enamelware and are frequently 
referred to as dish-pans.  Nanny's pan was never used for anything but 
making dressing and the rest of the time it hung on the wall awaiting 
another holiday.

We never stuffed a bird with dressing or stuffing, it is a personal 
choice but authorities will tell you that putting the stuffing inside 
the hen or turkey to cook is not a safe practice.  If the temperature 
does not reach an optimum stage, the ingredients will not cook 
properly and it could cause food borne illness.  It is a dangerous 
chance to take so we have always baked our dressing in a separate pan.

The same rule applied to Nanny's cast-iron skillet, it was an 
established rule that you did not use that pan for anything but baking 
cornbread.  Once the pans have been seasoned (turned dark from 
frequent use) you just wipe them out after use and store them until 
the next time; you never use them for cooking anything but cornbread.

My cast-iron skillet will one day be passed to another cook as a 
family treasure.  In our family it is a known fact that you better not 
prepared anything in that particular skillet but cornbread.  I saw a 
picture on Facebook that showed a cast-iron skillet loaded inside a 
dishwasher that caused all kinds of fierce comments; not one person 
said it was a good idea.

Happy Thanksgiving holiday from our family to yours.


Brenda S. Brown 


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