Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Great-Grandmother's Recipe For Dressing (And A Call For Help)

Growing up, my absolute favorite thing about both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with my family was always the dressing, made from my great-grandmother's recipe. Now, there have been a ton of debates all over the internet as to whether this particular dish ought to be called "dressing", "stuffing", or be name-dependent on how and where it's cooked, but my Texas family always called it "dressing" and never cooked it inside of anything other than a baking dish.

When I became vegan 6 years ago, my mother (bless her heart) tried her best to accommodate my "weird new dietary choices". I recall one of her first attempts - she made a vegan apple pie which looked great (my family does pie for holiday deserts. Pie, period, and lots of it.) When I asked her about the crust, she told me it was a Pillsbury roll-out ready pie crust. When I checked, yup, there was lard. Ew. Thus began the first of a long list of definitions and explanations I provided for my mother. Since then, she's become amazingly adept at making vegan food for me - no more pig in the green beans, vegan salad and side dish options, and pretty much everything except the main dish was completely vegan (my family still eats turkey and ham, but my mother gets Tofurkey or another faux meat for me).

The one problem with all of the changes and conversions is that my mother hasn't *quite* got a good vegan version of my great-grandmother's dressing. She tried one year, but it didn't turn out the way it should, and didn't taste like what I remembered from my childhood. A few days ago, I asked her to send me the recipe so I could possibly have a go at veganizing it. I'm going to post it here, and if any of you wonderful readers have ideas for vegan alternatives to the non-vegan ingredients, I'd love to hear them!

Here's the original "recipe" my mother sent to me (she said that there wasn't a recipe, per se, but just what my aunt had written down while watching my great-grandmother make it) -


Cornbread - double batch
white Pioneer
no sugar
1 extra egg
1 can biscuits (4 or 5)
TOAST WHITE BREAD IN OVEN until crisp (6 to 8 slices)

Crumble all bread into bowl

Add: broth
1 stick melted butter
4 to 5 eggs
long onions (shallots)

Make real soupy

Bake 350 degrees


When I asked my mother to clarify a few of the details, she sent me this update -

Pioneer corn meal recipe - corn bread

1 cup corn meal
1/3 c flour [April's note - Apparently, this is supposed to be white flour, which I'd rather not use. Thoughts on the best healthy replacement?]
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk [April's note - I'd probably use my regular So Delicious Coconut Milk, unless some other non-dairy milk would taste better]
1 egg (beaten) [April's note - I'd use EnerG Egg Replacer here, most likely]
3 tbls cooking oil
1 T. sugar (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add milk and egg, stir together. Add cooking oil and thoroughly mix. Pour into an 8 inch round cake pan and bake at 450 degrees F for 20 to 25 min. Mom [my grandmother] makes a double batch and uses a long cake pan. Put some oil in the bottom of pan and put in oven to get oil and pan hot before putting in cornbread mix.

Biscuits: Cheapest ones I can find. Cook first and then tear into very small pieces. [April's note - I either have to find some heathy (no bleached flour, etc.) vegan biscuits, or else find an easy recipe for vegan biscuits.]

Toast: I try to get very crisp and then put in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin.

Broth: At least 5 cans; You need it to be very soupy. If you run out of broth, you can add hot water. I do not how how much. We start mixing and keep adding until it is juicy.

Sage: to taste
Onion: 1 large finely chopped
Shallots: I buy one bunch.


So that's the recipe (or the beginnings of one, in any case). Ideas, anyone?


  1. Okay, So, I've been thinking about it some more.

    If the eggs are, indeed, hardboiled, I'd press x-firm tofu, chop it, and then toss it in a mixture of nutritional yeast, lemon pepper, and salt. I might bake it a bit, I'm not sure (probably would depend on how much time I've got).

    If they're raw, to make it soupy, I'd either skip 'em completely, and replace with more veggie stock, or, if they make the sauce a bit thick, I'd blend some silken tofu with a bit of broth.

    I'm less sure on the silken tofu thing.

  2. Kelly, I think you have a great idea with the silken tofu + broth suggestion (since my mother says that the eggs are just for the broth and are not cooked). As you can see, I didn't get this done for last Christmas, but I've got plenty of time to perfect this recipe before this coming Thanksgiving! Thanks for your help!