Something Southern: Cornbread Dressin’

We’re coming up on Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and that brings up a great and powerful debate:

Dressin’ (no there is no “g”) vs. Stuffing

In the South, the rule is hands down cornbread dressin’.  And it goes in a casserole dish, not inside the bird itself (which is a highly questionable practice from an avoiding salmonella standpoint anyway).  This is a moist and delicious side that goes with the turkey.  There is some debate whether turkey or chicken goes IN the dressin’ (The answer?  NO, IT DOESN’T–this is a side dish for the turkey, not a casserole for a church potluck).  But one area where, I think, most Southerners agree, dressin’ is never ever made with sweet cornbread.   None of your blue box Jiffy crap.  Cornbread dressin’ should be made with proper (preferably homemade) buttermilk cornbread.

And here, I am sharing with you my grandmother’s dressin’ recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 cup of diced celery
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (I use 98% fat free) (Note for gluten free folks, Pacific foods cream of soups are the best option I’ve found for both soups.)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (also 98% fat free)
  • 5-6 slices of white bread, torn into pieces (Note for gluten free eaters, I have used this bread successfully–but cut down to 4 thin slices…it absorbs more liquid)
  • 2 pans good, homemade cornbread [I highly recommend this recipe] (if you go with a mix, do NOT under any circumstances buy sweet cornbread–it DOES NOT WORK for this recipe–STEP AWAY FROM THE JIFFY MIX–find a mix that says buttermilk cornbread–and for heaven’s sake, use a cast iron skillet to cook it. You only do this once a year, so do it right.)
  • 1 pinch (1/8th tsp) poultry seasoning
  • good chicken stock (either roast your own chicken and boil the skin and bones, or buy a rotisserie one at the grocery, have a couple meals off of it, and boil the skin and bones of that–see my post about batch cooking for how to make your own chicken stock).
  • 6 eggs

Directions

  1. This works best if you bake the cornbread the day before and allow it to dry out overnight.
  2. Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl. Add the 2 cans of soup and mix well.
  3. Add the onions and celery and the eggs. Mix well.
  4. Add the white bread. Mix well.
  5. Add enough chicken stock to make the consistency just on the soupy side of moist.
  6. Add poultry seasoning. Mix well. Please note there is NO SAGE in this recipe. It overpowers the other flavors. Don’t use it.
  7. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  8. You may freeze the dressin at this point if you’re making it ahead of time. Just be sure to thaw completely before popping it in the oven at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. The edges should be golden brown.
  9. If you like moister dressin’, drizzle more chicken stock over the dressin’ before baking. If you like it dryer, don’t add as much.
  10. Serve with turkey and giblet gravy (if you’re into giblet gravy…I’m not…the rest of my family is).

 

Sunday Summary & #ROW80 Update

  1. To Get Me To You is officially proofed and final files are uploaded everywhere.  I’m relieved to have it out of my hands.  Because I can, I went ahead and moved up the release date to November 27th.  So if you’re bored after Thanksgiving dinner, there’s fresh reading material.
  2. We went to see Interstellar this afternoon.  It was really good.  There were a few plot holes, we thought, but any time you’re dealing with the theory of relativity and singularities and black holes and stuff.  There wasn’t a bad actor in the lot.  I was really impressed.
  3. Tomorrow I dive into my next project–another Wishful novella.  It’s been plotted since August, and my next project is not ready to go yet, so I’ll be doing my own little NaNo during December.
  4. I’ve been binge reading this week, blowing through four novellas and a big chunk of an audiobook.  It’s almost the season of cheesy holiday reading and flicks.  I’ve read a couple, but I won’t get hard core into them until after Thanksgiving.
  5. I started Thanksgiving prep this weekend.  The dressin’ always takes a while because I have to make homemade chicken stock, homemade cornbread.  And then I had to make some adjustments for the allergens we’re facing.  So it’s in the freezer. I’ve got to do some serious rearranging in my fridge to make room for the turkey.  It’ll take several days to thaw.
  6. It’s going to be a short week.  Hooray!

Thoughts and Questions on Series Numbering

Okay this is probably a rather dull topic for some of you, but it’s been on my mind as the proper launch of To Get Me To You draws nigh.  It is the first book in the series and is, obviously, properly number 1.  This is a no brainer.  Chronologically, Be Careful, It’s My Heart follows it, and I have had a devil of a time trying to sort out how to number it.

The numbering scheme for such a thing in the traditional publishing world seems to be most often Novel #1, Novella #1.5, Novel #2, etc., because the novella is meant to tide you over between novels, right?  In some limited cases, I’ve seen a series numbered just straight sequentially 1, 2, 3, 4, no matter what length the stories were (The Gaslight Chronicles by Cindy Spenser Pape being foremost in my mind, followed by some of Donna Kauffman’s Scot series books).

For my Mirus stuff, I numbered Forsaken By Shadow 1.1, Devil’s Eye 1.2, and Blindsight 1.3 because all of them were collected in the omnibus edition Genesis, which was officially the first book in the series.  But that doesn’t much make sense for Wishful.

In investigating my options, I have discovered that Amazon allows you to list books as part of a series without specifying volume number at all, if you don’t want.  If you choose to use that feature, you can do #.#, but you only get a single decimal place (so no 1.25 or something).

Smashwords has their handy series manager tool, which allows you to set the chronological order, custom numbering scheme, and choose whether to show the volume number at all.  

Barnes and Noble requires a volume number if you go through Nookpress, and it has no decimals at all, so it won’t accept the convention of 1.5 for a novella.  Same for Draft2Digital.  I did notice that some traditionally published series are listed without numbers at all, so that requirement seems to just be on the self published side of BN.  I’m not sure what they do with titles distributed through Smashwords as I published almost everything except some short stories direct through NookPress, rather than go through the premium distribution.

I have two reasons for angsting over this.

1) I actually have another novella in Wishful that I want to write before the next full novel and since BC takes up the 1.5 slot…what would I number it?

2) If I were to use sequential numbering of just 1, 2, 3, etc., I wouldn’t want to tick off any readers who picked up one of the novellas expecting a full novel and don’t bother to read the description or the cover that blatantly SAYS novella and then get ticked off and feel cheated (which has certainly happened in the past).

One alternative I had considered was to update the product descriptions for everything in the series to include a list of all the books in the correct order, with notations by the side saying novel or novella (or short story, as I’ve got some of those too).

If I could do them without series numbers at all, I’d think that would be the best option.  It’s NOT the sort of series where it has to be read in order.  Each book is a standalone story and it’s not really a spoiler to know who got together in a different book because, hey, romance.

So, authors, readers, WEIGH IN.  What do you think makes the most sense?