PORTLAND, Ore. -- I am starting a new blog to share some of my life with you "off the air." From my new ventures becoming a grandma, and trying to learn to knit, to my thoughts about life and living in Portland.
And I hope you will join in the conversation with your comments and ideas for future blog topics. So, here's to what I hope is a deeper friendship.
Here's my next entry in "Off The Air" with Laural Porter.
Our kitchen looked like a tornado blew through with twisting winds tossing remnants of chopped green parsley over the kitchen sink and splattering chicken broth across the stove. Bread crumbs scattered across the floor seemed to mark the storm's path.
I sipped a glass of wine as I finished my cooking project and scurried around cleaning up the mess. My late step-mom, Suzan Porter, swore a little wine made everything taste better. She had a sign next to her kitchen sink with the saying," I cook with wine, and sometimes I even put it in the food."
I was determined when my family woke up on Thanksgiving morning they would never know what culinary calamity had hit our house.
I had created the whirlwind with my first attempt at homemade stuffing. I was desperate to impress my Dad.
He was coming for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever, and said he was looking forward to what I'd cook for him. He chuckled when he recalled the time he came to dinner after I was first married. My husband, Mike, barbecued steaks. My cooking specialty was…a salad.
I thought about what I should make this time. Maybe—reservations?!
No, I'd have to up my game for my Dad this time.
I had anchored the late news that night before Thanksgiving, and got a post-midnight start on my turkey day concoction.
Armed with recipes viewers sent me after I asked for their help, I chopped and diced, sautéed and simmered. Combining a little of this and a little of that from their suggestions along with a classic recipe the Oregonian had published.
I added fresh sage, thyme, and parsley. It surprised me how long it took me to chop these finely.
And removing the skins from the hazelnuts was an unexpected lengthy challenge. Is there an easier way?
The Oregon hazelnuts, prunes marinated in Madeira, hot Italian sausage, green apples, smoked oysters, and artisan bread were going to make this stuffing a dish to remember, I hoped.
Finally, at 4:00 a.m., I tucked the casserole dish brimming with what looked like a heaping mountain of soggy bread pudding into our crammed fridge. I found a spot on a shelf above the twenty-three pound bird, and wedged it in between my daughters' popular pumpkin pie, and my husband's all-time favorite cranberry jello salad.
By the time I went to bed, there was no sign of the kitchen scene that could have made for a reality cooking show gone wrong. Everything was as it was before I started.
The kids would be up soon to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I might make it up in time for Santa's grand entrance as he brings up the end of the parade.
It turned out my dressing was a hit. My Dad still asks about it several years later.
My kids, all grown-up, look forward to my contribution to the array of festive dishes on our Thanksgiving table.
It never quite turns out the same year to year. I change up the ingredients. I alter my techniques.
But, no matter what I try, the turkey day twister always arrives. And I'm cooking and cleaning into the wee hours.
It's a tradition started by a daughter's love for her Dad. That, and a little wine, make the chore one I cherish.
The recipe is below, but here are some notes for those of you who may give it a try.
This is a classic stuffing recipe with some extras added in.
I add green apples,minced prunes marinated in Madeira, oysters, hot Italian sausage, and nuts. Sometimes I add dried cranberries,too.
I have changed the nuts over the years from hazelnuts to walnuts to pecans.
One year I could find no hazelnuts. Another year only unskinned ones. The process of removing the skins took time and I made even more of a mess.
I'd welcome suggestions.
Since I make this after midnight on the morning of Thanksgiving after I get off work, I have tried some time savers.
I make the broth a day or two ahead simmering with the giblets for an hour.
On the same day I break up a couple of loaves of my favorite artisan bread for the stuffing.
I have read it's better to toast the bread crumbs lightly the day you're making the stuffing instead of letting them dry out for a couple days. I've tried both ways.
I use fresh herbs. Sage, thyme, parsley. I'm not a big rosemary fan.
I also double this recipe and have two large casseroles of stuffing for a small army. You may not need that much.
An optional glass or two of wine for the cook.
Share your own favorite holiday recipes and discuss this column with Laural Porter on her Facebook page now.
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