CG & SG | We were extravagantly spoiled growing up. Each Thanksgiving and Christmas, we were dressed slightly fancier than usual and driven the scant half mile to our grandparents’ house, where dinner was ready and waiting. Granny was likely finishing some prep work, but we were oblivious to it, either listening to Pop catch up with the other adults or (if it was a Christmas Eve dinner) marveling at the tree, guessing at what might lie beneath.
Our Granny, Emma Lou Rouse, was an understated marvel in the kitchen. She leveraged her Fort Deposit roots, an API home economics degree, and decades of trial and error into predictably phenomenal results, every time. We each had a favorite recipe. The mere smell of one of these family recipes cooking now brings back the security of that warm little house just half a mile from home.
Baked Apple & Banana Casserole
I’ve always been a picky eater, and foods with an unusual texture or appearance have always been at the top of my “no go” list. By those criteria, this shapeless brown casserole should never have made it onto my plate, but I’m endlessly grateful that it did. It’s almost sweet enough to serve as a dessert, but we’ve always served it as a side dish, preferably out of a well-worn Le Creuset French oven. The end result isn’t much to look at, but you’ll be a believer after the first bite.
- About 4 to 6 medium apples – Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
- 2 medium bananas
- 1/4 cup sugar blended with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice in 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Bread crumbs
Peel the apples, quarter and core – cut each quarter into lengthwise pieces about 1/2” at outer edge. Toss in a bowl with sugar and lemon juice. Grease a baking dish with soft butter, then layer the apples and bananas, ending with apples on top – dot with butter and a thin layer of fine bread crumbs. Bake in a 400º oven for about 40 minutes, until apples are tender but still hold shape.
Granny’s Cornbread Dressing
It took me years to figure out what this actually was — a light but savory delight that almost melts in your mouth. It’s what I assume mana to have been to the Israelites. It takes two days to prepare, so plan accordingly. And don’t you dare stuff this in a turkey. It stands alone, proudly on the side. A dressing, not a stuffing.
- 4 cups (1 recipe) crumbled, stale cornbread (Follow directions on Jiffy mix cornbread or any cornbread recipe. Let it sit out overnight to get “stale.”)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- Butter (for sautéing)
- 3 ½ cups (or more) chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- Dash Worcester sauce
Preheat oven to 400 – 425º. Sauté the celery and onion in butter, then mix with all other ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture will be real soupy but thickens as it cooks. Bake in uncovered casserole dish for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until brown around the edges.
We hope you’ll enjoy the recipes above – perhaps they’ll become a staple on your own holiday table. However you celebrate the holidays, we hope this year finds you happy, healthy, and well-fed.