These past several months, my husband, Daniel, and I have been enjoying our term as youth leaders. The married couples in our church take turns (two couples at a time) coordinating youth activities such as work nights, which consist of whoever may need help with a project or going singing at the nursing homes.
This fall, we decided to try something different. We invited the widows in our area to join us in the home of Nathan Lehman for an evening of food and fellowship. One of the neighbors picked me up in her open buggy to take me, Julia and Austin there. It was a cold, crisp afternoon, but still a very enjoyable ride and nice to not have to worry about taking my own buggy, since I had a lot of food to take along.
I was excited about the event, yet I couldn’t deny the fact it would be a good feeling when it was over. The primary responsibility was on us as youth leaders while the youth girls did an outstanding job pitching in and helping wherever they could.
Besides the widows, we decided to also invite two older couples in our community, which included my grandparents. When I talked with Grandma about it, she insisted that she make the dressing for us. How could I say no? She’s outstanding when it comes to cooking, and making dressing is no exception. Her dressing is always the best and, yes, it certainly crossed something off my to do list.
On Friday afternoon at 2:30, some of the girls joined us in preparing our meal. Several froze homemade ice cream while others cut up veggies for the salads
By 4:30, our meal was almost completed and our guests began arriving. They took seats around the large, attractively decorated table. Several girls had set dishes along with full themed tablecloths, baskets with fruit and candles and beside each plate was a mini loaf of homemade bread for them to take along home as well as little candy “turkeys” that one of the girls had creatively constructed out of cookies, peanut butter balls and candy corn.
Once everyone was seated, we had a prayer of thanks. After that, the girls stood in a group and sang, “Praise to God, Immortal Praise,” while several of us filled serving bowls with mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy and barbecue chicken and ham and coffee and tea. It was then that one of the ladies showed me a kettle with browned butter in it. “Were you going to use this for the mashed potatoes?” she asked.
Aw, you must be kidding me! Sure enough, that had simply fallen through the cracks. What is better than browned butter over mashed potatoes? Well, at least I had put quite a bit of browned butter in the gravy. I tried to console myself. We’ll be sure to pour it over the top before serving seconds.
Next we were ready for the desserts. Two girls passed apple and pumpkin pie while I fetched the homemade ice cream.
As soon as supper was past, the girls cleared the table and tackled the enormous stacks of plates, bowls, mugs, kettles and everything in between.
In the meantime I organized several games for the guests to play. My mother had been the one responsible to send several games and gifts for winners along with my sister who was at the supper as well. Of course mother did an excellent job, thanks to her outstanding imagination.
First, we played a game that tested everyone’s memory. Mom had prepared a container packed with more than 30 little items ranging from a Band Aid to a gravy ladle to a razor to a small shoe keychain the children like to play with. It was interesting to see what Mom came up with!
I lifted one item at a time out of the basket for all to see, naming each one. Finally, after we had gone through each one, each guest wrote all the items they could remember on a slip of paper. The winner remembered 23 items and could choose one of the gift bags.
After that we played some good games of bingo. I read off the numbers and had Julia (my 4-year-old daughter) pass out gifts to the winners. We had an excellent time together. Hopefully it will happen again next year.
If you plan to make dressing over the holidays, you’ll be sure to want my Grandma’s recipe. She generally just dumps the ingredients together until she has the right consistency and flavor. After quizzing her, I got a recipe on paper that should taste just like hers.
Gloria’s Grandmother’s Stuffing
1 loaf of bread, cubed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup potatoes, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, cut fine
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon chicken base
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion salt
Boil carrots and onions together until tender. Then, in a large kettle, toast bread cubes in butter until crisp. Dump bread cubes into a large bowl. Add carrots and onions and rest of the ingredients. Beat eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Mix well and add to the rest. Put into a large roaster and bake at 45 minutes or fry on top of the stove. Serves 20-25.