By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician
The sun is shining and warming the last days of fall. It is hard to imagine Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Imagine there are supply chain issues and you are only able to choose one side dish shipped to you for your holiday meal. What would it be? Three of the four adulting Detwiler children responded in a resounding cheer with: STUFFING!
My husband Paul recently told me he thinks “most stuffing I’ve ever had has been like a brick.” You can imagine the surprise on my face when I countered with “I have been making stuffing for you for over 30 years and I HAVE NEVER MADE A BRICK!” Backpedaling madly, hoping to avoid the doghouse with Tuck, he mumbled “Uhhhhh, I mean like at potlucks or the Detwiler Thanksgiving.” It was funny thinking about those days when 13 of his aunts, uncles and families gathered in a local church feeding close to 100 peeps. No wonder the stuffing was a brick. These days the only thing that gets stuffed are the next generation of Detwilers, since it is not recommended that you stuff the turkey.
Our moist stuffing starts with veggies simmered in a bath of delicious butter and added with chicken broth to a bag of herb-seasoned classic Pepperidge Farms stuffing mix and baked to perfection. No bricks involved.
Smithsonian reports that the first Thanksgiving was filled with a plethora of wild birds, venison, and seafood such as eels, lobster, clams, and mussels. The wildfowl of goose, duck, and other smaller birds were most likely stuffed with chestnuts and onions, unlike the bread-based stuffing/dressing of today. Stuffing goes back before that first Thanksgiving to first century A.D. where spelt mixed with veggies, herbs and spices was stuffed into some edible cavity. Bread-based stuffing started appearing on America’s tables in the 1800s. Over 100 years later, a crazy thing happened with the convenience food revolution of the 1970s. A Purdue home economist at General Mills invented Stove Top stuffing which hit the shelves in 1971. Kudos to Ruth Siems for her invention, a quick and easy side dish for any night of the week. It remains a best seller for Kraft foods, selling nearly 60 million boxes in 2020.
No matter whether it is stuffing or dressing that highlights your holiday meals, it is time to think outside the box. Try one of these regional twists on traditional stuffing. No matter what your main course is, it is sure to be a hit! Happy Thanksgiving!
Eat well and healthy,