Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Mom's Cornbread and Sausage Dressing Recipe.

Okay DoctorDiva Fans.

I am going to give you the "secret" recipe for my Mother's Dressing.

Consider yourselves blessed.

This is the best southern cornbread dressing recipe in Chicago.

(We always called it DRESSING, not STUFFING)

I just figured it was DRESSING because my mother was from down South and it was  more fancy there than good ol' New Jersey STUFFING.

Turns out, STUFFING is cooked in the turkey and DRESSING is cooked in a baking dish.

Weirdly, we always stuffed the turkey with Mom's dressing, with some left over to put in a casserole to cook outside the bird.

We never got Salmonella. Not. Even. Once.

My husband INSISTS on cooking the dressing outside of the bird.

I usually get the bird in the oven before he wakes up and Muuhhaaawwaaww....stuff the bird.

And guess what?
We've Never. Gotten. Salmonella. EVER.

Part of the reason we've never gotten sick is that my Mother and I both obsessively checked the temperature of the bird in multiple spots, away from the bones (which conduct heat very well and may falsely elevate the temperature near the thermometer).  165 degrees Farhenheit internal temperature, baby!

That said, my family members are often heard to say things like, "Oh, it's okay if you dropped the turkey on the floor. The heat will kill any germs."

Personally, I have washed the turkey with soap and water first and THEN said those words. BTW, if you do that, please rinse it really, really, REALLY well. Soap tastes terrible. Just sayin'.

Okay. so here goes. And remember, measurements are approximate. Taste it as you go.

Mom's Cornbread and Sausage Dressing
 (along with words of caution and admonition from my memories of making it with Mom)

  • 2 boxes of  Jiffy Cornbread Mix (NOT Martha White. It isn't sweet enough).
  • 1 tube of Jimmy Dean Mild breakfast sausage and 1 tube of Spicy/Hot Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage
  • (and another tube of sausage because the family will raid the sausage and if you want to have enough to make the dressing, you have to make enough to satisfy the hoarding Mongols)
  • Stale Italian bread or white bread--one loaf
  • 1 cup of chopped celery and 2 cups of chopped onion. (don't put too much celery in--my Mom said it is too overpowering if you do.)
  • chicken broth (canned/boxed is fine) usually about 2-3 qts if you like it moist.
  • Poultry seasoning. LOTS of it.
  • Sage (My Mom hated sage. She said it tasted like soap. We weren't allowed to use extra, but frankly, she smoked and I don't know how she tasted anything. I LOVE sage and grow a ton every year for just this purpose.)
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • eggs --but it increases the risk of salmonella. I use pasteurized eggs, myself.

Cook the cornbread the night before and let it sit out overnight to get stale. (Not if you have mice though--Put it in the fridge then. Seriously. It could be a disaster otherwise.)

Partially freeze the sausage. Cut right through the plastic tubing and make patties of sausage and cook 'em up in some vegetable oil.(of course take them out of the plastic rings you've cut!)
 Drain on paper towels.

Slap marauding hands vigorously as they steal the cooked sausage. Make a good show of it and don't let on that you made enough for them to steal. It helps with getting them to do the dishes later. Guilt. My secret ingredient.

Brown the onions and celery in the oil from the sausages. Drain the oil off the onions and celery (unless you want wicked heartburn).

In a vat (we use an old Tupperware Cake thingy-- It's huge):

crumble the cornbread and the white bread.
Crumble and add the sausage
Add the drained onions and celery
Cover the entire top of the dressing mix with a layer of poultry seasoning. (It should look greenish brown from all of the poultry seasoning. Add extra sage here if you want. There is sage in poultry seasoning already, though)
Add salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.

Now. Take off your rings, roll up your sleeves and get ready.

Pour chicken broth over and mix it up with your hands.(This is a good job for the kids)
Keep adding broth until it's moist (for stuffing) or really moist for dressing. It will get more moist in the bird, and dry out in the casserole dish.
TASTE IT before you add the eggs.
Adjust seasonings.
(Add the eggs if you want.)

IF you put it in the bird, stuff the neck cavity as well as the chest. Use skewers or twine to close it up.
If you put it in a casserole dish, then cover it tightly with aluminum foil to bake so it doesn't dry out too much.
Bake in a 350-375 degree F oven for about an hour.
Bake to an internal temp of 165 degrees F in the bird. Check in multiple spots with an instant read thermometer.

You're welcome.

DoctorDiva 11/18/14

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hypothermia and Early Motherhood

I went camping recently with the Boy Scouts and it was  freezing. I thought I'd better brush up my knowledge of hypothermia, since I was the resident expert on the trip.

As I started reviewing the symptoms of hypothermia, I realized the symptoms are very similar to the first several months of motherhood. And the last couple of months of motherhood. Heck, Motherhood.

Here is from the MayoClinic's website:

Moderate to severe hypothermia

As your body temperature drops, signs and symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:
  • Shivering, although as hypothermia worsens, shivering stops
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Confusion and poor decision-making, such as trying to remove warm clothes
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Lack of concern about one's condition
  • Progressive loss of consciousness
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing"

Treatment of Hypothermia:

  • call 911
  • Warm the person up by getting them indoors.
  • Put the person in dry clothes and blankets.
  • Warm their bodies/trunks, not the hands and feet. that can put them into shock.
  • Don't immerse in warm water -that can cause arrhythmias.
  • Give warm fluids to drink-not coffee or alcohol
  • If the heart stops, start CPR and keep going until Assistance arrives in the way of paramedics.

We have a saying in medicine when referring to cardiac arrest in a hypothermic patient:

A hypothermic person isn't good and dead until they're warm and dead.

Cold persons can maintain brain function for a lot longer than a warm person and the cold temperature may prevent the CPR from working right away. You need to warm the person up and keep doing CPR before you call the code off.


Motherhood is not so different from hypothermia:

  • Confusion
  • Exhaustion, fatigue and low energy
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of concern about one's condition 
  • Loss of consciousness (at every opportunity available--few and far between)
  • Clumsiness and lack of coordination (usually from trying to carry a baby and perform activities of daily living at the same time)

The treatment however, is often the exact opposite of the treatment of hypothermia.

  • Call in every favor ever owed you and get out of the house and away from the baby for a while
  • Get outside into the sunlight
  • Take a long, long, LONG HOT shower. Shave and groom and do it all in PRIVACY. 
  • Take in coffee, alcohol, or whatever your favorite beverage is. Add in chocolate and all the foods you've been avoiding while breast feeding. 
  • If your heart stops in shock of some actual private time, don't worry. It won't happen again for a long while. 

And remember Moms:

Mothers are never TRULY asleep until their child decides Naptime is over. It never fails.

November 11, 2014

 photo credit: