Archive for the ‘Big Gramma’s Recipes’ Category



It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of my family recipes, but, since I had a friend recently ask me for a copy of my turkey stuffing recipe, I figured I might as well share it here too.  That way he can just get it this way … and I can pay homage to the generations before me that stuffed and roasted a turkey this way.  I don’t know how far back it went, but I know that my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother all made turkey stuffing the same way.  I imagine that it went further back than that, but that’s as far as I know for sure.


My only issue with providing this recipe is trying to create it in writing so that someone else can follow it.  I tried very hard to measure what I do; however, since I do it with my hands by feel and by measuring it “until it looks right” … like my maternal ancestors did … it is as exact as I could make it.  I used to watch my mother do it when I was little, but I never really knew precisely what to do until I was newly married to my first husband.  We had moved to the Chicago area and were unable to go “home” to California for Thanksgiving.  This was way before the internet and texting and email … and back when telephone calls across country cost an arm and a leg, so I wrote her a letter (you know about those, I hope … you know … with paper and a pen) and asked her how to make the stuffing.  She wrote back a wonderful long letter where even she said she had trouble trying to come up with exactly what she did, but I could follow it because I understand her terms and her measurements.  People outside of our family probably won’t.  I kept that letter for years until it disappeared in one of my moves.  I wish I still had it.  It’s full of history.


Anyway, I wrote what I do on 3 X 5 index cards a while back and I still use those to remind me of certain things to do.  I can’t just type it as I wrote it, though, because most people won’t know what I mean by a “glug” of this, a “handful” of that, “count to 3 while you pour” or “pour till it seems right”.  I somewhat measured this year when I made my Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing so that I could give it to him as well as put it in my blog.  I was so busy though, pictures never were taken … but … suffice it to say that everyone raved over my 22 ¼ pound turkey and stuffing.  Maybe next time I do it, I’ll remember to take a picture … or … better yet … I’ll get Roy to take pictures … and I’ll attach it to this post.  I generally can’t take pictures, because I cook with my hands so I’m generally too messy to be fooling around with a camera.  Besides … Roy absolutely loves my turkey stuffing … so I’ll put him in charge next time.


So … after that long and involved “story” … here to follow is “Big Gramma’s Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing”.  Is it fattening?  Of course it is, but isn’t good old-fashioned tasty food generally fattening?  As long as any food is eaten in moderation, it’s all good … unless there is a health issue that prevents certain things from being eaten.  Just know that this is good old-fashioned American comfort food at its best.  I’ll just end with this … if something doesn’t make sense in my recipe, feel free to ask in the comments.  I’ll answer as best I can.  It really is fairly easy and isn’t as hard as it may first look.  That’s why I like it so much … because it is so easy … and tasty.




Big Gramma’s Corn Bread and Sausage Stuffing


  • 1 batch of cornbread
  • 1 turkey
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 3 sticks of butter
  • 1 lb of pork sausage
  • 2 heaping tbsp baking powder
  • 2-3 large eggs or 3-4 medium eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sage
  • 1 clean rag/cloth (not of towel/terry cloth material) that you won’t want after the fact as it will be thrown out


  1. Make a large pan of cornbread (the dish I use is 10 X 10) a day or two (up to about a week) early and leave out to get dry/stale.
  2. The day before you’ll be roasting the turkey, remove the gizzard, liver, heart, neck, etc from the turkey, rinse the turkey cavities well, and boil the innards.
  3. Put the turkey into a covered roasting pan and put it in the refrigerator until the next day.
  4. Boil the innards for several hours until they are well cooked.
  5. Drain the water and remove the scum. If you want to use the innards, chop up whatever is wanted and then either discard the remainder or give it to the dog and/or cat. (Personally, I only use the meat that’s on the neck and then feed the remainder to our dog.)
  6. Add water to cover the meat (including whatever innards you may like).
  7. Add celery tops (with leaves) from one bunch of celery (save the remainder of the celery bunch for later), a bunch of parsley, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and 1 tsp sage to the water and meat items.
  8. Simmer until very tender.
  9. Reserve all of the liquid and celery/parsley/meat mixture.
  10. Chop up the remainder of the celery as well as the two onions.
  11. Sauté the onions and celery in a stick of butter until tender and transparent.
  12. In a large bowl or stock pot, break up cornbread into bite size chunks.
  13. Add 1 lb of uncooked bulk pork sausage to the cornbread.
  14. Add 2 heaping tbsp of baking powder, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1-2 tbsp sage to the cornbread.
  15. Whip 2-3 large eggs or 3-4 medium eggs with a fork until yellow and slightly foamy.
  16. Add the eggs, sautéed onions/celery mixture, and celery tops/parsley/meat mixture to the broken up cornbread.
  17. Mix together lightly so that it’s well blended but still in somewhat of a chunky form. I use my hands so that it doesn’t get too broken up and mealy but is blended well.
  18. Moisten with water from boiling the innards/celery tops/parsley but don’t pour in too much. You want it to stick together but not have it too gummy.
  19. The leftover fluids from boiling the innards/celery tops/parsley should be poured into the roasting pan as basting juices for the turkey during its roasting time.
  20. About 10 minutes before you put the turkey in the oven, preheat it to 450.
  21. Just before stuffing the body and neck cavity, use your hands and rub salt & pepper inside.
  22. Stuff the body and neck cavity lightly. Don’t pack it too tightly or the turkey will split while baking.
  23. Sew or skewer the turkey body and neck cavity closed.
  24. Put the remainder of the stuffing that you mixed up into a casserole dish and bake it for about an hour. Baste some of the turkey drippings into it either as it cooks, after it cooks, or both.
  25. Rub a stick of butter on the skin and legs of the turkey.
  26. Melt a stick of butter and saturate an old clean rag with the butter.
  27. Cover the turkey with the cloth.
  28. Put the turkey pan on the rack in the oven and close the oven door.
  29. Immediately turn the oven down to 350 (or 325 for larger turkeys).
  30. Baste the turkey off and on throughout the baking time right over the cloth as it roasts.
  31. When the turkey is done, remove the roasting pan from the oven.
  32. Remove the cloth very carefully so as not to peel off the skin. It’s easiest to dampen the cloth with basting juices as you slowly and gently pull back on the cloth to release it from the turkey.
  33. You will have a golden brown turkey.
  34. Let the turkey rest for at least 1 hour before carving.







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I’ve written a couple of things regarding my “Big Gramma” and her recipes. This one is for her *awesome* potato rolls. I make them for special times usually, but they can be any time, particularly if you like to make yeast breads and whenever you have leftover mashed potatoes. This recipe is again unique though, due to the history behind it.

Like I said, my Big Gramma was a strong-willed individual, very good at surviving whatever obstacle was put in her path. This recipe was built out of survival and used in the Great Depression and World War II, when people truly knew how to survive and didn’t expect or want free government handouts, because they wanted to make it *on their own* without intervention by the government (like I was raised to do). It was when milk, butter, eggs, and sugar were a rare commodity, so they learned to stretch what little they did get into good hearty filling foods.

I generally make this recipe into rolls but I’ve done it into a loaf of bread also and it works well. If you want it to look “fancy”, make it into “cloverleaf” (my favorite: see picture above) or “Parker House” styles. It’s a hearty but airy bread or roll with a *lot* of flavor and can be made the day you eat it or several days in advance and frozen or refrigerated or kept in a bread box for later use. My kids love them and pigged out on them when little.

So … here you go … trying to measure as best I can, since I make them by “eyeballing” it (as I was taught to do when learning to cook).


It’s not a real sensitive/exact recipe … but don’t substitute the types of ingredients, or it’ll not work right.


Big Gramma’s Potato Rolls

1 c warm mashed potatoes
1 c cooled potato water
1 pkg or cake of yeast
1/2 c canned evaporated milk (*not* sweetened condensed)
1/3 c shortening
1/3 c sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp salt
5 c flour (approximately)

-boil potatoes
-reserve water when potatoes are soft enough to mash
-mash potatoes to eat but keep out 1 c of mashed potatoes for this recipe (the rest can be used in your regular meal)
-dissolve yeast in the water that the potatoes were boiled in when it is lukewarm
-lightly whisk together all ingredients except flour
-add about 5 cups of flour till stiff enough to knead
-knead till smooth and elastic
-let rise til double
-punch down
-make into rolls or loaf as desired
-let rise till double
-bake at 325 about 12 – 15 minutes for rolls





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I know the reaction most people have when they hear “fruit cake”. They think “hard-as-a-brick Christmas cake” that lasts forever and no one eats. They haven’t had my … or more to the point, Big Gramma’s … Fruit Cake. Bear with me please and read through this and *TRY* it. It’s awesome, like Big Gramma. Just take my word for it but do *not* try to adjust it because it will not work right.

Fruit Cake

-2 c flour
-1/8 tsp ground cloves
-1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 c applesauce (I use homemade)
-1 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 c sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 c shortening (not oil, butter, and margarine)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 c raisins
-1 lb either candied fruit or dried fruit bits (I use dried fruit bits/chunks because I don’t like candied fruit chunks)
-1 small jelly glass-full (which is about 5-6 ozs) of preserves (do *not* use grape because it overpowers the flavor)
-1 heaping tblsp full of unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 c walnuts (optional)

*Combine. Put fruit, raisins, and nuts in last.
*Grease and flour large loaf pan.
*Bake in loaf pan @ 250-275 degrees for 1-2 hours.
*When inserted knife comes out clean, take out of oven.
*When cooled, invert on rack til room temperature.
*Wrap in a clean old rag soaked in brandy or bourbon (*NOT* wine). I prefer the flavor that brandy gives. I also use a *lot* of brandy, but that’s a matter of preference. You can do it very lightly too, but some is needed to help “cure” it.
*Wrap cloth tightly and securely in plastic.
*Wrap plastic tightly in foil.
*Put foil wrapped loaf in cool dark spot for at least a month. (I usually make it when I’m doing my Thanksgiving baking so it’s ready for Christmas.)

Yum yum YUM!!!!!! Put out at Christmas and *enjoy*!

I made this a few days ago. It’s now tucked safely on a shelf in a closet.

Big Gramma’s recipes are the best!

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“Home grown” recipes are my specialty. In particular, we like the ones that aren’t for the “fancy-schmancy, ritzy-ditzy, artsy-fartsy” snobs and the foodies who think they’re full of culture, when really all they are full of is themselves. (Now let me tell you how I *really* feel.)


The types of food Roy and I like are basic homey down-to-earth things, like I’ve said before. I also love Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking, because it’s warm and traditional, the kind of cooking of my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

My predecessors were, like I’ve said before, rugged individualists. They came here from overseas to better themselves and to have a better life. They left for the midwest, for California, and away from a stifling life. They brought with them recipes they adjusted to new climates but with a very traditional feel.

One of these ancestors was my maternal great grandmother … or “Big Gramma” as all her great-grandchildren called her. Now I’ll clarify that by saying “Big” didn’t mean physically big as she was approximately 4’10” & not by any sense of the imagination fat. She was “Big Gramma” because she was the “Chief” gramma, with my grandmother (my mother’s mother) the next in line. There was a hierarchy so-to-speak. What can I say? We were young and it’s how our minds worked.

Big Gramma was awesome. She died at the age of 87 in the mid-1960s, married to her 3rd husband, Grampa Joe. My blood-related great-grandfather died when my mother was 5, so I never knew him, but they had moved to California around 1904 for more opportunity and a better life. Her family was *directly* descended from Rob Roy and had been in America since the 1700s. They moved to Southern California when the Transcontinental Railroads were completed and safely operating, operating an olive farm in the Central Valley of California for a long time, later moving to the Los Angeles area. They lived there (and I was born there) well before the LA urban decline, before it turned into “LaLaLand”, destroyed by the Hollywood elitists and their cronies. She was widowed and on her own in a time when women had no opportunity and she began and ran a retail baby products shop and was able to retire comfortably. She was always dressed to the nines, like a “lady” should be, & she never understood why my cousins and I liked to tan on the beaches of So Cal (or for me, as tan as this green-eyed, freckled, fair-skinned, red-haired female could ever be) because in Big Gramma’s upbringing, only field hands were tanned, and “ladies” should not be working in the sun or tan.

Times do change.

She was Christian to the core. She didn’t drink alcohol unless required for certain medicinal purposes or for certain recipes. She loved to play cards (Canasta and Pinochle in particular) and she hated to lose, so she’d do whatever it took to win, even against her great-grandchildren.

She was *awesome*.

I’ll return to my topic at hand.

She’s where I got many of my recipe measurement terms (see prior posts) … 3 glugs, a pinch, a sprinkle, a hand-full, a jelly glass full, etc. She’s one of the people who taught me to cook. She’s one of the ones where I got my love of basic home-grown, down-to-earth foods. This is all part of my history.

This is also from whom my next recipe posted originates.

Big Gramma.

Minnie was her name.

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