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December 31, 2018: Eleanor’s Christmas Oyster Stuffing

Eleanor (my sister) was curious as to why, when I talked about the holiday highlights, that I did not mention the oyster stuffing. It took a while for me to come up with the right response. I now know that I was remiss because this only one of several holiday highlights. But, I thought, I should give Eleanor’s Christmas Oyster stuffing it’s just due.

Pete and Eleanor were the recipient of half a turkey – the right hand side. Being half a turkey, it had no cavity for stuffing. In the past, those cooking turkeys cooked the stuffing in the turkey, and as an afterthought, set some aside for me. I was always moved by this gesture and always made it a point to say so.

Elenore and her stuffing
Elenore and her stuffing

However, I always had to choke down the bland, dry, cardboardy stuffing. In fact, last year, when Pete and I visited Thermo-Cool, I couldn’t help but think that the fluffy insulation, made of newsprint and cardboard, bore a striking resemblance to what often, during the holidays, ended up on my plate.

Eleanor had never before made oyster stuffing. I suggested it because I had eaten it in the not-so-distant past. And in suggesting it, I felt a craving for it. I had no doubt that “we” could pull this one off, which is why I did not retract my request.

We went to the store and purchased oysters, celery, Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, and a few other stuffing-related incidentals. On Christmas day I cut up the celery, onions, and garlic. (Pete said we had to have garlic in the stuffing). At the same time, I did my impersonation of Julia Child, which around here is always a big hit. Eleanor strained chopped the oysters. After, she added the ingredients together, and put the mixture in a bowl, in the oven.

I went outside and tended to the horses. When I came in El said “taste it.” She had an impassive look on her face, so I did not know if “it,” that is the stuffing, was to be a mealtime success or failure. I got a spoon out and took a small bite. Then I took a larger bite. I had, I said, never before tasted stuffing quite this good. It was both moist and fluffy. The oyster taste also gave the stuffing a certain understated zest.

Unfortunately, I had to share the stuffing with Pete and Eleanor; however, I did manage to eat more than my share. And there was enough left over for several meals. Much to my great joy and amazement, the stuffing tasted better on the second day, and more better on the third day. Sad to say, as the amount of stuffing in the bowl decreased, the better it got. My last taste of it, that is the final tablespoon, was most memorable. I ate it and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Now, if there is no stuffing in heaven, I am going to feel cheated.

The question that remains, is this a recipe that can be replicated? Perhaps so; perhaps not. The little bit of this, a little bit of that approach to cooking always leaves this question unanswered. So until next year, bon appétit.

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