What’s Better Than Butter? More Butter – Jennifer’s Four-Stick Stuffing

border_01 Editor’s Note: Leading up to next Thursday, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, your food-loving friends at Ketchum thought it’d be fun to share some of our family traditions, favorite recipes (calories be damned!) and stories about America’s most food-centric holiday. For our first post in this series, we thought we’d go big and slather on the proverbial butter. Be sure to check back, because we will have more ideas that will cause many a belt buckle to be loosened this Thanksgiving and beyond.
Jennifer Reinhard, an issues counselor and media relations specialist in our San Francisco office, shares what sounds like a butter-lover’s dream come true: dressing made with, um, four entire sticks of butter. Let’s just go with this because Thanksgiving isn’t the time to count calories. Jen explains the provenance of her family’s favorite recently-aquired Thanksgiving tradition here:

Y E S. Bold Butter Flavor

Y E S. We love bold creative ideas (and especially ones that come with big butter!)

When my brother got married, we all loved my sister-in-law Tricia immediately – partially because she had been an unoffical fun-loving part of our family long before they were married, but mostly because she brought her Grandma Anderson’s homemade stuffing to Thanksgiving. And we’ve never looked back. Passed down to her by her mom and her grandmother before her, the recipe — affectionately nicknamed “Four Stick Stuffing” — is THE hot commodity on our family’s Thanksgiving dinner table. What makes it special? Mother’s Bread, she says.

Grandma Anderson’s Dressing (a.k.a. Four Stick Stuffing)

2 loaves of Mother’s Bread from the Balkan Bakery in Flint Michigan (otherwise use a tasty, dense bread; Whole Foods has a Farm Bread that works well if you don’t live in Michigan)
4 sticks (one pound) salted butter
4 – 6 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 eggs (mix with fork)
4 tablespoons poultry seasoning
4 cups chicken broth

1. Break bread day before using and spread out on cookie sheets to dry overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Place bread in large mixing bowl. Use a bowl large enough to mix dressing thoroughly.

4. In large skillet, saute celery and onion in 2 sticks of butter until clear; add remaining sticks of butter just to melt.

5. Pour sauteed celery and onion over bread.

6. Add eggs, poultry seasoning and 2 to 3 cups of chicken broth to bread and mix thoroughly. Add additional chicken broth if mixture is too dry.

7. Place in large baking dish and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cover for first hour and uncover for the last half hour. Depending on depth of baking dish may need to cook an extra 15 minutes.


Home Is Where the Coney Is

Lake Michigan’s coastline from 30,000 feet

Lake Michigan’s coastline from 30,000 feet

Great Lakes. Tigers (the baseball playing kind). “Up North.” Lemonade. Ice cream. Coney dogs.

This eclectic group of pastimes and food cravings describe summertime in Michigan, my home state. And I remembered just what makes summer so summery (besides steamy Midwest temps) in the Great Lake state during a recent visit home to celebrate my nieces Abbey’s and Allie’s graduations.

As my older niece Allie wrapped up her high school career, the primo food event that week centered on her graduation open house – when family and her parents’/grandparents’ friends would embarrassingly (but lovingly) reminisce about “how fast she’d grown up.” And memories and food go hand-in-hand.

Months ago, Allie landed on her open house theme: summer picnic. Daisies and a summer picnic. Let the picnicking begin …

Lemonade + Iced Tea

Every summer picnic’s favorite refreshing combo – as good apart as they are together. A Michigander enjoys an “Arnold Palmer” as much as the next guy.

Who doesn't love a pitcher of Arnold Palmer?

Who doesn’t love a pitcher of Arnold Palmer?

Summer Salad

Michigan builds cars. But did you know we also build a killer salad bar? A real Michigan salad never leaves off dried sweet/tart cherries (sometimes cranberries), crumbly blue cheese, crunchy pecans or walnuts and a tangy vinaigrette dressing. Toss in crisp cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, crispy bacon bits – with a side of my mom’s homemade macaroni salad – and you’ve got a picnic salad party.

Fresh Fruit

Traverse City, on the banks of northern Lake Michigan, is one of the world’s cherry capitals. Michigan also happens to grow some of the juiciest, sweetest, bluest blueberries. It’s true. If you’re ever at a Michigan summer picnic without a fruit salad heavy on the blueberries, something has gone wrong.

Essential for a Michigan summer picnic!

Essential for a Michigan summer picnic!

Sweet Daisies

Apple blossoms are Michigan’s official state flower, but daisies are a universal summer thing. This picnic sported white chocolate daisy lollipops from a local candy maker among the daisy desserts.

Daisy desserts are the perfect treat for a summer party

Daisy desserts are the perfect treat for a summer party

Not Just Any Hotdog

Hotdogs … an American summer staple. This open house picnic hotdog spread (my sister’s genius) included recipes & ingredients to tailor your ‘dog: Barbeque Bacon-style, Ballpark-style, Chicago-style. But the ultimate Michigan picnic show stealer is the Coney Island Dog (or “Coney” if you’re a local): grilled beef hotdog, with locally made Coney sauce (all meat), yellow mustard and chopped white onion. And you’ll only make the rookie mistake once of describing a Coney as “just like a chili dog.” Flint Coney? Detroit Coney? Different towns put their unique spin on their Coney secret sauce. Serious sauce business … worthy of its own blog post. (Ask Anthony Bourdain, who just scratched the Coney surface during his ‘Parts Unknown’ Detroit journey.)

Uniquely, deliciously, purely Michigan.

If you find yourself exploring Michigan, just ask where to find a good Coney and directions to “Up North” (which really does exist) … and a friendly Michigander will point you the right way.