Welcome to the Kilpatrick Kitchen! Just as my grandmothers before me, the recipes I include in my books are all about no-nonsense good taste.
Let’s start with cornbread dressing. I grew up with this holiday treat, although I’ve made a few modifications over the years. First, you gotta have cornbread, the first recipe I learned.
Wars have been started over the proper way to make cornbread, and this recipe is the hill where I choose to make my stand. This is enough batter for an 8-9 inch skillet–cast iron, of course!
Vegetable oil (a tablespoon-ish)
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup self-rising flour
½ cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour vegetable oil into a skillet (cast iron or you’re going to melt a handle) and let it heat up with the oven.
Mix flour, corn meal, buttermilk, and egg to make a batter.
Once both oven and skillet have preheated, pour the batter into the skillet then cook for approximately 15 minutes or until brown on the bottom.
The key to a delectably crunchy crust is that hot oil. You can pour the batter into cooler oil, but it’s best when the batter starts sizzling the minute it hits the oil.
Make cornbread and biscuits the night before. I’m not including the biscuit recipe because NO ONE KNOWS IT. Granny Rowlett tried to teach me once, but it didn’t go well because her hands were moving fast and she didn’t have any measurements. Also, I’m philosophically opposed to lard, so my biscuits never come out quite like hers. You’re on your own with those, but it should go without saying that you will not use canned. Please. I beg of you.
(This recipe came from my Granny Patterson. I’ve guesstimated the amounts for you to the side in brackets because she didn’t hold with the limitations of a traditional recipe.)
Cornbread [one small pone]
Light bread or biscuit [4-5 biscuits, maybe a slice or two of loaf bread]
[bag of stuffing mix]
Chicken and broth [whole chicken or chicken breast; make your own stock or but it]
Onion [one—unless you’re me]
Sage [some?—I don’t add this either because I add stuffing mix with sage instead]
Eggs [family lore says anywhere from 2-5; I’d go with 3-4]
Celery [to taste—if you’re me, that means none]
Once you have your ingredients assembled, then you’re ready to make your dressing, but let me warn you that it’s not an exact science as Beulah discovered in The Happy Hour Choir.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Crumble biscuits and cornbread. Should be about a 2-1 ratio. (Hear me now: you’re going to need a bigger bowl)
Add about a half of the bag of stuffing mix.
Add your wet ingredients: at least 3 eggs, 1 can of cream of chicken, and at least a can of chicken broth.*
Add salt and pepper and keep stirring and adding broth until it’s “sloppy.” This is also the point where you would add sage, onion, and celery, but I’m the baby in the family and Granny didn’t add those things because I don’t like them.
Add cooked chicken. (Be forewarned that this is another source of family disputes. Some want the chicken in the dressing while others don’t. Some only want white meat while others insist on dark. Suburbanites like me might boil some chicken breasts and use store bought broth. Either of my grannies would’ve cooked a whole chicken, picked the meat from the bone, and then made her own stock. Bottom line: whoever’s making the dressing gets to decide what goes.)
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. (This is a vicious lie. The recipe card I was given says 30 minutes, but it’s really closer to an hour unless you like your dressing soupy.)
Eat so much that you have to go lie down on the couch and moan while you watch the Dallas Cowboys play football—at least that’s how we’ve always done it.
*Having to go to the store on Thanksgiving morning because we don’t have enough broth is a Thanksgiving tradition. Note that I bought a big ol’ carton to pour as much as I need for this demonstration.
While I was in the kitchen, I decided to make something sweet. This is an old recipe, but I’ve discovered it’s good for modern times, particularly those with a dairy allergy. My next foray into making these classic cookies will be to try a gluten-free flour also. I think one of the one to one gluten flours should work nicely.
2 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
⅔ cup shortening*
1½ tsp Vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients.
Work enough flour into the dough to roll it out. Cut with a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass.**
Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 6-7 minutes. (Or longer. All of my recipe cards lie.)
*Granny used lard. Mom uses vegetable oil. I have used shortening. Basically, you can pick whichever you’d like although the oil makes the cookies crumble (no pun intended) and the lard makes something closer to a shortcake.
**You can also press the cookie dough into a shallow cookie sheet and then cut up the cookies into squares. This is what my Granny did, and I have a feeling that’s what Julian’s mom does in Bittersweet Creek.
Life has dealt Beulah Land a tough hand to play, least of all being named after a hymn. A teenage pregnancy estranged her from her family, and a tragedy caused her to lose what little faith remained. The wayward daughter of a Baptist deacon, she spends her nights playing the piano at The Fountain, a honky-tonk located just across the road from County Line Methodist. But when she learns that a dear friend’s dying wish is for her to take over as the church’s piano player, she realizes it may be time to face the music…
Beulah butts heads with Luke Daniels, the new pastor at County Line, who is determined to cling to tradition even though he needs to attract more congregants to the aging church. But the choir also isn’t enthusiastic about Beulah’s contemporary take on the old songs and refuses to perform. Undaunted, Beulah assembles a ragtag group of patrons from The Fountain to form the Happy Hour Choir. And as the unexpected gig helps her let go of her painful past—and accept the love she didn’t think she deserved—she just may be able to prove to Luke that she can toe the line between sinner and saint…
For a century and a half, the Satterfield and McElroy farms have been separated by a narrow creek and a whole lot of bad blood. Both sides have done their share of damage. But the very worst crime either family can commit is to fall in love with the enemy. As teenagers, Romy Satterfield and Julian McElroy did exactly that. Then, on the night they were secretly married by a justice of the peace, Julian stood Romy up.
Ten years later, Romy is poised to marry the scion of one of Nashville’s most powerful families. First she has to return home to Ellery to help her injured father—and to finalize her divorce. For Julian, seeing Romy again brings into relief the secrets he’s kept and the poison that ran through his childhood. Romy has missed the farm and the unpretentious, downright nosy townsfolk. In spite of her efforts, she’s also missed Julian. But though she suspects there’s more to that long-ago night than Julian ever revealed, the truth will either drive her away for good, or reveal what is truly worth fighting for…