In the mid 1890s, my great grandfather, Andrew Joseph Rowell, Jr., a young man in need of gainful employ, decided he would try his hand working at a logging camp in Chicora, MS. Joby, as he was known to his family, was hired on as an ox driver pulling great pine logs out of the woods and down to the river.
It was hard work and dangerous, so when he had made enough money, Joby went home to Citronelle to build a home and start a life and family with his sweetheart, Ada. Joby had one stipulation, however. It seems that while he was working at the logging camp, there was little served to eat except for collards and cold cornbread. Joby swore he would never eat either again!
What was a young bride to do when Thanksgiving came? No cornbread for dressing? Ada thought back to her upbringing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where rice was plentiful and a staple in the local diet and created the following recipe, which we still savor every year! So from my family to yours…
- 2 cups uncooked rice
- 4 cups water
- 4 Tbl butter
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
- 3 pieces white bread, toasted dry and crumbled
- 1 Tbl dried sage
- Several dashes white pepper
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth
- Salt to taste
Combine rice, water, and salt to taste in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. When rice is done, remove from heat, add butter, and let cool to room temperature. Add in all remaining ingredients. You can adjust the amount of broth if dressing appears to be too dry and adjust seasonings to taste. Put in a greased baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.