Communion bread-stuffing…

Gonna tell you right up front I’m addicted to stuffing. Don’t judge. Try to be kind. It’s November and I’m working on my winter weight. There’s nothing fancy about my stuffing recipe. No giblets, nuts, fruit or cornbread mixed in. Basically it’s the stuffing mom made when I was a kid although I use chicken broth instead of water and a crockpot to cook the rest of it after I’ve stuffed the chicken or turkey.

Mom and dad about 1960…

I don’t know when store bought, prepackaged stuffing mixes (seasoned bread, uneven squares) were invented but mom never succumbed to this shortcut so neither have I. She would melt a stick of butter in a big fry pan, add diced onion and celery and sauté until both were translucent. She’d add some water, poultry seasoning and sage. She made sure the bread (had to be white, so probably vitamin packed Wonder bread, building strong bodies 12 ways) was at least a few days old and stale. She’d set the bread slices out on a clean dish towel and let them sit for a few hours to dry out a bit. Then she’d stack about 4 slices on top of each other and get out her serrated bread knife and slice them into quarters one way, then the other, making nice, even squares. I love bread crusts but when mom was cutting stuffing bread I always swiped some of the inside white squares before they went into the pan.

She cut the bread slices with the precision of brain surgeon because of Communion. Bet you wonder where this is going right? Just hold on.

Not nearly as neat as Mom’s bread cutting technique but it’s what goes in my stuffing…

Our family changed church affiliations around 1960 from Calvin Christian Reformed to just plain First Reformed (I really can’t tell you all the differences between these large church groups, maybe something about predestination. For me it was because my friends went to First Reformed and I was tired of being the only kid at Calvin who didn’t go to Christian school. Yeah I was selfish like that) Dad became very involved in the life of the church. Wasn’t long before he was a member of The Consistory. A small group of men, maybe 8 to 12 total (never any women on the committee that I remember which is too bad) called Elders and Deacons. The Deacons were the money guys, budgets, where certain dollars were designated and so on. The Elders’ responsibilities were geared more towards for the spiritual health and growth of the congregation.

First Reformed Church, Rock Valley, Iowa…

There were literally 5 churches within a few block radius in my neighborhood. Should you become annoyed with a coworker or neighbor, you just parked your car a block away and attended a different (but pretty much the same) church. I’m jesting. Very little though. The whole town was in one church or another (about a dozen) by 9:30 on Sunday morning. Each and every Sunday morning. Every house was deserted and left unlocked. Most left with ovens on and potatoes peeled so the pot roast was done around noon.

Anyway the church nominated several men for the position of Elders and Deacons and an election was held. These terms were staggered, thus the whole Consistory never completely turned over so there’d always be a couple Elders and Deacons who knew what was going on. Dad was nominated for the position of Elder and elected several times. I think you had to sit out for a couple years then you were eligible to be nominated again.

Dad ready for another church service, 1973…

Along with all his churchy duties, (the congregation was divided into sections, assuring each family would have a personal visit from an Elder every few months. Oh good grief, I HAVE TO STOP. I’m way off topic and done giving you a consistory-history lesson which I really know nothing about. My point was Mom had some duties as the wife of an Elder. One of mom’s jobs was Communion bread. About time. Amen.

The precision mom used to cut up bread for Communion…

I’m not exactly sure how many times Communion was held but I wanna say 5 times a year. Once every 4 months, World Communion Day and Maundy Thursday. (Don’t excommunicate me but that’s pretty close to what I remember). Dad would bring the Communion bread trays home from church. They were round polished silver bowls, quite shallow with a lip for gripping and easy passing from pew to pew. I don’t know how mom got the bread, if it was provided or if she just bought it Koster’s. Mom’s job was to cut perfectly sized squares after trimming off every visible crumb of crust. (I snagged a lot little squares while she was cutting) Our congregation was huge so I’m sure she wasn’t the only Elder’s wife with this task but she cut a lot of bread cubes on the day before Communion. She didn’t want the bread to dry out like stuffing bread, so she gently put it all back in the plastic bag until Sunday morning.

The Communion plate used for grape juice signifying Jesus’ blood…

Dad would take Mom’s dainty-same-size squares, which had been emptied in the Communion bowls (which actually resembled the collection plates) and zip them over to church early on Sunday. After the solemn service dad would bring the bowls back to our house so mom could wash and dry them for storage until next Communion. But with a bonus. The wine (grape juice was served in tiny, maybe 1/4 ounce glasses. (Yes, real glass. After the minister said and I’m paraphrasing here, “this is the blood of Christ, shed for you. Drink ye all of it.” There would be scores of tiny glasses clinking the wood holders resting on the back of the pew in front of us. I smiled when I heard all those tiny clinks. Neese, for the love of Pete, just stop). Each one had a lip print and one leftover drop in the bottom. Mom had to wash, rinse and dry a couple hundred of them. After she was done there would be a half dozen dish towels hanging from our countertop and table drying until being tossed in the hamper on Monday. What a memory!

Mom’s Sunday afternoon chore was washing and drying numerous communion glasses…

This goes to show how out of touch I am sometimes. My granddaughter Ari and great- granddaughter Jovi come over every week for supper. I cook a hearty-comfort meal. They both love mashed potatoes so that’s served most Tuesday’s. I’ll throw a beef roast or pork chops in the oven, sometimes spaghetti (no spuds that week) or chicken, which of course would not be a complete meal without cranberry sauce. Jovi does not realize that cranberry sauce is merely a condiment to accompany our meal. If she sees it on the table, that’s all she wants to eat (definitely from my blood line cause I eat it year round) so I sneak some on my plate and leave the bowl on the counter until she’s almost done with her meal. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Jovi and I share our delight in eating cranberry sauce on Tuesday’s…

But I’ve just come to the realization that while I’m serving one of the best homemade meals every couple months-I’M THE ONLY ONE EATING MY STUFFING! Jovi ate stuffing for 3 years, now suddenly decided she doesn’t like it. Ari doesn’t eat stuffing, nor does she eat cranberry sauce or fresh tomatoes, which Jovi greedily scarfs up just like me so that can’t be the reason. Adding insult to injury, Hubs adds a token tablespoon of stuffing on his plate to stay on my good side. What’s wrong with these people I love?

My favorite Tuesday guests, Ari and Jovi who are missing out on my great stuffing…

Not that this makes any difference in the way I cook for the girls. They both love white meat, topped with gravy, so Hubs gets all the dark meat and I get all the stuffing. Kind of lopsided but it’s the way we roll. And yes we all agree, dinner rolls are a nice touch on Tuesday’s. Plus while I’m cutting up stale bread for stuffing during the afternoon, it’s a wonderful time to reminisce about being a kid on Saturday and eating Communion bread in the kitchen with mom…

4 thoughts on “Communion bread-stuffing…

  1. I Love stuffing and I’ve made it like your Mom and you, but usually I buy the dried bread crumbs. And cranberry sauce, yummy to the tummy!! I should buy and open up with chicken dinners more often!! Love the photo of the girls, so BEAUTIFUL!! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, who doesn’t love stuffing right? I’m making fresh cranberry sauce with Jovi this week. I tried to explain that when they’re cooking on the stove they make a noise almost like popcorn popping and she didn’t understand, so we’re making some for her to take home. Yeah she and Ari are both beautiful, inside and out. Thank you…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My sister Wilma van Zanten sent me the Rock Valley Bee and I read you article and some others later
    I’m Leona ( Kooima ) Aardema and I now live in Green Valley Az
    I am 85 years old and I moved here with my husband Lee 16 years ago after raising our family in grandville Michigan
    Before we moved from Rock valley in 1952 we were friends with your mom and dad
    In fact Wilma thinks and I kinda remember that we got your parents to join us at Calvin church
    We visited often
    We liked your mom and dad very much but our lives separated at that time
    Just wanted to comment that it’s fun to read your memories of them!!
    Leona Aardema

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well Leona, if this wasn’t the nicest surprise today. I recall hearing your name in our house and mom thought the world of Cornie and Wilma. I stayed at their house a few times when they lived on 14th street (hope I got that right, big 2 story home, maybe part stucco). I think mom and Wilma traded babysitting duties and I remember Larry and Randy very well when they were little. I wasn’t baptized until 1953 when I was almost 3 so my folks joining Calvin in ‘52 or ‘53 sounds about right.
      We lived in North Muskegon for several years which is not very far from Grandville. (They built a really nice mall about 20 years ago called Rivertown Crossing). I’m all that’s left in our family, lost mom in 2004, dad in 2008 and Mona in 2018. Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and reading some of my posts. Keep in touch please…Denise


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