Cooks at Home - Veronica Brandon Miller
Goodwill Manasota Vice President Veronica Brandon Miller has a thing for stuffing. One stuffing in particular: her mother’s.
The simple recipe produces a stuffing unlike any other Miller has ever eaten, even though she can’t put her finger on why. Miller, 47, grew up in Philadelphia, but there’s no regional particularities that set the dish apart from the great mass of stuffings, nor did her mom follow a particular ethnic tradition in her cooking. And Miller has never been able to figure out where her mother originally got the recipe. She died before Miller could ask.
There’s just nothing like it, Miller insists. She’s stuffed the stuffing into every recipe that might possibly accommodate it. Bored with roasted tomatoes filled with rice or risotto, she recently plugged in stuffing instead. Remembering the flavor, she gasps, “Oh my God.” Miller loves stuffing sandwiches made with toasted bread, mayo, olives, cranberry sauce and, of course, stuffing. She even likes stuffing tacos.
The stuffing recipe is simple, something Miller insists on in her cooking. If she looks at a recipe and it seems too complex, she’ll knock off an ingredient here, an ingredient there, till she’s made it easy and straightforward. For dinner, her ideal is to come home, quickly prep a few things and throw it in the oven. By the time she’s changed her clothes and relaxed a bit, dinner’s ready. For breakfast, it’s just a Keurig cappuccino and that’s it.
Ease is a necessity for Miller, who, in addition to her day job with Goodwill, hosts a radio show on WSRQ and a TV show on SNN. She moved to Sarasota from Washington, DC, nine years ago, after getting fed up with a four-hour commute home. She eventually became the executive director of ShelterBox USA, a nonprofit that provides tents and supplies to communities hit by disasters or humanitarian crises. Five years ago, she joined Goodwill, where she works with donors and community outreach. “Pretty much anything on the outside that you see, I’m in charge of,” she says.
With her packed schedule, Miller also prizes adaptability while cooking. Losing her gall bladder six years ago made it difficult to digest enzymes and forced her to become a vegetarian. The change wasn’t as hard as you’d think, she says. She swapped in fried green tomatoes for the fried chicken drenched in Buffalo sauce that her husband was eating. No big thing. A more pressing problem is finding a quality vegetarian meal at a local restaurant. At one recent luncheon she was served a single portobello mushroom.
At least they didn’t try to serve her stuffing.
“I don’t enjoy anybody else’s,” Miller says. She’s gone so far as to insult friends and family by insisting on preparing her own stuffing rather than eating theirs. With a dish as weighted with daughterly memories and holiday associations, nothing but the original, mom’s, will do.