Mar 11 # 1 of 2
Sommemor’ Vegetable Beef Soup
1 large beef soup bone
2 lbs boneless beef stew meat
2 1-lb bags frozen soup vegetables
1 1-lb bag frozen gumbo vegetables
1 qt crushed or diced tomatoes
1 large + 1 small cans tomato paste
1 1-lb bag of cut okra (optional)
3 cans chicken broth
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium or 1 very large green pepper
4-5 bay leaves
4-5 finely garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pod red or jalapeno pepper
Put soup bone and last 6 ingredients in a large stock pot with about 6 quarts of water. Bring to boil and cook until meat falls off bone. Cool. Remove meat and chop into small bite size pieces. Discard bones and fatty pieces of meat.
Add 3 quarts hot water to existing stock. Add chopped meat, and soup and gumbo vegetables. Bring to boil and cook for 45 minutes. Add okra, tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until all vegetables are tender.
Makes 18-20 servings.
Nutty Cranberry Salad
1 8-ounce box of cream cheese, softened
1 16-ounce can crushed pineapple
¼ cup sugar
½ cup chopped pecans
1 3-ounce pack unflavored gelatin (dissolve in 1/3 cup cold water)
2 3-ounce packs of cranberry jello
1 16-ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce
Make jello according to directions on box. While dissolving the jello in hot water stir gelatin very well and pour into the jello before adding the cold water. While this mixture is still warm add the softened cream cheese and sugar. Blend with mixer until smooth. Chill until the mixture begins to set, and then stir in pecans, pineapple, and cranberry sauce. Pour into mold, cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to use release on a bed of lettuce on serving dish.
Ernest’s Grilled Loin of Pork
Cooking methods have changed since our days of “hog killings.” We like to grill it over slow heat, but have adapted the recipe for oven cooking.
Preparation of meat and fowl for grilling is very similar. You need only observe the process to understand how we can cook such large quantities within a relative short time span.
These guidelines work just as well with chicken and will enable you, too, to prepare for a crowd with relative ease.
8-pound pork loin
If possible use meat that has not been frozen. 6-8 hours before ready to begin cooking, prepare the meat. Cut off excess fat and/or pick off pinfeathers. Wash and drain the meat.
Pork Loin - cut 1 1/2 inch deep gashes about 4 inches apart and insert a medium slice of garlic in each opening.
All meat (and fowl) - sprinkle lightly with salt and red pepper, more liberally with black pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Dice onion and place pieces between layers of meat.
Wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight, or 6-8 hours. Keep refrigerated until ready to cook. Place on grill and cook slowly over moderate heat.
Cornbread And Oyster Dressing
Daddy took great pride in making cornbread and oyster dressing for Christmas. We thought it delicious and exotic because we knew that none of our neighbors had it. Daddy brought oysters from New Orleans and added them to the dressing with a great flourish. Locust Hill natives initially balked at the notion of adding the strange food to the more common and acceptable cornbread dressing. “Too citified, and strange looking, to boot,” they murmured. That is, until they tasted it.
Although stuffing is quite common during the Christmas holidays, Daddy’s recipe has always been my favorite. The only place that I have ever been able to get it is at home; Elsie has recreated it. She makes it in huge quantities and all close family members take home a frozen bag of it for later. When the hubbub of Christmas is over, toward the end of January, we prepare it (translate - thaw and warm) and relive the moment.
Part I, day 1
You should do this part the day before you plan to serve dressing.
Wash 3 to 4 lb. of turkey necks or 1 baking hen. Place in large pot and cover with cold water. Add:
2 large onions, chopped
2 large green (bell) peppers
6 med. cloves garlic, finely chopped
4-5 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 medium red pepper cut in half
4 large whole bay leaves
*If using turkey necks add 3-4 slices of raw bacon
Be sure to keep enough water in pot to yield 3 quarts of broth. Boil until meat readily falls off bone. Set aside to cool. When cool, take the meat from the bones and chop finely. Strain the broth through a colander, and discard the bay leaves. Keep the remaining ingredients (from the broth) to use in the dressing. Store the broth and the ingredients in the refrigerator.
If you make oyster dressing you will still need to boil the chicken or turkey necks for broth. Don’t worry, the meat will not be wasted; it makes great salad.
Do this part the day you plan to use the dressing.
1 large pan cornbread
1 large box cornbread dressing mix, with herbs (packet included in mix)
1 cup cooked rice
4 cups yellow squash, sliced, boiled, and drained
2 cups oysters, chicken, or turkey, finely chopped
2 sticks butter or margarine
2 tablespoons rubbed sage
1-tablespoon season salt, or salt to taste
Pepper, to taste
Thoroughly crumble the bread. Add the first three (3) ingredients listed above, using the broth to moisten the mixture. When well mixed, add the remainder of the ingredients. Soften the butter before adding to the mixture.
If you plan to use all the dressing at once beat six (6) eggs and stir into the mixture. If you use one half of the dressing, use three (3) eggs. Do NOT add the eggs until you are ready to bake the dressing. The dressing freezes without the eggs.
Bake in a casserole dish for 55 minutes at 4000.
Yield: about 2 gallons of dressing.
Old Fashioned Southern Collard Greens
Collard greens and corn bread were served for dinner at least a couple of days each week from October through May. When I was growing up I prayed for something different for dinner. Now I crave them. Once upon a time it was very difficult to get fresh collards at some grocery stores in major US cities. They are becoming more readily available, if you’re willing to go to the right neighborhood.
3 to 5 pounds of fresh collards
4 to 6 thick slices of salted pork
½ teaspoon of Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning
1 pod red pepper. Use less if you don’t like hot food
4 tbsp vegetable oil
Carefully wash greens to remove dirt and other debris. Remove about 1/3 of the stem from each leaf, beginning at base of leaf. Wash another three times. Roll green leaves the long way into a tight roll, and slice the roll into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips. Drain. Put salt pork in large pot, add 3 cups of warm water. Cover and boil 12-15 minutes. Remove the meat and blot dry on paper towel. Discard the water. Put 4 tablespoons vegetable oil in skillet. On medium heat fry the salt pork until crispy. Pour the salt port and drippings into the large pot, lower the flame, add 1/2 cup water and washed and drained greens. Cover and let simmer for 8 minutes. Turn the greens so that they are all coated. If all did not initially fit into the pot, add the remainder. Cover and bring to boil, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Stir. Check the water level; add another 1/2 cup warm water if necessary to maintain the water level. Add Nature’s Seasoning and red pepper. Salt to taste. Return cover and continue cooking until greens reach desired tenderness (about 40 minutes).
When greens are almost to desired tenderness add 10-15 pods of whole fresh or frozen okra. Add a pinch of salt after 3 minutes of cooking. Do not crush okra, as pods should remain intact. Serves 6 people with big appetites.
Fresh String Beans with Potatoes (Okra Optional)
4 lbs. string beans, broken into small pieces about 1 ½ inch in length.
6 or 7 small red Irish potatoes
10 or 12 small pods okra (optional)
4 or 5 medium slices of salt pork (do not use pre-sliced meat)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cut salt meat into ¼ inch slices. Add to pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and continue boiling for 10-15 minutes. Drain. Add 4 tablespoons cooking oil to the pot. Fry salt pork in oil until crispy. Add 2 cups cold water to pot.
Wash and drain beans, and add to pot. Add 2-3 slices fresh red pepper (optional). Add enough water to cover beans. Cover, and cook on medium heat until beans are ¾ done.
Peel Irish potatoes and cut in half. Rinse, and add to beans. If water does not cover beans and potatoes, add enough hot water to cover. (The finished dish should have about 1 cup of liquid).
If adding okra, wash it in cold water and cut ends off. Add to beans and potatoes.
Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Mix 2 teaspoons plain flour with 1/3-cup cold water. Mix well. Add to beans during last 10 minutes of cooking. Stir well.
If using CANNED snap beans, follow recipe below.
1-gallon snap or string beans
6-7 small red Irish potatoes
10-12 small pods fresh okra or 1 box frozen whole okra (optional)
2 medium slices salt pork
¾ pound cured ham ends
salt and black pepper to taste
½ pod cayenne or jalapeno pepper
Prepare salt pork as indicated for fresh snap beans.
Wash and add ham ends. Add 1-cup cold water (from tap) to meats. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. Add ½ pod red pepper. Peel potatoes.
Cut in half and add to meat. Cook for 8 minutes. Add okra (optional). When almost done, add beans plus ½ liquid from the can of beans. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and bring to boil. Add flour and water mixture as indicated for fresh snap beans. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
Mar 11 # 2 of 2
Locust Hill Lemon Pie
Lemon pie, commonly referred to as custard pie by the uninitiated, is still the downfall of many of our diets. The recipe has been in our family for generations. It is at the same time sweet, tart, creamy, and absolutely delicious. Miss Lula’s mother, Mama Mollie, used to bake them and give Papa his own pie. Not just a slice, but his own 9-inch pie. Papa would savor the taste, but his pie never lasted the day. Even though we know it probably isn’t a good idea, some of us still succumb to this tradition. We accept a lemon pie as a gift, agree to share it with those who are unable to join us for our holiday feast, then hunker down in a corner of an airport lounge or whatever quiet place available and eat the whole thing. This is not recommended, but it is so enjoyable.
3 large eggs, separated
3/4-stick margarine or butter
1 9” regular pie shell, unbaked
1 tsp. plain flour
1/4 cup lemon juice
Cream margarine and sugar at medium speed (about 2 minutes). Add egg yolks and flour. Beat egg whites separately at high speed until high peaks form. Add this to the sugar and margarine and blend well. Add lemon juice, mix well. Pour into pie shell and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool before cutting.
Cream Cheese Pound Cake
At Locust Hill, pound cake was not our favorite. It didn’t have enough sweet stuff on it, and could be dry as a powder sponge. We loved layer cakes, where each layer of cake was no more than one inch thick, with lots of jelly filling in between. And then Elsie discovered cream cheese. The entire family suddenly developed a new appreciation for pound cake.
8 ounces cream cheese
1 ½ stick margarine
1 ½ stick butter
3-¾ cups sugar
6 eggs, beaten
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons vanilla flavor
1 teaspoon orange flavor
Cream first four ingredients in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in flour. Gradually mix in eggs, using a mixer to blend. Add flavors.
Place in cake pan and bake at 350° for 1:30.
Elsie Qualls Fruit Cake Extraordinaire
Bad fruitcake jokes were around even when we were children. Even during our youth when no food was store bought, fruit cake was acceptable as a purchased food item. Since this was such a rarity we felt compelled to eat it although we really didn’t like it. Elsie experimented, and came up with a recipe that is quite delicious. It is even better when made into cookies that fit quite nicely into a purse or other small compartment.
2 sticks butter
2 sticks margarine
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 15-oz. pack golden raisins
4 cups (1 1/2 pounds) mixed candied fruit & peel, chopped
2 cups (1 pound) candied yellow, green, and red pineapple
1-cup cherries, chopped
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1-cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups Bourbon whiskey (recommend Tom Moore or Old Charter)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup candied citron
6 cups medium chopped pecans
This cake has a wonderful bouquet and lots of fruits and nuts. For best flavor it should be made well ahead of time. Elsie makes hers during the Thanksgiving holidays.
Mix all fruits and nuts together in a glass or stainless steel pan. Re-cut any piece of fruit that is a bit large. Pour bourbon over the mixture. Stir well. Let stand overnight.
Sift flour. Pour 1 cup of the flour over fruit mixture. Mix well. In a second bowl put the remainder of flour and add all other dry ingredients except sugar. Mix well and set aside. In a third very large bowl, cream margarine, butter and sugar well. Add eggs, 2 at a time, beating well. Add vanilla. Now add dry ingredients, 1/2 at a time. Beat until very smooth. Pour batter over the fruit and nuts.
Remove rings and thoroughly wash hands. With hands, mix the batter and fruit well.
Grease 9”x5”x3” loaf pan or 10” tube cake pan well, and dust with plain flour. Spoon batter into pan. Bake at 275 for 1 1/2 hours for loaf pan and 2 1/2 hours for 10” tube pan, or until done. When the cake is done it will crack on top. A long wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.
While the pans are very hot set them on a wet towel. When they have cooled enough to handle, turn the cakes out onto heavy foil. When completely cool wrap tightly and put in a sealed contained (such as a big popcorn tin).
For fruit cookies, use foil muffin cups. Fill with 1 tblsp. batter. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. For fruitcake, place dough in large tube pans and bake at 275° for 4 hours.
Yield: several dozen cookies or 4 large cakes.
Elsie first experimented with this delectable offering over 3 decades ago. She gave a small party to celebrate a birthday with a few friends and colleagues. Although she and most of her guests consider themselves righteous souls, she declared the devil made her add a bit of the hops to her otherwise wholesome punch. Although she fully planned to put a warning label on the brew, she got really busy and, well, ... you know. Her guests, including the preacher, drained several bowls of the stuff. (Elsie later made full disclosures). Sinner’s punch is still a favorite with the righteous and unwashed.
2 packets orange Kool-aid
(Add to 1 qt. water)
2 qt. grape juice, white
(Use white grape juice for yellow punch, regular for red punch)
2 qt. water
1 1/2 qt. orange juice
1 pt. grapefruit juice
4 oz. lemon juice
Combine all above ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel container. Stir well. Add:
3 cups sugar
2 16-oz. cans beer
1 2-liter bottle ginger ale
Stir. Check for flavor and sweetness. Serve over ice.
Optional: Add 1 qt. fruit cocktail. If the punch is kept for over 24 hr., strain to remove the fruit. Refrigerate.
Yield: about 12 quarts.