Friday, November 11, 2011

Momma Told Me It Was So

   Things I learned while I was at Momma's this week:
    Bonanza sasanqua
  1. A sasanqua bush is a member of the camellia family, but is not a camellia per se. The sasanqua may also appear to be similar to a japonica, but it is not to be confused with one. I don't know if this is horticulturally correct, but my grandmother told my Momma so that makes it so in our family. Sasanquas, japonicas and camellias thrive in Southern Alabama and Northwest Florida, but all three species apparently originated in China and Japan. According to my mother, my grandmother (my mother's mother), was known for her camellias. She even had a horticulturist who would come over to her house in Samson from Montgomery to graft and take rootstock from her camellias. She was very proud of these aristocratic beauties that had been grown from very old "family" stock. The Sasanquas are currently in proud display at my Momma's house. They have a beautiful luscious double pink bloom. Apparently these sasanquas are also well-loved by the bees who were having their own little pollinating party all over them this week, but I managed to find a few buds that had not yet fully opened.  I brought them into the house and put them in a vase for Momma to enjoy. I know they won't last long, but they are gorgeous in the meantime. 
  2. Momma and I both like Kettle corn. This is not necessarily a good thing. Between the two of us we just about demolished a whole bag in two days. Again, this is not the best thing to discover about your mother -- that you have a shared addiction to kettle corn.
  3. My grandfather had fat knees. That is apparently where I get my fat knees. Great. I think I could have lived another fifty years and been fine not knowing this. My grandfather also played the saxophone, the violin, and the piano. He was the musical one in the family. My mother must have inherited her ability to play by ear from him. Apparently, I got the fat knees, but I did not get any of the musical genes. Sigh. 
  4. My great-grandmother, Annie Frances Brooks (Momma Frankie) knew how to wring a chicken's neck. She had a housekeeper named Pearlie, but Pearlie was a bit squeamish and drew the line at wringing a chicken's neck. So my great-grandmother took over the task. Apparently she was very good at it. I am not sure why this was important for me to know.
  5. My mother is still using her dictionary to look up new words. She also likes to talk about the finer points of grammar. We spent some time discussing whether or not it is redundant to say "falling down" or if one should just say "falling." My mother is concerned that "falling down" is similar in redundancy to the expression "close proximity." I told her I would check it out and get back to her. 
  6. I am now in possession of the famous family recipe for cornbread dressing, i.e., dressing that is served with turkey. While I was cleaning out a cabinet at Momma's, I found a copy of the recipe in my aunt's handwriting with little notes about my grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother and the particular way that each prepared the recipe. My sister has modified it and modernized it, but I wanted to print it in its original form. If I were as smart at Colonel Sanders with his 17 different spices for fried chicken, I would patent and copyright this tried and true family gem. It is moist, delicious and amazing. When my daughter and I get together to make it in a couple of weeks, we will represent the fifth and sixth generations of women in our family to make this dressing. Oh, and for you Non-Southerners, dressing is NEVER confused with stuffing. They are two totally different animals. Dressing is served with turkey and welcome at my table, stuffing is not. Here is the recipe in the original format:
Cook a 3-4 pound hen a few days early. Simmer the whole hen. Even if you like the white meat the best, be aware that the thighs, legs and back make the best stock, so use the whole hen. Separate your stock and put it aside. Good chicken stock is like gold and will serve as the basis of your dressing.

Prepare and cook a skillet of cornbread using about two cups of meal. Remove from skillet and crumble it up. Let the cornbread sit out, cool down, and dry out. You want your cornbread to be slightly stale. This step can also be completed several days in advance.

Make a dozen biscuits. After you eat a few, let the rest sit out and dry out. Like the cornbread, they work best in the dressing if they are slightly stale. This is yet another step that can be completed several days ahead.

Now you are ready to get started.
     Dice celery and sweet white onion until you have 3 cups of celery and 3 cups of each. Saute slightly in a couple of tablespoons of butter in a large deep skillet. (Momma said that we were not wild about celery, so she cut this back a bit.)
     Crumble and pack cornbread until you have 4 firm cups
     Crumble biscuits (or rolls) until you have 2 cups.
     Mix bread (cornbread and biscuits) with the onion and celery.
     Add four cups of chicken stock to the bread mixture. It will be soupy. Salt and pepper to taste.
     Let this set-up overnight in the refrigerator.
    The next morning, heat it back up and add more stock to the bread mixture as needed (usually about a cup).
     Beat 3 eggs and combine into mixture by hand.
     Butter your baking dishes. Cook at 325 degrees for one hour. Increase to 350 degrees or higher for 15 more minutes or until brown on the top.
     Note: If you are desperate, you can use canned stock.

Well, I am not going to be wringing any chicken's neck, but I will be making my own stock. I am not yet desperate enough to put canned stock in this recipe. But it's nice to have plan number two in case I run out of time.

Bon Appetit, ya'll.

1 comment :

  1. Believe it or not, I didn't have this. Thank you SO much for publishing it.


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