Monday, November 22, 2010

Southern Comfort

     Something about the threat of snow, makes me want to rush out and fill my refrigerator with comfort food. Nothing says loving like a home cooked meal. That is why, I have always been a fan of diners, because they serve classics that your Grandma used to make. Rarely, have I been disappointed with a diner's menu. I love the look, the feel and the ambiance of a diner. If it has 1950's decor, I am even more enamored. Shiny chrome soda counters with cherry red seats, mini jukeboxes at the tables, signifying a simpler time, when kids met after school for a soda, or to share a banana split. I think that is what is missing now with society, nostalgia has no value or worth. Personally, I think if everyone shared a banana split from time to time, there would be less intolerance.
     So what to make for dinner?, is my primary conundrum. Food really looks great in print. I can have it all whipped up, and be doing the dishes by the end of the paragraph. Writing about dinner is definitely easier than actually doing it. I try to be adventurous when planning dinner, however, it does backfire on occasion. One time, believe it or not, I attempted a slider recipe online.  I didn't have a printer at the time, and I was too lazy to write it down. So, I quickly scanned it and believed I got the gist of it, meaning I only read the ingredients. Well long story short, your supposed to cook the meat before you layer it on the dinner rolls. The result was a greasy, barely palatable mess. It pays to read the entire recipe, and not make it up as you go along. It would help if my guys were a little daring. We stick to the old standbys, that get us through the week:  hamburgers, sloppy Joe's, chicken pot pie, and goulash to name just a few.
     I must have been a Southern woman in my prior life, because southern food is the epitome of comfort food. Smothered pork chops are a sheer act of genius, I have never met a baby back rib that I did not like.  Southern food is your Grandma's big heart, tattered recipe cards kept in a rusted tin on top of her stove, she cooks from that heirloom cast-iron skillet, catfish dredged in cornmeal , chicken and dumplings, the dumplings stewed with the chicken until they are tender and falling apart. Biscuits so light they could float, hoecakes fried with butter and finished with rich maple syrup, hush puppies light, crispy and sweet with the flavor of corn and onions. Blackberries as big as strawberries, growing right outside her window and southern sweet tea brewed in the Alabama sun and sipped from Mason jars, from her porch on a long summer evening. A southern woman's kitchen holds the history of years of cooking, the nostalgic scent that intoxicates us all. I am swept away just writing about it.
     I tried Collard greens on my family and believe it or not, the experiment worked my kids adored them.

Collards, Gould Style

3 cloves of garlic
1 onion diced
1 pound of bacon, diced
3 bunches of collard greens, rinsed well, trimmed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoon butter
couple pinches sugar
1 pinch red pepper flakes

In a stock pot render diced bacon until crispy, add diced onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Add chicken stock and simmer, add collard greens and let cook down on medium heat for about 45 minutes. Turn down to a simmer, season with the salt and sugar, cook an additional 45 minutes to an hour, the greens should be tender and dark green. Drain the greens and add butter and red pepper flakes and mix. You can reserve the liquid to reheat leftovers.

A three-year-old gave this reaction to her Christmas dinner:  "I don't like the turkey, but I like the bread he ate."~Author Unknown

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