Blogging from A to Z: April – 2016: S
The Blogging from A to Z challenge is to post everyday during the month of April 2016, except Sunday. I’ll start with the letter A – and hopefully make it all the way to letter Z. Hope you enjoy the read!
Come sit a spell with me and learn about the foods and memories of my Southern heritage, and enjoy a little Southern talk along the way… I grew up in the heart of Georgia, married a Yankee in Connecticut and suddenly became displaced from my roots. But one thing is true – You can take the girl out of the South – But you can’t take the South out of the girl! I’ve learned to eat differently over the years, but I’ve never given up the foods I grew up on. When I left Georgia, at the young age of nineteen, I knew how to cook nothing! I pretty much learned to cook by asking mama over the phone, how do you do make this, and how do you make that; thank heavens for my Southern mama! Even though mama doesn’t cook too much today, she still remembers the recipes and she’s been my go-to person every night in chatting about my Southern foods and many of her memories.
Southern Food and Memories
The alphabet really rolling on, and I’m finally hitting letter “S”. Let me jump right in with Sweet Potatoes… They make three of my favorite Southern dishes – sweet potato pie, sweet potato souffle and sweet potato cobbler.
As a child, mama just prepared the usual candied sweet potatoes that everyone grew up with. Both of my grandfather’s grew fields of sweet potatoes – so they were plentiful in our house. I even dug up granddaddy Bryan’s one day; how was I to know he stored sweet potatoes underneath a dirt hill – that hill I quickly dismantled. I thought I did good by pulling them all out for him, but I don’t think he was too happy with me that day – more work for him to re-bury them.
Mama tells me that a warm sweet potato after school was considered her candy – there were always cooked sweet potatoes sitting on the back of the stove when she came home. She’d grab one and go sit out on the back stoop and “have at it”…. as she would say – that was her candy. Yummm…I bet it was good. I like to put butter and more brown sugar than I probably should on mine. When my grandfather was small, his favorite words were “I want a dam tater.” Granddaddy McKinley loved to cuss!
My husband isn’t as much a fan as I am, but what do you expect from a Yankee! I also like to roast them in the oven with a little olive oil drizzled over and just a smidgen of salt and pepper – good to add regular potatoes with them also. Hey I like to add a variety of several things when I roast veggies – Shh, I’m gonna mention Brussels sprouts here – a new favorite of mine I like to roast. I didn’t mention it up in my “B” post as I never ate it as a child; when I asked mama why… “I don’t like them, they taste like cabbage, and if I want cabbage, I’ll eat cabbage.” Well that’s what mama said, so that’s why I never had that “B” veggie.
Southern Sweet Potato Pie
2-3 med sweet potatoes (cooked – I like to bake mine in the oven)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 tablespoon flour
Sprinkle of Cinnamon (most recipes don’t even call for this, so sprinkle a little and taste your batter – it’s up to your taste)
Pie shell – I use the frozen deep dish ones. Take them out of freezer right before you need them. I don’t thaw them out. Preheat your oven 350. Pie cooks about 35 – 40 minutes. It should feel set – shouldn’t be jingling in center when it’s done. Sometimes my pies end up making more than 1, so be prepared with an extra pie shell (I like the frozen ones)
Mash the cooked potatoes in bowl and add all ingredients – mix well with mixer until smooth. Pour in unbaked pie shells. If adding pecans on top – finely grind pecans and sprinkle around the edge of pie shell. They do taste yummy after cooking.
Mama says…“When my father planted sweet potatoes, he planted them in rows of mounded dirt. He walked and laid the potato slips on top of the mound and then walked again with a forked stick and pushed the potato slip down into the dirt. Those were old fashion ways of planting – he knew what worked the best when it came to planting.”
In talking about Sweet Potatoes tonight, Mama began telling me. “I’ll never forget how big Aunt Chris could grow a sweet potato vine. She’d cut the top off of a sweet potato and stick toothpicks on both sides to keep it sitting just over the water in a glass. As it grew roots in the water, it began growing into a vine. She always kept one sitting in the kitchen on the back of the wood stove. It would grow all over the top of the stove and down on the floor. She grew the prettiest ones every summer, and when I tried to grow them like hers, well it never happened; mine just rotted in the water.”
Mama says… “I still remember how Daddy planted his crops – he’d check the moon at night and he’d tell by how many stars were nearby, if planting time was right. Those stars also told him how many days before it would rain again.”
Sweet Potatoes reminds me of the root cellar mama talked about that they had on the farm. Granddaddy built a big hill of dirt behind the car shed and you crawled in to where he kept his veg stored. One time he thought someone was taking some as they seemed to be disappearing quickly. He sent grandmamma, with mama and Leroy to town, and he crawled inside the root cellar with his shotgun – and waited – it wasn’t long before he heard someone coming. They opened the door inside to find him sitting there aimed with the rifle. They backed out with granddaddy right behind him. It was the tenant who rented a house from him. Needless to say – he was told to pack up and move on. He’s lucky he didn’t leave with buckshot in his backside.
If you’d like to learn how to make a sweet potato cobbler… Then check out my post… Heirloom Recipes. It’s my first published piece in Georgia Backroads magazine.
I didn’t grow up in a “pasta” house like everyone eats today, but we did have spaghetti once in awhile. I married into an Italian family, so sauce is a big deal and a process to make. We never gave a thought about being fussy over that red sauce, but you bet your …… that we were fussy about what flour used to make a biscuit. We all have our priorities! My husband laughed the first time I served him spaghetti; it consisted of several small cans of Hunt’s variety sauces all thrown together in a pot – it can’t have been tasty – but he never complained. I have since learned how to make a true pasta sauce. Hey I was a Southern girl, don’t beat me down for my sauce – way back when.
And I promised another gravy in the before post – so lets talk Sawmill gravy here. How it got that name, well I have no answer for you, but I can tell you how it’s made. I begin by frying up a pan of breakfast sausage, and don’t pour out all the grease when you’re done. Leave a few tablespoons in pan, add enough flour to mix into a roux; brown it up a bit and slowly pour milk in, mixing the two together to form a gravy consistency. If you can’t get the lumps out, grab a whisk – it works perfect. Oh, and don’t forget a little salt and pepper! It just takes some practice to master the art of making gravy – don’t be afraid, give it a try!
“Those dam yams sure making me hungry tonight”
Need More A to Z -then you know what to do…2016: Blogging from A to Z Challenge
© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco