Hailing proudly from the hills of Kentucky, I was raised to be a good cook, as were my Mother, Grandmother and all those before her.Let me say that I am not from a family of "Southern Belles". We never attended "Debutante Balls" or anything resembling such high fallutin' ways. My people were, and are, hard working farm people. In the hills, you use what is plentiful, and rarely waste anything. One learns to make the most delectable dishes as a reward to those breaking their backs in the fields, or in the barns.
After we moved to the city, those attributes remained with my Mother. Mommy was a true "Mother". I can barely remember a time when we didn't have an additional, "honorary" family member. My brother's friend stayed with us for a couple years because his family was in turmoil, a friend of mine, likewise, not to mention odd cousins, family friends etc....There was always room to "throw another potato in the pot", she would say. "Always make more than you need, because someone is bound to come to the door at dinnertime", is another of my favorite "Momisms".
How true that is. When my children were growing up, there always seemed to be an extra kid or three there at dinnertime. "Your Mom makes "real" food.", I overheard one of my daughter's little pals say. I took this as one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. It is true, I rarely use prepared foods in my cooking, with the exception of using "Lipton Onion Soup" in my meatloaf.
Southern cooking is not for the cholesterol minded. Several dishes can raise that ugly LDL merely by smelling it. I don't use the following recipes often, for that very reason, but once in a while, one has to treat themselves to a heart-attack-on-a-plate.
The following recipes are derived from family "recipes" passed down through the ages. The word recipes is in quotes, because nothing was ever written down. I have approximated measurements, because many of today's cooks do not fathom "a pinch", "a handful" or "two shakes".
All southern cooking is prepared "to taste", so, experiment.
All recipes serve four, or so....
Southern Fried Chicken
Large CAST IRON skillet (well seasoned)
1 boiler/fryer cut into pieces (ok,I buy it already cut, sue me)
2 Tbs. water
1tsp. hot sauce
1 c. flour
1 tsp. pepper
2 c. oil for frying (you want enough oil to cover the chicken half way, in the pan))
Heat oil in skillet on medium/high till very hot, but not smoking
Whip egg with water and hot sauce.
Mix flour with salt paprika. and pepper.
Dredge/coat chicken pieces in flour
Dip in egg mixture, to coat
Dredge again in flour.
Fry pieces, several at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook approximately ten to twelve minutes on each side, till a dark golden brown. Avoid turning too frequently, as it might stick to the pan.
Drain on paper towels.
Mom's Fried Corn (* It's really steam boiled, but I don't want to break tradition)
4 ears fresh corn, cut from cob ( preferably white, butter/sugar etc..)
1 stick butter (margarine will work, but the taste is different)
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. sugar
Cut corn from cob using a sharp, serrated knife. (Doing this in a pie plate keeps the corn from scattering all over the table)
Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover, and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat to medium/high, and cook for approximately ten minutes, stirring frequently, adding a bit more water if it get too dry. Drain, and serve, with extra butter, of course.
Old Fashioned Green Beans
2-3 lb.. fresh green beans (half runners are the best)
2 ham hocks, OR 1/2 lb. ham cut into chunks OR 1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 lb or so, new red potatoes, scrubbed, ends trimmed off
Break green beans into 1 inch or so pieces, removing the ends, and any "bad spots".(this is the monotonous part)
Rinse in cold water
Place beans in stock pot
Add ham hocks
Cover with water
Bring to boil, then reduce to medium
Cook, four to five hours, stirring every hour or so, and adding additional water as necessary.
After 3 hours, add potatoes and enough water to cover all.
Cook another hour or so, till potatoes are cooked through.
You may add additional salt, to taste, as the taters will absorb some of the salt in the cooking liquid.
I hope y'all enjoy this meal, and do not blame me for any additional coronary risk.