Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Where I am from.....

Where I am from there are 3 things a woman must be able to cook consistently, before she is considered a "good" cook.

1) good fried chicken (the kind that is always gone first at any pot luck, or picnic)

2) potato salad, sooo good you eat it every day for a month and not tire of it.

3) macaroni and cheese, we are talking REAL macaroni and cheese.

I am a third generation American on my Mom's side. They came from Germany, and settled in Nebraska to ranch and farm. My Mom was the oldest daughter out of 8 living children. Grandma had lost 2 at birth. They ranched, ran a dairy, and farmed.

My Mom grew up in a house where you made bread 2 days a week, woke at 5:00am to milk cows, feed chickens, horses, pigs. The had ringer washer, hung clothes out to freeze dry, even in winter. If you wanted to eat meat, you learned how to hunt it, or kill it, and clean it. She learned to cook for about 20 people at a sitting. They had farmhands and other family to feed part of the time. She learned from her Mother to fry up chickens at a young age. I always swore my Mom made the best fried chicken.....Next to my grandma's.

For those of you who have never fried chicken, it is hard. There are a lot of mistakes to be made. I have several friends that cannot even cut a chicken up properly. You have to make sure your oil is not too hot, or too cool. Otherwise it will burn, or be raw in the center. You need a "pan" good for frying chicken. My Mom used a cast iron skillet that was her Moms.

Mom, cleaned chicken in cool water, dredged it through a mix of flour, salt and pepper, fried it in Crisco. Simple enough huh? I tried it and tried it for years, and it just never was right. It never did taste like my Moms or grandma's. It was "ok". I will add this disclaimer, none of the cooks in my family use a recipe. They simply cook on instinct, so when learning to cook you had to really pay attention.

Frickin chicken... When we moved down south I was listening to the radio one morning, a "cooking" segment. They had a secret to make Southern Fried Chicken.
Guess what? I tried it, and everyone loves my fried chicken now. Here is the closest recipe I could find. I will also tell you this. I use an electric skillet, and I also fry the chicken in olive oil. DO SOAK the chicken in the buttermilk the entire 24 hours, it makes it so moist, and tasty.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Vegetable shortening,
for frying (about 4 cups)

Place chicken pieces in zip-lock
bag. Mix buttermilk with 1 teaspoon
salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour
mixture over chicken; seal bag, then
refrigerate for at least 2 hours and
up to 24 hours.

Combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt and
pepper (to taste). Completely coat
chicken with flour, shake off excess
and place on large wire rack set over
a jelly-roll pan.

Heat about 4 cups shortening (1/2-inch
depth)in deep 12-inch frying pan over
medium-high heat. Place chicken skin
side down into hot shortening; cover
and cook for 5 minutes. Check to see
if chicken is frying evenly, rearrange
if necessary. Cover again and cook
until chicken is evenly browned, about
5 minutes longer. Turn chicken over
and cook, uncovered until chicken is
done, about 10-15 minutes longer. Remove
chicken and return to wire rack to drain.

*In place of buttermilk, you can combine
3 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt in
a large bowl; add chicken. Cover and
chill 8 hours. Drain chicken; rinse with
cold water, and pat dry. Proceed with

There you are, I can fry up a delicious chicken now, but my Grandma and Mom's way is LOST...Which makes me feel a little sad.

Now for that darn macaroni and cheese, which is not working out for me.


Anonymous said...

That sounds yummy and I might even be able to do that. Let me know when you get that mac n cheese going.

Potato salad...I could live without. Fried chicken and mac n cheese, you're calling my name!

vw bug said...

I know what you mean about Fried Chicken... messy but good! Love my moms. Mine is ok. Might try the buttermilk soaking.

Contagion said...

My wife makes excellent fried chicken. I think it was part of her Kansas upbringing.

nEo said...

Love these recipes you have...

Here's one from my Mom...

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 Tbsp butter (REAL Butter, not veggie oil)
2 eggs
6 ounces evap. milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

Boil the macaroni like the
package directions state-
(My Mom always uses salted water).

While the pasta is boiling, cut the butter into
pats, so it melts faster in the next step.
cook the pasta until its al dente and drain.
(drain it very well)

Put the macaroni back in the pot and add the
butter, use a wooden spoon to toss.

Using a wire whisk, beat the eggs and evap. milk, then add the salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir the mixture into the macaroni and slowly add the cheese. Continue to heat on low, and do not stop stirring, or you'll end up with that dreaded "noodle stick" that h@mburger he!per is famous for.

Keep stirring until the sauce becomes creamy, for about 3 or 4 minutes. The key is keeping your heat low enough to not scorch the cheese/milk.

Grey Biker said...

Throw in some sawmill gravy and cathead biscuits and I'll be over to supper. Damn, now I'm hungry.

Anonymous said...

Here's my Mom's recipe for mac n' cheese. It's fairly quick because it does not require any time in the oven. It's just a bechemel sauce with cheese that can be flavored as you like. If you use really good cheddar cheese, you don't need much seasonings, but the seasonings can be adjusted to taste.

1 lb pasta (cooked al dente, your choice of a shaped pasta, I like the small penne or curled elbow, my boys love the wagon wheels)

Cheddar sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk (2% works, it just takes a bit longer for the sauce to thicken)
2-3 cups cheddar cheese (the more chesse the cheesier the sauce)
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 to 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)

Melt butter in sauce pan, add flour whisking to mix, cook a few minutes over medium flame. (this will help the eliminate the flour flavor), add milk and whisk until thickened. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cheese and stir until melted.
Add pasta and stir, then serve with your choice of sides.

Anonymous said...

Annette - almost exactly how I ate it growing up - and super easy! When we got married, I discovered friend husband had some other kind that involved "crust". Now I cook the pasta about 2 minutes short of al dente, mix with the suace, pour into a baking pan, top with a bunch of cheddear and bake about 20 minutes at 350 - we're all happy - crust plus easy!

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about having to learn how to cook by paying attention. My Grandmother (Mammaw) cooked that way and her yeast rolls were to die for. Mama and I would go down to the farm every Tuesday until I started school. Mammaw would always cook a pan of yeast rolls for lunch and I'd have two or three with my meal and a couple drizzled with honey from the jar that always sat on the table for dessert. Mama never could cook yeast rolls like Mammaw's and this frustrated her no end.

At some point later in life, I decided I was going to learn how to bake bread. Real from scratch, knead and let rise bread. After I could get a couple of loaves to turn out consistently I played with the recipe until I had a pretty good approximation of Mammaw's yeast rolls. Mama finally forgave me..... ;-)