Saturday, July 23, 2011

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AND OTHER SOUTHERN COMFORT FOOD

I am so missing my garden this year because I love those daily fresh vegetables. A long time ago, my husband told a group that I could take a salt shake and go sit in the middle of a garden and eat. Since we retired here 11 years ago, we have had wonderful gardens that allowed me to have my ripe tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I guess that's what I miss most. We pretty well knew last year's garden would be our last because of my husband's deteriorating health. Three tomato plants in individual pots on my back deck are the only semblance to a garden that I have.

The first post here on carolynscanvas last year, "Hallelujah, Canning's Done",  was also about our garden. I don't think all the canning equipment had even been put away. Canning is not one of my favorite things to do so I am always glad to get it over with. There is a big payoff through the winter, though. 

A road side vegetable stand lured me in the other day. I was just going to get a tomato or two because I only had a couple of dollars with me and there they were-GREEN TOMATOES-really nice, big, round, firm green tomatoes. I hopped right back in the car to get home for more money before someone else got MY green tomatoes. My mouth was already watering for the supper I had just planned of fried green tomatoes with corn, cucumbers and ripe tomatoes from the stand. 

Now fried green tomatoes is an acquired taste and we all acquired that taste from the great down home cooking of our Granny Crockett. 

There are some rules that must to be adhered to for true Southern Fried-it must be done in an iron skillet and in bacon grease or lard. Green tomatoes are coated with cornmeal and the first ones of the season are always the best, the same for the season's first mess of green beans, the first corn on the cob, the first cucumbers, etc. My favorite tomatoes to cook, can, fry and eat fresh are Rutgers, ones that are so tart they almost turn my mouth inside out, yum.

Grandson, Travis, loves this green delicacy as well as anyone. He stands and eats the first skillet full as soon as they are cool enough and I have to keep frying and frying so the rest of us might get one or two but I love to see that boy eat.

This is my large iron chicken fryer that gets a lot of use for cooking and baking cornbread. That is another rule of Southern Comfort-really good cornbread must be baked or fried in an iron skillet. 

Ambrosia, Silver Queen and Peaches & Cream are our favorites for corn to eat fresh and freeze. To fix corn-fill your pot with water, put on stove on high, go pick your corn, shuck the corn as you run back to the house and put corn into the boiling water immediately for about 5 minutes-tongue swallowing good!

Grandson, Joey and his wife, Andi, brought us some more red & green tomatoes along with a couple of squash yesterday. 

Christina Cooks, on PBS, the other day was putting together an interesting concoction with vegetables over pasta. Now why I was watching a cooking show, I don't know, I am trying to unlearn so much cooking but was glad I didn't turn it off. Those squash Joey and Andi brought over were sauteed in butter with onions, adding a can of peas and Rotella tomatoes, then over some egg noodles-my own version of "Christina's" and very good. Maybe one day I will try her version also, like I said, it was very interesting with deep fried chick peas and a leafy green that I can't remember the name of.

Another craving at this time of year is- wilted lettuce. For this, fresh, crisp leaf lettuce is smothered with onions and doused with hot bacon grease. [How did someone think to pour hot grease over lettuce in the first place?] A necessity is either baked or fried cornbread with my wilted lettuce which I had last night. That was my supper. It is all I needed or wanted-wierd, huh? Just food I grew up with. 

Even though it seems pinto beans with fried potatoes and cornbread were on the table almost every night when I was growing up, it is still my favorite meal. I still have the iron skillet that my grandmother baked that cornbread in every night. The handle is broken off. It sits in the stove drawer beside my big iron chicken fryer. Her flour sifter sits on the counter. As I've said before, I hope thoughts of me bring comfort to my grandchildren and now my great, grandchildren as thoughts of my Granny comfort me.

Not everything I cook is deep fried, I am going to try some crock pot deserts that I downloaded. They seem interesting and they include two of my favorite things-chocolate and peanut butter. I'll let you know how they turn out.

By the way, does anyone have any suggestion for a husband who tells everyone at a church dinner that he knows it is time for lunch or dinner when he hears the smoke alarms going off?  Such a short memory, he forgets he had to eat cereal for a month for other such remarks.

God bless all of you
Carolyn Wainscott