Food According to Elise
|Elise in Her Kitchen|
My Momma, Elise, was a great cook! She wasn't a gourmet cook by any rights, but she cooked every single day until her last few years. She was good at it! Her cooking was not particularly adventurous, nor did she use any exotic ingredients. She grew up on a farm in rural Louisiana during the Great Depression and learned to use the food from the land. As long as I can remember she tended some sort of garden. It may have been 5 acres of vegetables, a blueberry patch or simply her roses. She was a tiny thing and weighed 120 pounds dripping wet for her entire adulthood. If that crept up at any point, she "dieted" until she was back at 120.
Not only did Momma bake the best pies, but she also made great cakes and cookies. When she was younger she never used mixes. Mixes were for lazy people! She had an almost Puritan work ethic. My sister used to say that she didn't know you could purchase cookies already baked until she got married and went to the grocery store and saw them! My Momma would never serve food that wasn't created by her own hands until many years later and her advanced age and poor health made it impossible to do much in the kitchen.
Go out at 5:00 in the morning and pick the blueberries (just kidding, but this is what my Momma said!)
Combine 3 cups blueberries, 2 T. cornstarch, lemon juice in a saucepan and cook until clear.
Pour into an 8” x 8” cake pan.
1 cup flour
½ cup oatmeal
2 T. sugar
½ stick butter
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Stir topping ingredients in a medium sized bowl and “cut” with a pastry blender or two forks until well blended.
Spoon topping onto blueberry mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
She also made a COCONUT CAKE WITH PINEAPPLE FILLING with a mix after acquiescing to the idea that the mixes weren't such a bad thing. The recipe was already labor intensive with a home made filling and boiled icing. Who bakes like that anymore? If you were lucky, you got this cake for your birthday.
Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Cake Mix baked according to directions on the box, but use 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks (save 2 egg whites for frosting)
Bake in 3 round layers or two small rectangles.
8 oz. can crushed pineapple (not drained)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup water
Combine all ingredients in saucepan and cook until clear. Cool filling. Assemble cake with filling.
Frosting and Topping:
Beat reserved egg whites
Meanwhile: combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, pinch of cream of tartar in saucepan. Boil until the mixture spins a thread or forms a soft ball in water.
Slowly pour the hot mixture into the egg whites while continuing to beat at high speed.
Add a little vanilla.
Frost the cake and top with about 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut.
Refrigerate. Can be frozen.
Many consider CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS a humble recipe, but at our house it was considered a meal fit for royalty. Momma made her dumplings from scratch until one day she discovered the convenience of frozen biscuits. She never told people her secret and passed off those Mary B's as her own until I persuaded her to share her tips for the booklet.
In a large Dutch oven, boil 2 or 3 chicken breasts with celery, onions, and carrots. Use a combination of chicken broth and water to fill pot about 2/3 full. When chicken is cooked, remove it and chop or tear into bite size pieces. Mash up the vegetables in the broth and strain the liquid. Return the liquid and the chicken to the pot. (A couple of chicken bullion cubes can be added to water to enhance the flavor.)
Use one package of Mary B’s frozen biscuits for the dumplings. Roll biscuits thin between sheets of waxed paper that has been floured lightly. Cut into thin strips.
Return broth to a boil and drop biscuit strips one at a time into pot. Don’t stir. They can be poked down with a fork. Reduce heat to medium and cover. After about 20 minutes of cooking remove lid. Dumplings should be tender.
Stir in about ½ stick butter and a 5 ounce can evaporated milk. You can also stir in a can of condensed cream of chicken soup.
Serve over rice.
Momma made the best CORNBREAD. Sugar was not an ingredient as it was a savory bread, not a dessert as she would proclaim. The hot iron skillet made the crust very crispy. When it came out of the oven, she would flip it in the pan so the best side was up. On Sunday nights, we would crumble up the cornbread left from lunch, and pour milk on it. It was a great, quick and tasty supper.
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
salt about a teaspoon
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 Tablespoons oil
enough milk to make it spreadable
Pour a little oil in iron skillet. Heat the skillet in the oven before pouring cornbread in it.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about my Momma. She influenced my entire being....values, skills, attitudes, knowledge....the entire package. I wonder if she is wearing her chef hat in Heaven.