Just Folks Getting By Part 18

cook-bookJenny walked in the kitchen to find biscuits in the oven and two pies cooling on the counter. “My goodness, Mama.  Didn’t you go to bed last night?  How did you get this all done so early?

“My eyelids flew up like window shades about four o’clock and I was wide-awake.  I knowed there was no use just a’layin’ there, so I got up an’ started bakin’.  I hope I didn’t bother you none.  I kind’a got me an idear.  I’m a’gonna take one of these pies down to Dolly at the bake shop.  It might be she’d want to sell my pies if you could spare me a couple of hours of the mornin’.  Would you mind runnin’ me down there?”  Lucille asked. “I wouldn’t mind makin’ a couple of dollars long as I’m a’gonna be here awhile.”

“I’d be glad to, but you better not let Ben know what you’re up to.  He might not want you cookin’ around on him.”  Jenny laughed. 

“Who’s cooking around on me?” Ben demanded as he walked in.  “Are those biscuits I smell?  Can you wrap me up a couple to take with me?”

“Why sure.” Lucille replied.  I’ll have bacon in just a minute if you’ll wait.” 

“I guess it won’t hurt to be a minute late.  Uncle Amos is always way early.  He can handle anything that rolls in early.  There’s usually a couple of folks waiting at seven-thirty, but after that it’s usually quiet till about nine.  Could you wrap up a couple for Uncle Amos, too.  I know he’d like ‘em.”

“Mama, why don’t you catch a ride with Ben?  You can call when you are ready and I’ll pick you up.  That will give me time to dress and bathe the baby.”

“Yeah, I’ll just get my stuff together while you finish that bacon.” Said Ben.  “Jenny doesn’t need to keep you all to herself. You are leaving one of those pies here, aren’t you?”

“They are chocolate peanut butter.  I guess I could do that.  Jenny, could you wrap these bacon biscuits and put this pie in that carrier while I get my purse and put on a clean apron.”  Lucille washed her hands and hurried out.

Jenny looked at Ben.  “I think Mama’s up to something, don’t you?”

“Kind of looks like it, but it can’t be too bad if it includes pie.” He mused.





John’s Favorite Chocolate Pie with Optional Peanut Butter

1 cup white sugar

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (I used canned evaporated milk for all my cooking)

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

4 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

8 tablespoons white sugar

½ cup peanut butter (optional)


Mix together sugar, cocoa, corn starch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually mix in milk. Cook and stir over medium high heat until thickened and bubbly. Blend in peanut butter if desired.  Reduce heat to medium low; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Slowly stir about one cup of the hot filling into the egg yolks, stirring constantly; mix back into the custard. Return saucepan to heat, and bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour hot filling into crust.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. (If yellow gets into whites they won’t whip) Gradually beat in sugar, and continue to beat until stiff and glossy. Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing meringue to crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden.

Southern Fried Catfish

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Deep-fried catfish is a favorite at our house.  Brush catfish with prepared mustard.  For two pounds catfish, I put one cup cornmeal, one and a half teaspoons of CajunSeasoning, and one-half teaspoon onion powder in a quart bag and shake till well-coated.  Best fried in a deep cast-iron skillet.  (I am extremely partial to cast-iron.)

There is an easy trick to getting the oil to just the right temperature.  As the oil gets hot, drop a wooden, strike anywhere match in the heating oil.  It will ignite at exactly 375 degrees, the perfect temperate for deep-frying.  The corn-meal battered catfish sear over when dropped in the hot oil and absorb much less oil.  In a matter of minutes the will be crisp and golden brown.  Put them on a rack to drain for maximum crispness.

Tonight, instead of the French-fries we so admire, I served the fish with oven fried okra,  I just bought the frozen breaded type,  sprayed it with cooking spray, and baked it at four hundred degrees til crisp.  I opened a jar of home-canned bean soup to go along with it.

For dessert, we had a very simple peach crumble.  To four cups frozen peaches, I stirred in three-quarters cup Splenda Brown Sugar, two tablespoons corn starch, and half a teaspoon cinnamon.  I poured in a bowl and topped with a crumb mixture of one-half cup oatmeal.a dash of cinnamon, one-fourth cup Splenda Brown Sugar mixed with three teaspoons butter.  I baked at 350 degrees till top is brown and crumbly.

This was an easy, delicious meal.