Oh, I am in such discomfort… it feels like a cast iron skillet landed inside my stomach. I got an attack of veggies (see earlier post on Acorn Squash) crossed with Southern ties. For my friends from other countries, the United States is large enough that we divide our cooking via region. Southern cooking means fried foods, barbeque, ice tea. This craving came from old memories that crossed synapses in my mind. My mother made great fried chicken, which we ate with fresh white bread and homemade hot gravy poured over it, and corn on the cob.
When I was 10 or 11, I was visiting a friend of mine and her mother was frying up tomatoes coated in flour and fried in bacon grease. I had never seen that before and I can still remember the taste as one of the best in my life. I’ve tried over the years to recapture that taste to no avail. Just a couple of years ago, I joined my neighbors in a shared Thanksgiving feast. One of the dishes served was collard greens (though, truthfully, it could have been all kinds of greens). I had never tasted those before and I distinctly remember hovering around that dish, begrudging any other guest their serving. I ate a lot of that dish.
So, tonight was a sentimental journey down memory taste lanes. I called friends for their recipes, looked up recipes, and prowled through my cupboards looking for ingredients. Both dishes begin with a rasher of bacon being fried up and using the grease as part of both recipes. The greens called for chopped onion and garlic, crumbled bacon, add some water and toss in a pound of greens, stir, cover and cook on low for 45 minutes. This one came out pretty darn tasty – the dash of butter added right before serving took out the bitterness in some of the leaves.
The same lovely woman who shared an acorn squash with me, shared three green tomatoes and we laughed about making fried green tomatoes. Well, I was missing the cornmeal called for in this one. Being the little researcher that I am, I called another friend who is a fabulous cook and asked how she would cook the tomatoes. She would go healthy with olive oil to fry ’em in, but agreed “Oh, Huntie, everything tastes good fried in bacon!” So, you slice ’em up, dust ’em in flour, toss ’em in a egg and milk whisked concoction and then dredge them in cornmeal and breadcrumbs. No cornmeal. I made the breadcrumbs by toasting french bread and crumbling it. Okay, it was apparent almost immediately that mine were not going to look like the picture. My breadcrumbs were not fine enough and didn’t want to stick to the tomatoes, so I mashed ’em on anyway and fried ’em. Verdict: they were good, but didn’t come close to the memory.
I ate too much though. Oh, my tummy. So, I am going back to beef – a lovely cheeseburger, onion rings, french fries and a chocolate shake. It’s just safer. 🙂