Skip to main content

What’s Cookin’?

So it’s about that time. I’m in the kitchen doing what I’ve done just about every year around this time. With my sleeves rolled up I’m washing and prepping ‘the greens’...when I start musing.

Peeling a clove of garlic I start musing on a day in the grocery store…standing in a checkout lane…having my groceries checked out…when the clerk picks up a bag of garlic on the conveyor belt…holds the bag up…a small bag…weighing in the ounces, if that…she looks at me…then laughs, “what’s this for?” She's a Korean woman, which musing on the exchange tickled me when I thought back on a friend showing me how she made kimchi. So, now, stuck in this remembrance, instead of using half of a garlic clove, I go on and use the entire clove...in the greens.

I'd like to have as much confidence in my cooking as my family, but then how can I forget that one day when my sister called me to help her make candied yams. Today she’s more of a gourmet cook. Back then she was learning, and as it turned out, so was I.

I rush over to her home, and mind you, she’s married interracially, so her husband is curious to see how ‘soul’ food is prepared too. But I dash into their chic chef-style kitchen, and start grabbing pots (really wanted a skillet, but they didn't have one), like I knew what I was doing. Trust me, I cringe when I think of this day. It’s utterly embarrassing. But what the heck, the incident resurfaces each time we gather around the table. Everyone has to be reminded…and it pains me greatly even to write this… but everyone must be reminded about how I piled eight sticks of butter, and let them tell it, a bag of sugar too, on top of five or six candied yams.

…and I know Ma (this is my mother-in-law)…you never did this, and certainly wasn’t anything you taught me. I don’t know what I was thinking, or doing for that matter! How embarrassing. And the thing is…now there’s no way to convince my brother-in-law that this IS NOT soul food cooking.

I learned to cook from an agglomerate of family and friends. My aunts, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, one of my best friend’s mother, along with a host of friends all taught me. There’s this one recipe, a recipe a friend said she got from her mother, on cooking chitterlings in this ‘red’ sauce. I wished I could remember what all the ingredients were, but you know how it is. I saw it in her eyes as she rattled off the ingredients. It was a family secret. She wasn’t going to tell me. Still, I will never forget that one dish. Oh-My-Goodness!!! …by everything that is Holy and consecrated, that was one delicious dish! Came out of the Bayou. Haven’t tasted anything like it since! As an old saying goes, “It was the kind of meal that made you wanna slap ya’ mama.”

…NOW, it’s time to bake the cornbread where, finally, here comes the vision of my dear mother. It’s all in Black Table, but to catch folk up, my mother wasn’t a cook. Yes, I grew up on cauliflower, beets, eggplant, liver, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and anything you’d never serve EVER, to NO ONE. So here she comes, just as I bend down to put the cornbread in the oven. There are smudges on the oven door, so what do I do? Well I do what I learned from her. I stop what I’m doing to scrub down the oven door…whereby I notice spots on the floor, so now comes out the bucket and down on my hands and knees I commence to scrubbing the floors too. Another Oh-My-Goodness moment. That’s one thing I can say about my mother. There might not be no food on the table, but darn it, the table was going to be clean. She goes nowhere without a jug of bleach and white gloves. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Stuff Writers Understand

A popular question writers get asked, is why in all things grounded, sane, fun and profitable would anyone volunteer to put themselves through the grueling task of writing a book? Pluralize book and, well, it will in all likelihood be assumed that writer has one screw very loose.

Fact is, there are many drivers that keep writers, writing.

Contraire to a common belief, largely due to many artists, myself included, associating pain with creating art... be it Mahalia belting out soul stirring llyrics from her sternum, or Van Gogh painting masterpieces with one ear, or like a pair of writers I laughed at describing what they looked like during long episodes drafting their stories, writing largely is a pleasurable exercise. Seriously, while anyone can have ‘a moment’, most people will pass on the liver pot pie for a slice a pizza every time.

The single prevalent complaint that drive most writers NUTS, is not writing, but rather the inability to write... and for whatever reason. Distractio…

Kathryn White Talks About Being Abigail

The book with the eye that sat on my desk (on my to-read pile), always seeming to be keeping an hard eye on me while I worked on other projects, I finally picked up and read. Yes, Abigail told me in so many stares I had better read her, and I did, and really enjoyed the story. And so now I am very pleased to be honored with an interview from the author, Kathryn White. I call Being Abigail the perfect idling read because I read it at a time when I needed something not so intense, or dramatic to read. This book was truly that book; a very comfortably paced story about a young woman blogging to sort out her relationship with the charming Samuel, centered around one near perfect Chastity MacKenzie and her (almost) mother-in-law, a woman who I came to look forward to encounters with her in the scene. And, of course too, let's not leave out Abigail. After all, she is only the star!

It’s Official! RYCJs Top 10 Favorite Books ...read in 2017

For those who will desire to miss it, (my You Tube video sharing what books enhanced my mood this year), I took time to spell out the list.

In no particular order:

- Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
- Pain Don’t Hurt by Mark ‘Fightshark’ Miller
- Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker
- Tha Doggfather by Snoop Dogg
- My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King
- My Mistake by Daniel Menaker
- When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
- I Choose to Stay by Salome Thomas-EL
- The Journey Home by Clifton Taulbert
- Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women, and Money by Kevin O'Leary

Thank you, Authors. I HIGHLY recommend reading from this list. I've read many phenomenal books this year, and these rose to the top. Every one of the memoirs, not all written in 2017, kick-started my mood, were humorous in spots, touched me to the core, and in my estimation... promises to grow a Smart, Engaged, Literate Society.

M E R R Y  🎄  C H R I S T M A S