After my recent story about MaMa and the “Tobacco Plug”, I realized that it was high time that I share a few other treasures from my experiences with her. Of the many things that Mama imparted on our family, a central theme was the love of a good meal and the enjoyment of cooking for others. It’s in that spirit that I want to pass along a few thoughts and memories as we get close to Thanksgiving.
While MaMa was a wonderful “southern/country” cook, she was also a prolific letter writer. Growing up, it was not unusual to see my mother exchange letters with my grandmother, her mother-in-law, often, sometimes weekly. What I didn’t realize was that MaMa had been sharing her recipes, and passing along cooking tips to my mother, and other members of my family, in those letters for years. A few years ago I tracked down a collection of those letters, post cards, recipe cards, envelopes, and notes that she had passed along and put them together in a sort of cookbook for the family. I often look back on those notes and letters, sometimes to try to recreate a certain recipe, sometimes just to try to feel closer to my mother Arline or my grandmother Mama.
In thinking about this entry falling a week or so before Thanksgiving, I wanted to pass along two recipes, written in MaMa’s wonderfully enthusiastic handwriting. I have had the pleasure of both enjoying these two recipes at her table, as well as preparing them for others in my family. This year as you prepare your holiday meals, take a moment and remember Mama in her little West Virginain kitchen, cooking for her family and passing along love, recipes, and lessons for life that continue to grow over the decades.
“Country Giblet Gravy”
For the Thanksgiving dinner that I wrote about in the previous entry, MaMa made the entire meal that included a wonderful gravy. A few years later, I was hosting a Thanksgiving meal and wanted to recreate that gravy, and the following is her response to that request. One cooking note, in the recipe, she describes “Giblet stock.” What she is intending is for you to take the giblets and the neck of the turkey, add to a few quarts of water, along with an a bit of onion, celery, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil and simmer while the Turkey is cooking.
“One Hour Buttermilk Rolls”
This roll recipe comes from a note that my sister-in-law, Barbara Oakley Levisay, received from MaMa on two sides of an envelope. When MaMa mentions shortening, she is referring to either Lard or Crisco, though I think the first option was probably her historic choice. Just a note, MaMa lived to be 97 years old!
Nothing would make Mama happier than to serve some of the “Country Giblet Gravy” on a hot baked roll!