Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

When the weather changes, the closet gets changed out and the plate offered at the table follows suit.  It is time for fall foods, folks!  While I am sure some eat biscuits year round, for me they are a cool weather food; as summer is reserved for fresh fruits that are readily available at our local farmer’s market.  Admittedly, I’ve not always been a fruit lover.  (Laughing, because I can hear the actor in Tombstone drawling, “You, music lover”. It’s funny only if you know the film and once you hear it, you can’t UN-hear it.) But, I digress.

It’s fall and it’s time for cool weather foods.  And for me, warm, just-baked breads are at the top of the list!  Of course, the memoir We Share the Same Sky is filled with reflections of growing up in the South, foods my grandmother’s and mother made, breads they baked and the hours we shared around the family table.  So, I thought today I would share an excerpt, followed by a sweet potato biscuit recipe.  My cousin, Dana Lynn, has been at work perfecting our Grandmother Libby’s square dinner biscuits.  Perhaps she will allow me to share these as well in the near future.

 

From:  We Share the Same Sky (an excerpt from Chapter 2)

Simplicity -free of complexity, refinement or pretentiousness

     The importance of the making and sharing of bread is an amazing thing.   The       women in my family all make a variety of breads. But, of them all, my favorite continues to be the humble biscuit. My GrandMosie’s were the most divine!  She got up early every morning to make my Grandpa breakfast before he went to work. She would fill several with butter and granulated sugar, then slip them to me with a hot cup of coffee at three a.m. because she knew I preferred them hot. I’d eat, drink, crawl back beneath the weight of handmade quilts and fall right back into a deep sleep.  She also made sweet potato biscuits for me and Papa on days we went hunting.  We would eat our fill, then wrap those remaining in paper napkins and tuck them in our coat pockets.  They were thick, dense biscuits, so rich in flavor.

My Grandmother Libby also made incredible biscuits, though they were somewhat odd.  She kept her flour in a huge tin in the cupboard; when she readied to make biscuits she would pull out a stool, open the tin and make a well right there in the flour then work in the shortening and buttermilk.  The biscuit dough was removed, the lid fastened back onto the tin and put away. After rolling out the dough into a long rectangular shape, she placed it on a flat baking sheet and cut it into squares.  She was the only person I knew who made them this way. Always, they were served alongside her falling-off-the-bone, fried pork chops.

Baking bread is often the basis of tradition. And, many of these traditions are linked to religion. Unleavened bread is partaken when receiving the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper; Artos is a Greek celebration bread; elaborate wreath breads are indicative of many German celebrations and King Cake is a common Christmas tradition in countries commemorating the festival of Epiphany.  Southerners in Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana begin the merriment of Mardi Gras with a King Cake iced in carnival colors of purple, gold and green.  Whomever finds the token- be it bean or baby- baked within the cake, receives both a favor and responsibility.   A Christmas custom in Poland is the making and sharing of Oplatek.  This thin wafer has a holy picture pressed into it.  Family members make it together, then share it with close neighbors.  Each person breaks a wafer and as they eat it, forgives the other of any wrong doing or hurt that has occurred over the past year.

Today, wheat is the most widely cultivated crop on earth.  But, I believe that mass production has diminished our appreciation for it.  Surely, the women who grew, milled, and made their own breads viewed the final product very differently. They claimed a connection to the soil, and therefore to the land and to home.  The Russian immigrants who secretly brought over their more resilient grains understood this bond. How true it is, the quote by Aldo Leopold that “the oldest task in human history [is] to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”   In our effort to progress, we have not only severed our tie to the land, we have let go of traditions that connect us to our heritage.

***************************************************************

 

Unfortunately this is not my GrandMosie’s recipe. 

She never used one for breads or pies.

sweet-potato-biscuits

 

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato prebaked and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups sweet milk
  • 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into
    small pieces
  • 4 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into
    small pieces

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and increase the temperature to 450°F.

Peel the sweet potato and mash with a fork, then add the buttermilk and mix until smooth.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the shortening and butter; use a fork to cut them into the dry ingredients. Add the sweet milk mixture and stir until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead very lightly, just until it holds together.

Roll out and pat the dough into a rectangle 6 by 12 inches. Use a biscuit cutter or old juice jar to cut out biscuits. Transfer to a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits have risen and the edges and bottoms are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes.


*Recipe was given to me by a dear friend years ago –thank you CW. *Photo via tiny banquet committee.

*****

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

 

The deepest shade of envy green~ Southern Hospitality

watermelon

Nancy, a dear friend of mine, posted this picture to her Facebook recently and I immediately turned the deepest shade of green!  She explained how a neighboring farmer had left the gift on her doorstep.  The thoughtfulness made me wish I lived nearby.  It also got me to thinking about how much I love this area.  Understand, I am not blind to all that is wrong with the South, but for me it is a love that goes deep enough to appreciate all this region has to offer.

The greatest of which is still good ‘ole SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY.  And, yes, even today it still exists.

Being hospitable in the South is often defined by food.  Always has been and I have a feeling it always will be.  It is one of the things I love about HOME.  It is also the easiest way we Southern women know to say, “I love you” or “I appreciate you”.

When the children and I moved to Oxford, Alabama in 2007, our neighbor across the street whom we had not yet met, left a plate of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on the little café table in our carport.  When we returned from school that afternoon, the children and I were all smiles.   Anderson poured us tall glasses of milk (mine with crushed ice) and we sat down and devoured the still warm cookies.

Looking back some of my sweetest memories involve food.

I remember Mother surprising me in the campus parking lot while I was in college.  She was standing next to my vehicle holding a chocolate Coca-Cola birthday cake.

And, the first year I taught elementary school, I returned home and was surprised and delighted to find a pot of chicken and dumplings warming on the stove.  My father had come, cooked supper for us and returned home.

My heart hurts with the memories too of all the trips my Grandpa and GrandMosie made to Talladega County when I first moved away from home.  They would show up out of-the-blue bearing gifts –always a sweet potato and pumpkin pie.  They are still my favorites.  (I enjoy them warm, but still prefer a slice after they’ve cooled in the refrigerator, with a glass of sweet tea of course.)

For me, food will always be associated with hospitality or small acts of kindness.

“Be good to strangers; be better to family,” my Grandmother Libby used to say.

In the South, when someone is sick, you take them food.  When a family is placed in hardship, folks show up with casseroles, buckets of chicken… desserts.  That’s just the way it is around here.  And, I like it!

Even at work, I am surrounded by teachers who bring and give –many mornings there is something fresh baked, or a box of doughnuts from Lamar’s waiting in the workroom.   And, boy does the faculty miss Ms. Camp and her wonderful zucchini bread since she retired.  Though I’m not sure which we miss most –the bread or her contagious laughter!

It seems the older I get, the more rushed life becomes.  I hope that in the future this changes, but I doubt it.  The one thing I am sure of though is that I want the giving to continue –even when I am tired, even when I am busy.

I hope that looking back years from now, my kids will remember the meals shared with family, will remember the hospitality that is part of their heritage.

 

Coca-Cola Cake

If you haven’t had it, you need to ASAP!~

  • 2cups sugar
  • 2cups all-purpose flour
  • 1cup Coca-Cola
  • 1 ½cups small marshmallows
  • ½cups butter or margarine
  • ½cups vegetable oil
  • 3tablespoons cocoa
  • 1teaspoon baking soda
  • ½cups buttermilk
  • 2eggs
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½cups butter
  • 4tablespoons cocoa
  • 6tablespoons Coca-Cola
  • 1box (16-ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  *In a bowl, sift the sugar and flour, then add marshmallows.

In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola.   Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients; blend well.  *Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk then add to batter with eggs and vanilla extract.  Mix well and pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes.   Remove from oven and frost immediately.

Coca-Cola Cake Frosting

Combine: 1/2 cup butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil and then pour over confectioners’ sugar.  Blend well and add the vanilla extract and pecans.  Spread over cake, carefully.  When cool, cut into squares and serve.

coca-cola-cake

*****

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

 

 

 

 

 

Well hello, y’all!

Introductions?

I’ve never been much on introducing myself, and yes, that is strange for a Southerner. I blame in on my Yankee grandfather –a New Yorker. I’m teasing. Northerners are just as gracious as Southerners; they just don’t talk for hours to people standing in line beside them whom they have never laid eyes on before.

So here goes! The basics -I am a writer, teacher, mother, and grandmother. For me, family is everything. I love the South, the outdoors, big cities, old town squares, family get-togethers, cooking/eating and drinking. I’m a tomboyish type who has an affinity for lipstick and cowboy boots.

I carry a backpack with books in it wherever I go.

And, I’m an introvert.

So, why does an introvert want to blog…?

Until this last January, when We Share the Same Sky was published, my use of technology amounted to a sprinkling at best. I am just not a technology person -Until recently, I still owned a flip phone -alas, I was forced to upgrade. When I first got it, I referred to it as “the leash” and I left it in my car all day on the console. Now if I get out of the drive without it, I must return to the house and retrieve it at once. I’ve also recently become involved with an iPad. We are now inseparable as well. Slowly, I’ve become friendly with the hook! However, the use of technology to this point was still deeply one-sided. The publication of the memoir changed all that, albeit slowly. After setting up a Facebook page for the book, I began interacting with old friends on my personal account. I then created a Linkedin and Twitter account where I’ve met scores of folks who are constantly asking if I’ll start a blog. Who knew an independent excursion to New York City and the making of a memoir would be the things that pulled me from my shell?!

What types of posts are to be expected? Anything and everything –be it journaling, fishing, cooking, poetry, hiking, restaurants/breweries or family escapades.

Randomness is something I’ve truly perfected.

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU