Monday, October 19, 2009

A Southern Belle in the Making

purplehull-peas-2008 Every good Southern girl learns things about cooking from her mother, who learned them from her mother, who learned them from her mother—things like how to fry okra or make cornbread or brew sweet tea.

Bless her heart, my daughter-in-law Katie did not learn Southern cooking from her mother.  Diane is a fabulous cook, having once owned her own catering business, but these are West Coast girls, and Katie spent most of her growing up in Los Angeles and Seattle.

So when she and Brent purchased some purple hull peas at a farmer's market in Savannah, where they now live, Katie turned to the queen of purple hull peas, my mother, for instructions on how to prepare them.  As Katie tells it, the conversation went something like this.

Katie:  Mema, I bought some purple hull peas, and I need you to tell me how to cook them.

Mema:  Well, you season them and cook them in water for about two hours.

Katie:  Two hours?!!  Oh, then I guess we won't be having them for dinner tonight.  I thought you just had to heat them up good. 

(Note: This conversation took place about 6 p.m. one evening.)

Katie:  I guess I'll just cook them and save them for tomorrow night.  So how do I season them?

Mema:  Well, you season them with a little salt.  I also used to put bacon drippings in mine, but after all the talk about cholesterol a few years ago, I started using oleo.  So just sprinkle in salt to taste and add some oleo.  Bring them to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover them and simmer for about two hours.

Katie:  So that's all you do?

Mema:  That's all.

Katie:  Just one more thing, Mema.  What's oleo?


Coloradolady said...

HaHa...thanks for your comment..I started to do that...but decided not too....I like my blog and my blog is sorta like my safe place....sometimes I wish my family did not read I am not ready for the old friends to read up on me just yet....I have a ways to go...

Sarah Frost said...

I love this story! I am sure Mema loved the fact that Katie called her!

susan said...

LOL-My much younger sister in law told me she had a cookbook she couldn't figure out because so many of the recipes listed oleo as an ingredient--she did not know what it was--bless her heart :) Now if your mother had told Katie to use "fatback" that might have put her over the edge :) By the way, PLEASE invite me to one of your parties, weddings, showers, ..I think your group has the BEST time :)

nanny said...

LOL - I just knew you were gonna say she didn't shell them!!!!

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

I bet Mema got a kick out of that. How funny! laurie

Malvie said...

Great story, I love it.

But Kathy! You left out one of the quintessential parts of every southern lady's "mother to daughter" hand-me-downs: fried pies.

Every southern lady I knew growing up had her own way of making fried pies. She'd say she learned it from her mother, but then she'd obviously deviate, because no two ladies made fried pies exactly alike.

The upshot of this was that the southern gentlemen would have a WONDERFUL time trying to sample them all.

As I recall, the "fried pie" competition at Second Babdis Church of Malvern was quite heated....

(and Mema's method of purple hull peas sounds exactly like my family's, except Granny always used cow butter. Mother used "oleo").

Mar Mar said...

Priceless! Typical Mema.

Lou Cinda said...

What a cute post!! I guess we can't ALL be from the South huh? But she's learning!!

Have a great day!!

Lou Cinda :)

Joyce said...

Hi Kathy...thanks for stopping by...when do you leave for your trip? I'll be anxious to hear all the details and hope you have a wonderful time-how can you not?

I'm going to London/France in December...meeting some friends in London area then we're taking the train over to Strasbourg to go to the Christmas market there...I'm really excited as you can imagine.

Safe travels and I hope to see some pictures here...I lived in a little village called Gerrards Cross-there's no real reason you'd go there but you might see it on a train stop sign : ) Cheers! Joyce

darnold23 said...

I just love it! I'm so anxious to hear all abut your trip.

Trista said...

I'm a fellow Alabama Blogger and wanted to stop by for a visit! You can visit me @,, and Hope to hear from you soon!

Tonja said...

What a cute post! I remember when Mom used to keep bacon a little silver jar with top. She kept it on top of the stove. And, my Granny always used 'fatback'...nothing makes purple hull, or zipper peas, or black eyes taste as good!

Christi @ A Southern Life said...

Yum, or ham hocks or streak o lean, or salt pork . . . Yes, that is the good stuff!

Christi @ A Southern Life