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Friday, May 29, 2009

My Mother's Sunday Dinner

When I was a child, no meal more exemplified traditional southern cooking than Sunday dinner which was eaten at noon. All over the south cooks prepared special dinners for their families to enjoy-and they didn’t worry about calories and heart-healthy food either.

One of my mother’s favorite Sunday meals was fried chicken, potato salad, creamed corn, green beans, and banana pudding. Yes, it was a huge meal, but we enjoyed it, and there weren’t very many leftovers.

How did she fry the chicken? Naturally she used a cast iron skillet, a big heavy thing that she filled with either bacon grease or Crisco. I liked it better in Crisco. The chicken was always crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. I think chicken tasted better back then because the chickens were normal sized birds-not those enormous steroid chickens you buy today. Frankly, if a chicken is over three pounds it’s hard to cook properly. You can buy organic or free range chicken today which aren’t so large, but they’re usually more expensive than regular chicken.

When I fry chicken today I still use a cast iron skillet, a big heavy thing that I usually fill with olive oil or sometimes corn oil. Know what? The chicken tasted better in Crisco.

Banana pudding was one of my all time favorites. My mother didn’t take shortcuts when she made her banana pudding. She followed the recipe on the Nilla Vanilla Wafers box. If you’re never tried traditional banana pudding you’re missing out on a treat. The recipe may still be printed on the box, but just in case it isn’t I’m giving you recipe below. Try it if you never have. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

If you’d like my chocolate cake recipe check back with me next week. It’s so good I’d like to bury my face in it.

Banana Pudding

¾ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
4 eggs separated at room temperature
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
35 to 45 Nilla wafers
5 to 6 medium size fully ripe bananas sliced
Reserve 1 banana and 10 to 12 wafers for garnish

Combine ½ cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Stir in 4 egg yolks and milk: blend well. Cook uncovered over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened. Reduce heat and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Spread small amount on bottom of 1 ½ quart casserole. Cover with layer of Nilla wafers. Top with layer of sliced bananas.
Pour about 1/3 of custard over bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas, and custard to make 3 layers of each ending with custard. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon on top of pudding covering the entire surface and sealing the edges. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes or until delicately browned.


Martha Eskuchen said...

That looks beautiful, Elaine! I am passing the recipe on to my husband!

Elaine Cantrell said...

Hey, Martha, I think he'll like it. We sure do!