Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boy howdy, that's a lot of bugs!!!!

I returned home a few days ago from a wonderful little respite from the mean streets of the Dirty D.  I went back home & spend lots of time with Mom & Grandma.  I came back feeling more balanced & more loved than I did when I left & also with the habit of waving to everyone I meet while driving around.  In the country, everyone waves because everyone knows everyone else.  If they don't "know" you, they know you must be Miss Venell's granddaughter because she was coming into "town" from Durham for Thanksgiving.  As much as I love Durham, I do love my original home place.  I wish I could somehow move them closer to each other, yet keep them separate...make sense?

I spent a lot of time with my Grandma talking about old times & her "holding" my hand while I tried knitting with circular needles for the first time.  Even though she's a leftie, she was a huge help & laughed at me when I asked her how to get the stitch marker out of the knitted piece.  Hey,  I know I can't be the only one who didn't grasp the concept of a stitch marker.  Anyway, she stitched up a seamed 1030's hat that I made & inspected another cap that I'd made for my neighbor.

We had Thanksgiving at Mom's house as Grandma's house was waaay too far to travel (about 150 yards).  We usually have our holiday dinners at Mom's because it's easier for Grandma & for us, I think.  Grandma always brings several dishes ...especially dessert.  We rarely have traditional turkey.  This year we had "backbone", but it wasn't really backbone, Mom used riblets because backbone wasn't readily available at the grocery she was in, but salted them as if they were backbones & they were yummy.

I guess I should maybe explain.  I'm from Eastern NC where a lot of the food cooked is the same as it was 50 years ago......typical "soul" food.  Pork backbone is, quite literally, the backbone of a piggie.  As you can guess, it's mostly bones, but because the backbone is right above the loin, the meat that is there, is very tender.  Mom salted down the riblets...I don't mean salted them, I mean salted them down.  Lots of salt (non iodized, please) on each side of the meat & stack the meat in layers in a glass or plastic container.  Don't be prissy with the salt.  I asked Mom how much salt she used & she said that she didn't use the whole box of salt.  That's how much salt needs to be lavished onto the unsuspecting piggie.  The container sits (covered) in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  The meat turns a little gray, but that means that it's started to "cure"  After a couple of days, (in this case, the night before Thanksgiving), rinse off the salt & soak the meat in a container of water, changing the water several times to leech out the salt that you spent days getting into the meat.  

The meat is then, simply boiled in a pot of water on top of the stove. 

Potatoes & cornmeal dumplings can be added, but Grandma had made the collards & cooked the taters & dumplins for us.  Of course, no Southern table is complete without a bottle of pepper vinegar.
Sorry I don't have pictures of the other Southern staples, collards, taters, cornmeal dumplins & baked sweet potatoes.

Here's Mom's mac & cheese:

Crunchy, crunchy on top, but creamy & cheesy under the surface.  Not the typical mac & cheese, but my favorite.  Just a few ingredients & I think it's actually less bad for you than others...maybe not.

Potato salad that Mom had in the fridge:

Holla to the sweet potatoes in the back.  Yes, they're just baked in the oven & served on the table in their skins.

Grandma's cake...oh yeah.  She usually makes chocolate meringue pie, but I forgave her this time.

When I was driving back on Saturday I ran into a huge herd....pack(?)  maybe swarm, of bugs in Wake Forest.  What in the world????  Further down the road, the bugs turned onto snow.  By the time I arrived in Durham, the lawns & roadside were heavily dusted with this rare confection.  I can't remember the last time we've had snow this early because for us to even get snow is a bit crazy.  It would have been less of an anomaly had it been a giant swarm of bugs.  If you've been to North Carolina in the summer, you'll know what I mean.

I hope you all had a great week.  Now, back to gift making.  Times are hard, so I'm making a lot of my gifts this year....I guess I should get to it, but I have a few jewelry orders that I need to get wrapped up.  I have most of the designs sketched out, which is something that can sometimes take me a while.  I'll post my things as I get them completed, plus I have little sneaks of my home to show you.

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