April 25, 2006

Southern Comfort Food

When I think back to my childhood and the foods my mother and grandma would rustle up in the kitchen I think of true southern cooking. My dad's family is originally from Texas and my mother from southern Missouri, so I had the best of both worlds when it came to the dinner table.

Now that I am grown, I find myself missing the country and those summer nights eating dinner on my folks deck (now that I am in what I call a partial city). I say partial because I live in a small town (less than 900 people) on the out-skirts of a big city (around 40,000).

I throw myself into my mother's homecooking when I feel this way...These foos are what I call my comfort foods...I think of collard and turnip greens, cornbread, fried chicken, casseroles, fresh pies cooling by the window, picking gooesberries and wild blackberries to make pies with, fried crappie (it's a fish) and hush puppies, fried okra, country fried steak.....I could go on and on.

Anyways, to get to today's recipe I have choose turnip greens and cornmeal dumplings. Now how much southern can you get! This isn't a recipe from my mother's box though, it's from one of my favorite cooks Paula Deen!

Turnip Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings

3/4 pound smoked meat (smoked turkey wings are excellent)
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 bunch turnip greens with roots
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon sugar (optional; may be used if greens are bitter)
Cornmeal Dumplings, recipe follows

Place smoked meat in water along with House Seasoning, bouillon, and ginger. Cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Strip turnip leaves free of the big stem that runs down the center of each leaf. Wash in a sink full of clean water. Drain and wash twice more, since greens can often be sandy. Peel and slice or quarter roots. Add greens to meat; cook for another 30 minutes, stirring often. Add roots and continue to cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until roots are tender. (Reserve 2/3 cup turnip liquid for the dumplings.) Add butter and sugar. Serve with dumplings.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Cornmeal Dumplings:
1 cup all-purpose cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 egg
2/3 cup liquid from cooked turnips

Mix all ingredients together. Dipping by teaspoonfuls, gently roll batter in the palms of your hands into approximately 1-inch balls; drop into boiling turnip liquid Make sure each dumpling is completely covered in liquid by shaking the pot gently; do not stir. Boil for about 10 minutes.

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