Me and Mom Cooking Southern Style
My name is Reggie, a Connecticut boy raised on southern-style food by my momma, Ms. Thelma as she was called in the neighborhood. Thelma, was born and raised in Alabama and was the most amazing person I've ever met on this planet. She was my hero, my champion, and my best friend. Not only did she raise my sister and me by herself, she prepared us for most of life’s lessons and gave us the greatest gift anyone could give another person: the love of southern food.
Everyone thinks they know how to cook southern style food. At least, that’s what my momma told me. Thelma, had a special way of doing everything, including preparing meals for us. She would tell my sister and I, “Baby”, she called everyone baby, “when you cook, you have to cook like you mean it.” That always stuck with me especially when I would prepare some of Mom’s recipes that made her famous in my Connecticut neighborhood.
According to my mom, most southerners will share their recipes with almost anyone. Southern women in particular love sharing family recipes with people because it’s a way of connecting to others and building supportive communities.
Generation after generation, scrumptious delights were prepared on my family farm in Alabama and my mom took what she learned from my grandmother to the north and shared them with me, my sister, and anyone that would listen. The result was friends and family stopping by all the time for some good eats!
Although roasting chicken is not traditionally southern, it amazed me how my mom could cook the perfect “Golden Brown”. She managed to keep the chicken super juicy and extremely flavorful every time she prepared it.
5 lb (2.25 kg) chicken roaster
A large sweet Vidalia onion
3 stocks of celery
1 chicken-flavored bouillon cube
½ cup (120 ml) virgin olive oil
A roasting pan
Directions:1) Thoroughly clean the chicken. Remove the neck and gizzards from the inside of the bird and remove any excess fat. Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry. Place chicken into a roasting pan. (Use a short roasting pan that holds the chicken snugly).
2) Sprinkle a liberal amount of onion powder, salt, and pepper all around the top of the bird. Flip the bird over and continue seasoning with onion powder, salt and pepper.
3) Turn the bird over, pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of virgin olive oil onto the skin, and rub it all over the top of the bird evenly, including the wings. Flip the bird over and do the same.
4) Re-season the top and bottom of the chicken with onion powder, salt, and pepper.
5) Sprinkle onion powder, and meat season if you desire, into the cavity of the chicken. Afterwards place 1 chicken-flavored bouillon cube inside the cavity.
6) Take 3 celery stalks and cut them in half. Make sure to cut off any leaves and the stems. Cut each half into quarters, then place inside the bird cavity.
7) Cut a large sweet Vidalia onion into eights and place as much as you can into the chicken cavity.
8) Cover with foil and refrigerate the bird for at least 2 hours. Refrigerating the bird overnight would be optimal.
9) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (191 degrees C, or gas mark 5) and let the bird cook for 1 hour with the foil covering. After the hour remove the foil and cook the bird for another hour and a half. Make sure to baste the bird several times.
10) If the bird does not release any water, poor ½ a cup (120 ml) of water into the bottom of the roasting pan and baste the chicken accordingly.
11) Serve with sides.
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Long before the Internet and high-speed travel connected us all, The Farmer’s Wife magazine gave hard-working rural women a place to find—and share—advice about everything from raising chickens to running a farm kitchen. One of the magazine’s most popular offerings was advice on cooking and baking, providing farm family recipes for making everything from basic bread to nourishing stews and delicious desserts. The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook brings together 400 easy-to-follow recipes and variations along with dozens of menus that originated in farm kitchens nationwide and appeared on the pages of the magazine between 1893 and 1939. Readers will be able to prepare these foods easily and quickly, because the recipes have been updated to match the conveniences and ingredients of the modern kitchen. The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook is sure to satisfy readers in search of the flavors of farm country or those simply on the lookout for a piece of homegrown nostalgia.