Tag Archives: fried chicken

Thanksgiving Memories

My mother always began preparations on Wednesday for our abundant home-cooked Thanksgiving feast with the main dish of turkey, ham, chicken, duck, or goose–sometimes more than one. Deviled eggs, black olives, pickles and cranberry sauce nestled among bowls brimming with homemade dressing, mashed potatoes or potato salad, and green beans. Mincemeat, apple, and sweet potato pies covered the kitchen counter. Occasionally, a fresh coconut cake towered over the pies, giving it bragging rights. Mama made room for other side dishes brought by my married siblings just before noon. Papa was serious about the precise time. We ate at noon by his pocket watch—not one minute earlier or later.

The adults sat with Papa around the food-laden table in the dining room. Mama seated the younger children at the square drop-leaf table in the kitchen. I ate in the living room with my twin sister and nieces and nephews our age, balancing our plates on our knees. Mama served everyone first and ate later. After lunch, the women washed and dried dishes. Children played on the covered porch. Men gathered in the tiny living room to talk. A couple of my brothers drifted outside for an afternoon smoke, forbidden inside our home.

The night before Thanksgiving, the smell of chicken frying in a cast-iron skillet wafted from the kitchen. The sweet smell of fried apple turnovers replaced the aroma of baking pies. I listened from the open doorway as my parents talked about working on Thanksgiving Day.

Oh, no! It can’t be! 

The next morning after breakfast, Mama packed the refrigerated chicken and turnovers in a sturdy cardboard box with eating utensils. She covered it with a tablecloth just as Frank, my oldest brother, arrived to take us to work.

I stepped down from the old Model A Ford running board. On the ground, I pulled the strap of my cotton sack over my head and under my left arm and shook eight feet of canvas between two rows of late-blooming white cotton basking in the early morning sun.

Five minutes before twelve, Mama stopped picking and spread the tablecloth on a patch of flat ground. Papa removed his hat, wiped his perspiring forehead with a handkerchief and checked his pocket watch. At noon he nodded to Frank to say a blessing for the food.

“Thank you, Lord, for family gathered here on this Thanksgiving Day. Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies so we can finish this field before dark. Bless the farmer who allowed us to work today. Prosper him abundantly for his kindness. Amen.”

Bless the farmer? Without him we’d be home heaping our plates with turkey and dressing and eyeing the tantalizing desserts, not eating cold fried chicken in a cotton field. My complaining thoughts were interrupted by my nephew’s voice.

“Please pass another piece of Grandma’s fried chicken,” he said. “It’s the best I ever ate. And, could you hand me a couple more fried apple pies. Grandma knows how to make them just right.”

The next year, the Wednesday cooking rituals returned to our home. About thirty of us gathered around the dining room at five minutes before twelve. My father checked his pocket watch. At precisely noon, he bowed his head and gave thanks for the abundant meal. While children waited for their plates to be filled before moving to the kitchen to eat, adult talk turned to the previous Thanksgiving meal in the cotton field. One of my brothers mentioned Frank’s prayer.

“No more picking cotton for that farmer. He did so well after that prayer, he bought a cotton-picking machine and put all of us out of work.”

 

 

Posted at 12 noon, Pacific Standard Time, Thanksgiving Day, in honor of my father’s pocket watch time.

Disclosure: Revised third annual post, my Thanksgiving tradition, adapted from my original story in Double Take (Carr Twins & Co., 2014).

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A Different Thanksgiving

TurkeyMy mother always began preparations on Wednesday for our abundant home-cooked Thanksgiving feast with a main dish of turkey, ham, chicken, duck, or goose–sometimes more than one. Deviled eggs, black olives, pickles and cranberry sauce nestled among bowls brimming with homemade dressing, potato salad, and green beans. Mincemeat, apple, and sweet potato pies covered the kitchen counter. Occasionally, a fresh coconut cake towered over the pies, giving it bragging rights. Mama made room for other side dishes brought by my married siblings just before noon. Papa was serious about the precise time. We ate at noon by his pocket watch—not one minute earlier or later.

The adults sat with Papa around the food-laden table in the dining room. Mama seated the younger children at the square drop-leaf table in the kitchen. I ate in the living room with my twin sister and nieces and nephews our age, balancing our plates on our knees. Mama served everyone first and ate later. After lunch, the women washed and dried dishes. Children played on the covered porch. Men gathered in the tiny living room to talk. A couple of my brothers drifted outside for an afternoon smoke, forbidden inside our home.

chicken_crossingOne eve of Thanksgiving, the smell of chicken frying in a cast-iron skillet wafted from the kitchen in place of baking turkey. The sweet smell of fried apple turnovers replaced the aroma of pies. I listened from the open doorway as my parents talked about working on Thanksgiving Day. Oh, no! It can’t be!

The next morning after breakfast, Mama packed the refrigerated chicken and fried pies in a sturdy cardboard box and covered it with a tablecloth just as Frank, my oldest brother, arrived to take us to work.

I stepped down from the old Model A Ford running board. On the ground, I pulled the strap of my cotton sack over my head and under my left arm, and shook eight feet of canvas between two rows of late-blooming white cotton basking in the early morning sun.

Pocket WatchFive minutes before twelve, Mama stopped picking and spread the tablecloth on a patch of flat ground. Papa removed his hat, wiped his perspiring forehead with a handkerchief and checked his pocket watch. At noon he nodded to Frank to say a blessing for the food.

“Thank you, Lord, for family gathered here on this Thanksgiving Day. Bless this food to the nourishments of our bodies so we can finish this field before dark. Bless the farmer who allowed us to work today. Prosper him abundantly for his kindness. Amen.”

Bless the farmer? Without him we’d be home heaping our plates with turkey and dressing and eyeing the tantalizing desserts, not eating cold fried chicken in a cotton field. My complaining thoughts were interrupted by my nephew’s voice.

“Please pass another piece of Grandma’s fried chicken,” he said. “It’s the best I ever ate. And, could you hand me a couple more fried apple pies. Grandma knows how to make them just right.”

The next year we gathered at home for our traditional Thanksgiving meal. One of my brothers mentioned Frank’s prayer from the previous year.

“That prayer must have worked,” he said. “That farmer did so well he bought a cotton-picking machine and put all of us out of work.”

Cottton Picker Machine

 

Violet Carr Moore, adapted from Double Take (Carr Twins & Co., 2014)

Posted at 12 noon, Pacific Standard Time, in honor of my father’s tradition

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A Taste of Thanksgiving

Turkey

My mother always began preparations on Wednesday for our abundant home-cooked Thanksgiving feast with a main dish of turkey, ham, chicken, duck, or goose–sometimes more than one. Deviled eggs, black olives, pickles and cranberry sauce nestled among bowls brimming with homemade dressing, potato salad, and green beans. Mincemeat, apple, and sweet potato pies covered the kitchen counter. Occasionally, a fresh coconut cake towered over the pies, giving it bragging rights. Mama made room for other side dishes brought by my married siblings just before noon. Papa was serious about the precise time. We ate at noon by his pocket watch—not one minute earlier or later.

The adults sat with Papa around the food-laden table in the dining room. Mama seated the younger children at the square drop-leaf table in the kitchen. I ate in the living room with my twin sister and nieces and nephews our age, balancing our plates on our knees. Mama served everyone first and ate later.

After lunch, the women washed and dried dishes. Children played on the covered porch. Men gathered in the tiny living room to talk. A couple of my brothers drifted outside for an afternoon smoke, forbidden inside our home.

chicken_crossingOne eve of Thanksgiving, the smell of chicken frying in a cast-iron skillet wafted from the kitchen in place of baking turkey. The sweet smell of fried apple turnovers replaced the aroma of pies. I listened from the open doorway as my parents talked about working on Thanksgiving Day. Oh, no! It can’t be true!

The next morning after breakfast, Mama packed the refrigerated chicken and fried pies in a sturdy cardboard box and covered it with a tablecloth just as Frank, my oldest brother, arrived to take us to work.

I jumped down from the old Model A Ford, pulled the strap of my cotton sack over my head and under my left arm. I shook eight feet of canvas down to the dirt between two rows of late-blooming white cotton basking in the morning sun.

Pocket WatchFive minutes before noon, Mama stopped picking and spread the tablecloth on a patch of flat ground. Papa removed his hat, wiped his perspiring forehead with a handkerchief and checked his watch. He nodded to Frank to say a blessing for the food.

“Thank you, Lord, for family gathered here on this Thanksgiving Day. Bless this food to the nourishments of our bodies so we can finish this field before dark. Bless the farmer who allowed us to work today. Prosper him abundantly for his kindness. Amen.”

 Bless the farmer? We should be at home heaping our plates with warm turkey and dressing and tantalizing desserts instead of eating cold fried chicken in a cotton field. My complaining thoughts were interrupted by my nephew’s voice.

“Please pass another piece of Grandma’s fried chicken,” he said. “It’s the best I ever ate. And, could you hand me a couple more fried apple pies. Grandma knows how to make them just right.”

The next year when we gathered at home for our traditional Thanksgiving meal, one of my brothers mentioned Frank’s powerful prayer from the previous year.

“That farmer did so well that he bought a cotton-picking machine and put us all out of work.”

Cottton Picker Machine

Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

Violet Carr Moore, adapted from Double Take (Carr Twins & Co., 2014)

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Depression Chicken ’n Dumplin’s

My mother raised chickens in our backyard. Not pets. Not rescued fowl. She had two purposes for tending her chickens with extreme care―eggs and meat. She chose laying hens with the best production record and brooding hens who mothered their chicks. She nourished them from hatchlings in the nest for their ultimate destiny of fried chicken, chicken and dressing, or Depression Chicken ’n Dumplin’s.

Mama raised cage-free chickens before the term became well-known. The wire pen measured as wide as the metal T-end posts that held three rows of clothes lines stretched end to end beside the  grapevines and raspberry canes. The fence was eight feet high with an open top. The attached chicken coop was roomy with straw-filled nests and warming lights for the setting hens and wood strips nailed to wide boards for the chickens to climb to roost.

The white Leghorns whose only duty was to produce eggs (white eggs, of course) were a flighty, nervous bunch. From baby chicks purchased from the feed store, to pullets, to fryers, to boiling hens, their eventual destiny was the kitchen stove. Mama replaced them with Rhode Island Reds and black-and-white Dominique hens that were at ease laying and brooding. The plus side was the exchange of tranquility for two dozen fewer eggs a year. Mama was pleased because she preferred brown eggs and the additional two pounds of flesh to can in jars for winter meals. Even the rooster preferred the colorful chickens which produced more chicks.

This evening I made my healthy version of Mama’s rolled flour dumplings substituting organic white breast meat and sodium-free chicken broth from the grocer for the heavy fat, skin-on boiling hen straight from the backyard. Without a doubt, Mama’s choice of a fat Leghorn boiled whole with skin was an unhealthy choice, but the recipe was a winner.

First Place Ribbon

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