come from a long line of excellent cooks from both the maternal and paternal
sides of my family; Nanny and her mother Miss Lottie, even cooked for a living
at certain times during their lives. Nanny was at one time a lunch-lady at the
local school in Parrott, and Miss Lottie, in her younger years, took in boarders
at her home near Atlanta.
Our momma, who worked full time in the family propane business, mastered country
cooking by using recipes and with instructions from relatives; however, she
utilized creative ideas and special ingredients to produce fantastic dishes that
my grandmothers did not even recognize. She did not have time to cook often
during the week, but on the weekends she spent most of her days in the kitchen
where she cooked and baked for family and friends.
Daddy was stationed near Harlingen, Texas during WWII and he and momma ventured
into Matamoros, Mexico numerous times during his tour of duty in the US Army Air
Corps. They enjoyed all kinds of Mexican dishes during those visits and
discovered a fondness of the spicy offerings.
Our weekly groceries were purchased locally in Richland; the Suwannee Store,
Hilltop Grocery and Joe Gamble's store were some of our favorite choices but
once a month our family made an excursion to Columbus to purchase items not
found at our local establishments. Numerous recipes and ideas that were
published in magazines were prepared in our kitchen during our childhood.
Once the Old El Paso products were discovered, momma began experimenting and
produced her own brand of Mexican inspired delights. Our festive weekend meals
generally began with fresh fried tortilla chips with homemade salsa dip that was
filled with melted cheddar cheese. She cooked enchiladas filled with ground
beef or shredded chicken, smothered with cheese and baked in the oven. She
purchased various sauces but formulated her own mixtures that we liked better
than the canned version.
Daddy made dips with small cans of the green chilies and blended it with
tomatoes and V8 juice. Flour tortillas were not available so all our items were
made with corn tortillas that came in round cans and had not been cooked.
Because momma did not care for super hot peppers, there were usually two kinds
of dip, one much hotter than the other, and daddy always added more spice to his
at the table.
Our parents enjoyed entertaining and one of the couples that they invited
frequently were Billy Buck and Henri Carter of Lumpkin. Billy Buck was not only
their banker at the time, he was a business advisor and trusted friend. Those
who remember this remarkable couple will also recall his fondness for gourmet
foods; once momma invited them for Mexican night, he never let her forget that
it was one of his favorite meals. In addition to their fondness for exotic food
was the shared joy of ballroom dancing, sometimes they moved the furniture and
practiced their dance moves there in our living room.
Brenda S. Brown