Whatcha Havin’ for Supper?
Boo-ya! The sun is shining here in my corner of Texas. The weather is just right, no humidity, just cool enough to keep mosquitoes huggin’ the undersides of leaves and not makin’ pest of themselves. Tiny titmouse chicks hatched yesterday in the nest mama titmouse built atop the anchor bolt in the satellite dish. They’re not feathered up yet and their necks are wobbly. Neighbors on two sides of me have their outdoor grills fired up and the good cooking smells are wafting in the air. I can tell by the aroma of spices comin’ across my back yard that one is grilling fajitas, the other is barbecuing chicken.
I’m not cooking outside today. I’m hungry for butter beans. I like my beans in a big bowl with enough ‘soup’ to dip my cornbread in. I’m having a side dish of a couple of sliced fresh tomatoes, lathered in jazzed up mayo and cornbread. That’s it. I start with a pound of dried white butter beans soaked overnight in a crock of water. I season three quarts of cold water with a heavy hand of garlic and a dash of pepper. And just a finger pinch of real sugar.
NO Salt while the beans are boiling to soft because salt toughens every dang thing it touches, except laundry water. I use plain old table salt to soften the hot water for whites. Works as fine as Calgon, if you add the salt to the washer before you add soap and bleach. Oops, got off topic. I was talking about butterbeans. If you have a hamhock or bacon drippin’s handy, add it to the bean water. If not–add one packet of Goya Ham flavored concentrate. Works just as fine. I put a lid on the bean pot for the first twenty minutes. By that time the beans have got up a good rolling boil…then I take the lid off, and turn the fire down because I want that water to simmer on a soft burble until the butter beans are tender as all get out. Once done, move that pot off the fire, sprinkle salt over the top. Not, too much, put the lid on and let them rest while you bake the cornbread.
Now, I cook my cornbread from the ground up, but you can use Jiffy Mix. Here’s the trick. Pour a good three tablespoons of olive oil in the cornbread pan and heat it in the oven five minutes. Stir the excess hot oil into the Jiffy Mix batter. Cornbread won’t stick to the bottom of the pan, plus the edges will be crisp. Oooo, honey, that is sum good eatin’.
Now, for the mayonnaise. Take a good half cup of mayo, dribble in a few drops of olive oil, garlic powder, parsley flakes or basil flakes, whichever you have handy, a squeeze of lemon wedge, a wee pinch of sugar, stir gently and set aside. Slice tomatoes. If you have cucumber, peel it and slice it into sticks, add to the tomatoes. Stir into mayo mixture. If you’re prepping this ahead of time, slide that bowl of tomatoes and mayo in a paper bag so it can breathe and the spices settle in. If you use plastic wrap, poke a hole in it with a fork.
Foods up! You’re ready to eat. Now, in the South, we season our beans in the bowl with Tabasco sauce. My Uncle Frank, bless is departed soul, loved his butterbeans topped with ketchup and Tabasco. I forgot to mention sweet iced tea. I have fallen in favor of peach flavored iced tea. I make a pitcher of that separate. Everybody else in the family likes plain old Lipton. You can use any fake sweetening for tea that you like. I use pure cane sugar.
When I tell you a pinch of real sugar, I mean it. Because sugar breaks down fibers. Fake sweetening won’t do the job. Bet you didn’t know that. FACT, you can take the toughest cut of beef, score it, dampen it with water, and rub granulated sugar on it, put it in a paper bag in the fridge overnight. Before you cook it, bring it to room temperature, next, rinse the sugar off, season to taste, cook it any old way you prefer…it will be fork tender. Movin’ on to dessert…
It is not shameful to use store bought mixin’s, especially if it cooks up better than you can do it from scratch. We’re having hot peach cobbler and Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. The very best cobbler mix is Louisiana brand Cobbler mix and any brand of canned pie fruit, with the syrup. Soon as you take the cornbread out of the oven, pop in the cobbler. Long about the time you’ve cleared the table and got coffee perking, cobbler’s ready. Enjoy.
Notice I said to peel that cucumber. Unless it comes straight from your garden the dang thing has been waxed and the peeling tastes bitter and will mess up your mayo mixture. Here’s a foodsaver tip: Once you open a carton of sour cream or cottage cheese, when you put the unused bit back in the fridge in the carton, secure the lid and store it upside down. Stays fresh for two weeks or more.
In case you don’t know me, I’m Jackie Weger. When I’m not gardening, cooking or chatting on the internet, I write quirky, old-fashioned romance novels. Some have lots of humor, some don’t. Some, I just liked the characters and put them together in a book in a city or a setting I once had a good time visiting or perhaps lived. By-the-by: Do you know anybody who reads Spanish Language romance books? I got a wild hair and published a book in Spanish. Hola!