Sunday, February 19, 2017

Remembering What Time Takes Away: Parched Meal Soup

Truly I cannot recall when I have so seriously neglected my blog, and I offer my apologies to those who read.  Life has simply been standing in my way until I had no wit with which to set down words.

It was another of the small disasters that have been plaguing me that caused me to have to move books about in a bookshelf this morning.  As I've mentioned before, the cookbooks that line my kitchen hall have expanded as though yeast-filled and have begun to have to occupy space in the small bookshelf in the central hall.  Well, now one more little shelf in the kitchen will have to be moved elsewhere so the books that were on it.....well, you can just imagine.  It's a mess.

To make a long story short, my dorm-size refrigerator has died and I will (hopefully temporarily) be replacing it with a full-size refrigerator that a friend left in my workshop a couple of years ago and seems to have forgotten is there.  It's "needs must" so I'm gonna say "mine now!" until I can do something else.  I will be looking for another small fridge because, as I have discovered and as I have said so many times before, it's cheaper to run and it's really all I need.

Anyhow, now I've got a small stack of books that need to be placed elsewhere.  Wanna know what they are?  It's Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter and Tabby series.  I have most, though sadly not all, of them.  If you haven't ever seen these children's books, give yourself a true treat and read them!  So funny; so joyful; so much love.

But I also had just one cookbook that would NOT fit.  Not only was there not space but it's a peculiar size.  Very recalcitrant.  So annoying. 

That's how I happened to end up sitting at my dining room table flipping through the pages of this hand-made two-ring bound volume.  It's the 4th Edition -Consolidated- Auxiliary Cookbook of the Mississippi National Guard NCO Association.  Try though I might, I cannot find a publication date on the thing but, all things considered (with the Cooper-style font and the funny daisy design taken into account), I'm guessing 1970-ish.   I found this book for 25 cents at, in an interesting coincidence, the very same yard sale where I purchased my small refrigerator.

Because of the format, it's a bit of a nuisance to handle.  Maybe that's why I stopped on the page at the very back of the book (truthfully, I wasn't sure which side was the front) where I saw a recipe by Bigmama Martin.  ("Bigmama" is Southern for Grandma, and does not necessarily reflect on the person's actual size.  I once met a Bigmama who was less than 5 feet tall and could not have weighed 90 pounds max.)

Bigmama's recipe was for hard-times food.  Not just Depression Era stuff but down-in-the-dirt grinding poverty.  This is the sort of thing we try to forget but we never, ever should.  If I had the ingredients, I would have tried this recipe today in Bigmama Martin's honor.  (No, I have no idea who this dear lady might have been.) 

I lack cornmeal just now and, since I won't have refrigeration until my neighbor has time to help me move the big fridge into the house, there is no milk either.  But I'm gonna share Bigmama's recipe with you because, it truly does serve as a reminder of what people can do when times are hard and they need to survive.

Parched Meal Soup
1/2 cup plain corn meal
2 cup milk
Salt to taste
Into cast iron skillet, place meal and cook slowly, stirring constantly til dark brown and well toasted.  Add milk slowly and salt to taste.  This must be watched constantly.

Thank you, Bigmama Martin.  I promise faithfully to try your recipe as soon as I can. 

I am grateful for being reminded of the plenty that lies within my grasp.  And I'm gonna find a special place for this odd little book after I've searched through to see what other treasures lie within its pages.

Life is good.

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