HUSH PUPPIES

Jill’s parents came into town to meet their grandson this week.  The results were pretty precious:

If you’ve been following this blog for a little while, you already know that when Jill’s parents are in town, things get fried.  It’s just sort of a natural truth, like gravity or the first law of thermodynamics—when Mamaw and Papaw (as they will be called by Shiv) are in town, we fry stuff.  Like fish.  And onion rings.  And hush puppies.

These babies are Jill’s domain, the recipe plucked from a gem of an book just one year my elder and crammed with the good-old-fashioned Southern staples that Jill’s parents love.  I swear they eat like elephants but are about to turn 90 and 80 respectively and have more energy than folks half their age—maybe it’s the several pots of coffee they tear through daily?

Next month, they’ll celebrate fifty-five years of marriage and you can see those years in the way they relate to each other, a lightning-fast, ribbing rapport that had me in tears the other night.  Then there are the stories they’ll tell, about growing up in the South during the Depression, about making sorghum the old-fashioned way and packing the family up into a Model T Ford with the dog chained to a platform of plywood on the side.  What they’ve seen and done and lived through—theirs is a body of knowledge that will disappear when they do.

So even though I certainly don’t need the hush puppies, I sat down to eat them with my in-laws anyway, and listened to their stories.


HUSH PUPPIES
from The Art of Southern Cooking by Mildred Evans Warren, 1981 edition

These hush puppies are in a category unto themselves—a far cry from the dense, gummy golf-ball-bombs that most restaurants serve.  Light, airy, and crisp, they come together quickly and are VERY addictive.

Jill emphatically notes that the essential characteristic of this hush puppies recipe is the fact that they turn themselves over in the hot oil when one side is done.  It’s like magic!  Tasty, tasty magic.

ingredients:

1 cup corn meal
½ cup flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 medium onion, chopped fine
Deep fat for frying (we use canola oil)

Mix and sift dry ingredients.  Add beaten egg, buttermilk, and onion.  Mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls into deep, hot fat.  Fry to golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Makes 10 to 12, depending on spoon size.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon and/or tartar sauce.

LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONES

What do you do when a complete stranger offers to donate wonderful, healthy breast milk for your son?  Apparently, what I do is bake scones.

I know this topic is going to freak some people out, but part of my commitment to this blog is to always tell the truth about whatever’s going on with me and in my life, and right now, breast milk is one of those things.  If you’re just here for scones, feel free to skip straight to the recipe.

You see—and most people don’t even know this is possible—I’m producing breast milk of my own.  It’s something we adoptive moms can sometimes do, with a little luck and a lot of work (Google “inducing lactation” if you’re curious about details), and I’ve been thrilled to have some success with it.  To be able to feed my son from my own body is an incredible feeling.

Still, like many moms, adoptive or not, I’m not making enough milk just yet, so we are supplementing with a little fancy organic formula and a LOT of donated breast milk.  Truly, it has been a dazzling wonder the way that women have offered up such a precious resource for our family.  In case you thought that such unconditional generosity didn’t exist anymore, I’m here to tell you that it does.

And since there’s no real repaying kindnesses like these, I just make scones instead, sneaking a few for myself because nursing makes a girl h-u-n-g-r-y!  Our little man will be a month old tomorrow, and it’s hard to imagine life before he came…not that I would want to.

LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONE RECIPE

(adapted from La Petite Brioche)

Blueberries are fat and delicious right now around these parts, and I hope you can get your hands on some luscious ones, too, and make this recipe, or just eat them out of hand.

Grating and the freezing the butter may seem weird, but it’s key—don’t skip that step.  If you don’t have a box grater, you can dice the butter instead.

ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour*
½ cup sugar
2 T lemon zest
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup unsalted butter, grated with a cheese grater and frozen for 10-15 minutes
¾ cup cold heavy cream or whole milk, plus a little extra for brushing the tops
turbinado/raw sugar for sprinkling the tops of the scones

oven: 400° F
pan: parchment-lined baking sheets

*I made my last batch with half white whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, and really liked the “tooth” the white whole-wheat flour added.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the zest and the frozen butter, breaking up any butter clumps.  Pour in the milk/heavy cream and fold until just incorporated, then add the blueberries and mix gently.  The scone mixture should be sticky, so add more liquid if needed.

Turn the mixture out onto a well-floured surface and sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the mound of scone dough.  Using your hands, gently press until the dough is a somewhat uniform thickness of 1”.  Fold the scone mixture in on itself in thirds, like a letter, pressing back out again to a thickness of 1”.

Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the scones into rough triangle shapes and lay them out, several inches apart, on the baking sheets.  Brush their tops with milk or cream and then sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake the scones for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.  Cool on racks before serving warm, with plenty of butter.

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