August 25, 2012
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.
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.
1 cup corn meal
½ cup flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
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.