I love to cook. I think cooking came to me naturally. You see I grew up in a house where cooking was an every day affair. Mom always had something bubbling on the stove, a pot of beans, or a mess of greens, some meat of some kind, and of course a pot of rice.
My mother was a great cook, I like to remember sitting with her around the kitchen table while she chopped onions and peppers are some other kinds of vegetables into tiny cubes. “If you cut everything evenly they will cook evenly,” she would say. She would tell me stories of when she grew up and I would steal a bite of raw potato or bell pepper. “The secret to good cooking is in the seasoning, and attention you give your dish. Take your time.”
Mom owned and ran restaurants as I grew up. I remember one she owned next to the rail road track in our small town. The train would stop and the engineer and others would hurry into mom’s place and order whatever was left over from her plate lunches. If she had sold out of meat they would order the gravy and corn bread.
My dad worked at the police station and he’d give mom a call and tell her to get the workers back on the train, they had blocked the track long enough. She’d send them on their way with a generous helping of her cracker pudding to eat on their trip.
Our home was always open for drop-ins. As a child, I often wondered why we had the smallest house, yet we always had a table full of people stop and eat a meal with us. I know now it was the way the food tasted and the way my mom and dad made them feel welcome.
I have tried to have that same attitude with people usually around the holidays, we have had many people at our house for Thanksgiving other than our family. But it’s still not quite the same as un-invited guest that crowed around your table. Mom would add another cup of shrimp to the gumbo or make the meatballs a little bit smaller. Memories for a life time.
Here’s my mom’s recipe for Cracker Pudding.
MOM’s CRACKER PUDDING
Line a cake pan with a box of saltine crackers smeared with butter. Sit aside.
2 large cans of evaporated milk 1 large can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tab of vanilla 4Tab of corn starch
4 Tab of sugar 2 eggs
Heat milk and vanilla, mix corn starch, eggs and sugar together, add a little bit of heated milk, stir well add mixture to the rest of heated milk, cook, stirring constantly until thick, pour over crackers, serve warm.
Mom said this was sometimes called a ‘Poor Man’s Pudding.’ Not to me, it tasted better than any high priced dessert I can remember eating.
I’m giving away a box of pralines from New Orleans and a Starbucks giftcard. To enter, leave a comment and tell me the names of Joelette’s sons (hint- read the excerpt from Under the Sassafras) and I’ll randomly pick a winner.
Enjoy, Hattie Mae