During my childhood Sunday dinner at my house was always a special affair. Preparations began on Saturday. I would wake up to the delectable smell of freshly baked cake layers that Mom had made from scratch. No boxed mixes for my mother! I would lie in bed and try to determine what the cake flavor of the week was just by the smell in the air. Was it her rich and moist chocolate cake? Or the smooth red velvet cake? Or maybe it was her sweet strawberry cake. By this point, I was drooling and I decided to get up and check it out. The cake layers were on wire racks cooling and I could tell from the dark color that this week’s feature was my mom’s famous Chocolate Cake with Homemade Chocolate Icing. Yes! My favorite!
Next on her agenda was preparing the veggies. Although we never had a garden, my parents would buy bushels (literally) of beans, peas and corn every summer from the Atlanta Farmer’s Market. When my mother was working full-time, my grandmother would come early in the morning and she, my sister and I would shell peas or beans, or snap green beans all day long. Or we would shuck beautiful ears of corn, pulling off the green husks and silky strands to reveal the golden yellow kernels of corn. Once my mom arrived home from work, she would “blanch” the beans or peas – a procedure that required bringing the legumes to a boil and then sitting the hot pan in icy cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled off, the beans or peas would be placed into containers and in the freezer.
When we had corn to freeze, my mother would stand on her feet for hours cutting the kernels of corn off until nothing was left but the cob. It was quite a sight to see, as the corn kernels fell into a large dishpan and the white, milky cream dripped off the cob. Sometimes, if she cut the corn too quickly, the kernels would fly across the table, usually landing on the floor. Once all the kernels were in the dishpan, my mother blanched the corn just like she did the beans. All of the corn, every vegetable we snapped, or shelled, sliced or diced went into the freezer so that once winter arrived, we had fresh vegetables all season long. But the corn was the best and my favorite. My mother would add a full stick of butter, salt and pepper and cook the corn until it was tender and soft. The corn would literally melt in your mouth! I complained long and loudly as a child and teen about having to spend part of my summer vacation days snapping or shelling or husking, but not one complaint did anyone hear from me when it came time to eat those veggies!
Every Sunday morning, Mom would get up very early to prepare the entrée. If we were lucky enough to have a roast, she would prepare it by adding seasonings, carrots, potatoes and onions. Just before leaving for church, in the oven the roast would go. When we arrived home, the aroma would greet us as soon as we opened the door.
If we weren’t having roast, fried chicken was usually on the menu. No one, absolutely no one, could fry chicken like my mother. She would take chicken pieces and wash them off. Each piece of chicken would be dipped into buttermilk and dredged through a mixture of flour, salt and pepper. The process of dipping into buttermilk and dredging in the flour mixture was repeated and then the chicken was dropped into hot oil. Mother would fry the chicken until it was golden brown on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. Scrumptious! Eat your heart out, Colonel Sanders!
I have truly missed Sunday dinners at my parent’s house since “growing up” and moving out. My mother is no longer able to cook due to her health. Although I can write about her fabulous cooking and Sunday dinners, unfortunately, that is as far as my cooking talents go!