501 Life Magazine | ‘I remember Momma’
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‘I remember Momma’

by Don Bingham

Mother’s Day brings with it many memories from our childhood in the kitchen! There were lots of challenges growing up, but “loving life” around the table and celebrating with food was never one of them. 

Mom cooked basics, with a hint toward the fried and unhealthy. She grew up on a farm with everything to cook with that was fresh from the barn, directly picked from the garden and seasoned well. The downside of such a wonderful culinary diet as this is that I have fought overweight, cholesterol, high blood pressure and choices of four sizes in my closest with which to array myself on any given day!

We all were awakened to breakfast every morning – without exception! There was bacon and eggs, biscuits, fresh perked coffee, etc. I’m not sure why this was a ritual for us – but except for an occasional bowl of oatmeal or grits, it never varied – all 18 years of my home life.

On Mother’s Day, Mom still cooked! As we got older (ripe old age of 8 or 9), we learned to meet the street peddler, shuck the corn, pick the beans from the endless trails of beans on hot, hot days and make the most wonderful cornbread imaginable.

I do recall a short season in my life when I was actually endemic and slightly frail. Well, this would just not “ever do” for a Bingham! Mom took me to specialist after specialist to determine why I was not gaining weight and did not have the mentality of a hog in my eating habits. She was determined that I would arise from the dead with a new vision for all things food! (Had she left me alone, I probably would have been buff, still on the Broadway Runway modeling at my age and a “poster child” for Express Male!) 

Back to my story – to encourage me to eat more, she colored my foods – knowing that I was attracted to sparkle, color, pizazz, etc. The result was blue milk, green cornbread, pink mashed potatoes, etc. I suppose her philosophy was “whatever it takes!” All of her gargantuan efforts paid off – for those of you who see me today, you will readily see Momma’s influence.

While remembering Mom, I have been looking at some of her favorite dishes (color options up to you!), and have included some of them in this article. Remember, they have a touch of Alabama, grease, starches and creams! 

I’m very thankful for all the great things Mom did teach me – many of them beginning in the kitchen! She allowed me to bake cakes for sale to purchase my first accordion. The cakes were always a Duncan Hines box mix, of course – but they sold!

I will be eternally grateful for Mom and Dad – it’s great to recall those fun times during this season of the year! I may even purchase a boxed cake mix in her honor!

Here are some of those favorite dishes as “I remember Momma!”

Gourmet Corn Bread

1 cup self-rising corn meal
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
8 3/4 ounces cream-style corn
1/2 cup salad oil

Mix; bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins or 1 skillet.

Easy Fruit Cobbler

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweet milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 cups fresh fruit

Mix first five ingredients together; pour into buttered baking dish; use fruit spread over mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until crust is golden. Dot top with butter.

Angel Biscuits

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
5 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oil
2 cups buttermilk
1 package yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water

Mix dry ingredients well. Add liquids and mix until flour is all wet. Keep covered in refrigerator and roll out as needed. These are better if they are left in the refrigerator at least 4 or 5 hours before using first batch. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

Coconut Cake

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups sweet milk
1 1/2 cups corn oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 eggs

Mix ingredients and pour into prepared 9-inch cake pans (3-4). Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until lightly golden and done in center.

KATHRYN’S ICING:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup marshmallow cream
3 egg whites
Shredded coconut

Boil sugar and water until strings form. Add about 1 cup marshmallow cream and dissolve.
Beat egg whites until stiff, then gradually combine both mixtures. Beat until stiff. Sprinkle coconut between layers along with icing. Ice layers and top. Sprinkle coconut over all.
Variation: Fruit filling or coconut juice may be added between layers.

Easy-Do Fudge

3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces
1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, milk and butter or margarine in large heavy saucepan; heat to boiling. Stir constantly for 5 minutes to the soft ball stage (238 degrees). Remove. Add other ingredients; stir vigorously until well blended. Pour into greased 13x9x2 pan. Cool; cut into squares. Makes 3 pounds of fudge.

Ice Box Cookies

1 1/2 cups shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup nuts

Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs, flour and soda, nutmeg, salt, vanilla and nuts. Roll, chill, store in refrigerator. Slice, bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 8 dozen.

 


Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has authored cookbooks, presented television programs and planned elaborate events. Today, he is the administrator for the Governor’s Mansion.

 

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