February 18, 2015 10:34:58 AM
I never knew my grandparents. I have no memories of times together or visits or special presents. Of my father's parents I only have one picture of his mother, "Lady Elizabeth," when she was a young girl, maybe early teens. It is old and faded, and I get little sense of her personality. There are one or two pictures of my father's father, and I see my daddy in his face.
On the other hand, there are many old photos of my mother's parents, and since I spent my youth, until sixth grade, in the house my mother grew up in, I have heard family stories. And my mother's family has many branches in Athens and all throughout Georgia while my daddy was from Alabama, and I knew only his niece and her children.
So while my grandmother died long before I was born, I do have a sense of her, an idea of her personality and style. She was beautiful and known for her hospitality and gracious manners. And evidently she was an excellent cook. My mother was known for her chicken salad, and she told me one afternoon as I watched her pick chicken (note I watched) that she had learned her secrets from her mother. Now, in my imagination, my grandmother, Martha Glover Phinizy, was a grand lady who had many helping hands in her home. My mother, Laura Ann, was an only child, so there weren't a lot of children running around. This makes it hard for me to picture her picking chicken, but pick she did, and had an apt pupil in my mother. I have a recipe for the chicken salad, but I had to sort of make it up from watching momma and having her critique my version. The recipe is below, but I'll tell you the secret: It's in making sure that your chicken is full of flavor when boiled. Also, add more lemon juice, salt and pepper than you think you need. Or call me. I'm for hire.
Last week in my LEP cooking class (One-Pot Meals, at Mississippi University for Women) we focused on casseroles. I spent a good amount of time reading recipes while deciding which five to choose for variety, prep time, short (for a casserole) cook time and flavor. One I picked was Martha Phinizy's Shrimp and Artichoke Casserole. It was very popular in my store and is easy to make. Like the chicken salad, a key to the flavor is with the shrimp. If you can possibly do so, find fresh shrimp. At the very least, absolutely under no circumstances, no way, no how, buy foreign shrimp. Always buy shrimp from the USA (Gulf or Atlantic coast).
I hope you enjoy these recipes. They are very dear to me.
LAURA ANN'S CHICKEN SALAD
1 small chicken, plus 2 breasts
1 stalk celery
2 tablespoons grated onion
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Lots of salt and pepper
Dash of cayenne
Dash of olive oil
MARTHA PHINIZY'S SHRIMP AND ARTICHOKE CASSEROLE
1 pound lump crabmeat or 1 1/2 pounds cooked shrimp
1 pound can artichoke hearts, well drained (squeeze gently to dry)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato catsup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup grated cheese (Swiss)
1/2 pound sauteed mushroom caps
1/2 cup dry sherry (plus some for yourself)