Sunday, April 17, 2011

Big Mama's Old Black Pot

With all the big "Hoo-Ha" these days on gourmet foods and chef prepared meals on the Food Channel, I thought I might throw some down home summer time on the table. Reaching deep into my back pocket, I've got myself an ace in the hole for soul food and her name is Big Mama.

Big Mama's Old Black Pot Cook Book was written by Ethel Rayson Dixon. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Ethel was one of eight children and learned the art of cooking at a very early age.

The cook book is filled with old south recipes that you simply can't find anymore accompanied by countless stories on how the food was prepared. It might be the only cook book ever printed with specific directions on Poke Salad as well as Hoe Cakes which are baked on the underside of a garden hoe held close to a fire.

My favorite recipe in the whole book is a vegetable soup that calls for fresh vegetables out of a home grown garden. And since most of us don't have room or the time for a garden these days, I would highly recommend finding your local farmers market and bringing home some good fresh vegetables.

Be prepared when cooking this soup as it will fill up every square inch of your whole house with soul. And every home needs some soul.

Big Mama's Vegetable Soup

1 1/2 pounds ham hocks
8 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons bacon drippings
1/4 cup onion (chopped)
1/2 cup celery (chopped)
4 pods sweet pepper (chopped)
2 pods hot pepper (chopped)
1 1/2 cups corn
1 1/2 cups lima beans
1 1/2 cups field peas
2 cups tomatoes (stewed)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
6 pods okra (chopped)
3 medium potatoes (diced)
1 cup beef stock

Bring 8 cups water to boil in a large soup pot. Add ham hocks, salt and pepper. Boil until tender (approximately 40 minutes). Using a small skillet, add bacon drippings and brown onion, celery and peppers. Add to ham hocks. When meat begins to separate from the bone, add corn, beans, peas, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cook until corn is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add okra, potatoes and beef stock.

Simmer 20 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Serves 6-8

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