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October 11, 2002

The Flood of Ought-Two

Ought-two what?
Ought two go outside and take a look at the flood.

Kyle has hit the state a bit harder than expected. A high school teacher friend who lives Down East called tonight to say that he had confirmed that a 1990 Wagoneer can take three and half feet of water without cutting off. For those of you counting at home, that's water up to the top of the front grill, without the Matttracks, of course. I told him he'd just signed his death warrant for the time when he decides he can take four foot water. I can understand why he decided to push it, though. he'd just spent two hours under a tornado warning in a girl's locker room with 180 kids and their teachers, and the man needed to be away from that school.

The flooding in the Triangle was pretty bad as well. Certainly not the worst we've ever seen, though Here's some pics. I knew it was bad when I saw someone inspecting the bridge over Crooked Creek just outside the neighborhood. Two more inches, and they'd of had to close it. The bottomland behind my house was covered. I could have thrown a biscuit off the back porch and hit river. Normally even when it is in flood that would take a golf ball and a heavy slingshot, but it was lapping at the bottom of the hill behind the house. It would have to rise about 8 more feet before it threatened us, so seeing it was a pleasing diversion rather than a worrisome event. I threw corn shucks into it from the top of the hill before Ngnat and the wife returned from daycare and watched them float away.

"Boat!" I said for her. "Water!"

Then I went in and made dinner. Steak, corn on the cob and Parker House rolls, the thank god the week is finally over dinner, with pineapple fruit pie from what the wife calls the "Nicely browned" cookbook. It's a printout my mother made of family recipes, almost none of which have actual baking times recorded. It's always' "bake until nicely browned", as if the recipe was secretly a sorority girl in search of a tan.

Corn bread - Bake in an cast-iron skillet until bread is nicely browned on top and very brown on bottom and sides.

Not to Fisk my own mother here, but how does one tell if the bottom is very brown when you have to look through a quarter inch of metal that's been heated to 425 degrees to tell?

Macaroni and Cheese - bake at 350 degrees until mixture is bubbly and bread crumbs are nicely browned.

But what if you started with brown bread, you might ask? Well, we don't. I didn't even know there was such a thing as brown bread until I was approaching my teenage years, and we refused to eat it then.

Salad - leave out on counter while everyone eats the cornbread, macaroni and cheese and fruit pie. Throw away once it turns nicely brown.

The fruit pie is the oldest recipe, handed down from my great grandmother, Jolee Harris, who must have been a woman ahead of her time, as it calls for a Pyrex baking dish. (That statement is demonstrably false, as a quick Google on "Pyrex history" informs me that Pyrex glassware has been around for 80+ years. Given that Jolee was having kids about the same time Pyrex was born, she could have easily come into contact with a dish of the necessary type.) It was one of my favorites as a kid, so I've started to make it more often, in the hope that Ngnat will continue the tradition if and when she begins to cook one day. This is done it the face of fair to middling opposition from the wife, who breaks out into a cold sweat when she sees me starting off the recipe with an entire stick of butter. Her family has genetic cholesterol issues. My family could each lard and bacon sandwiches with extra mayo three times and day and not go above 170 on our LDL count. It kind of pisses her off. Hopefully Ngnat will inherit our low cholesterol genes, without getting tagged with the ones for baldness, pot bellies and crazy teeth. And when I say crazy teeth, I don't mean crooked teeth. I mean teeth that start to develop offshoots, like small elephant tusks, yearning to break free. We're a pretty bunch to have around.

Jolee Harris' Fruit Pie

1. Use about 2 cups of any fresh or canned fruit. If necessary, sweeten the fruit. Some of the fruits we have used are;

Fresh peaches, peeled, slice and and sweetened to taste, (You can tell Jolee picked her own fruit. It's all fresh this and fresh that. I use a can, it's much quicker. I start attempting to peel peaches, and before you know it there's blood everywhere.)
Blackberries (Tastes good, but the seeds will drive you insane)
Sour pitted cherries, mixed with 1/2 cup sugar

I like pineapple the best, but I assume that that might have been hard to get in Alabama in the 1920's.

2. Place one stick of butter into a small rectangular Pyrex baking dish and place it into an 350 degree oven and let it melt. I don't know why you have to do this. I do it religiously anyway.

3. Mix 1 cup each of sugar, milk and sifted self-rising flour together. Mom included directions on how to make your own self-rising flour should you not have any, or in my case, when I first started making this, even know what it was. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the flour.

4. Pour batter into Pyrex dish over melted butter. Add fruit over batter. I always mix it up at this point, as I don't like the way the fruit just sits there in the middle of the dish, smugly refusing to spread out.

5. Bake at 350 until nicely browned. In my experience, nicely browned here is between 30 and 45 minutes.

Posted by Bigwig at October 11, 2002 10:57 PM | TrackBack
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