Granny on Fairness
When my mom and her sister had to share a rare treat, Granny would say, “Now one of you break it in half and the other gets to choose first. Don’t want no squabbles here!”
Granny on Toys
Granny, not having money to buy toys, taught my mom and her sister how to make corncob dolls. She’d peal back the husk so the corn silk became the hair. “Pretend” was these little girls’ favorite game.
While these corn husk dolls were favored, usually Granny didn’t bother. She just gave the girls each an ear of dried corn in the husk for their dolls. When the dolls were too tattered to play with any longer, the children gave the corn to the chickens to eat. Nothing was wasted in those days.
Granny on Fried Green Tomatoes
Summers in Florida are too hot and dry to have a garden. By the time the fall garden was planted, the family could not wait for the tomatoes to ripen as they had not had fresh vegetables of months. They’d pick the tomatoes green for Granny to cook. When they were ready, she’d call the kids and say, “Eat up, young ‘uns, there’s more where that came from!”
Here is Granny’s
Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
If you can find it, use fine white cornmeal, which is the primary cornmeal used in the South. Buttermilk adds flavor and tang, but is not strictly necessary.
3 medium, firm green tomatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (optional)
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup peanut oil or other vegetable oil
1 Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt. Let tomato slices stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place in separate shallow bowls: the flour and Cajun seasoning (if using), buttermilk and egg, and bread crumbs and cornmeal.
2 Heat the peanut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Beat the egg and the buttermilk together. Dip tomato slices in the flour-seasoning mix, then buttermilk-egg mixture, then the cornmeal-bread crumb mix. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown. Set the cooked tomatoes on paper towels to drain. These are fantastic with a little hot sauce.
Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish.
Doodle Bug Races
A long, long time ago, in Granny’s world, in a very different world from Brazil where I live now, we often went doodle bug hunting. Now, this was before television and during a time we could drink water from any stream and from the faucet in the kitchen. Doodle bugs (ant lions) are tiny critters who make circular depressions in the sand where they hide and wait for ants or other tasty creatures to come by. Then, BAM! they jump out and eat the poor ant.
All country kids know that if you take a bit of spider web, twirl it and then attack the string of web to a small twig, WALLA! you have a first class doodle bug catcher! ‘Course catching those tricky bugs takes some practice. We would lie on our bellies next to a cluster of doodle bug traps and gently twirl our spider web string around the walls of the traps. This, too, took great patience and skill as these bugs are not easily fooled.
Eventually we would catch a couple and put them in a match box. Now the good part began–doodle bug races! (The loser had to do one of the winner’s chores and endure her gloating.) My grandchildren think computer games are exciting, but that is because they never raced doodle bugs (I can seem them now, rolling their eyes and saying, “Oh, Grammy!”)
Bet you can’t guess what makes the races so much fun! Give up? It’s because they run backwards and seldom in a straight line. We would laugh so hard, we’d have to run behind a tree, pee in the dirt, then dash back to see how the race was going.
Here in Brazil, farm children catch tiny flying insects on the tips of their fingers, then see how many times they can pass the insect to another child before the bug flies away. Our local country school, which is located in an impoverished area, has no toys. The children constantly amaze me with their play using only whatever they find such as leaves, sticks, rocks, etc.
They do not think they are poor children–and you know what? They aren’t!