LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Soul Food For Company

We cooked soul food for “cumpnee” Tuesday night. Meat and three — walleye, black-eye peas, green beans, creamed corn and Mama Crook’s cornbread. Salad from our garden.

Whenever I cook this menu, I think, of course, of my Mississippi kin from whom I learned much of what I know about cooking.

I heated the griddle, slicked up the skillet with bacon grease and mixed up the cornbread batter. The smell of the hot grease on the cast iron griddle took me back to my Mama Crook’s (my paternal grandmother) sunny kitchen, south of Vaiden, Miss. I cooked the vegetables just as she did — and as my aunts do to this day — slowly simmered, with salt pork and a pinch of sugar. I have such happy memories of times spent in Mama Crook’s kitchen, (I will write more about her another day.)

Lena Belle (my Mama Crook) cooked catfish. And hush puppies. So much work and in a HOT kitchen, I tell ya. How she would have admired my new gas range and my copper cookware. I have three cast iron skillets. My Aunt Fran in Alabama puts me to shame as she has about a dozen!

While Bismarck has very good restaurants, we do like to cook at home and entertain. Tuesday night, we had a very special guest, our friend, Jay Clemens, Mandan, N.D.-born and raised, hailing now from California, via China.

It rained so we moved inside, without “no” complaints about the rain.

Our friends, David and Jan Swenson, completed the party. Jay loves the Bad Lands as much as we do, and the conversation was filled with talk of our beloved western North Dakota landscape. Jay and Jim go way back.

The walleye was tasty. The camaraderie was top-notch. And we got more rain!

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