Two recipes, as told to me by my Aunt Zet
Chicken and Dressing
"Cook your chicken. Everybody says it’s better to do a hen than a chicken. You get it at the grocery store; you don’t have to go out and wring its neck or anything. Put it in a big pot and cover it with water and cut you up at least one onion and boil it till it’s done. If it’s a hen you’ll know it’s done when you can take the leg and wiggle it and pull it away from the hen. If it’s chicken it’s got to boil an hour and a half, and a hen a couple of hours.
"Cook it in a big pot—you’ve got to have lots of that broth, see. Put in your salt and your pepper and at least one onion; two wouldn’t hurt.
"Then you gotta cook your cornbread. You know how to cook cornbread. You’ll have to have that black skillet almost to the top to be sure you have enough. You’re gonna crumble up that cornbread in your pan, ever’ bit of it, and get two pieces of loaf bread—if you don’t have loaf bread, don’t go out and buy it, but if you have any get a couple of slices and mix it in with the cornbread. Then cut up two large onions and about eight eggs—everybody says the more eggs and onions, the better it’ll taste.
"Mix all of it up and pull all the chicken off the bone and put it in there.
"Put your chicken in there and then get the broth and put it in there. Throw all that in the pan with sage and butter. You get the sage at the grocery store. It’s in the spice column.
"So: cornbread, loaf bread, cut up those two big ol’ onions, you’re gonna pull the chicken off the bone, you’re gonna pour that broth in there, you’re gonna put two sticks of butter and then sprinkle that sage. This is where it gets to be tricky: I don’t know how much. Just dump it all in there and stir it with a big ol’ spoon. I sometimes mix it up right in the pan I’m gonna put it in, or I have one of these big Tupperware bowls. But it really doesn’t matter.
"Put it in the oven at the top, not way down low or you’ll burn the bottom. 350 degrees. Shake your pan, and when it don’t move, it’s done."
Sweet Potato Casserole
“Get you three cups of cooked potatoes, mashed up. One cup of sugar. A half-cup of butter. Two eggs. One TABLESPOON vanilla. Put all these in a mixing bowl and mix it with a mixer. You’ve already scrunched up your potatoes with a fork. Then you put all that in and beat ‘em. Two or three minutes. Then pour ‘em in a casserole dish.
"The topping is one cup of brown sugar, one cup of pecans, half a cup of flour and one-third cup butter. Now DON’T MELT YOUR BUTTER. Put the butter in a bowl with your flour and brown sugar and cut it. Cut it with a fork. Soften it by letting it lay out where it won’t be so hard to scrunch up. But mash it up and stir it and cut it back and forth with a fork. I even use a knife sometimes and cut it all together that way. It ought to be something you can take and crumble with your hand. If you melt that butter, it changes the texture and then you get into a spoon deal.
"Just mix it all up with a fork and put it on top of the casserole and bake it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees."