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Family Recipes

End of The Season Green Tomato Salad

John Ford
Winslow

Slice hard green tomatoes very thin with a mandoline or knife. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with a bit of salt and toss. Drain after five or ten minutes. Add some freshly ground black pepper, a few spoonfuls of drained capers, chopped fresh parsley and a glug of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice if you like things tart and serve.

Who doesn’t love green tomatoes dusted with cornmeal and fried golden brown? But when you are looking for something light and bright, this salad is quick and delicious!

Granny Moody’s Egg Custard

Heather Artripe
Springdale, Ar

Granny Moody’s Egg Custard
Ingredients
4 lightly beaten eggs, room temperature
¾ C sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ C whole milk, room temperature
9 inch unbaked pie crust
Pinch ground nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Place your pie crust in its dish on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, add eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk. Whisk to combine.

Place your baking sheet and pie crust in the oven, pull out the oven rack so you can pour your custard into it. Pour in the egg mixture. Carefully sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

This is the first thing I ever remember making. My Granny wasn’t keen on having anyone in her kitchen, until I came along. As soon as I was big enough to drag a chair across her kitchen floor, I was helping her create magical southern delicacies. We made at least one Egg Custard each week. She taught me a lot about cooking and life in her kitchen. That is where my love for cooking and teaching blossomed. I am the only person in our family now that makes them and they taste exactly like Granny Moody’s.

Holly’s Red Beans & Rice

Kelly Syer
Fayetteville, Arkansas

One of my dearest friends, Holly Bryan, found this recipe in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, as I recall. She had a batch simmering in her perfectly seasoned cast iron pot and fed me (as she always would) the single best red beans and rice I’ve ever had. They perfectly align with my palate with the tanginess of apple cider vinegar and mustard greens. My mouth literally waters at the thought of a big bowl of this heaven on earth. Holly’s in South Carolina these days, but every time I see the scrap of notebook paper with the copied recipe, I think of the countless hours of fun and happiness she has brought me when she lived just up the road. I make this again and again, especially as the air gets crisp.

Rendering your own lard

Danny Baskin
Fayetteville Arkansas

There are a lot of pig farms up here in the Ozarks, and one of the cheapest, easiest, and most versatile ways to capitalize on this great abundance is to render your own lard.

Step 1. Buy some pork belly or fatback from your favorite pig farmer. It's usually extraordinarily cheap for a huge amount. Keep it cold, almost frozen, but not rock hard frozen. Chop it into little cubes, about a 1/2 inch thick. If you have a meat grinder, you could course grind it, but that's not necessary and I find it's more work to clean the grinder afterwards than it's worth. If there's any large chunks of meat (not fat), set it aside for cooking and eating how you wish but it's ok if you have some little bits of meat still in the cubes.

Step 2. Put all the cubed fat into a big heavy bottom pot and heat it up on a low setting (I use a 1 or 2 setting on my gas stovetop) or use a slowcooker on low and let it do it's thing. If you cook it too hot, the lard will get a somewhat gamey flavor that not everyone loves.

Step 3. Over the course of many hours, the fat will melt, the small bits of discard (or cracklins) will sink to the bottom then rise to the top over time. Once the cracklins have risen and it's "speaking to you" or lightly hissing, it's probably ready for the next step.

Step 4. Using a layered tea towel or some cheesecloth and a colander, strain the lard extra well. It should be absolutely clear with no bits of any kind left in it and often has a light yellow tint to it at this stage. Once you let it cool on the counter for a number of hours, it should be a milky waxy white substance.

Step 5. Now you can keep it in the fridge and use it for whatever you'd like! I store mine in a well sealed glass pyrex container and am sure to use clean utensils when I'm scooping it out for use. It tends to last for a very long time, but if it starts to grow mold or smell strange, don't use it. I've never had any problems with mine going bad and one batch tends to last me a full 6 months at least. But still, caution and care are always encouraged.

Uses: Lard is great for cooking anything with, just as you'd use butter or olive oil. It's got a very high smoke point and is pretty healthy, when used in moderation of course. It's great for pie crusts, tamales, frying stuff, and even for keeping your garage tools well oiled and your cast iron pans well seasoned. You can even make soap with it. It's also a great way to help use sometimes wasted parts of an animal that gave it's life for someone's breakfast.

The Ozarks to me often seems to hold self sufficiency, local ingenuity, and keen resourcefulness in very high esteem. This means that many of the food traditions I experience here are based in using all the parts you can, with the least amount of processing or chemicals needed, and the closest available resources. This often also creates healthier, cheaper, and more accessible food. When I think of a recipe that encompasses all of those tenants, I think of the simple, easy, useful recipe shared above; rendered pork fat or lard. It makes a lot, it’s super easy, and it can be used for a million different things.

Garapiñadas

KEIRY FLORES
Springdale, Arkansas

Ingredients:
2 lbs of peanuts
1 tall dulce de panela

(1 dulce de panela for 2 pounds of peanuts

Instructions:
1.) Toast the peanuts
(Make sure to keep turning them)
(Nice and roasted not too black)
2.) Once fully toasted, peel the peanuts
3.) Next, put the dulce and 2 cups of water on the stove to melt and boil
(You know it’ll be ready once you can take some out and put it in water and in will turn into soft caramel)
4.) While that is getting ready, crush up peanuts
5.) Then once dulce is ready, put the peanuts in the dulce and stir
6.) Once mixed, start making balls as soon as possible
(Use water so your hands won’t burn)
(The faster you work, the prettier they turn out)

My grandma taught me how to make these the first time I was able to visit her alone in El Salvador. It was the one thing I would eat as a little girl and making food was her way of showing love. She taught me step by step and then I brought it back here to Arkansas. I remember how sweet the air smelled and the big smile on her face as she taught me something I would never forget.

Canned Gratitude

Tareneh Manning
Fayetteville, Arkansas

This recipe card is a screenshot of a text that I sent to Amber Perrodin, and Jill Dabbs. I couldn’t find the family cookbook and since my family jokes that I don’t cook, then this recipe seemed appropriate. A more accurate statement would be that I don’t cook ANYMORE, but our family is prone to exaggeration… At any rate, sweet Amber encouraged me to submit this tart bit of snark. She likes a dash of sass now and then.