Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple, elemental dish of Apple Salad recalls the quiet, gentle life of recipe's originator

Have you ever sampled a recipe that was simply the embodiment and the essence of the person who created it? Such is the case of my maternal grandmother’s Apple Salad dish that I prepared last night to accompany the remainder of my Creamy Broccoli Soup from an earlier post.

Among my most treasured of recipe files is a brief, typewritten (now slightly yellowing) card on which were typed the few but important ingredients for this salad and then at the bottom noted those valuable words, "Mama's recipe”. This helped me remember that my Nanny in the long-ago was the standard-bearer for this dish.

As I prepared it last evening and stirred the simple, smooth, boiled dressing on the stove before I poured it over some fresh, chopped apples, I envisioned Nanny as the epitome of the Southern cook and homemaker that she was. Her own mother, the legendary Grandma Harris around whom my cookbooks, Way Back in the Country and Way Back in the Country Garden, are anchored, had migrated over to East Texas from Mississippi after the Civil War. Like many who were among the early Texas pioneer families, her people were said to have fled plantation life after war desecrated their way of living. As they founded new communities on the promising Texas soil, they brought their plenteous skills with them.

Grandma Harris, who went on to mother 14 children, taught her girls that inimitable style of country gourmet cooking that I mentioned in an earlier blog about the foods of FBC Longview, TX. Growing up in Delta County in northeast Texas, my Nanny learned from her mother how to take the most elementary of recipes and turn them into a creation fit for royalty. Apple Salad is one of those dishes.

Besides the fresh, crunchy apples I chopped up for the salad, I also threw in a rib of chopped celery, since Hubby is (as I mentioned yesterday) intent on adding celery, for its hypertension-ameliorating properties, into every dish on the planet. Since the dressing is warm as it emerges off the stovetop, best to let the apple and dressing mixture chill in the fridge for an hour or so before you serve.

The sweet, creamy dressing folded around ingredients that most anyone would have on hand epitomized the gentle, simple life of a loving grandmother who made the most of what she had. When I'm gone from this earth 37 years, as she has been, may I still be remembered half so fondly.

Apple Salad

3 tablespoons vinegar
water (see below)
1 heaping teaspoon flour
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
pinch salt
2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped

Into a one-cup measure pour three tablespoons of vinegar. Add water to make a full cup. Pour liquid into a medium saucepan. To the saucepan add flour, sugar, beaten egg, and salt. Over medium heat bring mixture to a boil. Cook until thick. Pour over chopped apple and celery. Pour into airtight container and chill in fridge. If desired serve over greens. Makes 4 servings.

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