No better joy than preparing a homecoming meal for those you love

features@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 17, 2013 

  • If you make a dish featured in Ervena Faulkner's column, take a picture and share it with us. We'd love to see what you have cooking. Send photos to features editor Liz Farrell at features@islandpacket.com.

Mothers know what their children's favorite foods are and love nothing more than preparing those dishes as "welcome home" treats. I remember Daddy used to say, "I knew you were coming home when I smelled the bread pudding your mama was baking."

Each of my children has a favorite, and I just love preparing those meals when they visit.

In the novel, "Porch Lights," by Dorothea Benton Frank, Annie Britt, the family matriarch, is preparing a welcome home meal for her daughter Jackie and grandson Charlie. The two of them are devastated after the death of their husband and father who was killed in the line of duty with the New York Fire Department. The book is about Jackie's return to Sullivan's Island, her childhood home, where mother, daughter and grandson will share a memorable, illuminating summer.

Annie has been busy doing everything within her means to set the right tone for the visit. Her largest pot is filled with okra soup, the rice is in the rice steamer. Pans of brownies and cornbread have been baked. The table has been set with a beautiful tablecloth; a vase of oleanders placed in the center. She sits back, and says, "Soon I will be sharing a meal with the two dearest people in my world."

There are many ways to enjoy reading a book. I added my own touch to this one, by coming up with a "welcome home" menu.

OKRA SOUP

click the link at right for a printable 4x6 recipe card

1/4 pound slab bacon, sliced

1 large onion, chopped coarse

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 quarts chicken broth

2-3 pounds meaty beef shank bones

1/4 cup diced ham

2 pounds fresh okra

4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped coarse

1 large bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of powdered saffron

In a large saucepan, heat the bacon until the fat renders; add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is transparent. Add the chicken stock and shank bones, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low; cover and simmer for 2 hours. Extract the soup bones from the pot and cut the meat away from the bones, discarding the bones; dice the meat and return it to the pot. Stir in the ham, okra, tomatoes, bay leaf, cumin and saffron. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce th heat to moderate, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Discard the bay leaf prior to serving.

Source: "Taste of Freedom, A Cookbook with Recipes and Remembrances from Hampton Institute," by Carolyn Quick Tillery (2002)

BAKED CORNBREAD

click the link at right for a printable 4x6 recipe card

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup cornbread

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cooking oil to season pan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine cornmeal, flour, soda and salt. Stir egg and buttermilk into dry mixture. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of cooking oil into baking pan to season. Pour combined mixture into pan and bake 20-25 minutes.

From Ervena Faulkner's personal file

BROWNIES

click the link at right for a printable 4x6 recipe card

4 squares Baker's unsweetened chocolate

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) margarine or butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 13-x-9-inch baking pan with foil; grease foil. Melt chocolate and margarine in heavy 3-quart saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir sugar into chocolate and butter until well blended. Mix eggs and vanilla; add to chocolate mixture. Stir in flour and nuts until well blended. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center come out with fudgy crumbs. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Cool in pan. Lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into squares.

From Ervena Faulkner's personal file

ICED TEA NECTAR

click the link at right for a printable 4x6 recipe card

8 cups boiling water

8 tea bags

1-inch cinnamon stick

1 cup sugar

18 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice

24 ounces apricot juice

2 1/2 cups cold water

Lemon wedges

In a large pot pour the boiling water over the tea bags and cinnamon stick; steep for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags; add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Refrigerate the tea to cool. Before serving, add the remaining ingredients; mix well, transfer to a serving pitcher and pour into iced filled glasses. Garnish with lemon wedges.

From Ervena Faulkner's personal file

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