My first time hearing about “rent parties” was in “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. People planned these parties to raise money so that friends could pay their rent. They had card games and sold dinners to attendees so someone could afford to live in their home another month.
Earlier this fall, Anita Singleton-Prather, also known as Aunt Pearlie Sue, had a Rent-Foreclosure Party. This was a serious party. I did not want to hear of Singleton-Prather, her daughter or grandchildren finding themselves without a home.
Many performers fall on hard times and have to seek rescue. There had been a long struggle trying to repay a loan on the house where Singleton-Prather grew up in the Northwest Quadrant.
The party was planned with a silent auction, music and a Gullah buffet. Artists from the area graciously donated artwork for the auction.
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Frissell Hall at Penn Center was decorated as if to say “Welcome, Fall.” Those of us in attendance knew we were there to offer support as well as enjoy an evening of entertainment and food.
It was not too long ago that Phil Griffin had been attacked, and the community was rallying for his cause. And there he was on his guitar, accompanying Jan Spencer as she sang.
Scott Gibbs sang as if delivering a message and then welcomed the Gullah Kinfolk to join.
It was an evening of music.
Aunt Pearlie Sue shared her story and the mistakes she had made with a loan she had gotten to renovate. She was putting out the hand for help wanted to tell the story over entertainment and food.
If you have ever attended a performance of Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk, then you know that it’s not uncommon to leave knowing more than you did before.
So it is the same with food.
When the menu was announced, it was just what I expected. When I was in line for my plate, it was more than I expected.
Aunt Pearlie Sue is multitalented. Put her on a stage or in a kitchen, and she knows how to please.
From the kitchen of Aunt Pearlie Sue and her ancestors, here is a taste of what you missed at the party.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition.
Corn Bread Squares
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 carton plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. In another bowl, combine the egg, yogurt, milk, oil and honey. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Pour into an 8-inch-square baking dish coated with oil. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Smothered Chicken and Gravy
3 1/2-pound chicken, rinsed and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions
2 medium celery ribs, chopped
1 garlic clove minced
3 cups chicken broth
Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Place the flour in a large bowl. Roll the chicken in the flour to coat, shaking off excess flour. Transfer 3 tablespoons of the flour to a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning halfway during cooking, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Pour off all but a tablespoon of the oil from the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, celery and garlic, cooking and stirring often until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.
Return the chicken to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through and shows no sign of pink when pierced at the bone, about 35 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a deep platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the chicken. Serve hot.
1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup tub margarine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin
1 (10-ounce) package strawberries, thawed
2 cups whipped topping
Mix crust ingredients thoroughly. Line a 9-inch pie pan with cracker crumbs, but reserve a small amount to sprinkle on top. For filling, prepare gelatin according to package directions. Add strawberries. Chill until partially set, then fold in whipped cream topping and pour into pie crust. Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top. Chill until firm. Garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired.