The Story of Food

When I am home I love hanging out with two couples who are major foodies. We love going to dinner at current hot spots and discussing each thing ordered. These dinners can stretch to almost 3-3.5 hours. The stories flow and the laughter is headier than the best wine. I adore these times.

Recently we started discussing our favorite childhood dishes. I immediately thought of my mom’s Chicken Plantation.  When she made that dish she could ask my dad for anything…and get it.

I loved watching her make it. 

With a flick of her wrist she would fan flour onto the counter, then roll out the dough into a large square, sprinkle it with fresh parsley and onion, then roll it up and slice the dough into big fat biscuits. The she'd carefully place them, pinwheel side up, in a deep square dish baptizing them in rich, made from scratch gravy and fresh picked chicken. Into the oven it went. In minutes the whole house smelled heavenly. 

We would gather around the table and mom would present the food with love and pride. I'd scoop out a steaming biscuit and I swear, as a little girl, those biscuits where the closest thing to spring clouds that I could imagine. It is still one of my favorite dishes.

Another dish I loved as a kid was Shoo Fly Pie, a local dish that was a tradition especially in the spring. I grew up in Amish Country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Talk about good food. The south thinks they own comfort food but oh my, Dutch cooking and Amish
cooking in Pennsylvania cannot be beat for comfort.  
Yummm. Just made and already half gone

Shoo Fly Pie is basically just a molasses pie. I like mine wet bottomed, which mean super gooey.  It’s called Shoo Fly Pie because it is such a sugary treat that at potlucks you have to constantly shoo away the flies (that's a yummy picture).  

The best thing about these recipes, actually all recipes that bring us comfort, are the stories that go with them. Dinner table stories, helping mom in the kitchen stories, cooking with the kids stories; all things that are becoming a rarity.
I hope you enjoy these childhood dishes and I hope many stories are spoken over each bite, around your dinner table, with those you love.

(I am giving you my version of Chicken Plantation which I have switched up to be easier than my moms but just as delicious.  Please feel free, in the comment section, to share your favorite storied dish).

Chicken Plantation (Kim’s way)
4 cups fully cooked chicken.  Shredded or cubed.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup 2% milk (or, if you are in a party mood go with whole milk - we grew up on goats milk from the farm)
2 cups fresh peas (frozen thawed is fine. You can add cooked carrots too)
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1. In a large skillet sauté chicken (or boil a whole chicken, pick it clean then add to skillet) and onion in butter until onion is tender. Combine soup and milk, stir into chicken mixture. Add veggies; heat through. Pour into an ungreased shallow 2.5 quart baking dish.
2. Combine biscuit mix and water until a soft dough forms. On a lightly floured surface knead dough 10 times. Roll out into a 12 inch square. Sprinkle with parsley (and fresh onion if you prefer).
3. Roll up jelly roll style. Cut jelly roll into 12 pieces, place over chicken mixture, pinwheel side up. Bake, uncovered at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until biscuits are golden and chicken mixture is heated through and bubbly. 
Serve with warm, homemade, chunky applesauce and strawberry short cake for desert and you have one of my childhood meals on your own table.

Wet Bottom Shoo Fly Pie
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (or unsalted butter)
1 egg
8 ounces molasses (good and dark)
6 ounces boiling water
1 tspn baking soda
1 9 inch unbaked pastry shell (make your own or store bought if in hurry)
Use a deep pie plate, those little aluminum things from the store will not suffice.

Mix together the flour, brown sugar and shortening
Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture for the topping
Add remaining flour mixture with the egg, molasses, baking soda, and boiling water.
Gently mix
Pour into pie shell
Sprinkle the crumb topping over pie
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce temp to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes.

This pie is good warm, but it gets better if it sits for a day...but I guarantee it won't last that long. 


Anonymous said...

When I was 13, my mom went to France to visit her sister, whose husband was stationed there with the Air Force. Mom brought home an exotic French canadian bacon custard pie called "keesh." We had never had anything like it before. And since it's easy to make, we had it for dinner a lot. It's still one of my staple comfort foods.

kim weitkamp said...

That is so funny! Keesh. I actually love quiche, but forever I will now see it as an exotic French canadian bacon pie!

Anonymous said...

Hah! Love "Keesh"! I described it to a young niece as "sort of an omelet pie" which is how she asked for it for several visits . . . and, sorry to say, I once almost made a very insecure young man choke when I quoted the book title "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" -- and he wouldn't eat it after that.
I loved my mom's meat loaf, and Sunday dinner fried chicken! The greatest treat of all was when Dad would declare it "too hot for Mom to cook" and send us to the store for ice cream and root beer for floats for supper!

Cari said...

My favorite dish as a *very picky* kid was spaghetti noodles, bare, with parmesan cheese. I've grown since.

Mark Goldman said...

When I was a kid, I loved sardine sandwiches. I have no idea why, because as of age 10, I have absolutely no interest in them! The other favorite sandwich I had was cream cheese and black olives. I still like them. My favorite story about food as a kid is that Father would have chocolate cake for breakfast. Then he would say to me, “Tell your Mother we need ‘staples’.” “What do you mean?” I would ask. He would reply, “You know, ‘staples’ – cookies, candy, cakes, pies.”

Sue said...

Chocolate Syrup and Biscuits for breakfast has been a family favorite for generations. Mother made Bisquick biscuits that were lovingly rolled out and cut extra thick. Just before easing them into the oven she brushed them with bacon grease, creating a wonderful flaky top the color of butterscotch when they were done. Cocoa, water, sugar, a tiny bit of vanilla and some corn starch cooked into a syrup that was really more pudding than syrup. Buttered, hot biscuits with hot chocolate syrup over the top was heaven!Mother received the recipe from her mother; my mother made it for me for every sleep over and birthday, I made it for my children and it always impressed their friends. Now they make it for their children and when the grandkids come home it's still a favorite. The memories taste as good and the real thing!

Anonymous said...

Sue - I am loving this idea. Never heard of it. Better yet, I love the story behind it.