“My grandmother (Mom-ma) grew up in the depression and raised 3 children on her own. Her husband died when my mother was 3 months old. In those days, there was no welfare or Medicaid, and people were too proud to accept charity. So, the elders of her church got together to determine how they could help her. They decided that they would all give her their white cotton shirts (which everyone wore back then) to launder. Other men in the church followed suit, and she began her business.
She washed the shirts, bleached and ‘blued’ them, carried them outside, hung them on the line in the backyard, and brought them inside when they were dry. She ironed the shirts with an old-style iron (no steam). She had a bowl of water in which she’d dip her fingers, sprinkle some water on a section, iron that part and repeat until she had piles of crisply ironed and folded shirts to return. I still remember it clearly, as she continued to work from the time my mother was a baby until I, one of her youngest grandchildren, was in high school. She never complained about it and was content knowing she’d provided for her kids. I believe she truly felt blessed with everything she needed, even though she lived in a tiny house and never vacationed or traveled outside of Texas to my knowledge.
One of her specialties was Hoppin’ Johns, a traditional dish for ringing in the New Year. They represented pennies in your pocket and prosperity in the coming year. This is her recipe, which is written in her own hand on a little recipe card I still have. I just updated it a bit for today’s tastes. May you enjoy the recipe, while contemplating these words of wisdom she often repeated to us (even though we weren’t always happy to hear them):
‘People need to recognize the difference between want they want and what they need; then they’ll be happy.’ ~ Mom-ma
HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Make the rice ahead of time. See How to Cook Brown Rice.