The annual Eary family reunion occurred recently, but being 2700 miles away and unable to attend I started reminiscing. I seem to do that more and more these days.
Granny Betty’s Sunday Dinner
Grandma Betty had a very particular ritual or routine (method of timing) that she followed for preparing our Sunday meals to ensure everything was done and served up hot and on time.
Sunday dinner (lunch) consisted of mixed greens, fried chicken, either buttermilk biscuits or cornbread, and a cake for dessert with sides of macaroni and cheese, fruit salad, and potato salad.
Usually, the cake was either a bunt cake of some type drizzled with a glaze or an upside down pineapple sheet cake with maraschino cherries. However, if in season she made wild blackberry cobbler instead. Granny Betty, my mother, my sister, and I would go pick them together near the old farm house where my mother was born.
While Granny Betty added rutabaga to her Sunday greens, Great Granny Eary used turnips but the recipe otherwise remained the same.
Great Granny helped Granny Betty with the Sunday meal for a long time until just she couldn’t anymore. Up until then we never knew if the greens would have turnips or rutabaga, but eventually we knew to always expect the rutabaga, and while Granny Betty cooked my sister and I kept Great Grandma company at the table. She attempted to teach us how to darn socks, mend loose hems, and replace buttons when we weren’t trying to help Granny Betty with the cooking.
Here is a photo of my Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Eary:
Great Grandpa Eary passed before I was born so I never got to meet him, but Great Grandma Eary was the family’s beloved matriarch. She lived at Grandma Betty’s house — along with my parents, my sister, and myself. On Sunday we were joined by my maternal uncle, aunt, and cousin as well as being frequently joined by other family and friends.
Our younger brother and youngest cousin weren’t born yet — not until many years later. Great Grandma Eary held them both as infants but she passed away when they were still much too young to remember her.
As young children, we had not yet developed a taste for turnips so when nobody was looking we’d pick them out and toss them under the table for, Tony, Granny Betty’s little dog, but we did love the rutabaga. Perhaps that is the reason Granny Betty used rutabaga instead ???
Here is of photo of Granny Betty with her little dog, Tony, that we fed our turnips to under the table (and also her cat Tom Jr.):
Sorry about that Great Granny Eary! But we did come to like turnips more as we got older!
Every Sunday Granny Betty prepared a huge breakfast which we sat and ate as a family, saw us off to church, then she stayed behind to clean up and start lunch preparations.
After lunch, the women and children helped clear the table and set up for dessert. Supper that evening was left overs from lunch and everyone would pitch in before and after with setting up and cleaning.
If you didn’t go to church due to illness but weren’t absolutely bed ridden then you remained in the kitchen with Granny and Great Granny where they could keep an eye on you — and you were expected to help and to learn to prepare the Sunday meal.
However, Granny Betty always made it very fun and enjoyable — so much so that we may have had a few more tummy aches and headaches than really necessary just to stay home from time to time.
The following is a recipe for her Sunday greens but includes the steps from start to finish for the entire meal.
I will be updating to include links at the bottom of this page to the recipes for the other items she prepared every Sunday as I eventually get them posted.
Granny Betty’s “Sunday Greens”
Use turnips in place of the rutabaga and you have the recipe for Great Grandma Eary’s “Sunday Greens” which were a mix of various greens as opposed to everyday greens.
4 to 6 slices bacon, cut up
8 cups water from hot faucet
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 pounds (1 lb each) collard, mustard, and turnip greens ribbed, washed, and cut into strips (approximately 3/4 to 1 inch wide)
1 pound peeled, pre-cooked, cubed fresh rutabaga or 1 can (15 ounces) drained Sunshine rutabaga
The evening before prepare and bake the cake, cool, decorate, cover, and set aside. Prepare the potato and fruit salads and refrigerate. Grate the rat trap cheese (rat trap cheese is what she called extra sharp cheddar cheese) needed for the macaroni and cheese bake.
Prepare, cook, and dry fresh rutabaga the day before or early Sunday morning before breakfast.
Make and keep back enough crispy fried bacon from breakfast to crumble on top of the macaroni and cheese bake and the potato salad.
Sunday morning, right after breakfast, prepare and chill the iced tea. Once the tea is in the refrigerator, clear the table, wipe it down, and set the table for lunch.
Sunday morning, about an hour after breakfast when the clean up is done and the table is re-set for lunch, cut up two frying chickens, rinse the parts, and place in pan on counter to soak in buttermilk.
Cook the elbow noodles, make the cheese sauce, and assemble the macaroni and cheese in buttered baking dish, add half the noodles and toss with half of the cheese sauce, top with shredded cheese layer, add remaining noodles and pour on remaining cheese sauce. Refrigerate covered with aluminum foil until ready to bake.
Prepare, wash, and cut up the greens.
Measure out ingredients and set up as needed for making either cornbread or biscuits.
Get set up for flouring the chicken next to the stove. Heat two large iron skillets with lard or Crisco for frying on the stove burners closest to the flouring set up.
Preheat oven for macaroni and cheese.
Place an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add and fry the bacon to release fat without crisping (do not brown).
Pour hot tap water into the pot. Do not lean in over the pot as it will hiss and pop for a few moments when the water hits the hot grease. Pour water in using a pitcher and keep hands on the outside away from the popping grease.
Turn heat up to high. Add crushed red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, and salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, get the macaroni and cheese from the refrigerator and place into the oven to bake; leave on the foil covering.
Also, use this time to coat and get a start on frying the chicken in at least one of the two hot skillets.
When stockpot comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, until the stock is well flavored and aromatic.
Use this time to continue coating and frying chicken in the other skillet if not already started.
Wash hands to remove flour after handling chicken. Dry well after washing to avoid drips into hot grease and getting burned by hot frying grease popping out.
When the half hour has past, remove the foil from the macaroni and cheese. Top with additional shredded cheese. Continue to bake to melt the cheese topping and until browning.
Meanwhile, add a few handfuls of the greens to the pot, until they have turned a bright green and become wilted, then you can add more handfuls. Continue adding handfuls of greens, stirring and submerging them, until all the greens are in the pot. Whenever wilting use the time for doing other things.
While doing this also keep an eye on the macaroni and cheese and remove from the oven when melted, bubbly, and top is browned. When done, set on table on top of kitchen towel with large serving spoon. Crumble bacon on top.
Also, don’t forget about the frying chicken and use the times waiting for greens to wilt for turning the chicken or to remove and drain and add more chicken as needed.
When all the greens have been added, turn the heat under the pot to low and simmer very gently for 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, adjust the oven temperature and use this time to prepare either buttermilk biscuits or corn bread.
Set aside biscuits or cornbread to rest or puff until ready to bake; timing it so they come out right before the greens are done so may be rubbed over top with butter and served hot; biscuits get done faster than cornbread does.
Continue frying up the last of the chicken.
When 50 minutes has past, stir in the rutabaga and simmer for 10 additional minutes.
Place chicken on serving platter with hottest pieces on bottom and those that were cooked first on top. Place in center of table.
Place cornbread or biscuits with buttered tops to one side of chicken near the macaroni then get fruit and potato salads from refrigerator to place on the other side circling the chicken. Crumble bacon on top of potato salad. Place two large serving spoons; one for each salad.
Fill glasses half way with ice cubes and place pitcher of chilled tea on table. Make sure there is plenty of butter in the butter dish and either a full honey pot or a honey bear on the table.
Start a fresh pot of coffee percolating.
Reserve 1-1/2 to 2 cups of pot likker (broth) from the greens. Set aside.
Pour greens through a colander to drain off remaining excess pot likker (broth).
Pour greens into a large serving bowl and add reserved broth. Provide a slotted serving spoon. Place on table between the macaroni and the biscuits or cornbread.
When meal is finished, clear plates and put away food. If needed, get fresh ice for the tea glasses. Pour coffee for the adults and milk for the children and put out dessert saucers and forks. Place cake on the table with knife and either a pie server for a bunt cake or a cook spatula for sheet cake.
Other Sunday meal recipes: