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A Denney for Your Thoughts – Enjoy a second helping (Dec. 2, 2015 issue)

We are into the season of second helpings. Bringing to mind some of our favorite foods, the pleasure of second helpings may have much to do with how food is prepared, who prepares it, how good it smells, looks, company with whom it is shared and/or memories it stimulates.
Food, certainly, stimulates conversation. Feedback from words printed in this space September 2 led to this “second helping.” After Priscilla Saylor shared a recipe for gritted bread, memories of her mother and how her family anticipated and enjoyed the treat, she and family members did get feedback.
So did I. Keith Whitson knew about gritted bread. His mother, Nellie Pate, makes it, as did her mother, Minnie Chandler. Nellie’s father, Claude, made a grater that is still in the family. Nellie can testify to comparative ease of the chore with a blender!
When I asked Keith to elaborate for this column, he recalled the bread as a “favorite” among the things he loved of his grandmother’s cooking and described the handmade grater that was used to scrape the “…corn that had matured past the tender stage in the field…” from the cob.
The grater was “…a small wooden board with a piece of tin rolled into an arc and tacked from one side to the other. The tin had consistent nail holes that…created jagged edges, which were left turned outward.” The grated corn had a “thick mush consistency.”
When combined with other ingredients and baked in an iron skillet, Keith remembers it had “…a thicker consistency inside and a browned, sealed outside.”
“I always liked mine cooked a little longer so that the inside was dryer and the outside was as crispy as possible,” adding that while it was “piping hot was the best time to lather it in butter. The more butter the better the tasty treat was.”
The following recipe for gritted bread is in a Clinchfield Senior Adult Center cookbook, published in 1979, that belonged to Nellie’s mother:
Take 8 medium-size ears of corn, husk, wash and grate to 3 cups grated corn. Add the following:
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plain meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup sour milk (buttermilk)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
3/4 tsp. soda
Pour this batter into an iron skillet, which has been heated and greased with 2 tablespoons fat. Bake at 450 degrees, until golden brown. Serve hot with butter, sliced ripe tomatoes and sweet milk.
Nellie remembers that her Aunt Kate Edwards made the bread. The above recipe is attributed to that name; and, Nellie had the opportunity to ask her aunt, who lived to be 97, if she had contributed it. No, but she knew who the other Kate Edwards was.
Turns out it was the woman known as “Mama Kate” to Vickie Smith, who also has memories of eating gritted bread “with butter dripping.” She remembers Erwin autumns growing up, when she and her friend, Mama Kate’s granddaughter, shared leaf raking chores and gritted bread.
It was such fun being able to tell Vickie about the recipe. Here’s hoping you enjoy this second helping as much as I did writing it.