Sunday, June 12, 2011


"Food, or the lack of it, breeds stories, sparks memories. It's our common ground, the universal language." -Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, The Kitchen Sisters

During my most recent visit to our local library, I checked out Hidden Kitchens -Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva (click here). The book is from their ongoing radio series they started airing fourth of July weekend, 2004. The series is stories of hidden kitchens -street corner cooking, food traditions and communities coming together through food and the people who make it happen. WHY HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS UNTIL NOW??? DO I LIVE UNDER A ROCK OR SOMETHING? Well, no. I just don't always pay attention. My husband swears he mentioned it to me awhile ago after listening to a program and recognizing it would be just the sort of thing to get me REALLY excited -but I must not have been paying attention. Anyway, I really recommend, for those of you have also not been paying attention or indeed DO live under a rock or something, that you immediately find this book and read it. Or let me know that you have been listening to this series all along, and then ask me how I could possibly have NOT heard about this program until now. From Lou the Glue, an Old Stove from San Francisco, to The Chili Queens of San Antonio; from NASCAR kitchens feeding the speed, to mopping the mutton and making burgoo in Kentucky; this is some fascinating stories of hidden kitchens from all over America today.

One of the chapters/stories in the books is about how the homeless and others living without kitchens use Crock-pots and The George Foreman Grill for cooking.

"I think if you ever go to school hungry, it puts a chip on your shoulder. To go to school without breakfast, then without a lunch, it makes for a bad boy. I think hunger makes you angry."
-George Foreman

Another chapter in the book is about the cooks who feed the crews and families of NASCAR racing and includes these two meatball recipes.

Ham Balls
This recipe was contributed by Ken Enck who was cooking for twenty-four teams at the Bristols racetrack in Virginia when he gave the recipe to The Kitchen Sisters. I've halved it to make 24 meatballs.

Mix together:
1 1/2 lbs. ground smoked ham
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1 c. bread crumbs
Form into golf ball (or lug nut) sized balls and place on baking sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine:
1/4 c. vinegar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 T. mustard
Cook over medium heat (6-8 minutes) until reduced to a thick syrup. Brush or drizzle over ham meatballs, return to oven and cook another 15 minutes or until done. Serve with remaining sauce.

Clam Balls
From one of the Grand National Racing Wives' Auxiliary cookbooks, which are sold to raise money for families of drivers who are injured or killed. From Mrs. Juda Rainer (Harry), Lexington, Kentucky

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 T. minced chives
1-8 oz. can minced clams, drained
1/2 t. salt
Dash black pepper
1/4 c. mayonnaise
Shape into balls. Roll them in 2/3 c. finely chopped peanuts. Chill.

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