Welcome to CLP’s Black History Month Blog!

This year’s theme for Black History Month programming at CLP is “A Taste of…” which means we’ll be looking at African-American contributions to food and culture. CLP staff members will be blogging here throughout the month about CLP events, as well as reading lists, recipes, and stories about African-American food, history, and culture. We’re also inviting you to share your favorite recipes and food stories! Maybe there’s a pie recipe that’s made it down through the generations, or a favorite cafe in the Hill that isn’t there anymore. Whatever it is, we want to hear about it. We’ll be featuring our favorite stories and recipes throughout the month.

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4 Responses to Welcome to CLP’s Black History Month Blog!

  1. Joyce Broadus says:

    My grandmother made the worst apple pies in the world. But we ate them because we loved her. Her favorite words were: “I eat to live, I do not live to eat” and she was true to her words. She would never describe herself as a great cook, she cooked because she had to. And her food was good, don’t get me wrong. Her name was Josephine G. Horne…the G stood for Golden and she was proud of it! And she could make a meal out of most anything. Her meals were basic, at least 3 things to the plate (unless a holiday). Baked meats were her favorites, but she would fry if the spirit moved her. But for dessert, now that could be as simple as store bought cookies that she put in the tin that sat on the ledge as you went down into the basement. And every once in a while, especially if there were two or three left over old apples in the ‘frig, she would make a pie. The pan was always strange. It was aluminum, round with high sides (no pyrex dish here) of about 2-3 inches or so and a diameter of about 6 inches. The dough, almost an afterthought…flour, margerine, salt, and water, literally thrown together and beat into some shape resembling a circle. There was none of the chilled butter and cold water, this was a pie and we’re not muckin’ around with it. The crust would break off at the top of the pan and she didn’t care. The apples would be sliced, sugar poured on top of them and cinnamon liberally dumped into the mix. A quick stir and dumped into the pan. Lefover dough was dropped on top, not pretty, no scallopped edges, no lattice work, get it on there and into the oven. It was like a love hate relationship at 350 degrees. Soon though the whole house smelled of cinnamon and sugar and slightly burned dough. If the apples were juicy, they might leak over into the oven, if they were dry they just sat in the dough and got…well they got….done…kind of. When she had decided they’d cooked enough, she took the pan out of the oven and waited for it to cool. If my brother and I were lucky the pie would at least be sweet. We were guaranteed that the crust would be dry or gummy, no middle ground here. But, no AND, and we ate it. A chunk at a time, we ate it, with or without vanilla ice cream (from a container with no cool name). We ate it, cause we loved her and she had made us pie. No matter how bad it was.

  2. Denise Graham says:

    Of my parent’s five daughters, my sister Robin was the only one of us who actually liked cooking. Robin had the gift of being able to mix disparate ingredients together and make something that smelled wonderful and tasted better. She experimented with new recipes, but had a firm grasp of family favorites.
    One Saturday afternoon many years ago, Robin asked me if I wanted to help her make cheese cake. My sister Robin’s cheese cake is almost perfect. It is a firm, creamy slice of heaven. The recipe she used is a blend of other cakes she made and she took what she liked from each recipe. Her recipe called for 5 8oz bricks of cream cheese. It was the middle of July, our kitchen was hot, so room temperature made the cheese thick and heavy. In the middle of mixing cream cheese, sugar and eggs our hand mixer died. The motor started smoking and it refused to go another beat. Robin was ready to scrap the whole project, but I assured her that I could mix the batter by hand. I did. It took muscles usually reserved for painting or washing walls, but I mixed that batter. I knew the payoff would be slice of cheese cake with my coffee the next day. It was creamy and a beautiful pale yellow without a single lump when we poured it on top of the gingersnap crust in the spring form pan. I babysat that cake while it was in the oven. I had a personal investment in that cake, and it was going to be perfect. Not a brown spot from being in the oven too long or a crack because we took it out of the oven too soon.
    Sunday afternoon Robin got dressed to go out. No problem. We would eat cheese cake when she came back. Imagine my shock, dismay and disappointment when she packed up the cake and took it with her. I worked hard on that cake and didn’t get a slice? I was really angry. When my friend Jo called and asked me if I wanted to hang out at her house for a little while I jumped at the chance. If I stayed home, I would dwell on the treat that I was missing. We got to Jo’s house and walked back to her patio when a dozen female members of my family and friends came out the Jo’s kitchen and yelled “SURPRISE!” It was a surprise bridal shower. Robin and the cheese cake were there. I beat the cake for my own bridal shower.

  3. Audrey Hines says:

    I grew up 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, at the tail end of allegheny county. To live at the end of nowhere was the best place to live. You see it was a coal mining town and all of my friend fathers worked in the mines except mine. We had a company store where my grandmother would go to put money on the bill and then buy more stuff and it would make the bill higher. So Living out there taught you to appreciate the facts that you had gardens, blackberry bushes, apple trees, pear trees all in your back yard. Oh I forgot, we could always go to the river and catch fish if you really wanted to eat something that came out of the river where the outhouse dumps into it, or the honeydipper truck would take it to the river . My granddaddy had this big garden down on the riverbank, where he would plant corn, greenbeans, tomatoes, lettuce, ruhbarb, squash, cucumbers, greens. we also had chickens near the house and rabbits. and on sundays when it was your turn to feed the preacher my mother and grandmother would have fried chicken and rabbit for dinner, I learned to tell the difference between the rabbit and chicken and would go and tell my granddaddy to please get me a chicken leg. How could you eat that poor thing after you have looked at it for several weeks. we had fresh everything, my granddaddy would get us up at 7 am to go pick all that fresh food. ” hated it”, but when my mother would cook greenbeans, or greens with fatback , and cut up tomatoes and onions, and put a little bit of vingear over the top add fresh cornbread and corn on the side that was the best tasting food in the world. Now that I look back on it I had a great time growing up, I just didn’t know it at the time.

  4. Lydia Scott says:

    For all of my teen years, I’d always planned to get up early on Thanksgiving to help my mother with the turkey and trimmings. Every year, I overslept and was awaken to the overwhelming good aroma from the kitchen. And every year I would ask my mother why she didn’t awaken me. “You were sleeping so good, I didn’t want to disturb you,” she’d answer. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to learn something from observation; and before I knew it, I was a young bride with a kitchen of my own. On my first Thanksgiving as a married woman, I called my mother about a half dozen times asking for advice on spices, etc. (Darn, I wish I’d helped her even one Thanksgiving holiday!) My mother, of course, never measured anything with a tool like a measuring cup or spoon. She always said I should put in enough spice/whatever “to taste” – whatever that meant. This was my first try at preparing Thanksgiving dinner and I actually had the nerve to invite other people, outside the family, to dinner. I didn’t burn anything (that year), but my stuffing was too wet – and I made waaaay too much! If I’d had the capacity to freeze it, I would have had stuffing until May! My mashed potatoes were too runny – nearly liquified, and the green beans were over-cooked to nearly mush. Nevertheless, my family and guests said the meal was good. Sometimes it’s just good to have people lie to you. By the way, over 40 years later, I’ve improved – some. Now, let me tell you my experience learning to make biscuits………No, that’s another story………

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