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Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way

Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way: Smokin' Joe Butter Beans, Ol' 'Fuskie Fried Crab Rice, Sticky-Bush Blackberry Dumpling, and Other Sea Island Favorites

Foreword by PAT CONROY
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way
    Book Description:

    If there's one thing we learned coming up on Daufuskie," remembers Sallie Ann Robinson, "it's the importance of good, home-cooked food." In this enchanting book, Robinson presents the delicious, robust dishes of her native Sea Islands and offers readers a taste of the unique, West African-influenced Gullah culture still found there.Living on a South Carolina island accessible only by boat, Daufuskie folk have traditionally relied on the bounty of fresh ingredients found on the land and in the waters that surround them. The one hundred home-style dishes presented here include salads and side dishes, seafood, meat and game, rice, quick meals, breads, and desserts. Gregory Wrenn Smith's photographs evoke the sights and tastes of Daufuskie."Here are my family's recipes," writes Robinson, weaving warm memories of the people who made and loved these dishes and clear instructions for preparing them. She invites readers to share in the joys of Gullah home cooking the Daufuskie way, to make her family's recipes their own.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1651-3
    Subjects: American Studies, African Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Pat Conroy

    In 1969, I found myself twenty-three years old steering a boat across the May River in Bluffton, navigating a tricky route to a mysterious place called Daufuskie Island. It was the first year of “teacher integration” in the public school system in South Carolina, and I spent one of the richest and most pleasurable years of my life teaching eighteen black children from grades 5 through 8 in a two-room schoolhouse in the middle of a Carolina sea island that did not have a single paved road.

    Until that time, segregation had been the law of the land in the...

    (pp. xvii-xxii)
    (pp. 1-12)

    When midwife Sarah Grant rushed over the plank across the swamp near Grandmomma’s some 40 years ago, she was about to bring me into a world very different from anything that exists today.

    Married to Daufuskie’s undertaker (the Grants got us coming and going, folks used to say) Miz Sarah was the last of our small island’s midwives. Her world, the one she introduced me to, was set for some big changes—but not before I learned its ways.

    Folks on our island had little money, but we had a thriving economy and a rich life. Unlike children today, my...

    (pp. 13-22)

    If there’s one thing we learned coming up on Daufuskie, it’s the importance of good, home-cooked food. Ingredients were plentiful on our island, but (except for the very old, the very young, the sick, and the shut-in) we had to earn our meals. Without our hard work—growing, gathering, and catching—we had nothing much for our table.

    That doesn’t mean anyone went hungry. If you were walking down a road or path and smelled the ’roma of fresh cornbread, lima beans, and fried chicken, you could follow your nose to a good meal. And you were always welcome. Sharing...

    (pp. 23-24)

    Southern cooking has earned a bad reputation among many health advocates. And there is some reason for concern. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and strokes are more common in the South, particularly among African Americans, than elsewhere in the United States.

    One reason may be that our cooking traditions come from a time when folks worked hard all day under a hot, Southern sun. These days, most of us just don’t burn off fat and calories the way many Southerners used to.

    Still, we like our fatback, fried chicken, and peach cobbler. All of us just can’t all eat...

  8. 1 salads
    (pp. 25-38)

    We didn’t grow lettuce. But we had salads.

    To us, a chilled mixture of ingredients, usually including some mayonnaise, was a salad. We used fresh fruits and vegetables, well-cooked meats and fish, and even some ingredients from cans and boxes.

    Most salads were extras for a Sunday meal that already included meat, cooked vegetables, and rice. They were usually light summer dishes that didn’t require the woodstove—although some of the ingredients might have been cooked. Leftovers often found their way into salads. If there was a community gathering, you can bet many of the covered dishes held salads inside....

  9. 2 The Garden
    (pp. 39-54)

    As little girls, we loved dirt. We loved the way it felt between our toes. We loved to sift sandy soil through our fingers. We loved to dig and build “sand houses” with dirt and lumber scraps. We loved to get dirty. And we loved to make mud pies—and even pretend to eat them, sometimes tasting with our tongues.

    But dirt was much more than fun for us and a nuisance for Momma, who had to clean our clothes—and us. For generations, Daufuskie dirt fed our family. No, it wasn’t on our menu, but the island’s rich, sandy...

  10. 3 The River
    (pp. 55-80)

    Daufuskie was and remains very much an island. It has no bridge and only limited public ferries from the mainland. Surrounded by deep water and wide marshes, we had to make the best of our situation.

    And when you get right down to it, our situation wasn’t so bad. The tidal waters around Daufuskie are filled with seafood. The nearby May River and New River marshes are among the most productive in the United States. However, there was a problem with these waters: the Savannah River, as it emptied into the Atlantic just over a mile to our south, carried...

  11. 4 The yard
    (pp. 81-106)

    When I was coming up, we lived on several different properties, all owned by Momma’s or Pop’s families. We lived on the north end of ’Fuskie, and we lived on the south end.

    Islanders weren’t strict about property lines—except on one old plantation owned by folks from across the water. As children, we wandered where we wanted, and folks didn't worry about vandalism, because they didn’t build resentment with fences. We put up fences to keep animals in, not to keep people out. And when someone’s cow got loose, a neighbor would let the owner know where it was...

  12. 5 The woods
    (pp. 107-120)

    The woods were all around us on Daufuskie. Like most of the eastern United States, the Sea Islands were once covered by natural forests that were cut down in the 1700s and 1800s for lumber, fuel, and fields. But if you leave such a field alone, it won’t be a field for long. And the Daufuskie of my childhood had been left alone a long time.

    Tall pines, hickories, gums, and oaks, with thick underbrush, grew right up to the edges of our dirt roads. Paths through the woods were marked by deer tracks and formed by our trips to...

  13. 6 Rice Dishes
    (pp. 121-136)

    The South Carolina Lowcountry was built on rice, perhaps even more than on the long-staple Sea Island cotton it was famous for. Rice culture came to the Low-country from Africa and the Caribbean, along with the slaves imported to clear the land and tend the cotton and indigo that grew on early plantations. Early on, the plantation owners learned— -probably from their slaves—that rice could grow very well in tidal South Carolina.

    Some rice was grown even on Daufuskie, although the island is small, with only a few freshwater swamps and ponds where the rice could thrive.

    By 1850,...

  14. 7 Quick Meals
    (pp. 137-144)

    Long pots that cooked all day made most of our dinners. But some days—when Momma and Pop were out fishin’, were tired from a big night, or were worn out from springtime chores, the long pot never got started. We didn’t have a freezer full of TV dinners, so we had to make do.

    Often, we dressed up leftovers from a day or two before. Add a box of elbow macaroni, a can of something from the shelf, or a scoop of rice and we’d be well on our way to fillin’ our bellies. Momma had a few standby...

  15. 8 Breads & sweets
    (pp. 145-166)

    Baked goods were always a treat when we were coming up on ’Fuskie. We had store-bought bread only on the days following our monthly trips to Hilton Head Island or Savannah. Most came from the Sunbeam day-old bread store in Savannah, where we paid a dollar to fill a big brown paper bag with white bread, rolls, and snack cakes.

    The rest we baked ourselves in Momma’s woodstove. And most baking took place on Sundays. Momma would make two pans of cornbread to last into the week. Almost every Sunday, she would also bake a pie, cobbler, or sweet bread....

  16. INDEX
    (pp. 167-170)