I hold on to things, like a comb my grandmother gave me, pictures of relatives that passed from this world long before I was born. These things give me comfort and connect me to my ancestors.
I also hold on to food. And I have the body to prove it! Food connects us all. It provides nourishment for the body and the soul. There is just something joyful about sitting down at the table with friends and sharing a meal.
All of us have food from our culture and our childhood that we tend to hold on to. For me that food is soul food. I am a southerner and an African American. And I hold on to traditional soul food. I have heard some arguments against soul food. It's high in fat and sodium. It is also high in green leafy vegetables, like turnips, collards, mustard, and cabbage. OK, soul food is not perfect. However, I would rather see people eat traditional soul food than a fast food diet of hamburgers and french fries. Before you lose it, I also don't eat a traditional soul food diet everyday. I also do not believe we should consume a traditional soul food diet everyday. Maybe we should reserve it for special occasions.
In honor of Black History Month, I thought I would do a post on soul food. Soul food is a part of American history and food culture. It is one contribution African Americans made to this country. It is a food cobbled together by slaves who could neither read nor write. These people left an indelible mark on this country. So ocassionally, we need to think about those who came before us. They did not get the opportunities that we have. Yet, they made lasting contributions to the world. And, we truly owe them a debt of gratitude.
As my contribution to Black History Month, I am posting on something you may want to forget - Head cheese or Souse. In my family, we make this dish around New Years. I will warn you, it is quite messy to make and takes a little time. So, don't enter into this endeaver lightly.
There is no real recipe for head cheese or souse. It is simple a list of ingredients. You make it by tasting as you go. With a little practice, you will know when you have the product you want
Fresh ham hocks
White or apple cider vinegar
Red pepper flakes
hot sauce (optional)
1. Place feet and hocks in a large saucepan and cover with water. You can also add a bay leaf or sage if you desire. (If you can not find fresh ham hocks, just use all feet.)
2. Feet are completely cooked when the meat is falling off the bones. Remove from broth. Leave until cool enough to handle. Hint: When you make head cheese, you are essentially making jello. You will need to work quickly. If you allow the feet to cool too much, they will be more difficult to work with. If this happens, simple heat up slightly.
meat grinder would have been used.
4. Add vinegar and red pepper flakes. Continue to mix. (Feel for small bones and remove.) Taste as you go. The mixture should have a slightly acidic taste. Add red pepper until you have the level of hotness that you desire. You may want to add more red pepper flakes or hot sauce. As this mixture cools, you will not be able to perceive the spiciness as much.
5. Pour into desired container. Cover and refrigerate. When cool, cut as desired. Serve with saltine crackers and extra hot sauce.