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Cooking Soulfully

NAACP tasting highlights taste of soul food.

Sunday afternoon, the Black History Resource Center was filled with soul food.

There were sweet potato pies, stewed tomatoes, fried, barbecued and baked chicken along with black-eyed peas, chitterlings, candied yams and collard greens.

It was all there for the Alexandria Branch of the NAACP’s fourth annual Black History Observance Program, "The Souls of Black Folk: Centennial Reflections."

The program also featured musical selections, greetings from NAACP president S. Howard Woodson, and a brief history of the Black History Resource Center from Louis Hicks, the center’s director\, and a speech by Dr. Robert J. Cummings, director of African American Studies at Howard University.

But over it all wafted the aromas of the soul food, waiting for guests to dig in for the 4th annual Soul Food Tasting.

It was definitive soul food, good but simple ingredients seasoned just so. Years ago, the Alexandria chapter of the United Way published a soul food cookbook, which defined it thus:

"Soul food, Southern food, call it what you want, it's all the same: beans and greens, yams and chicken- it's what a mother cooks at home for her family,” wrote Mama Cole, of Panama City Florida. “What makes it different is two things: quality ingredients and seasoning. You've got to put something into it to get something out of it. It may cost more to do that, but it's the only way."

Pork Chitterlings

Anice C. Wilson

10 pounds chitterlings (pig intestines)

1 onion

1 pod garlic

3 stalks celery

hot pepper to taste

black pepper to taste

salt to taste

Wash thoroughly and remove fat from chitterlings. Place in pot with small amount of cold water. Let come to a boil. Place onion, garlic and celery in cheesecloth; tie and put in pot. Cook on medium heat about 2 hours. Drain; cut up chitterlings. Serve hot with hot sauce and vinegar. May also be fried with batter using Bisquick Mix.

Meatless Black-eyed Peas

Ethel S. Underwood

2 cups black-eyed peas

8 cups hot water

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Before cooking – soak peas in 6 cups cold water for 2 hours. Then place peas in large pot with 8 cups of hot water. Add olive oil and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours or until peas are soft. Add only hot water if needed. (Cold water will cause peas to burst) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Miss "Dittie" Calhoun's Spoon Bread

1 cup milk

1/3 cup yellow corn meal

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons margarine

2 eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir corn meal and sugar into milk and heat until mixture is of pudding consistency. Add margarine and allow to cool. Stir in 2 egg yolks. Add salt to egg whites and beat until very stiff. Gently add beaten egg whites to corn meal mixture and pour all into greased baking pan. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 4 servings (like any soufflé, this should be whisked from the oven straight to the table).

White Potato Pie

3 big baking potatoes

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring

2 eggs

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 9-inch pie crust

Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil them until cooked. Then mix potatoes with butter, sugar and vanilla flavoring. Add eggs and milk. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour pie mixture into pie shell. Bake for 30 minutes. If any mixture is left over, pour into little 3-inch pie tart shells and bake these to make potato tarts.

Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from Patti LeBell's Recipe by Joyce C. Sanchez

1-pound box macaroni

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 stick butter or margarine

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese

1/2 cup shredded shard cheese

1/2 cup Monterey Jack

1 cup Velveeta cheese cubed

1 1/2 cans carnation milk

2 large eggs

Cook macaroni according to directions on box. Drain and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to keep macaroni from sticking together. Put butter in large pan, gradually add 3 tablespoons of flour. Mix eggs with milk, gradually add to butter/flour mixture. Add all the cheeses. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in macaroni. Pour into large 9x13 dish. Sprinkle with paprika.

Topping: Mix 1 stick butter with about 3/4 cup bread crumbs - spread over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.