Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mayberry, Mayodan and a Rebuttal

Living in Mayodan is the closest I’ll come to living in the fictional town of Mayberry, that splendidly wholesome place made famous on The Andy Griffith Show. The towns share many similarities: May, my favorite month, is at the beginning of both town names; it takes the same number of syllables to say Mayodan as it does to say Mayberry and they are both located in the fine state of North Carolina.

The huge selling point for me in calling Mayodan home, this sister town to Mayberry, is not in town names, but in the quality of life and people who live here. Many of you may recall that food was often a focal point in Mayberry and the same can be said for Mayodan. I’ve lost count of the number of times my daughter and I have been gifted food from our neighbors. Soups, stews, breads, pot pies, cobblers, casseroles, cakes and a variety of homegrown vegetables are but a few of the tasty goodies that have been given to my daughter and me for no other reason than out of the kindness and caring of good people. In fact, while writing this article, Susan’s daughter Deedee Grummett, delivered a deliciously fresh (still warm) homemade pineapple and ginger pop tart to my front door. Talk about impeccable timing! This giving of food, of course, fuels my desire and need to reciprocate that care and giving as I have, on occasion, whipped up something to eat for my neighbors. I love to cook and it pleases me to see someone enjoy something I’ve prepared in my kitchen. 

Mayberry had its fair share of cooks and, with the exception of her kerosene pickles, Aunt Bea reigned queen of the cooks in that town. Blue ribbons were highly prized and seldom, if ever, did anyone share the ingredients of an award winning recipe.

My good friend, Susan, is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. Watching her in full blown cooking mode in her kitchen is a sight to behold. I’d wager that she can hold her own against a Food Network chef when it comes to handling a knife and a chopping block and she can follow or ad-lib a recipe and produce a masterful meal in a matter of minutes.

My kitchen skills weren’t too shabby prior to my having the good fortune to meet Susan, but her willingness to become my cooking sensei, to share her recipes and to teach me how to be more frugal in the kitchen and at the grocery store has made me a better, more cost efficient cook today.

A few days ago Susan phoned and invited me over to sample a few of her squash fritters. Thinking that I’d likely glean something from watching her cook fritters using fresh squash harvested from her father’s garden and being a might hungry, I hurried out the door. The squash fritters were awesome! Coated in cornmeal, deep fried to a golden brown, the fritters looked like a large hushpuppy but tasted soooooo much better. My taste buds begged for more and Susan was kind enough to put several in a bag for me to carry home.

When I asked for the ingredients, Susan handed me the recipe and turned to make a new batch of fritters. I sat, munching a fritter, reading the recipe when, suddenly, something caught my eye. The main ingredient, self-rising cornmeal, was not the cornmeal my cooking sensei had recommended that I buy at the grocery store. I had been encouraged, and rightfully so, to buy the cheaper regular cornmeal and flour and use recipes that called for baking soda and baking powder as an ingredient when cooking. Why, in my mind, I was witnessing a food scandal worthy of being written into an episode of The Andy Griffith Show! When I questioned her use of self-rising cornmeal in her squash fritter recipe, she turned, smiled and said, “You’re going to post this on The Frugal Poet, right?”

And so it is with good humor and a huge sense of trepidation that I make this post today. I dearly hope I’ve not eaten my last squash fritter or anything else cooked by my friend in her kitchen. A few weeks ago in her "Well, I never!" post, Susan called me on taking a short cut when I used canned biscuits in my crock pot chicken and dumplings recipe. It seems, in my mind, that using self-rising cornmeal or flour in a recipe could also be considered a short cut.

“Well, I never!”...?

I think maybe you did sensei, at least once. ;-)

Today’s recipe is easy to make. My daughter and I call this one “A Keeper” here at Poet’s Cottage.

Chicken and Noodles in Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce


        4 to 5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
        1/4 cup soy sauce
        1 to 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
        2 tablespoons minced garlic
        2 tablespoons olive oil
        2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
        3 tablespoons honey
        4 chicken breasts (cubed)
        3 chopped green onions (cut diagonally)
        2 cups shredded carrots (or more to your liking)
        1 (16 ounce) package of wheat noodles
        Sriracha sauce (rooster sauce) for heat and taste
        sesame seeds


Sauce: Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and honey in sauce pan. Simmer, covered, on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until hot, stirring occasionally.

Chicken: Cut and sauté chicken breasts in olive oil. Add vegetables when chicken is almost finished cooking. Salt and pepper to taste.

Noodles: Cook wheat noodles in water with salt, according to package instructions.

Serve chicken and vegetables over noodles with sauce poured on top. Top with sesame seeds.

A couple of notes: I added the rooster sauce to the peanut sauce toward the end of cooking time, adding and stirring until I reached the amount of heat that a normal human can tolerate. (I’d add more if I were cooking just for me.)

The peanut sauce thickened a little during the simmering and stirring process. I added small amounts of water until I reached a desired consistency.

If you don’t have rooster sauce, toss a chopped cayenne pepper or two in along with your vegetables, but be careful and don't overdo the heat. Overdoing heat is seldom a problem with me. :)

And finally, a one line haiku to sample along with your Asian cuisine.

drinking sake until I'm ready for the blowfish

Frogpond Volume XXXI:1 - February, 2008


  1. Well, Curtis, I don't think Andy would have called Aunt Bee out on anything she made in her kitchen! Susan you have my permission to give his ears a good yank! LOL The fritters sound wonderful--self-rising cornmeal or not--as does the Thai Chicken recipe.

    1. I see where this is going, cousin. The ladies ganging up on poor little ole me? :)

    2. Terri, turn about is fair play and that's all I have to say about that right now :)

  2. Great post, and Susan is right about the benefits of adding the baking powder/soda as needed to cornmeal and flour. That said, I usually have some self-rising on-hand, and I'm sure not afraid to use it either! Too soon for the squash up here, but I'll be battering and frying up my share come July. I do have the Thai dish on the coming week's dinner menu. Found that Abi showed me that I have the Sriracha sauce in the cabinet and just didn't realize that's what it is.

    1. Thank you, Angie.

      And I have your splendid looking chicken salad and black bean & corn salad on my list of meals to prepare...soon.

      Yeah, I love that rooster sauce and try to keep a supply on hand.

      I see that you have a new post on your blog. I'm off to peruse... :)

  3. I think we need the recipe for the ginger-pineapple pop-tarts--just sayin'!

  4. Terri...I'll email the recipe for the ginger-pineapple preserves to you. Deeds will send you the assembly instructions for the pop tarts!