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Monday, April 1, 2013
I have been chief cook in my family since my first wife died in 1976, leaving me with two children still at home.
My first wife was French-Canadian, Polish and Hungarian, and it was she and her family who introduced me to the wonders of kielbasa in 1951.
They and an “old country” bar in Holyoke, Mass., where I first fell in love with pickled kielbasa and Labatt Cream Ale after a hard day’s flying in and out of Westover Air Force Base, where I was stationed.
As a cooking Virginian, I favor Southern recipes, mostly fed to me by my mother, Grandma and aunts in my early years. The simpler, the better.
But I do like seasoning, such as a slice of smoked hog jowl in greens, snaps, cabbage and some other vegetables. When some of these vegetables are cooked in liquid with beef or pork, you get the added benefit of the pot liquor, pronounced “pot likka.”
To encourage my appetite when I was 5 or 6, my dad told me that General Lee’s men savored “pot likka” with their suppers, especially late in the conflict when cornbread and hardtack made up most of their scant rations.
Kielbasa, I have found, makes exceptional “pot likka.” Well seasoned, great flavor and no better health food exists. And simple to make.
A few wedges of cabbage, a potato or two and several carrots cooked in water topped with kielbasa sections makes for both good eating and a delightful, healthy drink loaded with vitamins to go with cornbread. It’s inexpensive to boot . I know Lee’s men would have enjoyed it.
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