Friday, August 19, 2011

Sunday Dinner Questionnaire: Mary Ann Taylor

I've been hearing about Mary Ann Taylor for some time now.  My husband has been working with her on a television show called Rocket City Rednecks, which will start airing on National Geographic in mid-September.  Listening to my husband's stories about Mary Ann's incredible Southern cooking with great interest and more than a little jealousy.  After all, I'm the one from the South and although my husband SEEMED to appreciate Mary Ann's cooking, I felt that it really would be better if I got to try it myself.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Mary Ann and she was as lovely and kind as I'd been told.  I didn't get to try her cooking... yet... but she was gracious enough to send me her recipes for biscuits and banana bread.  I'm still looking for White Lily flour so I can make the biscuits.  I did, however, try her recipe for banana bread and it was a huge hit with my family.  (More on that in another post.)

Until then, I hope you'll enjoy Mary Ann Taylor's Sunday Dinner Questionnaire.  Be sure to check out her recipe for her Granny Rosie's Lemon Pound Cake following the questionnaire.  The addition of apricot nectar is quite intriguing.  Reading Mary Ann's response to the question about her favorite food has inspired me to make fried potatoes for dinner.  I'm hungry already!
Photo courtesy Mary Ann Taylor, 2011.

The Official Sunday Dinner Questionnaire

1.  What is your favorite food to eat?
Fried potatoes and I don’t mean French fries. Potatoes cut into large squares and fried in bacon drippings are wonderful. But if you fry them in a little olive oil and add a slice of ham to the skillet while they are cooking—it’s better than wonderful.

I guess it’s my southern heritage. I was raised on fried potatoes. Often it was the main course when I was growing up.

2.  What is your favorite food to cook?  
I don’t have just one favorite food to cook. I just like cooking any and everything. But I do like baking deserts and breads.

How often and under what circumstances do you make it?
There is something baked in my kitchen most all the time, a pound cake, or banana bread, biscuits.

3.  Who or what is your greatest culinary influence?  Why is he/she/it an
inspiration to you?
I’d have to say my Granny Rosie. She cooked simple foods. To this day, family members speak of her lemon pound cake. But most of all, granny let me experiment or do what ever I wanted to do in her kitchen. I baked my first pan of cornbread when I was five.

4.  What is your favorite kitchen utensil and why do you love it?
I know the coffee pot is not a kitchen utensil, but I couldn’t live without it!  Other things of importance are my electric mixer, my knives and my well-worn cutting board. Without them I’d be lost.

5.  What did you eat for dinner this past weekend?
Wow! It was a big meal. My granddaughter left for college this weekend and the family cooked all her favorite foods. To name a few: ham slow-cooked all day on a smoker, baked chicken, hot dogs for the little ones, fried apples, tater-tot casserole, veggie casserole, green beans, cookie dough cake, chocolate chip cheese cake, and red and yellow watermelon.

6.  When you were growing up, did you eat Sunday dinner or another meal that brought your friends and family together on a regular basis?  If so, what did you eat?
When I was growing up our Sunday dinners (the meal in the middle of the day) consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits. Later when my boys were growing up, at the evening meal, we ate finger foods made kind-a special. We’d gang up around the TV with our plates, and munch while we watch a family movie together.

7.  Do you have a garden?  If so, what do you grow in it?
Charles and I used to raise a garden. One of my fondest memories about gardening was the year we grew cucumbers on a fence. Boy did we ever yield long cucumbers.  My garden today consists of weeds in the flower beds.

8.  What is your ultimate food fantasy?
A good cup of coffee and chocolate of any kind.

9.  If you could choose to have any person living or dead prepare a meal for you, who would it be?  What would you want to eat?
My mother-in-law; she loved cooking for family as much as I do. She knew everyone’s favorite dishes and cooked them the old fashioned way. I liked her fried green tomatoes mixed with okra and yellow squash; and my mama’s purple hull peas fresh from the garden.

10.  Fill in the blank:  "The most important element of a good meal is family and friends."

Granny Rosie’s Lemon Pound Cake
by Mary Ann Taylor

Ingredients for Cake:
  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup apricot nectar
Instructions for Cake:
  • With an electric mixer: Mix all ingredients until creamy.
  • Pour into a greased tube cake pan. I like to use canola spray to grease baking pans.
  • Bake 350º for about 45 minutes.
  • Let cake set in pan for a couple of minutes and the turn out onto serving dish.
  • While the cake is cooling prepare the icing.
Ingredients and Instructions for Icing:
  • Mix juice of two lemons with powder sugar to make a mixture. Drizzle over warm cake.