Grandma's Cajun Vegetable Stuffing
A Little Bit About My Plain Grandma
My life on the road as a playwright seemed a natural transition from my childhood as a military brat, also with a history on the road. I've always had friends and family spread all across the country. Even my parents come from different parts of the states. My dad's mom, Grandma Curry, lived all the way in Chicago. I always remember her wearing furs and smelling like Tea Rose. She was very fancy, and I didn't get to visit her very often. Then, down in Opelousas, Louisiana, I had my other grandparents. I lived with them for a while while daddy was in Vietnam. Grandpa was just Grandpa, he was the only one I had. But I had two Grandmas. So, the Grandma that was always there and always around, I just called her "plain grandma". We moved when I was very little, but once she got the name "plain grandma", that's the way she stayed, even when we lived fifteen hundred miles away. Well, Plain grandma doesn't like gadgets too much. She likes the way things used to be. She talks about people we never met, and never will because they died a decade or two before. Years ago, I remember being at her house, visiting, and she rocked back and forth in her chair, telling me story after story of this person and that person. She remembered names, names of their cousins, dates.I didn't find it very interesting at the time, especially since I'll never get to meet these people in this life. But they were still alive in her, and to her, and I let her talk. I sat down on the floor and listened. Not well enough.
While I was on the floor, she said, "Little Jule, gowan an turn de channel on de TV" (She was quite Cajun.) So I asked her where the remote was, and she tells me "Naw, I don' use dat ting".
"Why, is it not working?"
"Naw, naw. It works. I jes don' use it, It's in de drawer."
"Grandma, why do you keep the remote control in the drawer?"
After several minutes of questioning, I find out that Grandma is afraid of the TV remote control.
"What if I aim in de wrong de-rection? Might blow up a vase or sumtin', sho nuff."
I eventually convinced grandma that the TV remote would not blow up a vase or a lamp if aimed indiscriminately. I also convinced her that using the microwave would not cause her to get nuclear radiation. So she learned the art of using everyday technology, and doesn't mind as much that things aren't the way they used to be.
Now that I'm older, I think about my visit with her, sitting on the floor, watching her rocking back and forth, hearing her voice. I saw her as an old person to grace with my presence. I disregarded the stories she told me. I didn't listen, I heard her voice, but I didn't listen to her stories, of the people who came before. They weren't a bunch of old dead people, they were my heritage and my roots. She was trying to pass them down to me, the most valuable thing she could give to me, and I acted like I was doing her a favor by sitting at her feet listening. My position was correct, at her feet, but I failed on that trip as her student. She's getting older now, the names don't come as easily. Maybe, on a visit not yet planned, I'll once again have the opportunity to sit at her feet, and listen to what it is she has left to remember. And record it, and treasure it, and someday, sit rocking, telling the stories to a grandchild who will, I hope, have a little more sense.
Here is the Cajun Vegetable Stuffing recipe she remembered to me.
It begins, of course, with the Holy Trinity of Creole Cooking: Celery, Onion, and Bell Pepper
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 yello squash, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1 TBS margarine
2 TBS vegetable oil
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 sliced green onion for garnish
2 cups cornbread, crumbled
In skillet, saute bell peppers, onion and celery 3 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Stir. Add squash and zucchini, red and black pepper, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, and salt. Cook 10 minutes or until squash is tender. Add cornbread crumbles. Stir til moist. Garnish with sliced green onions.
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If the stuffing is too dry, add a little chicken broth, about a tablespoon at a time, until moist.
If stuffing is too moist, try adding a few more cornbread crumbs until you have the right consistency.
If you're like me, you'll want to pour a generous shake of Tony Chachere's over the stuffing when it is finished.
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