CHOO CHOO! I’m in Chattanooga!

So I’m in Chattanooga.  The job I do for the state entails me traveling fairly frequently.  The reason I have to travel is to review cases outside my own region in order be an unbiased judge of how well the department is serving children and families.  Anyhoo, this week, it just happens to be Chattanooga.  And I LOVE Chattanooga!  It’s one of my favorite places!  EVER!

Why is Chattanooga such a favorite place?  Well, my Aunt Jane lived here when I was growing up.  Moma had two younger sisters.  Aunt Jane was the oldest of those younger sisters.  She was no doubt, the funniest person I ever knew!  She cracked funnies 24/7!  Very irreverent and sometimes downright bawdy!  I loved her.  The evil thing we call cancer took her from us way too soon.  She’s been gone now nearly 17 years.  I still miss her so much.

So she gave me Chattanooga as a child.  When I was young, Chattanooga was HUGE!  It was such a massive place.  They had such cool things there!  Like MALLS!  This little gal from Podunk had no malls.  Heck, I didn’t even have one, much less PLURAL…..MALLS!  The nearest mall was, and still is, an hour away at best!  I thought Chattanooga was heaven on earth because there was so much to do there.  I spent many a week during summers with Aunt Jane.

Aunt Jane had two daughters, my cousins, Kimberly and Tonya.  They were just slightly older than me and OH MY GOSH!  I abso-freakin’-lutely worshipped them when I was a kid!  They were so cool!  They were from “the big city!”  And when I came to visit they treated me just like a little sister instead of making me feel like the poor, pitiful little “country cousin” I was.  They took me shopping.  They took me out to eat.  They took me to Lake Winnepausaka, which is a little amusement park and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Well, except the time we went and my brother ate 15 BBQ sandwiches in one sitting and then we all got on the Tilt-A-Whirl.  I don’t think I really have to tell you how THAT came out.  ***snort***  Came out……get it.  OK, moving on!  This is a family-friendly food blog here.  No need to get graphic.  Anyway, Kimberly and Tonya were like my favorite people on EARTH because they were so beautiful and smart and fun and cool and knew such amazing things and imparted all that to me!  LOL  Did I mention I worshipped them? 

Anyway, so back to my Aunt Jane.  She was just one of those many people who gave me my love for cooking.  She is the one who made amazing cake!  I can very much remember after she passed away, my Moma had a few pieces of one of Aunt Jane’s pound cakes in her freezer.  She ate those pieces of cake by tiny nibbles to make them last as long as possible.  POUND CAKE, people!  I’m not talking about fancy and fru-fru!  Pound Cake with no frosting, no icing, no glaze, no NOTHING!  That’s how good her cake was!  Plain cake!  And it was to die for!

She also made other amazing things.  I have never had a roast as good as hers since she passed away.  When I would go visit her, she would always make roast because she knew I loved it.  We always had the same thing on the table:  Roast with carrots, pinto beans, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese and pea salad.  She always set the bottle of worcestershire sauce out on the table to add a little to the roast on your plate.  Oh man, my mouth is watering just THINKING about it!!!!

If there was anything my Aunt Jane made that I loved even better than her roast, it was that Pea Salad.  Because I’m in Chattanooga this week and that makes me think of my Aunt Jane and thinking of my Aunt Jane makes me think of Pea Salad, I’m going to share the recipe in honor of her today. 

Aunt Jane’s Pea Salad

*  1 pkg. frozen English peas

*  1/2 head of lettuce, chopped small

*  1  8 oz. pkg. cheddar cheese

*  8 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled

*  2 Tbsp. sugar

*  1 small red onion, diced small

*  3 Tbsp. Miracle Whip

Mix all ingredients together and chill.  Serve cold.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had any in a long time.  I can no longer eat lettuce and without the lettuce, it’s just not the same.  But I have literally eaten gallons and gallons of this salad. 

I have a few tips about making this salad.  First of all, DO NOT use canned peas.  It’s worthless with canned peas.  The joy of this salad is all the crunch in it…..the frozen peas, the crispy bacon, the firm onions.  If you use canned peas, it will have a mushy consistency and that’s just gross!  Trust me on this!  Second, please please please, in the name of everything that is holy and good, DO NOT use foul, putrid MAYONNAISE in this dish!  PLEASE!  I implore you!  It MUST be made with Miracle Whip.  And not some knock-off salad dressing either!  Miracle Whip and Miracle Whip ONLY!  EVER!

And that’s my Aunt Jane’s fabulous Pea Salad!  Enjoy it while I trot around her old stomping grounds this week! 

Last night, I had the immense pleasure of having dinner with Kimberly and her husband, Melvin.  It’s so rare we get to see one another.  We talked and talked and talked.  Then we talked some more.  The only thing that could’ve made it any better is if Tonya and her family and my Uncle Bob could’ve joined us.  But we had an amazing time!

OK, off to work now!  Enjoy my Aunt Jane’s Pea Salad!  She was a phenomenal lady!  I loved her with everything in me!  I still miss her so much and SOOOOOOOOOOOO wish I could share MY cakes with her, the greatest cake-baker ever! 

See y’all soon!

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2 Responses

  1. Amy, what a precious post! I am sitting here with tears, welled up in my eyes. I have had a pea salad like this, and it is wonderful, but it has been a while. ( In fact, I probably last ate it at a church dinner) I have never had it made with canned peas, and I agree, just thinking of the canned peas in this salad would not be a good thing. I’m so glad, that you at least, got to visit with one of your cousins. Does your cousin make the same cakes that her Mom use to make, and what was your favorite cake your Aunt made?

  2. AMY ALSO GETS SOME OF HER WICKED SENCE OF HUMOR FROM JANE!! YOU’D JUST HAVE TO TRUST ME ON THIS ONE!! I, TOO, WORSHIPPED THIS WOMAN. WE DROVE TO CHATTANOOGA ONCE JUST SO I COULD MOW HER YARD.

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