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Friday, October 23, 2009

Chow Chow

A friend of mine sent me this recipe for Chow chow and it reminded me of my Grandma's Chow Chow. This particular recipe was found in one of the cookbooks that were the property of Faye Street and her mother Uva Robinson. I found the recipe interesting since it was written on a notepad from K.D. Madron, the former sherriff of Johnson County.

In the late summer/early fall when the cabbage heads were at their peak they all needed to be harvested. Some were made in to sour kraut. We made chow chow out of some, some went in the cellar and some were saved for the "tater hole" and we would have cabbage in the spring.

Now there is a trick to making sour kraut --if you don't do it right it will either smell, get too sour, or not sour enough or it will turn dark and soft and not even be fit for the pigs to eat. My grandmother knew exactly when to make sour kraut. She went by the signs. The signs have to be in the head and neck and it can't be on the dark of the moon. I never knew her to make a bad jar of sour kraut. It was always as pretty and white and fresh as the day it went in the jar.

Often times she would grab a few heads of cabbage, some onions and a green pepper or two from the garden and an old metal dishpan, her kraut cutter and go out to the backyard on the wash bench and start chopping the cabbage to make chow chow. She would quarter the cabbage always saving the stalk. She would trim the stalk and give it to me. I loved eating the stalk of the cabbage and I still do to this day. She would end up with a dishpan or two of chopped cabbage. She would add salt and let it sit overnight. The next day she would add her other ingredients and put it in cans and into the cellar.

Chow chow is a southern type of relish. It is traditionally served with soupbeans and cornbread as well as a condiment for your hotdogs. It is normally a sweet kind of relish but I like to add a jalepeno or two with mine.
Here is the recipe I use for making chow chow.
Southern Chow Chow
4 cups onions
2 cabbage
12 green peppers
6 red peppers
10 green tomatoes
4 hot peppers
6 cups sugar
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups vinegar
2 cups water
Chop onions, cabbage, peppers and tomatoes and mix together. Add 1/2 cup salt over them and let set overnight. Rinse and drain. Mix water, vinegar, sugar and spices together and bring to a boil. Pour over other ingredients and boil 5 to 8 minutes. Put in jars and seal.

The good thing about chow chow is you can eat it right away but it tastes better on a cold snowy day when there has been a pot of beans simmering on the stove all day and the smell of cornbread is fresh from the oven.
That's it for today.


KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

My mom makes chow chow too... it's quite a process. Love the handwritten recipe, how cute is that??

Ruby Coleman said...

I had forgotten about chow-chow. My Mom used to make it and I remembered the sharp smell of vinegar. It was so good with beans and cornbread. Brings back memories. Ruby Coleman