Memories of fried chicken, the way Grandma made it

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Just wondering as I wander: Does anyone fry chicken at home anymore? I would love to have some fixed the way my grandmother and mother did.

They would bring in whole chickens from Caldwell’s Grocery in Williamstown, stand at the sink and cut them up.  Pieces would then sit a bit in a bowl of salt water, I think.  Or was it buttermilk at grandmother’s house?  She might have used lard for frying in the big cast iron skillet, but my mother always used Crisco.

At this time of year, while the chicken was frying, I was setting the table and slicing tomatoes from the garden (ours or a relative’s), putting ice in the glasses, slicing a lemon, and pouring the tea.  In those days, we didn’t differentiate.  There was only iced tea…no unsweetened.

When the chicken was done, Mother did one of two things.  She either scooped out the crumbs from frying onto a paper towel for us to pick at, or she made milk gravy.  And that was our favorite middle of the summer meal:  Fried chicken, sliced tomatoes, and bread and gravy.  Sometimes mashed potatoes made the menu, but it was all about the chicken.

I never mastered the cutting up of a chicken.  And when I have bought pieces, I just can’t make them taste like the ones I have described.  They won’t crisp up like Mother’s.   I also suspect the chickens at the grocery stores here have been dead for quite some time and most likely came from huge chicken conglomerates and filled with growth hormones.   When I was a child, my parents always got the white meat while my brothers and I had to be satisfied with legs and thighs.  It’s ironic that today, those are my favorite pieces but the only pieces I ever buy and fix myself are wings!

My brothers, Bob and Sam, or as they will forever be known in Grant County, “The Perry Boys” were in town last Friday to hold the ‘hot wheel races’ at the public library.  They have been entertaining the children (and adults) here with their tracks for about eight years now.   It all started when Bob was helping plan activities for the Marigold Festival in Williamstown and he and Sam built a track for the hot wheels.  Talk about a hit!   Soon they were taking their track to the County Fair.  Then they made ever more sophisticated tracks, complete with lights and starter buttons. 

I invited them to visit our library way back when and they have been coming ever since.  Now they travel to libraries all over the state and Saturday Bob was in Lebanon, Ohio holding races.  It’s a wonderful hobby for them; not that they need another what with F-100 pick-up trucks and bass boats, and fishing tournaments.

Lots going on in town last Friday.  Main Street’s monthly celebration on the Courthouse Square had the best attendance I have seen yet and no wonder.  Josh Glauber and his partner had a really good performance.  I remember him as a young boy coming to the library with his brothers.

Then down at the Point, the Blues and Bands Festival was in full swing, though the weather cut short the last performance.  I didn’t make it down till Saturday, but what a beautiful site our Point Park is for a festival and it was good to see lots of people there.  I talked to the man and his wife who own Madison Iron Works.  They made the iron fence that surrounds the public library garden.  Mr. and Mrs. Helton could not stop exclaiming over what a wonderful park we have and what a great time they were having.  Congratulations to Rhonda Riley and the Tourism Commission.

It was good to see so many campers at the new Two Rivers Camp Ground this weekend.  If we are all patient, I am betting we will see more and more of that.

Just one more comment.  I like to talk about the local businesses that do good things.  After Bob and Sam finished at the library we went to Down on Main for supper.  We all three had the rib eye steak and all agreed that it was delicious.  Good job folks!

Don’t forget the Senior Picnic is this Wednesday and next Saturday is the 50th anniversary celebration at General Butler State Resort Park.  A barbecue lunch will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce office or The Tourism office as well as the front desk at the lodge.  The cost will be $7 if you wait till next Saturday. 

I am encouraging everyone to attend for a selfish reason.  Carroll County Animal Support will receive a percentage of the tickets sold.


Jarrett Boyd is the retired director of Carroll County Public Library and resides in Carrollton.