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Primitive Nick-A-Penny Fambly!
The soap-opera of the Nick-A-Penny family continues......enter: Nick-A-Puppy.
You enter her house through the back door and the smell of food hits you in the face like an explosion.......Collard Greens with Ham Hocks, Grits, Sweet Potato Pie, and Catfish and Hush Puppies.......
"Lawd hab mercy, chil'.............when's da last time ya ate? Sit dan he-ah.......I'ma gonna fix ya up a mess a viddles......mmm....mmm....mmm.....yous as skinny as my chil'ons lickin' stick......."
Now.......you might ask what a Hush Puppy is.......if you are a southerner, you already know......if you're a northerner, you're fixin' to find out.
But did you ever know the history of the Hush Puppy?
Well, sit right down and I'll fill you in on it.
And it has everything to do with Nick-A-Puppy.
It all started a long, long time ago with Nick-A-Civil.......back in the days of the Civil War.
Nick-A-Civil used to work in the kitchen house. Back in the plantation days, they would build the kitchen house separate from the main house.
There was a very good reason for this.
It was well-known that kitchen fires were inevitable......grease fires and chimney fires were the norm. So, building the kitchen house separate from the main house was a way to keep from losing everything, should a fire break out in the kitchen.
Nick-A-Civil, and the other cooks, would always have the best smelling foods in that kitchen. They'd come out through the door with their arms loaded down, headed for the main house.
However, there was always a problem with the plantation dogs. The dogs knew that the kitchen house was full of fine-smellin' food and they would wait for the women.
As the women made their way to the main house, those dogs would bark and raise a racket.......sniff around........jump up and place their big muddy paws all over the women. Sometimes they'd spill the food or worse yet, the women would get knocked down!
Now........Nick-A-Civil was a rough-talkin', no non-sense kind of a woman. She told it like it was!! And she had about HAD IT with those yappin' fools. You could always hear her yelling and kicking her feet to keep those dogs back.
She'd yell out at them..... "Lawd hab mercy........git back outta he-ah, yous bassards....hush, hush bassards."
This went on for years.......until one day.......Nick-A-Civil got an idea. She was making a big pan of corn bread and had some left-over batter. So, she dropped the batter by spoonfuls into the pan of hot grease and fried up little 'corn cakes'. They smelled wonderful and were a golden brown when finished cooking.
When the 'corn cakes' were cooled, Nick-A-Civil loaded them up into her apron pockets. And as soon as the women were ready to transport the food, Nick-A-Civil would throw the 'corn cakes' out into the yard and yell.... "Nahh....hush, you lil' bassards........hush yo mouff.........hush bassards."
It worked like a charm! What a great idea!
After that day, Nick-A-Civil always made sure that she had an apron full of those 'corn cakes'. Pretty soon, she started calling them Hush Bassards. She'd always remind the other women cooks to make up a batch of Hush Bassards.
Through the years, people began to enjoy the little 'corn cakes', as well. They began to take on a more round shape and they were especially good with Catfish and Collards.
And that brings us to today.
Nick-A-Puppy is a fine, upstanding woman. She always took embarrassment over her great, great, great Nick-A-Civil calling the 'corn cakes' Hush Bassards. That name stuck with those 'corn cakes' for years and years.......
Well, when Nick-A-Puppy became a mammy and then a grandmother, she would tell stories to the chil'ons at night. And she always told them about the special 'corn cakes'.
And she could feel herself grow anxious when talking about what Grandmother Nick-A-Civil would say to the dogs as she threw the special 'corn cakes' out into the yard.....
But, instead of using the term 'bassards', she'd say part of her family name......she'd say 'puppies', instead.
It became easier and easier to say that Grandmother Nick-A-Civil would say, "Hush, puppies! Hush puppies!"
That name caught on and soon, everyone was calling them Hush Puppies.
And it's a good thing, too.......otherwise, when me and Les go to Holden's Ranch, we'd be ordering BBQ and Hush Bassards.
Nick-A-Puppy takes care of the remaining chil'ons that belong to Nick-A-Penny and Nick-A-Buck. And she sure has her hands full, too. But, she believes in getting some religion in those 'young-ins' and she makes them go to church with her every Sunday morning.
She also makes one of the kids from the neighborhood go along with them. She's a little white girl, but Nick-A-Puppy sure 'nuff knows when a child is in need of some old time religion!
Sunday mornings start the same way in Nick-A-Puppy's house. She gets those sleepy heads up at the crack of dawn. And while they are trying to rouse themselves to life and wipe the 'sleepies' from their eyes, they can already smell the breakfast cooking on the wood-burning stove.....and they also hear Nick-A-Puppy yelling and complaining.
Ahhhhh........the sounds of love in the morning!
But they love her to death. No one can make a better Corn Pone or a Hush Puppy than their beloved Nick-A-Puppy.
And boy, those Corn Pones and Hush Puppies are a delight to smell. They bring them to church with them in order to keep them all well-fed.
The chil'ons scramble to the kitchen and see a big cast iron pot of Grits on the table. And the bacon is so thick that it has to be cut with a knife!
The huge Cat-Head size biscuits are waiting for them. They are deliciously golden brown, with a smathering of rich home-churned butter on their tops, and they're sitting in a cloth-lined wooden bowl.
The white pan-gravy is thick and lumpy, but it tastes so good on those biscuits that on a quiet night, you can hear the family's arteries harden!
Now THAT'S down-home cooking!
And just look at Nick-A-Puppy ..........the very vision of loveliness. She stands at that stove, all of 26 inches tall. She has been painted black and sanded for an aged look. She has many black braids in her hair, which have been tied with small rags.
Nick-A-Puppy wears a drab yellow Homespun dress with stars peppered all over it with the sleeves tied in place with twine. She also has crocheted cotton trim hand-sewn onto the hem of her dress.
There are also patches sewn here and there, and several antique buttons are stitched into place. She also wears some heavily stained pantaloons that are tied at the legs with twine.
Nick-A-Puppy has a stained crocheted doily as a collar. And this collar sits atop her ample bosom...........which the chil'ons love to snuggle up to. There's no love like the love Nick-A-Puppy gives a child as she bear-hugs them and squeezes them until they can't breathe. Then she'll let out a hearty laugh and do it again, just to watch the chil'on's eyes bug out!
There's a lot of fun in THIS house, for sure!
Then we have Nick-A-Puppy's white stained apron. It has two hand-stitched pockets and a piece of twine that acts as a belt.
Hanging from the twine belt is a toy for the chil'ons......a wooden 'ABC' block thing.
Nick-A-Puppy has a sculpted nose and miss-matched button eyes. But don't let those eyes fool you.....she see's everything those chil'ons do. They often wonder if she has eyes in the back of her head, as well. She has a very generous set of lips made of a red potpourri flower. It's a screaming mouth, too.....and never stops talking, ever.
Breakfast is over and she's getting everyone ready for church service. She puts Swaneesha in her left apron pocket. Swaneesha is wearing a red, white, and blue Homespun dress and is holding a small wicker sewing basket, to keep her busy in church during the meeting.
Chil'ons get restless and they need to be kept quiet. Swaneesha carries her scraps of fabric, a pin chushion with pins, and a wooden spool of red thread. She's also eating on a small slice of Watermelon.
Nick-A-Puppy picks up the little white girl from up the street and places her into the right-side pocket of her apron. She's wearing a blue dress with little white stars on it. Nick-A-Puppy gave her a plain cracker to eat.
Then we have Nick-A-Gum....the 'climber' of the family. She's always chewing gum. She's wearing a little black and white checked Homespun dress, and is also eating a small slice of Watermelon. She keeps bumping the bottom of Swaneesha's basket and Swaneesha's getting mad. Any minute now, they'll be fighting and incur the wrath of Nick-A-Puppy.
The first beating of the day usually begins before they can get out of the door.
Finally, Nick-A-Puppy gathers her 'go to meetin' basket. It's her Church basket, filled with all the things she needs to get through the morning at church. There's a hand-stitched quilt in order to wrap the chil'ons with so they can nap if they become tired. She takes warm Cone Pones and Hush Puppies to church with her, which are kept deep into the bottom of the basket, and she feeds them to the chil'ons, knowing that the carbohydrates will make them sleepy within 15 to 20 minutes.
Nick-A-Puppy also has some flowers that she picked from her garden. They'll decorate the church. She also carries a small wooden jar of candy, for the chil'ons. She gives them candy just before Sunday School. This gets them on a sugar high and they at least stay more alert until time for the preachin'.
There's also a small flocked teddy bear, for the kids to play with, and a few apples. She has her big green Good Book, which is her beloved Bible. And tied down onto the Bible is her wooden lickin' stick. It's to keep the chil'ons in line.
If they act up, Nick-A-Puppy takes that wooden lickin' stick and lightly pops them in the back of the head. Then she threatens them. She tells them that if they are bad, they'll go where the worm dieth not, and where there'll be the gnashing of teeth.
It seems to work rather well, as the chil'ons imagine being in a place with worms that grind their teeth at them.
Nick-A-Puppy also has her white paper fan in the basket. She knows that the church is hot and there'll be a lot of yellin' and sweatin' going on. There's also a small lace hanky in the basket. There'll be many tears shed, and many sins to repent, on this morning.
After the preacher gets them good and worked up, he'll pass the offering plate around, and Nick-A-Puppy will reach into her bra and pull out that little bulging change purse and get a quarter for the plate.
The chil'ons are full of wide-eyed wonderment when she pulls out that change purse. There is nothing more mysterious or forbidden than that change purse.
It's where ice-cream money comes from....and church money.......and it seems magic.
It's as though the clouds part, a beam of heavenly light shines down, and an angelic choir sings out in unison.........revealing the precious coins.
All they know is, Nick-A-Puppy will gather and sell eggs from the hen-house to different folks, and then the change purse has money. It never leaves her bra, except for special occasions.
Nick-A-Puppy will also be bringing a chicken to church with her. She sometimes likes to give a chicken to the preacher....ol' Reverend Nick-A-Screamer.
The members of the church do what they can to help support the preachin' effort.
Wouldn't you love having this Nick-A-Puppy doll in your home, making Hush Puppies for your supper? Try her recipe and see what you think!
Hush Puppies2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 medium onion, chopped very fine
3/4 cup milk (or Buttermilk)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Combine eggs, onion, and milk together in a mixing bowl.
Mix baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, cornmeal, and flour together.
Then mix the dry ingredients with the milk mixture. Blend well.
Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil and cook until golden brown.
Copyright © October 2, 2002 Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander
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My dolls are not for everyone, they are my art. If you are offended, I suggest you hit the back button. It will not do you any good to write me 'hate mail'.
In spite of the dolls I create and the stories I write, I do not use recreational drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.