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Bena Mae's Kitchen: Hunkering Down

For almost three days my grandson and I monitored the tornados on the weather channels on TV last week. We were shocked by the tragic pictures of surrounding states that were being flashed upon the TV screen. “It won’t happen here,” we told each other. “They always exaggerate the warnings just to scare people into watching their station.” Outside the sun was shining and not a drop of rain was falling.
But as the days went by, we began to see the picture change. Red spots on the weather map-detailing areas where the tornados were appearing in clusters - covered the map. East, west, north and south, no area was being spared. It was like playing Russian Roulette. We were in the direct path of several warnings and which one would have our name on it.
In the meantime, I was calling relatives in the storm’s path to check to see if they were all right - from Knox County, Tennesse to Knox County, Kentucky. Some of them weren’t aware of the ominous happenings around them. Did they live in a cave, I wondered.
I don’t have a live-in basement but I had prepared a closet for a “safe haven” just in case. About eleven o’clock on Friday night, a false sense of security settled upon us because the warnings had almost subsided. Then the warning that a tornado was over my town told us to find a safe place IMMEDIATELY! The tornado was due to hit any moment. Then the rain, which sounded like hail, began to come down in buckets. We headed for the closet.
But the closet was too small for both of us to fit into -- my grandson is over 6 feet tall. So we grabbed our pillows and cell phones and a flashlight and hunkered down in the hallway. When the all clear was sounded, it lifted a great weight off our shoulders and we began to count our blessings.
When I read about the impact the storm made upon Laurel County and East Burnstadt, KY, it saddened my heart. These people are our neighbors and we care about our neighbors. We mourn their losses with them and hope they can in time regain a sense of normalcy if that is possible. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with them.

This is pretty much the way my mother fried chicken and it was the best. She soaked it in buttermilk overnight and I think that made a difference.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gravy

1 (3 1/2) pound broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

oil for frying
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in a large shallow dish. Pour buttermilk over; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Drain chicken pieces; add to flour mixture, one at a time, and shake to coat. Shake off excess; let stand on waxed paper for 15 minutes before frying.
Heat 1/8 to 1/4 in. of oil in a large skillet; fry chicken until browned on all sides. Cover and simmer, turning occasionally, for 40-45 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is tender. Uncover and cook 5 minutes longer. Remove chicken; drain on paper towels and keep warm.
Drain all but 1/4 cup drippings from skillet; stir in flour until blended. Gradually add milk, then 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add remaining water if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with chicken.