My sister called a few days ago wanting a recipe that yanked me back to my teen years. My grandmother's maid, Virginia, was a cook extraordinaire and made Monkey Bread that sent us to our knees. Now, this isn't that MB you see on the Internet with the cinnamon and sugar--no, no, noooo. This is the homemade roll dough, pinched off, rolled between two pale pink palms (Virginia's), dipped into melted butter, and layered in a tube pan the size of a wagon wheel. (Not really on the size of the pan but considering how much we loved it, it might have been a good idea since we fought to take it home with us after lunch or dinner.) I can still hear Virginia's shriek of laughter as I'd sneak in the kitchen after lunch to make sure some was left over. Hey, snooze ya loose.
Once the layers were complete, she'd set it somewhere warm to rise before putting it in the oven and here's where my memory goes dim. What temp and for how long did she cook the MB...and why do I have a vague memory of a pan of water at the bottom of the oven to keep the bread light and moist and not dry out?? I vividly remember her saying because there was a lot of bread you had to cook it slow at first and then bring up the temp to brown it, but that's about all I remember. And the worst news of all is, Virginia's gone now and with her went all that MB information, as well as her chocolate meringue pie of death. I don't think any of it was ever written down anywhere--it was just all in her head and hands. Sooo, that said, I may try this holiday season to re-create the MB of my youth. My children and nieces and nephews have never had it and Virginia's legacy will die with her unless I can resurrect her MB. Oh, lordy...that's a tall order and though it may take me several tries in the cooking department, I'm going to consult with Mary, my next door neighbor, on bread baking and see what she suggests. And last ditch, I can always go read and see what Miss Julia has to say about bread baking. She might just know a thing or two.
MB, toasted the next morning, and slathered with butter will cure everything for ingrown toenails to a hangover and possibly more. Since you tear it apart with your hands to serve yourself, it breaks apart into these soft little pillows of rolls that melt in yo' mouth, baby. And toasted to crispy?? Worse than Meth...much worse. One bite and you're hooked. BAD.
I went to see mom yesterday, and again, she was down the hall with the gang watching TV. Word is, she likes that enormous TV. I think the staff likes getting them all out of their rooms, and putting them all together where they can see them, to offer them snacks, etc. I'm all over that idea. One of the staff told me mom is the TV Nazi and tells people to be quiet if they yak to much and she can't hear. While I was there she yelled out "she's gonna KILL you" to the man on TV. This from the TV Nazi.... It took everything I had to smother my laughter.