COOK/Williams has major role in Choctaw Fair
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:00 AM
Whether an entertainer at the Choctaw Indian Fair wants a prime steak or cornbread and buttermilk, Linda Williams will make sure it's there.
This year's Fair starts today for four fun-filled days.
Williams is the entertainers' building coordinator for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. She is in charge of providing food for entertainers throughout the fair.
"We'll start as early as December when we look at contracts," she said of her role. "In the latter part of April or early May, we'll look and see what we'll have to serve. Each contract is different."
Each entertainer is provided a Southern-style meal, including fried chicken. This will be combined with personal requests.
"There's always something we haven't tried," she said with a laugh. The different requests range from dietary requirements to special diets.
"We always make it how they [the entertainer] want it," she said.
Food is also provided to crew members.
Her staff once had to prepare a meal for one 35-member entertainment group, including drivers and family members.
Each meal is served in the entertainers' building, located next to stage on the fairgrounds.
Williams also works with certified chefs, Diane Johnston and Mary Harrison, retired, who ensure that the food is kept fresh.
Williams started working at the entertainment building in 1990 under Pam Thornton.
"It was my second year working for the Tribe and I wasn't assigned to work anywhere," she said.
"Pam came up to me and asked what I was working on. I didn't have anything so she asked me to help her. Pam had known my dad back when the entertainment building was a trailer.
"Over the years she kept bringing me back and trained me," Williams said. "At the time I didn't know what she was doing but when she passed [in 2000] I knew I was ready."
"Diane and Mary helped me that year and gave me confidence," she said. "I have enjoyed every bit of it."
Since taking over the position, Williams has worked every year except in 2008 and 2009.
"I took a break," she said.
Over the years she has had to cater to several unusual requests.
Once County Music singer Charlie Pride came and talked with the late Bob Ferguson, a songwriter honored with a Country Music Trail Marker located on the Tribal Reservation.
"He came in and asked for buttermilk and cornbread," she said
"He ate it there and took some with him. It made us laugh. That's a country boy right there."
Of all the foods provided, ribs have been the most popular with one exception.
"Two years ago steak was more popular," she said. "But everybody loves the ribs. Mark Ben [a chef] cooks wonderful, delicious meals."
Williams has graciously provided a few recipes. One in particular she wants to dedicate to Pam Thornton, a homemade potato soup with jalapeños.
"We used to always serve it until she passed," Williams said with a smile.
Baked Banana Doughnuts
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cops all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Beat bananas, egg whites, oil and brown sugar in large bowl or food processor. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until well blended. Let stand for five minutes for dough to rise. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Using a thin rubber spatula or butter knife, round out doughnut hole in center of dough (if dough sticks to knife or spatula, spray with cooking spray). With spatula, smooth outside edges of dough into round doughnut shape. Repeat until all dough is used. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and walnuts, if desired. Bake 6 to 10 minutes or until tops are golden.
Creamy Rice Pudding
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 cup converted rice
4 cups skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 1/4 teaspoons of Equal
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup raisins
Ground cinnamon and nutmeg
Heat water and cinnamon stick to boiling in large saucepan; stir in rice. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until rice is tender and water is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick. Stir in milk and salt; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until mixture starts to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. (Milk will not be absorbed and pudding will thicken when it cools.) Remove from heat and cool 1 to 2 minutes; stir in Equal. Beat egg yolks, egg whites and vanilla in small bowl until blended. Stir about 1/2 cup rice mixture into egg mixture; stir back into saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in raisins. Spoon pudding into serving bowl; sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Ice Box Rolls
2 cups milk (not low fat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
Combine and heat just until shortening melts. Cool to luke warm. Add 1/2 package yeast which has been dissolved in 2 tablespoons milk. Pour slowly into a bowl of 2 cups plain flour, stirring until smooth. (A wire whisk works well.) Batter will be thin. Let rise two hours in a warm place. This in called the sponge stage. The sponge will fall easily. Do not bump the container white the sponge is rising. After two hours, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoons of soda, 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and enough more flour to make a manageable dough. You can make out rolls now. Let rise for two hours and then bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Or, you can place the dough in the refrigerator for later use - up to one week later. (You can bake rolls in muffin pan; fill 3/4 full then let rise.)
Spicy Potato Soup
Small fresh potato, cut in 10 pieces
1/2 cup of flour
Salt and pepper
In a small boiler, boil the potato until it is cooked. Mix the flour and water and stir it good before mixing into the potato. Mix small chunks of jalapeño into the potato. Let it simmer for 30 minutes before serving.