Food in the mountains was and is good basic food, simple and tasty.
Many mountain women were excellent cooks. My mother was never an excellent cook. She didn’t have the provisions for anything but the basics. But she fed six children and kept them healthy. Mama’s food was good enough. My step grandmother was one of those excellent cooks.
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We called her Birdie and everything from Birdie’s table was a mouth watering feast. Her green beans that had simmered for hours on the back of the wood stove with a hunk of fat back were so delicious. Her corn bread would practically melt in your mouth. For breakfast she cooked streaked meat and fried eggs in the grease. And made red eye gravy and cat head biscuits to go with it. When we visited Granddaddy and Birdie we feasted. They always had an apple or an orange for us. We didn’t get oranges at home unless it was Christmas or any fresh apples unless they were from our apple trees. Mama dried our apples and canned apple sauce so we had fried apple pies and applesauce cake in the winter months.
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We always had a garden of green beans, peas, cabbage, tomatoes, radishes,lettuce,squash, bell and hot pepper, onions,and cucumbers. We were a hungry bunch so we ate most of it as the veggies matured. What was left mama canned. She made chow chow from the cabbage, peppers, onions and cucumbers. It was a tasty green food with our pinto beans and potatoes.
In the early spring we searched out the early shoots of poke salet, wild onions, lettuce, and water creases. Mama boiled the poke salet and poured off the first water because it was poisonous, she then boiled it again, drained it and cooked it in fat. She chopped up the lettuce or creases with wild onions and swished them around in a hot skillet in a little hot fat. They were a joy after a winter of mostly chow chow, onion, and tomatoes as our only green food.
Published in: Cooking