Each of us have memories that are connected to food. Typically those remembrances are directly related to our childhood, you know the things we ate around the family table like the chocolate gravy I told you about earlier this week.
A few years ago I shared my thoughts about memories which are connected to food you put up yourself. Here's a portion of that old post:
"Recently I watched the rain come down in sheets while I ate apples I dried back in the fall. As I munched my tasty apples, I realized there's another reason why things we put up are good.
On a yucky dreary day my dried apples gave me sunshine; a slice of crystal clear Georgia sky; and the sounds of 4-wheelers and giggling girls. In other words my apples gave me a swirl of good memories from the day I dried them.
I've long realized we have memories and emotions tied to certain foods-like how we can taste a certain food and instantly be taken back to childhood. But I've never before thought of food in connection to the actual day it was made.
I'm positive the next jar of tomatoes I open I'll smell the hot summer sun shining on the green leaves and the next time I cook a jar of greenbeans for supper I'll think of the early summer days when we planted them together in Pap's big garden with friendly banter back and forth among us all."
I've kept pondering on the idea of food I put up being tied to the memory of the day I put it up.
I couldn't seem to care about none of my growing things after Pap died. But last fall as The Deer Hunter and I harvested the largest crop of apples we've ever grown I felt hopeful. Hopeful that all those apples would make some delicious applesauce for us, hopeful that I would dry apples from them for snacks and for a Christmas apple stack cake, hopeful because I knew Pap would be so proud of those apples.
So in some weird, maybe even silly way my canned applesauce became wrapped up in my grieving process for Pap. Now each jar I open reminds me of the hope and sunshine that came after the greatest rain of my life.
I'm most familiar with using pumpkins for pies, breads, rolls, roasted seeds, and decorations. I know folks used to eat pumpkin stewed as you would potatoes and that folks dried the pumpkin for using in soups and other things. While flipping through These Storied Mountains written by John Parris I came across an article he wrote about other ways folks in the mountains of Western North Carolina used pumpkin in days gone by.
Pumpkin Is More Than Just Pie by John Parris
Some mountain women make a pudding of boiled pumpkin. And some still make pumpkin molasses, which provided sweetenting in grandma's day. Back then the word "molasses" was used in the same way we use "syrup" today. When cooked for a long time in a large quantity of water, strained and the water further reduced by boiling you have pumpkin molasses.
Then there is pumpkin whiskey.
As knowledgeable old-timers will tell you, pumpkin whiskey is a heap sight easier to make than corn whiskey, and not as risky. All you need is sugar and a good-sized pumpkin. You cut a plug out of the top of the pumpkin, clean out the seeds and the pulpy mass to the meat. Then you pack the hollowed out pumpkin full of sugar, replace the plug, seal it with wax, and set the pumpkin under the bed or in a dark place. In a week or so the sugar has turned to liquid and you've got yourself a quart or so of whiskey.
The pumpkin, truly a symbol of autumn, is deeprooted in American Life.
In the early days, it was used stewed in soups, in stews, in pie and pudding. The flesh was dried for winter and early spring. The seeds were used as a delicacy. The early settlers here in the hills learned to grow them in their fields of corn. It was common practice 50 years ago to plant a seed of pumkin in a hill of corn. To the pioneers, the pumpkin was one of the most versatile of vegetables.
Pumpkin could be stored in the fall, down under the fodder bundles, and then served as a vegetable-peeled and boiled, it was then fried- through most of the winter. It could be dried, or freshly cooked, and put into the cornbread batter.
Most of us think of pumpkin pies when we see a wagonload of pumpkins or pumpkins sitting on the back porch or lying at the barn door waiting to be stored down under the fodder. But pumpkin is more than just pie. It is bread and a pudding, a butter and a molasses. And many a mountain family right now is savoring one or all of them.
I hope you enjoyed the old article written by John Parris. His description of pumpkin molasses made me think of the old saying waste not want not. By simply using pumpkin and water they laid up good thoughts for the sweetness that would be added to their family's plates in the coming months purchased only by the work of their hands.
The winner of Chitter's Stamey Creek Creations necklace is...Gina Price who said: Hi Tipper!!! Beautiful beautiful! I would be so proud to wear the necklace in the giveaway! Handmade with love from a member of one of my favorite families...Talent abounds in your sweet family, beautiful blog, beautiful music, beautiful jewelry, beautiful hearts! God bless each of you, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Be sure to drop back by tomorrow for another Thankful November giveaway.
*Source: These Storied Mountains: Pumpkin Is More Than Pie written by John Parris
This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and the Acorn in 2009.
When Pap was a boy, corn was the most important crop folks grew-I guess it still is for many farmers. Corn not only helped people survive through the winter, it was also necessary to ensure the farm animals survived the winter months too.
Here in the Southern Highlands of Appalachia, it was typical for folks to leave their corn in the field until it had been frosted on a few times and was completely dried out before the process of gathering was started. The corn in those days was different from the sweet corn most of us are familiar with today. It's often called field corn.
Pap's family's first step in the process was to top the corn. The tops of the corn stalk were cut out just above the ears of corn. As they gathered several tops and bundled them together they became tops of fodder for the animals. Pap said tops could be stored out in the field and didn't have to be stored in a shed or barn. The topping portion took up to a week or more to complete depending of course on how much corn you had.
The second step was to gather shocks of fodder. They would go back to each stalk and pull all the dried leaves from it, tying the leaves into shocks of fodder. Pap said these were usually kept inside the barn or corn crib. This process also took about a week or so depending on the amount of corn.
The last part-was actually gathering the ears of corn. Pap said folks in this area sometimes waited as long as December to gather the corn. Leaving the ears on the stalk longer ensured the corn was completely dried out. After gathering the corn, most folks left the shucks on until they needed to use the corn. Pap said leaving the shucks on helped deter mice and weevils from getting in your corn. Although, Pap does recall some folks hosting corn shucking parties where folks gathered to shuck corn and visit with one another.
Pap's favorite part of gathering corn was the camaraderie. Neighbors would join together to help one another with their corn. Pap said the women would always cook a big meal for the men to eat. Even though they were working in the field all day, Pap said corn gathering was still fun to him.
Recently Pap and I have been assisting a local historian document the oldest houses in our area. One day last, week Pap took us to the old Bollard place. I've drove past the old house my whole life and never realized it was there-tucked back in the woods.
We were amazed the house still had a few personal items in it even though it is falling down and slowly being reclaimed by nature. While we were there Pap's memories started bubbling up to the surface of his mind and he recalled one corn gathering dinner from his childhood that took place in the old home.
After a day spent in the field the men were sitting down to eat. A team of horses with a wagon load of corn was standing by a couple of sheds up above the house. There was also a team of steer hitched to a wagon full of corn. The steer had real long curved horns. Pap said something spooked the steer and they took off on their own, running into the horses. One of the horses was cut by a steer horn. The horn sliced the horse's stomach open and part of it's insides came out. Pap said he'd never forget his Grandpa washed the horse's guts off with soapy water and tucked them back inside it's stomach and sewed the wound up with a piece of sea grass string. The horse lived.
Nature has laid claim to the old homeplace. It's hard to envision the woods surrounding the house being open enough for wagons to travel through, hard to imagine folks gathering to eat in the old house. But the wagons, the corn, the food, and the sea grass stitches are still there, locked in Pap's memories.
p.s. The Rada Pie Server giveaway ends today-so be sure to go enter if you haven't!
p.s.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing tonight Friday August 26 @ 6:00 p.m. at the Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris, GA
Last week Kim, a Blind Pig reader and a friend, posted about making peach jelly from peelings on Instagram. I asked her to share the recipe with me and she did.
Granny taught me to make apple jelly from apple peelings, but I had never thought about using peach peelings in the same way.
Miss Cindy brought us a basket of white peaches from the farmer's market and I was already planning to make a pan of Peach Bars. After I read the recipe Kim sent I thought "This is going to work out perfect. I can save the peelings from the peaches I use to make the bars and make jelly with them." And that is exactly what I did.
I had to borrow a pack of sure jel from Granny to make the jelly. She asked what I was making and after I told her she said "You should just make peach preserves like I do. That jelly will have peach fuzz in it." Before I could say anything Chatter said "No it wont' Granny. Every time I eat a peach I eat the peeling too and it don't taste fuzzy."
Well Granny still didn't think I should make the jelly, but I did and it is wonderful! The jelly has a real peach taste and since I used white peaches it is a pretty light orangey pink color.
Here is the recipe Kim sent me: Peach Jelly - The Easy Way.
After I made the jelly I remembered reading that peach seeds can be poisonous. A quick google assured me that you'd have to ingest a whole heck of a lot of ground up peach seeds to be poisoned. If you'd rather leave the peach seeds out of the juice process just to be on the safe side, I don't think it will make any difference in the way the recipe turns out.
p.s. You know Christmas is just around the corner-check out the great sale Chitter is having in her Etsy Shop! Visit this link to view the sale items.
Do you like pickled peaches? I have never tasted them myself, but I have heard other folks say they love them.
Pap and Granny have never had them either. One time I asked Pap about pickled peaches, he said "No I never ate pickled peaches and I can't hardly think they'd be better pickled than not pickled."
Like Pap I just can't imagine wanting to pickle a peach, but my curiosity finally got the best of me.
Miss Cindy gifted me with a whole basket full of peaches last week and I decided I'd try my hand at making pickled peaches.
Since I don't know if we will like them, I only made 3 jars. Three jars that could have been 2 jars since I failed at getting the peaches crammed into the jars.
I used Jim Casada's recipe-only cutting it way down to the amount of peaches I decided to sacrifice for making something I've never tasted before. You can see Jim's recipe here.
When I open a jar I'll let you know how the taste test turns out.
Now you tell me-do you like pickled peaches?
The pickled beet recipe I prefer to use can be found in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I've tried pickled beet recipes that called for onions and other things, but they all seemed too complicated for my bunch. I've found simple is often what works best for us.
I cook and peel them like Miss Cindy taught me to do years ago. It's so much easier to peel them after they're cooked.
I slice the cooked beets and then see if I have 3 quarts. Sometimes I end up with 6 quarts. If I do, I doubled the recipe and it works out perfect. *The measurements below are for a single run of pickles using 3 quarts of beets.
In a large stock pot combine: sugar, cinnamon, whole allspice, salt; vinegar, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The ball recipe says to remove the cinnamon sticks at this point, but I leave them and just make sure one doesn't go into the jars as I finish the pickles.
While the pickling mixture is simmering sterilize your jars. The Deer Hunter likes to heat his jars in the oven, I prefer to use a dishpan full of simmering water.
Print Pickled Beets Recipe (right click on link to print recipe)
I have beets in the garden ready to pickle, I hope to accomplish that task next week sometime. Do you like pickled beets? The Deer Hunter and I love them-the girls not so much. Chatter and Chitter say pickled beets taste like dirt. I say I know they do but I still like them!
My Sow True Seed Kale has done so well that I've had plenty to eat and plenty to put away. I figured the quickest and easiest route to preserve my excess kale would be to freeze it. I looked in my preserving books and all of them said to blanch the kale for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water. I didn't want to blanch my kale, I wanted an easier way out.
A few googles landed me on this blog 365 Days of Kale. Wow I thought this is just what I need with my abundance of kale.
I quickly found this page where the blog author gives the same directions for freezing kale as most of my books did. But...she says she has heard about a farm that doensn't blanch their kale before freezing-they just wash and freeze. Several commenters chime in that they don't blanch their kale either. That's all I needed to hear.
I took my largest bowl out to the kale bed and just started cutting. I didn't worry about keeping the varieties separate. Once I was done cutting I brought the kale in and looked it over good-got rid of the bugs and woody stems. Then I gave the kale a wash.
I portioned the kale out into freezer bags and wrote kale and the date on it so I'd know what it was when I was looking in the freezer later this winter. Easy peasy!
Did you ever try to say this tongue twister?
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
I could never ever say it all the way through and I still can't! All those Ps twist my tongue before I even get to the second line!
My garden's over abundance of peppers had me thinking of Peter Piper and his pickled peppers. I've pickled with peppers before, but never with the pepper being the star player in the jar.
I googled around and found this recipe. The simplicity of it and the good reviews made me want to give it a try so I did! I doubled the recipe and ended up with a slightly different amount than the recipe-so I'm sharing my doubled amounts.
Sweet Pickled Banana Peppers
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 5 cups of banana pepper seeded and sliced into rings
- 3 pint jars with rings and lids
Bring sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, and celery seed to boil in a large pot. While the ingredients are heating up sterilize your jars, rings, and lids.
Pack peppers into jars and ladle boiling mixture into jars-filling to 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Place lids and rings on jars and tighten. Let pickles set at least 2 weeks before opening.
This old recipe uses a method of preserving that all modern canning books/experts will tell you is dangerous. If you don't feel comfortable using this method water bath the jars for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
Every year Frankie Chastain's family gathers at the Martins Creek Community Center for a day of green tomato pickle making. The annual event is headed up by one of Frankie's sons Gerald.
I've eaten green tomato pickles before and never really cared for them, until a few years ago I was at a party and someone was passing around a jar. Not wanting to be rude I took one to eat. It was really good! I asked the gentleman for the recipe and he said he'd been invited to the Chastain pickle day the year before and that's where he learned how to make them.
Earlier this summer I remembered the green tomato pickles and sent word to Frankie that I'd love to have her recipe. In true Frankie Chastain fashion she set right down and wrote down the directions for me and sent them by Pap.
Small whole green tomatoes are the key to making good green tomato pickles according to the folks who join in on the Chastain Pickle Making Day. Using the whole tomato helps ensure their crispness. Her directions also said to use hot peppers but since I only had banana peppers on hand I used them. Actually I planted banana peppers that I grew from seed but the day I made the pickles the peppers I cut up left my hands burning for the rest of the day so I don't know what happened there-maybe I did use hot peppers in my pickles even thought I didn't mean too.
Frankie Chastain's Hot Green Tomato and Pepper Pickles
- 1 gallon water
- 1 1/4 cup canning salt
- 1/2 gallon white vinegar
- small green tomatoes (if tomatoes are cold allow them to come to room temperature before making pickles)
- peppers hot or sweet or both (if peppers are cold allow them to come to room temperature before making pickles)
Bring to boil 1 gallon of water and 1 1/4 cup canning salt. Allow to sit overnight.
Add 1/2 gallon white vinegar to salt water and bring to a boil.
Pack tomatoes and peppers in sterilized jars.
Pour solution over tomatoes in jars while hot and seal.
Frankie says "Gerald usually turns the jars upside down for a while on towels then turns them right side up and let seal and cool before moving them."
If you don't feel comfortable using the open kettle method of canning, water bath jars for 5 minutes.
Allow jars to sit for at least a month if not longer before opening-in other words give the pickles time to actually pickle.
Frankie's recipe said it made approximately 10 quarts. I had some pickling solution left over so I decided to use some of my Mexican Sour Gherkin Sow True Seed tiny cucumbers in place of the tomatoes just to see how they turned out. Frankie's sister-n-law Mary Alice told me this recipe is perfect to use for Pickled Okra too.
The Blind Pig Family loves applesauce! There's is just something so satisfying about eating applesauce along with supper on a cold winter day. We always run out of applesauce before spring arrives.
I learned how to make and can applesauce from Granny and from Miss Cindy. Since there are only 2 ingredients (not counting water) I never worry about how many apples I need or how much applesauce I'll end up with. If I've got at least a bucket full of apples I just go for it!
Before you get started give your apples a good wash. I know mine haven't been sprayed with anything but since I leave the peelings on when I make applesauce I want to make sure I get rid of any dust, grit, or bugs.
The Ball Canning Book says to peel your apples before turning them into sauce-but I think Miss Cindy and Granny's way is so much easier! Leaving the peeling on saves time and energy, and it allows you to get every ounce of apple goodness.
I take a small paring knife and cut the blossom end out of the apple and remove the stem. Then I quarter the apple. If I see a bad place or a worm I remove them with my paring knife. I don't worry about the seeds-I leave them.
Place quartered apples in a large sauce pot and enough water that you can see it began to come up around the apples. Cook until apples are soft.
Once apples are cooked, drain and then run them through a ricer or food mill to separate the lovely sauce from the peelings.
Discard peelings-my chickens love them.
Put applesauce in a large sauce pot. I sit my ricer over my pot so that's one less dish to wash.
Add sugar to taste. I don't add much sugar at this point-because I know I can add it when I open a jar to serve. If you'd like to add cinnamon or other spices this is the place where you would add them to taste.
Bring applesauce to a boil. Make sure your lid is on the pot and make sure you don't wander away to far from the stove. Applesauce pops and squeaks and makes the biggest mess when it begins to boil. It also scorches very quickly.
Ladle hot applesauce into sterilized jars and seal. Process jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. Allow processed jars to cool and double check that each jar sealed-if one didn't pop it in the frig and eat it first.
Applesauce freezes very well too, so if you don't feeling like canning, freeze applesauce in serving size portions.
Applesauce is really easy to make and can-its the perfect thing for a beginner to try their hand at.
The winner of the book Eating Appalachia was number 47...Mark Selby who said:
"Interesting timing on this post. Tomorrow, a local Appalachian lady is conducting a class on sauerkraut and how it relates to our region. Participants even get to bring home a gallon of the stuff to let ferment. Woo Hoo!"
Mark send me your mailing address when you get a chance. A big THANK YOU to everyone who entered the giveaway.