Grandma Mellie's Scrapbook
Copyright © 2001, Michael S. Cole, M.D.

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Farm Cooking

    A year has turned and begun again. And we have much for which to be thankful.
    We have had no snow so far down this way. The days are getting longer. I'm reminded of the old saying, "When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen." However, each approaching day brings us nearer spring.
    Already harbingers are coming in the form of seed catalogs. There is a stillness in winter which no other season has. It gives us time and quietness to reflect on many things, times, and places.
    It seems only a few short years since my childhood. And circumstances and times were so different then. Perhaps it seemed so, because we were so happy and carefree.
    Our way of living then was on the farm, and the land produced most of our living.
    True, we all had to work. That was what made life worth living ... cooperation and teamwork, and the togetherness of the family, which is not so much in evidence now.
    Our parents worked at home, and we all entered into the activities of our community and attended church together.
    People were kind and more neighborly.
    When I was a girl at home, the winters seemed much colder than now, and we had more snow, sleet and ice. Nevertheless, Papa always had plenty of firewood for the fireplace and we children dressed warmly. And the food was good, for Mama was a wonderful cook.
    I remember my father making hominy, come a cold day when he couldn't work outside. He would take some ashes from the fireplace, boil them in water until they made a strong lye--green wood ashes make the best lye.
    He then would strain it and put white corn in the lye water and boil it until the nib ends and outside hull came off. He would then wash it through several waters, put it in the iron pot and cook nearly all day.
    We children loved to eat samples of it when it began to get tender. Mama would put a bowlful in bacon grease and fry it ... 'twas good to the last grain.
    The fireplace had a hook fastened to hang the iron pot, and a large piece of ham cooked slowly in a pot of dried beans ... add a pan of cornbread and you had a supper fit for a king.
    For dessert, Mama liked to fry dried apple pies, made moonshaped. She could make a delicious molasses cake, layered and filled with dried apples mixed with milk flavored with allspice or cloves.
    She made "stacked pies" for Sunday dinner ... four or five pies stacked one on the other. In the winter she would make popcorn balls for us, and roast apples and potatoes in the hot ashes of the fireplace. If you've never eaten potatoes roasted in this manner, you've missed something.
    Most of our food was raised on the farm. Mother never had to open a "store-bought" can. Times are different now, yet I know the older generation remembers those days, which some call "the good ole days."
    Yet, I wouldn't want to trade our modern conveniences for the kerosene lamps, wood stoves and the old cellar where we had to carry our milk and butter to keep it cool. So nice to just turn a knob to do our cooking by gas or electricity ... and having refrigerators and freezers ... there has been wonderful and amazing progress in this twentieth century.
    But is anyone any happier??? Or for that matter, as happy?

Mellie Peery
January 18, 1966

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