Whitesburg KY
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy

Family raised most of their food

Here we go again, back through the mist of long ago. Back when you didn’t eat if you didn’t work. There were no handouts such as commodities and welfare and food stamps.

Back when I was just a little sprout we didn’t have any of them. We raised most of what we ate. We always raised a big garden and preserved it for winter use.

We would take corn to the mill to have it ground to make cornmeal. We usually used white corn for this. I still have our old cotton meal sack we used to put the meal in for the return trip home. We had to acquire flour, salt, sugar, soda, and baking powder at the store.

When we wanted chicken, all we had to do was make a trip to the chicken lot and get one. We fried the best parts and cooked the head, neck, feet, gizzard, liver and back to make dumplings. By making dumplings, we made the chicken go a lot farther. We used to have soup bean dumplings and Hoover dumplings, which were made using vinegar and water as the stock.

My stepmother could never get the hang of canning tomatoes, because we could hear the jars exploding night and day. We had a cellar to keep the canned goods in, and I was scared to go into it for fear of being maimed by flying glass.

To make kraut, we used a dishpan to cut it up in by using a cream can with the top removed. I haven’t the faintest idea how Dad got the top off of the can without cutting it off, but it made a good chopper for cabbage. As we got enough chopped to fill a couple of jars, we packed all we could into quart jars, added a tablespoon each of salt and vinegar, then added water to fill the jars. It was stored where it was dark so it would stay white.

We didn’t have electricity at the time, so we had to dry, can or pickle everything we put up for winter.

If we had a hog, we cured most of it in salt. The bony parts were eaten first, because they couldn’t be kept very long. The feet, ears, heart, kidneys, tail, lungs or lights, and the head were all made into souse.

We usually had a cow, which provided milk and butter. We sold the excess to help pay for cow feed. The feed sacks were turned into sheets and clothes.

We canned beans in quarts or half-gallon jars. This was an all-day job because we put the filled jars in a #2 or #3 washtub and placed them over an outside fire pit, where a fire was kept going for seven or eight hours, until the beans were fully cooked. There sure was a lot of work involved, but they sure tasted good on the table. The pickled beans were cooked before being put into jars.

To make mixed pickles, we added other vegetables to the pan of beans to be pickled.

There is a lot of work involved in raising a garden, but it does good. There is a lot of good eating later.

Beans to be dried were strung on strings, usually from the sacks of feed, and hung behind the stove or in the attic to make shucky beans (leather britches).

That’s all from the funny farm until next time.

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