Manuel relives memoires of growing up in the countryBy: Virginia R. Manuel
There is something about these drab gray overcast days that gets me to thinking about how it was to live when I was growing up.
As I have said before we grew almost every thing we ate from the pork to vegetables, fruit, and even the grain for corn meal and sometimes flour. In the spring, summer and fall we always had a variety of fresh vegetables but in the winter all our vegetables and fruit were either canned, smoked, pickled or dried. We always had plenty of food. We may have had to eat the same thing a few days in a row and we would get tired of it but we never went hungry.
In the kitchen we had a wood cookstove, my granddad was an early riser, he got up about 5 AM summer and winter, he would get a fire going in the “Old Buckeye” stove and then he would start a fire in the kitchen stove. My grandmother would get up and get breakfast started. First she would put on a big ol’ pot of coffee. We always had some kind of pork for breakfast, sometimes it was bacon, sometimes sausage we had canned or it could be a nice big slice of ham. She made a big pan of biscuits from scratch every morning. At the end she always saved a little bit of dough to make me my own small biscuits.
She would make a big skillet of gravy with the drippings from the meat. If the meat happened to be the ham she would make red eye gravy. Red eye gravy is thinner than regular gravy and is made from the drippings to which black coffee is added. Then she would also fry up some eggs. Man, that was some good eatin’. We always had oatmeal and corn flakes and jam, jelly or apple butter.
The biscuits would be hot out of the oven and she would split my biscuit open and slather it with butter and close it so I would have a hot buttered biscuit. When it was cold she always sat my plate on the oven door so I would be warm as I ate my breakfast. If I ate at the table I stood between her and my grandfather to eat. I was allowed to have one saucer full of coffee. Sometimes I drank my coffee from her saucer and sometimes from my Granddads. She drank hers with milk and he didn’t.
I guess that is where I learned to drink my coffee white.
As a special treat we would sometimes have pancakes, not regular pancakes but buckwheat pancakes from buckwheat we had grown. I don’t remember much about the buckwheat. I just know we grew it and it was special and we kept it in the end of the meal box. She had some old cast iron griddles and she would mix up the pancakes and fry a whole stack of them. She would make her own syrup (no Mrs. Butterworth’s for her). I still use the same recipe. two cups of sugar and one cup water, and a little maple flavoring, stir it until the sugar is dissolved and then a slow boil until it gets thick. Just thinking about those pancakes sets my mouth to waterin’. Talking about all this food has made me hungry. I’m headin’ for the kitchen.