Country Cookin’: Range free, chemical free, fresh and good

Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, we ate food that actually tasted like food. Our food was chemical free, hormone free, and really good.

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ST. LOUIS, January 19, 2017 – Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, we ate food that actually tasted like food. Our food was chemical free, hormone free, and really good.

As a young boy, I would pick a tomato off a vine and wipe it on my Bib Overalls and eat it. We ate fruit and vegetables straight from the fields, even if they had a little dirt on it because it was “clean” dirt – yes, that’s an oxymoron, but it made sense to us.

Mealtimes were totally enjoyable. Breakfast took place about 5 a.m. Then, around 10:00, the ladies would bring black coffee and biscuits left over from breakfast, for what we called dinner. We watered the horses and take a short nap and then back to the fields. Supper was a round 5p.m and again it was super. Later we would all go out on the porch and eat homemade ice cream—pure and heavenly delightful.

Mealtimes were events due to the number and variety of foods that were prepared and consumed. Now you must remember, we grew our own food so did not have to go to the store to buy our groceries, except occasionally to buy salt, pepper and other like items. I remember one time buying a nickel’s worth of bologna and it was approximately three inches high. It was a treat for the whole family—homemade bread with this store-bought lunch meat along with a big slice of onion.


During the Depression, we were blessed to have food on the table, unlike the people living in the city who had to stand in long lines to get just the basics that were often rationed.

I remember when relatives came to visit from the city, they totally enjoyed the meals. I had an uncle and aunt who lived on their farm close by who had sixteen children. Yes, I said sixteen! When I visited, the table was filled with all kinds of food and nobody wanted for anything. I must say there was so much organization it was unbelievable. One age group was responsible for the next age bracket. What an example of how a large family worked together to have a wonderful family life! There were no conversations—nothing but the knives, forks and spoons hitting the plates and an occasional “pass me the whatever.”

The one meal that was special for me was breakfast. I bet no king or queen had a meal like the one down on a typical farm.

Homemade biscuits, fried potatoes, sausage, eggs, cream gravy, and homemade bread, butter and jelly were all served in abundance. I would finish my breakfast by putting three pieces of bread on my plate and covering them with gravy. What a meal!

I also remember how moms would teach their girls how to cook. To me cooking is an art. I have experienced the results of a mom’s teaching her daughter how to cook.

This example is my wife Betty. From the first day of our marriage she was an expert at cooking. There were homemade breads, biscuits from scratch, pork chop gravy, homemade apple butter and many other tasty things to delight the palate.

By the way, she continues to cook but with a different menu appropriate to our age. Now I must say that in the early days of our marriage the magnitude of the meal also depended on how much money we had—which was good, as it continued to enforce the need to know how to manage our money. I am sure some of you readers can relate to that.

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Historical Moment from 1948

Speedy new oven invented! Life in the kitchen just got

easier with inventor Percy Spencer’s new microwave oven.

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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.
Charles is a fifty-four-year career in technology retiring at the directors level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a free-lance columnist, published three books, over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, radio interviews, one television commercial and finally married for sixty-five years, four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grand children. Charles is also a Navy veteran.