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gfron1

Starting a high profile new restaurant (after closing another)

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BTW, today being Black Friday, both of my furniture vendors are having sales and we're going to save even more money. Now we'll just have to store all that furniture for 6 weeks.

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Had a generous mention in Food & Wine today:

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Late to the party but I see that little nook as a place a couple might become engaged... you might want to consider having that area available for reservations in case someone wants to!

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You know that I am doing a lot of book research, but I'm also doing first person interviews as well as asking my contacts to interview their family members, which many are embracing as an opportunity to let their elderly family share family lore. Here is one I got yesterday that is so amazing.

Quote

Background

Mom grew up in the Ozarks in the 1920– 1940s. Parts of our family continue to live there and we always went back every long weekend, holiday and summer. Mom went back to live in the woods again for another couple of decades after she retired.  I went to College of the Ozarks in the 1970’s during the back to the land movement  and lived in various back rural areas in northern AR for another decade or so until I went back to finish University and eventually began teaching at Southern Illinois University.  I had some acres in the woods at the western edge of the Ozark uplift nearby and lived in primitive cabin during the week, as my antidote to Academic life—coming back to STL and spouse Julie on the weekends until I retired a few years ago. I taught in photography/ media, and focused on the Ozarks as topic for a long while. I still  have a related book project on the back burner  Our various tid-bits come from these experiences.

 

Mom’s mom cooked on a wood stove all her life and never used a cook book or wrote anything down. So I can share basic food ingredients and the general manner in which they were cooked more than specific recipes. Like much of the immigration pattern for this area, this branch of the family had come from the south east through the Appalachians. This no doubt influences their cooking culture. The other branch of the family were first generation Swedish immigrants and there is a good sized enclave of Swedish descendants in the area where mom is from (Swedeborg in Pulaski County), but none of the food we can recall seems much influenced by that tradition.

 

Fruit:

Persimmons was going to be on our list to you along with paw paws. Mom reports though that they did not cook with either to speak of, just ate them as they are when they found them. The location of the trees were passed down.

 

Mom also says Mayapples were a seasonal treat for the old folks if they managed to get to them before the critters got them first, which is hard to do. She can’t remember how they would be prepared.

 

Blackberries. BlackBerry Cobbler with fresh cream, the most treasured season and dessert of the year. Regular pie crust up the sides and on top of the berries in a heavy and not too deep metal pan, not underneath. The ratio of crust to fruit was important. Need enough crust. Insides, just Blackberries, sugar, butter, just a very little flour to thicken.  blackberry patches are still treasured and not talked about to keep others from getting to them before you can. Some patches had the bigger, slightly sweeter berries that may have hybridized with some tame ones on some nearby farm. We have not found a respectable berry cobbler in any restaurant (they skimp on the berries and cook them until they are jellied).

 

Huckleberries were even better if you could find them. Found them on tops of bluff with enough sun and particularly where the woods had been burnt off recently.

 

Wild strawberries a big treat but not often found. Probably ate them plane or with cream as didn’t find many at a time.

 

Wild (possum) grapes. Best grapes for jelly. I still find and eat them often in the woods when camping in that season.

 

Gooseberries, generally in wet lowlands, along creeks and rivers. Made into pies but had to use “loads” of sugar at they’re so sour. 

 

I learned to make “lemonade” out of the red sumac berries from some neighbors during my back to the land attempt in a dirt floored cabinon 10 acres in Izard County AR. Just the berries crushed in cheese cloth or similar and soaked in water for quite a few hours. Sweeter with honey if you wanted less tart.

 

Farmed fruit from their orchard was dried in the sun on top of the tin roof of the house and outbuildings to preserve more than canning. (They didn’t have the sterilizing canning equipment until later years and often lost canned fruit) Fried pies were made later in winter and before berry season. Dried fruit: apples, peaches, pears. Traditional pie crust with lard cut in squares. Dried fruit on half, folded over and pinched and fried in a skillet with lard. 

 

Mom still talks about the apple varieties that are hard to come by now except in old heritage orchards, “Grimes golden” and “ starks delicious” were good eating apples, winesap for cooking,  “Johnson apple”for a wide variety of uses. Crabapples made into jelly. Peach cobble is the next best thing to blackberry or huckleberry cobbler. With fresh cream of course.

 

Neighbors made elderberry wine, but family never did that she could remember.

 

Other Common Deserts:

Custard pie, includes nutmeg

Caramel pie

Vinegar Pie (can’t remember how that was made!)

Chocolate Cake

 

Trees/ Nuts:

Black Walnuts were a staple that were gathered by hand in tow sacks by the truck load.  Spread them on the road and ran the tractor up and down over them to get the outer staining shells off, then crack the rest with a hammer on a rock by hand. Commercial hullers came in later and during the season and you’d just take your nuts over to them and you’d get them back, shelled for a portion of the nuts. I made some bit of money doing this when living in AR. Mom’s family used the walnuts in desserts mainly. Spread in with chocolate icing on top of cake, or in fudge.

 

Hickory nuts — really hard to shell. Since harder to find in large amounts they just ate them raw as a treat.

 

Sassafras root for tea.

 

Greens:

Since the Ozarks is uniquely gifted with springs, watercress was a common and most treasured green  I still bring it back from trips in the spring through early summer for mom when I come across a spring. Like most of the greens, served wilted with a light bacon grease and vinegar dressing.

 

Polk Weed (double boiled with first water drained off)

Shawnee

Dock

Sheep Sorrel

Lambs Quarters

Plantain

All served with the same wilted with bacon grease and vinegar dressing

 

Mom’s favorite meal is still pinto beans cooked a long time until the Sup is thick, with smoked ham hock, cornbread and any of these greens.

 

Breads:

Biscuits in the morning, “light” bread (white flour) for lunch or whenever there weren’t biscuits or corn bread, and corn bread at supper. All baked in the wood stove oven. “Clabber” milk for the corn bread, buttermilk for biscuits.corn bread is NEVER sweetened.

 

Raised Veggies/legumes

Field corn was raised to feed hogs and was eaten as roasting ears early in the summer before it got too tough and big. 

 

Potatoes, boiled with lots of butter.

 

Early in the year -Radishes, Green onions, Eaten Raw

 

Summer -parsnips made like boiled potatoes. Green beans, cooked a long while with water slowly added as it cooks with smoked meat for flavoring. Beets were pickled. Tomatoes eaten fresh and then canned after good canning methods came in.

 

I’ve picked and eaten wild carrot/ Queen Anne’s Lace raw but mom didn’t . Would be better roasted I assume.

 

Winter- Fermented Cabbage, when nothing else was available. Made some version of sour kraut in a crock under the house with a weighted lid while fermenting.

 

Pinto Beans cooked with smoked meat was a staple. Bought by the big sacks, not raised.

 

Dairy

Always had one or two milk cows. Had a spring house or spot in a cave on the property to hold over the milk as no refrigeration. Had a separator to make cream to churn for butter, so they drank only this “skimmed” milk. But always had cakes of butter which was the primary addition to any vegetable or bread. Cream was used but also sold for cash, out on the train to be made into commercial butter in STL. Made some sort of house cheese curds, hung outside to drip, but mom doesn’t remember much more about predation.

 

Meat

Wild: squirrel, venison, rabbit. Venison made into sausage. Most things squirrel is too greasy though I have a cousin and uncle that hunt and still love it. My nephews hunt and make deer sausage and bring it to mom for a treat.

 

Raised: primarily pork for meat as this was also a cash “crop” because hogs were a quicker time to market and needed less acreage than cattle. multiple sounders of swine could be produced in a single year as opposed to a single herd of cattle. Everyone had a smoke house to smoke bacon and ham to preserve. Hams were then hung in the cellar until eaten. Headcheese eaten immediately after butchering.

 

Chicken, always butchered that day from the constant flock. Fried in lard or chicken  with cut dough strips dumplings dropped into the broth.

 

They always lived along rivers for the good bottom lands for planting and water for livestock but didn’t seem to fish on a daily basis. There were sporadic occasions when a group of neighbors  would go fishing together including the most talented “giggers”amongst them and the catch was divided up at the end. All sorts of fish were caught, mom remembers “drum” and most were pan fried in cornmeal. I mainly recall eating catfish.

 

That’s all we can think of at the moment, and not sure if any of this is helpful at all.  However, if you have any questions we’d be glad to try. We’re excited about Bullrush. Best wishes!

 

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But for a few of the plants, it sounds little different from growing up in West Tennessee.

 

One thing I badly miss from those days is quail. There are no wild quail left in TN or AR any more. Agricultural chemicals did them in.

 

We would have fried quail, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits and gravy. M'mmmm. I can taste those delectable little birds now.

 

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I believe May apples are toxic if eaten in any quantity

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53 minutes ago, Anna N said:

 Amazing @gfron1.   You have found yourself a treasure.

That's what I thought too. There's depth in that text that even my sous missed at first read such as time of year that things were specifically served and the cookedness of the cobbler. I loved that it was first hand knowledge that was first time around AND a re-vist with the back to the land movement of the 70s.

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17 minutes ago, gfweb said:

I believe May apples are toxic if eaten in any quantity

The Cherokee called them suicide plants. I've yet to find a ripe fruit. It may be the most elusive of all of my forage.

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I've seen recipes for "vinegar pie" that were very similar to what we call butter tarts here in Canada. The vinegar inverts the sugar and keeps the filling from crystallizing. Pecan pie uses corn syrup for the same reason.

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I believe one of Edna Stabler's books contain a recipe for vinegar pie.

 

Thought Queen Anne's Lace was poisonous myself.

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23 minutes ago, chromedome said:

I've seen recipes for "vinegar pie" that were very similar to what we call butter tarts here in Canada. The vinegar inverts the sugar and keeps the filling from crystallizing. Pecan pie uses corn syrup for the same reason.

Different beast. I've now got dozens of old recipes for it and it was a late winter dessert that took the vinegar that was used/created to preserve fruit, after the fruit had been consumed, and then turned into a pie filling with the help of corn starch. Also called Transparent pie, Clear Pie, Water Pie. All are the same or of the same mindset of - what can I make for dessert in February when I have nothing left.

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Yup, different beast entirely. Pretty much the same notion, though...all of the ingredients are pantry staples that are cheap and keep for a long time. Shoo-fly pie is another of the same breed.

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1 hour ago, gfron1 said:

The Cherokee called them suicide plants. I've yet to find a ripe fruit. It may be the most elusive of all of my forage.

Are you foraging this with a particular person in mind?

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1 hour ago, Kerry Beal said:

 

Thought Queen Anne's Lace was poisonous myself.

 

Its pretty similar to "poison hemlock". Another one on my no-fly list.

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2 hours ago, gfweb said:

I believe May apples are toxic if eaten in any quantity

 

Brings back sad memories but I used to have a property with countless plants.  I always wanted to try pie.  My understanding was the apples were safe once cooked.

 

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59 minutes ago, chromedome said:

Yup, different beast entirely. Pretty much the same notion, though...all of the ingredients are pantry staples that are cheap and keep for a long time. Shoo-fly pie is another of the same breed.

and my favorite - Hoosier sugar cream

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As a kid I used to make sumac "lemonade", eat elderberries, hunt and hoard wild strawberries, smash black walnuts, and ate (with some reservations) chokecherries.  This is really cool history you have been given.   I don't care for the flavor of Queen Anne's lace no matter how it's prepared.

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Posted (edited)

I proudly wore scratches to near my elbows in July and August from picking wild blackberries. Fall was for wild muscadines and scuppernongs, which made, in addition to great cobbler, wonderful jelly and wine (we didn't make wine; a mostly tee-totaling household when I was a child). We'd carefully pick honeysuckle blooms, bite off a tiny bit of the stem end, and suck out the nectar. I used to pester Mama to make jelly with them; I was certain you could.

 

Grandmama made tea out of sumac berries, and sassafras root. The first wild green onions of the year always got chopped up to add to wilted lettuce salads. Crabapples and persimmons both made jelly. Pears made preserves. Peaches and apples were peeled, cored, sliced and dried for wintertime fried pies; we dried them on white sheets on the roof of the wellhouse, which faced south, taking them in every evening. 

 

Produce from an acre's worth of garden was canned or frozen. Purple hulled peas, lima beans, butter peas, and the like were shelled, piled into a pillowcase that was tied with a string, and put in the freezer; all winter, you dipped out what you wanted to cook. Corn was frozen, but green beans were always canned. Peppers were hung and dried. Onions and potatoes were kept in a box in the basement, bedded in straw between layers. A couple of the last watermelons of the year picked before frost usually lasted until close to Thanksgiving. Bushels of cucumbers were pickled. Gallons of tomatoes were canned, some as chow-chow, some just tomatoes, some in "soup mix," with odds and ends of vegetables that weren't enough to put up a batch by themselves.

 

Hogs were killed and butchered on the farm; sausage and souse meat made, tenderloins, chops, roasts and ribs all portioned out and frozen. Hams and bacon were cured and smoked. Later, calves were taken to the slaughterhouse and brought back as big cardboard boxes full of hamburger, roasts and steaks wrapped in white butcher paper and frozen rock-hard. We also ate quail, squirrel, rabbit, and striped bass and catfish -- and bream in the spring and early summer. 

 

We bought staples (flour, sugar, corn meal, coffee), dairy (don't know why we never had milk cows) and things like cereal and "light bread" from the grocery. Mama was not a breadbaker, and Daddy took sandwiches to work for lunch every day. 

 

I don't know that they were the "good old days," but we ate well.


Edited by kayb to close parentheses. (log)
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12 hours ago, kayb said:

I proudly wore scratches to near my elbows in July and August from picking wild blackberries. Fall was for wild muscadines and scuppernongs, which made, in addition to great cobbler, wonderful jelly and wine (we didn't make wine; a mostly tee-totaling household when I was a child). We'd carefully pick honeysuckle blooms, bite off a tiny bit of the stem end, and suck out the nectar. I used to pester Mama to make jelly with them; I was certain you could.

Thank you so much for sharing this Kay. I know you're in AR now, but where were you raised? Asking because your experiences sound very similar to all the info I'm gathering. The only thing you mentioned that stood out as something unusual is catching bream. No one has mentioned that yet.

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35 minutes ago, gfron1 said:

Thank you so much for sharing this Kay. I know you're in AR now, but where were you raised? Asking because your experiences sound very similar to all the info I'm gathering. The only thing you mentioned that stood out as something unusual is catching bream. No one has mentioned that yet.

Grew up in West Tennessee, on the Tennessee River, northern part of the state. But my people came there from the Appalachians, and that culture is little different from that of the Ozarks.

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Posted (edited)

gfron1, curious to know if you have read the Foxfire book series.  Lots of interesting old time info in them


Edited by IowaDee (log)

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