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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Shucking Corn

These frosty mornings in the fall  remind me of gathering crops in the old days. The farmers always raced to get their corn crops cut before frost  We always raised a big corn patch which served to feed not only us but the animals as well. 

When the corn was ready to be cut it was cut stalk by stalk with a  knife called a corn knife.  The blades on a corn knife were straight or curved, on long and short handles   The corn was cut about a foot from the ground and on a slant.  The corn was then put it into shocks and in a couple weeks  after it had dried out and was ready to shuck

To make a shock you left about four or five stalks standing and then used a corn knife to cut an armful and lay it on a piece of twine and then tie it up.  The bunches were stood up in a circle that made the shock.   Another piece of twine was tied very tight around the whole shock this kept it from blowing down.

After a couple weeks of being left to dry the shucking would begin.  The wagon was pulled up alongside the shocks and when it was full it was pulled to the corn crib where it would be stored for feeding to the animals or for grinding to take to mill for cornmeal.

One year my dad had cut and shocked his corn.  It was a full moon and he  and his brother decided they would sit up all night and shuck corn.  Of course, I am sure they had had a "little nip" or two.  They were sitting shucking and talking and my mother decided she would see what they were up too so she walked out to the cornfield.  My uncle saw her sneaking up on my dad  and he started talking.

"Roy, Aren't you afraid  of living out here in the country"?

My dad says," No. I am not afraid".

"Aren't there boogers and haints out here"

"There's no such thing as a booger or haint".

"What would you do if  you saw something scary out here"?

"I've never seen anything I was scared of".

About that time my mother laid her hand on my dads shoulder .  He threw his cornshucker, jumped over the fodder shock and took off running for the house while my uncle and mother roared with laughter.  

It was springtime when they plowed the field for the next corn crop when he found his cornshucker.

That's it for today!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Old Time Remedies

My grandmother believed in a lot of herbs and medicines and had a cure for everything - even the common cold. She used Mullein tea for bronchitis, a mustard plaster for congestion, or a clove or two of garlic crushed and stirred into some warm milk. Now that may not cure your cold but it will sure scare the heck out of one.

To cure the sore throat you had to gargle with salt water and she always told me "drink a little bit, it'll help". A tall glass of liniment was always in order too. That'll stop your cough. We had this couple who used to come around about once a month selling Raleigh products . There was always a bottle of this liniment in the cupboard. Any time you got sick you were made to drink this vile tasting stuff. It must have worked because it is still on the market today.

Camphorated salve was another cure, my grandmother would grease my chest, the bottoms of my feet, dress me in my flannel nightgown and into bed underneath the big featherbed I would go. I dont know if it was the salve, the flannel or the heat but it always cured me.

A man went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a miserable cold. His doctor prescribed some pills, but they didn't help.On his next visit the doctor gave him a shot, but that didn't do any good.On his third visit the doctor told the man to go home and take a hot bath. As soon as he was finished bathing he was to throw open all the windows and stands in the draft."But doc," protested the patient, "if I do that, I'll get pneumonia.""I know," said the doctor. "I can cure pneumonia."

That's it for today!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Renewed Interest

My blog has been seriously neglected these past couple of years due to the full time running of a restaurant.  Now that is all behind me, the restaurant has closed due to health reasons and I find myself with more time to devote to my writing.

I am continuing to write my stories of growing up such as making apple butter, churning buttermilk, making quilts and every day life of the 1950's and 60's.

I am also looking forward to devoting more time to traveling and seeing this great country of ours for as long as my health will permit.

Thank you to my long time readers (even when I was not here) I appreciate your friendship and support.

From the archives of my blogs here is the story of have I got my name. 

A Squirrel, A Sack and A Name
I Grew up in the state of Tennessee, the county of Johnson, the city of Mountain City, and the hamlets of Dewey and Doe Valley. We lived way out in the country about five miles from town...

My story begins when I was born on a place called Shupetown Road. My paternal grandmother was a midwife. She was also a medicine woman and used a lot of herbs and old wives tales for practicing her doctoring. She was born and raised in a place called Old Butler which is under Watauga Lake today. In her midwifery duties she delivered or helped to deliver lots of babies including four of my siblings. Today it is not uncommon to run into people she delivered.
On the morning I was born my father had gotten up early, grabbed his gun, a flour sack in which to carry his catch and set off to go squirrel hunting in the woods back of our place. He had been able to bag a squirrel and he carried it home in that sack.

When he came through the door, his mother rushed up to him and said, "Roy, you just had a brand new baby girl, what are you going to call her? He looked at the sack with the squirrel and looked at me and said, "Virginia Rose". That's the story of how I got my name from a sack of flour.

And in the words of my Father, That's it for Today,

Saturday, June 27, 2015

So Here I Sit

It's three in the morning reminds me of an old Faron Young song "It's Four in the Morning" or a song written by Irving Berlin "Count your Blessings."

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
 I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
I fall asleep counting my blessings
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them
As they slumber in their beds
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them
As they slumber in their beds
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's Been A Really Long Time

After a very long hiatus from blogging it is doubtful that there are any readers still out there, however, time marches on and people, places and circumstances change. In my absence here is a few things that have changed. Instead of being a full time RVer as I had planned I am now a restauranteur. In the spring of 2012 there was a little store/deli in the area that had closed. At that time I thought about opening it but then decided I needed to do more front porch sitting and plans fell by the wayside and someone else opened it. I watched as the new owner had lots of business at first but then it declined and there seemed to be fewer and fewer cars as I passed by. Then one day the "closed permanently" sign went up. I jumped at the chance to re-open it. One of the things on my bucket list had been to open a restaurant of some type and here was my chance. With thousands of ideas floating around in my head I took the plunge but not without a lot of apprehension, determination and hard work.
After a month of cleaning, fixing, painting etc. I was ready to open. Currently I have been open for almost one year. It has been one of the more rewarding experiences in my life. Maybe with more practice and self determination I wil get back into blogging again! That's it for today!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Saturday Pie

A Saturday afternoon spent baking with Grandma

 Saturday afternoons would find my grandmother in the kitchen baking pies for Sunday dinner. She would go to the mealbox, grab her dough board, get out the flour, the rolling pin and a bowl she had stored in there. She would reach into the lard can for some lard and in no time flat she would have six or eight ...pie crusts ready for filling. Depending on the number of eggs she had or the type of fruit on hand would determine what kind of pies she would make.

In the spring it was always rhubarb pie, summertime we would have fresh peach or blackberry pie, and in the fall we could depend on apple or pumpkin. Along with fruit pies she always made lemon, chocolate, coconut or butterscotch. In the wintertime she would go to the cellar and we would have pies from fruit she had prepared in the summer.

She always had on hand lemon and coconut pie filling and dessert mix which she bought from the Rawleigh man. He was a traveling salesman who came around about once a month peddling a variety of Rawleigh products. She also bought liniment (both kinds), medicated ointment, vanilla, pie filling, and other products from him.

Along with a half dozen pies she might make a cake or two. She never needed to use a recipe because she had all those stored in her head. Most times we would get chocolate or yellow cake but when we were expecting company, she would make us an old-fashioned stack cake using apple butter as a filling between the six or seven flat cake layers. A lot of versions of stack cake recipes are still used today. Some families declare a stack cake making day and use that day as a family get together day for fellowshipping and fun and carrying on a tradition started by their forefathers.

One of my favorite recipes I dug from an old box of recipes is for an Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie so when you have a hankering for a pie like Grandma made you might want to try it.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie


1 unbaked pie crust

1 cup sugar

π cup cornstarch

A pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of unsweetened baking cocoa

2 cups whole milk (In this recipe you can use 12 oz can of Carnation evaporated milk with enough water added to make 2 cups)

3 eggs, separated, reserve egg whites for meringue

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter

Meringue Topping:

3 reserved egg whites

Dash of cream of tarter

2 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 350. Prick the bottom and sides of your pie crust and bake until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the filling. Mix the sugar, cornstarch and cocoa together in a medium size pot. Add the 2 cups evaporated milk or whole milk. If using evaporated milk I use a 12 oz can, measure one cup evaporated milk, add to the pot and then measure one more cup evaporated milk. You will be a bit short, it comes to more like 3/4 cup so fill the rest of the measuring cup with water to make a cup. Using a wire whisk blend together and stir constantly over medium high heat. When the mixture is heated through add the 3 egg yolks. You will need to temper your egg yolks so add a bit of the pudding mixture to the egg yolks and blend before adding to the pudding mix. (You don't want scrambled eggs). Stir constantly until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and the butter. Let pudding mixture cool while you prepare the meringue topping.


Mix the 3 egg whites with a dash of cream of tarter along with 2 tablespoons sugar.

Whip the egg whites till stiff and soft peaks form. Add pudding to cooled pie shell and top with meringue making sure the meringue touches the sides of the pie crust to prevent shrinking.

Broil till lightly golden brown on top.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Sulphured Apples - Preserving in the Past

In the fall when there was an abundance of apples some were canned, some were dried and some were made into pies. and some were sulphured.
Now you might ask, "What are sulphured apples"? Sulphured apples was just another way of preserving a bumper crop of apples instead of letting them go to waste.
In the cellar my Grandma had various sizes of crocks.  She had a ten gallon one she made sour kraut in and one she kept pickled beans in and another crock she used just for sulphuring apples.
We got a lot of our apples from the big pound apple tree which sat in the field just past the barnyard.  My Grandma would go and gather a couple buckets of apples and sit on the back porch in the shade topeel and quarter them.  Then she would go to the cellar and get out her crock, wash it out with clear creek water and set the crock outside the cellar door because of the strong sulphur odor. She would then lay the apples in layers in the crock. On top of the apples she put a plate and an old pie tin with a couple tablespoons of sulphur in it.  She would light the sulphur on fire and quickly cover it with an old oilcloth to keep the fumes from escaping.  The apples had to be checked pretty often either to add sulphur and to stir the apples so they cooked evenly. When the apples had turned white and she had determined they had sulphured enough she would remove the remaining sulphur and the oilcloth and cover the crock with a clean white cloth.
When she wanted apples for supper she would remove what she needed from the crock and rinse them to get rid of the sulphur taste, put them in a skillet with butter and sugar and fry them until they were good and done.  Those apples on top of a hot biscuit slathered with butter tasted just as fresh and delicious as though they had just been picked from the tree. 
In our modern world when it comes to preserving food we should try to hang onto some of the old customs and ways of our forefathers but all that hard work and sulphured apples are things of the past.