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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hog Jowls Black Eyed Peas Collards and Other Good Things

Well,  the new Years Day Feast is behind us and we are left with all those extra pounds we seem to find during the holidays. 

According to tradition in the South there are certain foods which are to be eaten on the first day of the year. There's hog jowls, black eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens, cabbage and all the fixin's to go along with them.  It is always a feast!!

Now for you northerners who think bacon was raised in a meat case and comes in a twelve ounce package  let me explain about hog jowls.  They're kinda like bacon except better  - they look like bacon, taste like bacon and smell like bacon except they are not bacon.  They're "hog cheeks".     No, not the part where the ham comes from - they come from the face of the hog.  They are sometimes used to season  beans and peas.  Sometimes they are sliced and fried like bacon. They can be tough so they need to be cooked a little longer than bacon.

The reason we eat hog jowls, blackeyed peas and collards is because our ancestors have eaten them since the Civil War.  Tradition states that during the Civil War when the Northerners were looting and plundering southern farms the only thing they didn't take was the hog jowls and the cow peas.  Northerners considered these animal fodder and left them alone.  That was all there was to eat and they were lucky they had that.  So today we eat them for luck just like our ancestors did.  Collards and cabbage are green and signify money  or cash.
So if you are in the South on New Years Day and get a hankerin' for some good food just drop in and we will see get some luck and money or at least a belly full.

That's it fer today!

Monday, January 2, 2012

4th Monday Writer's Group

Well, one of the goals I have set for myself this year is to be a writer and get something published -- anything!!

Tomorrow is my Writers Group Meeting and it is my turn to be critiqued.  I don't like being in the "hot seat".  I hope they will be kind.

Here is one of the stories i submitted - you see what you think....I will take all comments - good or bad -

Twice Around The Kettle - Once Across The Middle

When I was growing up the beginning of fall meant apple butter making time. We had a big copper kettle that was used for making the apple butter. A few days before the actual making began we would begin gathering apples. We had lots of apple trees but the one that made the best butter was one we called the Pound Apple Tree. It was a huge tree and always produced these huge apples. Many of them were at least a pound or so thus the name. That old tree still stands today and stil produces apples. I snapped these photos this fall some fifty years later.

It was our chore to go to gather the apples on the ground every day but when we were ready to start the butter we would take the ladder and shake the tree picking up all the apples that fell to the ground. We would have six or seven bushels of apples and then it was time to start peeling and coring. We would sit in the shade of the porch and peel and cut apples. We saved the peelings to make apple jelly and the core was thrown away. We would have a big washtub full of fruit ready for making the next day. We would then set up the kettle .

We used a metal stand with three legs to support the kettle and keep it about a foot from the fire. We had an apple butter stick that was used to stir the apples. The stick or stirrer as it was called was about 4 inches across and about as deep as the kettle. The bottom was rounded to fit the contour of the kettle so you could keep the sides from burning. It had a handle about 6 feet or so that kept you away from the fire.

The actual process took all day usually about eight hours or so. Early in the morning we would fill the copper kettle with apples cover it with water and build a fire underneath. It was important to

begin the stirring process as soon as the fire was built. It was tough stirring to begin with but it was necessary to keep the apples from sticking. Once the kettle warmed and the apples began cooking it got easier. Everyone took their turn at stirring. It was kind of a neighborhood event. The neighbors would stop by to visit and they took their turn too. It is hard to pass a boiling kettle of apple butter without taking your turn.

After the apples have turned to sauce we added apples and water until all the cut apples were gone. At this point it is necessary to keep the fire steady and the stirrer continuously moving to prevent scorching. When all the apples are cooked into a fine sauce it is time to add the sugar. After the sugar has been added the last step was to add about a cup of cinnamon and a cup of sugar and some

whole cloves.

Continue to cook for awhile and then it is time to begin the tasting process. You want the taste to be a little sweeter than normal because after it cools it mellows out a little and is not quite so sweet. Keep on stirrin' and keep on tastin'. When it has turned a deep reddish brown and isn't watery anymore it is done. It was then ladled into clean jars and sealed left to cool overnight before it's final step to the cellar.

While the apple butter process was going on outside, inside the apple peelings were simmering on the wood stove. When all the juice was cooked out of the apples they were then squeezed through a white cloth and sugar was added to make the jelly.

Our kitchen table always held a jar of apple butter or jelly sometimes both. There is nothing better than eatin' a hot biscuit slathered with butter and apple

butter. It made all the hard work worthwhile.

My other goal this year is to write every day-----how am I doing so far.
That's it for today.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Wishing all my friends and family a healthy happy and prosperous New Year