Real Country Cooking
We went out-of-town on an over-nighter, to visit our newly widowed friend, Claudette, this weekend. As always, when we go up there, lots of other friends drop in to see us and we make a party out of it.
Thing being, strawberries are in season this weekend, and Claudie went to help her son pick strawberries, as his wife is 9+ months pregnant.
So...Claudie called her 84 year old mother, and asked if she would cook for us.
This is a Pentacostal lady, who had a very controlling husband who passed away about 5-6 years ago. She spent her life taking care of him and her 8 children. She's never had a television set, never traveled, and never used a recipe, unless it was a "rule" for a cake. Everything she knows about cooking came from her mother, grandmother, and her own experience.
It has been years since I have eaten this kind of food, and what I have eaten hasn't always been good. But Mrs. Finley sure knows how to cook.
We had her version of oven roasted vegetables with pork chops & porksteaks (from Claudette's hog), along with homegrown sweetcorn she'd cut off the cob last year and frozen, and mixed beans with onions. Very plain fare, but it wasn't so much what she cooked, but the quality of the products and the way she prepared it.
The pork had been browned (probably in bacon grease), then put on baking sheets, with coarsly sliced sweet onions, green peppers, hearts of celery, carrots, sliced potatoes, and wedges of red cabbage on top, covered with foil and baked in the oven on a low temperature.
The corn tasted like it was fresh off the cob, sweet and buttery.
I don't know for sure what she did with the mixed beans, but I saw onions, and believe I tasted bacon grease.
When you are lucky enough to get a meal like this, you don't count the calories. You just enjoy being one of Mrs. Finley's kids for one night.
Like any good cook, she loves to watch people eat her food, and when I passed the butter by and sopped my piece of bread in the drippings from the pork and vegetable, she allowed as how I was a real "country girl".
Lordy, it was good.
We get by with a little help from our friends