Appalachian Food

Best Eating of the Year

“The inexorable turn of the earth toward summer and fall brought busy days in the fields as days got longer and hotter, moving toward getting crops “laid by.”

Some felt they could almost hear the corn growing on warm spring mornings.

It was the time of the year when tables groaned under the delights of the season: bounteous harvests of fresh corn and beans and tomatoes and June apples and plums and peaches. Sometimes the big dinners had not a single meat on the table, only vegetables in amazing abundance. I recall such days when we would come in for our noontime meal. Mother would present a table brimming with wonderfully delicious crowder peas, sliced tomatoes, fried okra, cream corn that Dad had picked that very morning, plus hot biscuits and sweet milk. After such a meal, during that hot time of day, my father would stretch out on the living room floor with a book under his head, and take a half-hour nap. Afterward, we would return to the fields refreshed and ready for an afternoon of plowing.”

—”Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread & Scuppernong Wine” by Joseph E. Dabney


We’re just about to reach the best time of the year for eating. Over the weekend we finished mulching our garden and Granny’s. I told The Deer Hunter “Now we’ve laid by the garden. All there is left to do is enjoy the harvest and the putting up part.”

We’re about a week away from the first mess of green beans of the year and we should have a few ripe tomatoes by then as well. The cucumbers have a few blooms so they’ll surely be ready by then or shortly thereafter. A table full of fresh vegetables along with a cake of cornbread is about as good eating as there is.

Tipper

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    June 23, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    You can’t beat fresh vegetables straight from the garden!

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    June 21, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Putting up the food in my estimation was the hardest part, because vegetables of every kind and amount would seem to come in too fast. I have left a many a row of leaf lettuce to bolt while I was trying to pick and prep the other vegetables. Our family never was one that had a lot of meat on the table. Later I had to cook meat for my own family, but nothing was ever as good as those fresh farm vegetables. Mom always had creamed corn or creamed new potatoes that were a real treat. She always snatcched or marbled a few potatoes early, and she hardly missed them because we had good soil for potatoes.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 21, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    Why would anyone doubt that corn makes sounds as it grows? I have heard it myself! As the new growth emerges from the bud it rubs against the older but still tender leaves that preceded it. It is a faint sound reminiscent of that of older leaves that, when in the wind, rub against other plants nearby. You just have to there and be able to be quiet enough to hear it. Most people can never attain that level of attentiveness because in order to hear the natural world you first must be able to keep your mouth shut long enough. A vast majority of people can’t hear with their mouth open and their mouth is open and running throughout their waking hours.
    Psalms 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God” I interpret “Be still” to mean to stop, be quiet, clear your mind of self generated thoughts and just listen. Don’t listen for something, just listen. God doesn’t speak to us through human voices, he speaks through his creation. Listen!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 21, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    The ‘put up’ part is still a bit of work to go but I have to say it’s an enjoyable labor. There is such satisfaction to see those beautiful jars of vegetables ready to eat next winter!

  • Reply
    Donna Sue
    June 21, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Nothing tastes as good as homegrown! Having fresh (and sun warm) tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, radishes or carrots, just brought in from the garden, on the table with your meal is like icing on a cake. Being outside working in the garden, sweating in the sun, and swatting at those pesky gnats and sweat bees, doesn’t feel like fun when you are doing it – oh, but how great it felt in your memories! I get so envious when I read about other people’s gardens all season long. I can just smell the dirt. Next year, hopefully, I will be able to do some gardening myself.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    June 21, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Sounds delicious. Wish I could have a garden again but I guess some tomatoes in pots will have to suffice this year.
    I know I will enjoy them.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 21, 2021 at 11:18 am

    These are our favorite kinds of meals! We have plentiful squash and cucumbers and soon cabbage will be ready.

  • Reply
    Pastor Lon
    June 21, 2021 at 10:34 am

    I love those stories of days gone by, there was for sure more hard work but man life was so much simpler back then and the bond of family was so much stronger then. Yes mam you can’t beat the homegrown vegetables grown in your own garden, we’ve already been enjoying some tomatoes, squash, cabbage, collards, potatoes & garden peas out of our garden this year. Gotta love the summertime in the south!!

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    June 21, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Here in Florida, we’re getting green beans and tomatoes from my brother-in-law’s garden, and the markets have locally grown sweet corn, watermelons and cantaloupes. Our sweet potatoes come from North Carolina, and good peaches from South Carolina. Haven’t seen fresh okra yet, only frozen…but that could change any day now. We are thankful for good food. We enjoy any and all leftovers. Something is wrong with people who don’t eat leftovers, and I know a few.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    June 21, 2021 at 10:18 am

    I completely agree. I am a vegetarian, so vegetables & beans are very important to me. I was raised in the city, but had the privilege to work in the gardens of my aunt’s and mother-in-law. So enjoyed it, especially harvest time. Now, we live near some farmers and are blessed to be able to buy from them. Love your posts, Tipper. Look forward to them every morning.

  • Reply
    dee
    June 21, 2021 at 9:46 am

    A supper of fresh vegetables from the garden is the best meal ever!! I actually picked two yellow squash this past Saturday and one little tommy toe plant is full of little green tomatoes & one had turned red. I sure enjoyed them too along with my cornbread:)

  • Reply
    Shirl
    June 21, 2021 at 8:57 am

    That meal you described is about as good as it gets. The first mess of green beans is always the best. I’m anxiously awaiting the first ripe tomato, my favorite thing from the garden.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    June 21, 2021 at 8:33 am

    I would have to agree that a meal of one’s garden bounty is absolutely refreshing, tasty and filling. There’s a tremendous sense of pride in growing one’s food. I can hardly believe your green beans are ready but you are several weeks ahead of here ( up north so to speak.) There are cucumber and tomato blooms. My peppers have one bloom. Lol. I remember many meals as a child having plentiful vegetables and hot corn bread on the table. We actually did not eat a lot of meat because my grandmother( a Virginia farm girl) felt it wasn’t good for children. I remember Sunday beef roasts and lots of the best fried chicken you ever ate! I had cousins who’s momma was shot to death ACCIDENTALLY and they’d pack in Sundays to granny’s for dinner. Those were the days….

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 21, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Home-grown and field-ripened sure shows up commercial. Part of that is because of the time and effort invested in it. May not add any taste but it adds satisfaction.

    We finally got enough rain to really recharge water in the rooting zone. We were getting in a bad way. Glad your all’s garden is doing well.

  • Reply
    Betty Jo Eason Benedict
    June 21, 2021 at 7:35 am

    An all vegetable meal sounds heavenly to me! Green beans with potatoes on top, maybe some diced onion, add cornbread and I’m good to go!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    June 21, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Genesis 2:8 And God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put man whom he had formed. Could that be why we feel so content in planting, harvesting, and eating from our gardens. I think so.

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