Churned Butter and Cottage Cheese
“We used dairy products in a variety of ways. Whole milk, skim milk, buttermilk, and clabbered milk were part of our daily diet. Even “Blue John” (skim milk that has turned sour) was used in breads and gravies when the whole milk had to be saved for churning. On Stoney Fork, if we wanted to describe people in the very depths of poverty, we would say they ate cornbread and Blue John gravy for breakfast. Actually, it was not too bad if the cook first added a little baking soda to the milk. This sweetened the milk somewhat, though it made the gravy foam over if not watched carefully.
There was one period in our lives when we had to eat cornbread and Blue John gravy for breakfast. Our cow died along with her unborn calf in late August, and there was no money to buy another cow. Aunt Betty and Grandma Saylor gave us a bucket of milk each day. From this milk, Mother skimmed every drop of cream and saved up for churnings; the remainder she used sparingly. I remember how hungry I got for milk that fall; but she feed the skim milk to the two youngest children and used the remainder for gravy. Shortly after our cow died, Father was cheated out of payment for a stand of timber he had cut and hauled to a loading dock on contract for a sawmiller. I never knew exactly all the details, but he worked from September until the end of November and when the logs were all delivered the man broke the contract and Father did not get a penny for three month’s work. We had raised a field of corn that year, and we shelled a bushel at a time which was ground into meal every two weeks. This supplied us with cornbread and meal gravy but there was no money to buy flour. Mother canned apples and berries, and we had both white and sweet potatoes, and dried beans to eat that winter. It was not too bad except for the hunger for milk and sweet things to eat and having to eat cornbread for breakfast. Most of my schoolmates brought biscuits split and filled with fried chicken, bacon, or apples for their lunches. I was so ashamed that I had to bring cornbread along with whatever Mother could find to feed us. I would take my lunch and go as far away from the others as I could to eat. Eventually things got a little better because in February Father made a couple of runs of moonshine and we had a little cash money again.”
“More Than Moonshine” – Sidney Saylor Farr