Posted in Back in the Day, The Hen & the Hammer, The Hen House, The Hungry Hen, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Cookin’ with Cast Iron: A Little Bit of This & That

cfe25d82c2a132311c6c4e88d7542b3e--skillets-cookingI think Cast Iron is makin’ a comeback, even though in my mtns, it never really went away. I can walk into our Aunt Theresa’s house right now and find a gazillion of all shapes and sizes hangin’ from a beautiful rack my Uncle Eddie made.  It’s slim pickin’s at yardsales round here. That’s how prized they are. But in other places, where folks might not know much about em, you maybe able to score big time. Across tables, once in a blue moon, some will be peppered out and all the way across all because they sport a little rust or their famous, traditional black maybe a light grey. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that iron. Grab em if you see em. Walmart sells them as well as Farmer brand stores. (If you’re lookin’.) Lodge is a popular brand, although, I have a few that aren’t and they work just fine.  Rusted up or brand new, they need to be seasoned or fixed. And here’s how you tackle all that and some other little bits you might stumble upon along the way….

First, what’s Cast Iron good for? Well, you ain’t never had fried chicken or gravy like what we whip up in a Cast Iron. Dependin’ on how it’s Seasoned, folks fry up eggs, cook stews, beans and all kinds of goodies. My kids and I swear the best-grilled cheese you ever eat is made with a Cast Iron skillet on a wood stove. Its buttery, crispy, not soggy with a gooey and soft middle. Bacon comes out crispy and sausage nice and brown. Cornbread, biscuits, bread. The skies the limit, dependin’ on what ya got and what you want to do with it.

d6ec5d1a52a2f44c2791c0f16169b406--cast-iron-cooking-cast-iron-pansSecond, seasoning….

Most are intimidated by this but that’s just a shame. Might take a little doin’ but you won’t break a sweat. What you want to do is, lightly rub oil or lard into your Cast iron. Here, I copied these off of Southern Living….

How To Season Your Cast-Iron Skillet:

  1. Scrub skillet well in hot soapy water.
  2. Dry thoroughly.
  3. Spread a thin layer of melted shortening or vegetable oil over the skillet.
  4. Place it upside down on a middle oven rack at 375°. (Place foil on a lower rack to catch drips.)
  5. Bake 1 hour; let cool in the oven. (Source)

Personally, I put it upside down in the oven, but that’s just me.


How to clean?

Every soul out there who has it, has their own way of doin’ this. Some scrub out with coarse salt. Others use hot soapy water. Some yell, NO DAWN or soap that tears off the seasoning. No scrubbing things like brillo pads. No steel wool. I’ll throw soapy water on while it’s still hot. Swish it around as it boils everything off. Dump it and rinse it and then wipe a drop of oil back on. Whatever way you do it, just remember, DRY IT yourself, with a towel of paper after you’re done. Take a napkin, and rub your oil back into it. Lightly. It doesn’t have to drip grease. This is kind of like conditioning your hair. You don’t leave the conditioner on, do ya? No, you rinse, and your hair keeps what it needs. You won’t be rinsin’ your cast iron after this but you do want to work in enough lard or oil so it gets what it needs.

Why Cast iron? On a Practical Sense?

No chemicals. Lasts forever. Will most likely outlive us all– if kept properly. Heats and cooks food evenly– let your brain mellow on that one. Evenly. No Teflon to worry about, coatings wearin’ down that may not be safe to consume. It’s rough and touch and can take a lickin’. Drop a new style pan and it dents all to hell. Drop a Cast Iron, and pray the floor holds out. It’s made to last.

You can use it on the stove, on the camp-fire, on the grill, in the oven or on a wood stove. You can fry, saute, bake or whack your husband upside the head with it. Okay, so you may not want to take that last one literally. winks. The point is if the world came to an end tomorrow, chances are, the only thing that would survive are the cock roaches, my monster- in- law, and the Cast Iron. (Another joke on the Mother in Law. winks)

Seasoned right, it’s naturally nonstick. Again, this stuff is the Mac Daddy, work horse of the kitchen and you can grab it black as night or enamelled coated — I have both that I use for different things.

What if it’s rusty?

Did I cover this one? If I did. sorry, I’m multitasking. If it’s rusty, though, rework the Seasoning steps. That’s all. Rust doesn’t mean death. Again. this stuff is built to last!

Which for which?

What to cook in a Cast Iron (Black and Beautiful in its natural state) and what to cook in an enamel coated Cast Iron?

I save my Mater sauces, soups and stews for my Enamel. I fry meat, taters, even eggs, in my regular Cast Iron. I cook gravy (Southern Gravy), may fry fish, bacon, sausage and all those goodies in my regular Cast.

If things like eggs are sticking–it needs better seasoning. The Cast Iron, that is.

What the heck is this?

That lid goes to a Dutch Oven kind of Cast Iron. Those little pokey things is actually a self-baster. So when you pop that sucker in the oven or stove with, let’s say a whole chicken or roast, in it, then the steam collects to the top and those dotted-points, drips the juice and juice down on your prized meal. Now ain’t that genius?

If you bought one of these and it leaves a metallic taste in your mouth — or any cast iron for that matter– it just needs more seasoning. Wash, again with soapy water and keep seasoning. If you don’t have time to pop it in the oven, then start fryin all your sausage and bacon in it until that grease sinks into the iron and works it up. As you can see, I’m fryin’ sausage in mine. That’s fresh sausage, ya’ll. Mmmmm Mmmmm Goooooooood!!!!!

Still not sure what enamelled cast iron is? Still not sure what regular is? Below are some samples.


Regular Cast Iron


Enamel Covered Cast Iron


Any other questions hit me up!

Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, Hen Pecked, Hogs, Pork, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Hog Butcherin’ Time


Across the scarcely covered mountains, an icy breeze brings a hint of a woodstove burnin’ from somewhere, where ya’ll know the folks are all toasty and warm. Inside, a there sits a hot cast iron, fresh sausage fryin’ or maybe a hearty sausage and tater soup simmers on the stove. Sure enough, bread or buttermilk biscuits are bakin’ in the oven. Its comfortin’ smell lingers through an entire household just anxiously waitin’. These things make the winter months worth sufferin’. I’m a Spring -hen myself. I like the grass between my toes. Love a river when the sun is warm. But even this chick has to admit, Some things just stir the soul durin’ the cold season and those things make it worth goin’ into. Hog butcherin’ might just be one of em.

I could probably live off the country sausage. Shoot, I ain’t never turned my nose up at Italian either. I love the way it smells when cookin’ and I love the way I feel after gobblin’ some up. We raised four hogs, this year. Two regular, mixed, Yorkshire and Tamworths. Maybe one was part Hereford. Then we tried out hand at two American Guinea Hogs. Those will hang up this weekend or next– dependin’ on the weather. Interested to know how those measure up…which will decide whether or not we raise em next year.

Still, for the past several weekends, my husband and Uncle have been knee deep in the butcher house. His hogs, my hogs, their hogs. It’s an age-long tradition that folks don’t do too much of anymore. Oh, they’ll buy one already raised or butchered up, but not many actually get in there and do it themselves from the little one too big. I know once I’ve butchered, it’s hard to keep em in the freezer. Folks wantin’ it, not to mention what we can easily eat ourselves. Bottom line, though, to me, it’s a clean meat. And by clean, I mean, I know what that hog ate from beginnin’ to end. I know it’s health as we were the one’s keepin’ it healthy. I know what’s in the seasoning of, the cookin’ of, the processin’ of. No preservatives. No big unpronounceable word-poisons. Just the meat. Clean. I can’t describe the deep satisfaction of that. When I serve it to my family, the deeply satisfied feelin’ that I am givin’ them somethin’ as healthy as I can possibly provide. Not to mention the lessons my children learn about traditions, about having a respect and responsibility, some control over their food.

Homesteaders — those who are coinin’ that phrase— are doin’ it and, most certainly, ones who live off grid. Whether you Cure the hams or cut pork chops or grind it all into sausage, though, there’s lots to be made and had from Hogs, which may be why some are jumpin’ in, on the whole, raisin’ them up again bandwagon.

Throughout this week–time permittin’– and possibly month–if time doesn’t turn out to e my friend, I’m going to post up recipes for pork and most likely, sausage. Hope you enjoy……

And if you are lookin’ for recipes in general, of what I already have, check out The Hungry Hen and all the categories within’!



Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

A Southern Tradition: Black- Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Greens & Pork

Grandma-Maude-Great-Grandma-Gertrude-and-Great-Aunt-Madge_thumb.jpgEvery. Single. Year. Grandma was firm on one rule. Not that she didn’t have many, but this particular one was like angering fate itself. As if it tipped the scales of all bad luck and curses. It was that serious. As if somewhere within’ her Blackwell roots, all tangled up there, written in the blood of her ancestors upon the stone of all stones…

On New Years Day, you better cook and eat Black-eyed Peas, Cabbage and Pork. If you don’t, you won’t have good luck, wealth and health in  the coming year.

Grandma would even make phone calls a day or so ahead of time reminding us all not to forget. And if you pulled some nonsense like, “Grandma, I don’t have time to cook that.” Then she’d reach through that phone snatchin’ you up by the nape of your neck with a death grip of a tone, a forewarnin’, and say, “Then you better come by my house and get some before its too late!”

Grandma’s dead and I seriously doubt she is gonna make a phone call to my house on New Years Day. Although I really wish she could. I can promise you, though, on my stove, every year the menu is the same….

Black-Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Pork and, oh yeah, Greens. I picked the Greens up from my time in North Carolina. I love em, so it’s easy to slip one more good luck charm in on the menu.

Even for a time, my own Mother would cook them on New Years Day. Maybe it was to avoid Grandma from kickin’ down the door and burnin’ her butt up with a switch if she didn’t. Maybe for one small period of time, my Mother actually had some sort of nostalgia for the past, Grandma’s traditions and all those who came before her.  Maybe.

Still, till this day, I have one Aunt who still cooks these things on New Years Day. She even gives me a yell, making sure I am doing it too just like Grandma once did. We catch snark from certain cousins, in-laws and family members for upholdin’ Grandma’s stern rule. Or, at least I do.

They scoff and say, “I make my own luck.I don’t need no make-believe tradition!” Or they say, “God takes care of me. That’s offensive to him.” They say other things but as we get older, we learn to tune people out.

For me and my Aunt, we don’t actually believe cooking these things will make or break us for the following year. We do it because its a tradition that my Grandma took literally. Grandma learned it from her Mother and Father. They learned it from theirs. Maybe none of them believed in it, maybe they did, but you can bet their bottom dollar that they did it regardless all because it was, as I said, a Tradition. It was passed down through their family and bloodline. It survived hard times, bad weather, no money, low supplies, sickness, death, and despair. It survived because they survived.

I cook these things on New Years Day because it meant something to my Grandma. All day, I end up thinking about her. Not the things that drove me nuts or put a wedge between us. I think about the good things, the few times I saw her smile, this meal being one of the few things that made her smile.


My kids learn or re-learn about where they come from. We’re mountain people. We have Roots here. Our kin spread far and wide. Some made and ran Moonshine. Some were Farmers. Some were Preachers. Some actually carved out a place for themselves when these mountains were no more than a wilderness, a hope for a good life to come, filled with dangers and hardships. They lived off the plants and wildlife. They gave birth and buried their dead in the soils and rocks we see now as nothin’ more than dirt and toe-stubbers.

I show my kids pictures of the Blackwell Clan, with the Blueridge Mountains behind them. All mostly dark-haired, wavy and thick. I try to give them a sense of placement. A sense of pride. A sense of beginning. I want them to know that they come from somewhere. And while the women could be mean, that’s what gave them the strength to fight their way through this world when the world owed them no favors.

IMG_1578I show them pictures of the Clarks and tell them the history of that name. Then, thanks to the books and pictures my Aunt Wanda gave me, I show them the little truths of their journey throughout the Ages, their place in many unfortunate wars including the historic battles they survived, even though their minds were never quite the same again.

Through these pictures, you could see my Grandfather, healthy when he just signed up for Service. Not fat, but meaty enough to be called a man. Proudly smiling in his uniform. Someone who was about to make something of himself. Then I show them the picture of him after Pearl Harbor and all that came in its aftermath. A shadow of himself, thin was drinking. He’d spend the rest of his life tryin’ to chase away the demons that war put in his head. The last years I saw him, in a wheel chair, half paralyzed from a stroke, unable to speak words clearly….shaking one fist at the TV shouting something incomprehensible in anger. All because a movie of Pearl Harbor was on. And oh yeah, the time Jacob’s Ladder played and his blood pressure went through the roof.

These Southern Traditions that most of you find pointless and funny are more than what they appear to be on the outside. We honour them because it brings to life our people who are not dead and gone. We remember them. And as long as we remember them, they live with us in our hearts, spirit and mind. What’s more depressing? Dying or realizing when you’re dead, it will be as if you never existed at all because no one remembers you. You passed nothing on. You left no mark upon this world. No imprint. Nothing of importance.

My Grandma’s tradition may not heal Cancer, but it is important. She bestowed unto me a sense of pride, worth, and the knowing that I come from a long line of women who suffered much but overcame even more. Women who were the heartbeats of their home. Women who knew how to survive even things like men and others, like, The Depression.

I think the problem with the world today is that we’ve been made to feel ashamed of who we are and where we come from,  or what collar we wear. Traditions are no longer taught or passed down. Our children are no longer taught the basics or skills. No one takes pride in where they come from and we no longer have a sense of placement, which means we no longer have a sense of worth. We have no more pride in ourselves than we do of anyone else because we no longer teach the next generation of what they gain to lose or what our ancesters faught to have.

We each have heritage and we are in danger of losing it. These traditions help me hold onto that. They help me hold onto Grandma, keep me grounded, and they help my children know a woman who is no longer here to drive them up a wall. As long as I uphold these things, as long as I instil these precious pieces into them, then they will always know they come from somewhere and those that came before them didn’t live and die as if they never lived or existed at all. And we become the stronger for it. And besides, I happen to love eating Black-Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Greens and Pork. So that helps. winks


Posted in Back in the Day, Hen Pecked, The Scoop from the Coop, Uncategorized

Homesteading v/s Off Grid :And Those of us Living Somewhere In-Between


These two lifestyle choices go by many names but the ones mentioned in my title seems to be the most recognizable or, possibly, the less confusing. Each one serves as an umbrella, though, with a good many people standing under them. Each person, however, has customized each one. And they can since there are no rules or regulations written into any one stone. I’ll get to more of that as we go.


I won’t go into the historical bits of Homesteading which live somewhere around the 1800’s and the Homesteading Act of 1862, but I will say that the past has found a way into the present. In fact, it’s down-right trending.

Homesteading is something I am more familiar with. What people are trying to do, seems like something our people have done from the very beginning. Except, if you called my Grandma or Aunt Madge a Homesteader, they would have thought you had marbles in your mouth. Their way of life was the way life was…and should be. Oh, I’m sure it had its upgrades from how their childhoods went. Like, electricity. Cooking on something other than a wood stove. And in many cases, like that of my Grandma, women worked outside of the home as well as on the land and at home.

As one of my older Clients told me one day, “Women didn’t burn any bridges back then and get equality. Men just made them think they did. He said, “Fine! Go get a job and a paycheck! And when you get home, tend to those kids, that laundry, my supper and this house!”

“How many years,” my Client asked, “Do you think it took women to realize the only thing they won was the right to do more work?”About that time she scoffed at me with absolute sarcasm. “Guess you could say, they still ain’t caught on.”

But no matter what, women in Grandma’s day lived frugally and they raised everything that they could. They made most of what they had. I never walked into my Aunt Madges house and saw store-bought butter. Every gunk of butter she used, was made with her own two hands. That also went for soap, which was brown and not as high-end and fancy as to what people sell now. It didn’t smell all that awesome either and it was made with the fat off her Hogs. Taking a bath in her iron water mixed with that soap– was something I thought nightmares were made of, lol.

Regardless, Aunt Madge’s pantry was stacked from floor to ceiling with jars filled with what she grew or concocted. Her front yard was filled with fruit trees. The Garden was bigger than what the land seemed and she was always slammin’ that porch door screaming for whoever happened to be standin’ there to get them dern chickens off them eggs. “Don’t let them dern birds sit on em!”

Homesteading reminds me of this. A glimpse into the past. So when people start doing it, it isn’t so odd to me.

Where I live, most already do it but I have noticed that many have or are choosing to lose touch with the old ways. Electronics and newly aged conveniences are replacing the more old-fashioned stuff. And most folks around here will act like you have marbles in your mouth, too, if you throw that word Homesteading around. But it’s out there, taking root in a world where most thought it was long forgotten.

Today’s Homesteaders are downsizing and I suppose you could say, uncluttering their lives. Instead of popping into the local grocery store to buy chicken, they are learning how to raise and butcher their own birds. They are figuring things out– thank the stars for the internet–one present-day wonder that seems to be helping us all out.

So that being said, what is Homesteading, exactly? What was I saying about umbrellas? It’s living more sufficiently. People who are Homesteaders try to use less electricity, eliminate waste, trading the fast food for home-cooked, and cooking from scratch what you have raised or grown yourself– or what you know someone else to have raised or grown.

Living off Grid, takes it one step further depending on how far a person wants to go. There are some out there who go completely pioneer, ditching electricity and damn near everything that makes life more P9030473comfortable. Some have electricity but use solar panels and such. Basically, those who live off-grid find a way to do it for themselves and if they can’t, then they aren’t doing it at all.

How do they manage to do that in a world one step away from being something Sci-fi or ruled by Robots?

By building Businesses and at least using the internet to work those skills and trades.

Keywords: Skills or Trades. We are seeing a rise in those, as well. Men and women picking up old worldly skills such as Blacksmithing. Others learning how to build things with their hands and more.The opportunities are there but finding a way to work them — what you were born to work– is another. Either lifestyle– extreme or not– is hard work. Weather, Disease, Nature, the World around us– can make it even harder. But don’t feel discouraged because nothing will ever feel more satisfying.

There is an extreme path to both terms and under each umbrella, you have many layers of people choosing how extreme they are going to go. I know of people who still work in the city, but live in the County on land, raising animals, growing food, and such. Others have disconnected from the world completely– except for that internet– and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are those out there that have ditched the internet, too. Women have traded diapers for cloth, make their own Aunt-Flow items and many are Homeschooling kids. Healing comes from home and Doctors are the last straw kind of deal while many see physicians regularly.

All these things are optional. It depends on you and how far you want to go.Remember that because if you do keep the internet, if you do seek out others online, you will run into the same arrogance we find in all areas of life. Someone cutting you down because you aren’t extreme enough maybe too simple things like Canning. That’s not including people you see every day or often like friends and family who will think you’re off your rocker for living this way.

As for me? I raise or hunt as much meat as I can. I grow as much food and Can as much as I am able. I live in the Country with some land but my dream is to have more. My kids are not homeschooled. They are very active in Sports and have a natural talent when it comes to them. While I want them to know the old ways in case the world goes belly up or just to preserve the knowledge that I have, I want them to also enjoy the things they are drawn too.

I own a Salon in my home and my husband owns a small Masonry Company. We still interact with the outside world and clearly, I am using the internet. I live as much like my Grandma and her people as much as possible because we are more comfortable this way. I dream of moving deeper into the mountains where all is still and quiet but in order to work for myself, I have to be closer to the rest of the world.

And I know of some who live in tents (or have) and campers, while they build their homes or carve out their land. The only time I go off-grid is when we go camping and because of our animals, we don’t get to do that so much anymore. But I make as much as I can– soaps and such when I am able– and I enjoy a simpler way of life. But like Grandma, I am thankful for the luxuries I do have– electricity, air conditioning, indoor plumbing– though I know how to survive without them.

So, if you are looking to live in a cabin built by your own hands or a tiny house or off the land, you can go to whatever extreme you want. And don’t get confused by the terms. They are just what’s trending. To most of us with roots here in the Appalachian Mountains, we are familiar with what is trending as this has always been our way of life. But, like all of you, we grew up and decided how much of it we would keep, how much of it we want back and to what extreme is right for us.

Posted in Back in the Day, Canning & Preserving, Food Facts, From Scratch, Hen Cackle, Historical, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Water Bath or Pressure Canner? And a Vintage Water Bath Chart.

1304176654-hey-who-s-the-designer-here-before-after-design-talk-oyxnog-clipartAre you like me? Ready to pull hair and scream over this whole: Water Bath or Pressure Canner debate? I feel you. I really, really feel you. And I can even understand why newbies to Canning are so freaked out. It’s not like the “Canning Police” and the “FDA” attempt to ease our mind any. They have more Do’s and Don’t’s than Grandma and her switched did.


And for those of us who were raised on our previous Ancestors, and how they did things, that’s a real struggle. I’d like to see the “Canning Police” or the “FDA” tell my Grandma or one of my Great Aunt’s how to Can. I’d love for them to say….

  • “You aren’t allowed to Can Potatoes”
  • “You aren’t allowed to Can Tomatoes in a Water Bath and if you Can, which better be in a PC (Pressure Canner), then that better have added Acid in it.”
  • “No Onions allowed!”
  • “Stick to a recipe to a T. If it calls for four cloves of Garlic, you better stick to 4 cloves. If not, you will kill the whole family.”

And last but not least….

  • “Best not EVER use a Water Bath to Can meat!!!!!”

My Grandma would have beat down the entire government. Canning police? Wouldn’t be a switch left on the tree.

Still, today, in nearly every Canning Group out there, the Nazi’s still shake a finger and the FDA is still beating fear into the Masses. And while I WILL NOT tell you what you can or can’t do, I did stumble onto this cool little vintage chart of rules for Water Bath Canners that probably swam around in every kitchen back in Grandma’s day. And I will offer one bit of advice. Not a demand,. Not a threat, just advice….

If you are Canning, do what you feel most comfortable with. I’ve used a Water Bath for everything before I finally bought a Pressure Canner a year ago. I don’t add acid to my Maters. I Can potatoes religiously. And the only difference I can offer you is this one:

PC’s Can in a shorter amount of time. Example: Canning Green Beans in a Water Bath Canner can take up to 4-41/2 hours. In a PC, 25 minutes.

Yep, that’s it. If you are on unfamiliar ground where Canning goes, a PC may make you feel safer but for those of us who were taught by Grandma and those before her, we also feel just fine the Water Bath way. So when it comes to Canning, so what the hell you want. Ask for advice by finding a great support group but a great support group doesn’t bleed and spew nothing but fear. If a Jar is bad, you will smell it. Sometimes you will see it but in case your glasses are fogged that day, the smell will tell you. That’s always worked for me.

And if a recipe calls for 4 cloves of Garlic, don’t think the entire family will die if you add 10. For the love of God, folks, stop trying to duct tape everyone into the same box. winks





Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About

(HE) is a Big Crock of Doo-Doo


I’ll never forget the first apartment I got that allowed me to have my very first Washer and Dryer set. In my early twenties, THIS was a big deal. No more Laundry Mats. No more quarters. No more carting trash bags of dirty clothes around. No more stretching my clean ones until I had a day off that I’d be cursed to spend in the Laundry Mat and not somewhere fun and interesting like the rest of my friends.

Of course, I couldn’t afford a brand new Washer and Dryer. Luckily, a family member was just starting out selling appliances. They sold me something they couldn’t exactly get rid of because of the way it looked and it’s age—a beat up, ugly ol’, lime green Maytag Washer. This thing looked a hundred years old. It was heavy, clunky and there was absolutely nothing fancy about it. Luckily my Laundry Room had a door because this set was an eyesore, complete with an off-white Dryer that had more dents in it than my first car, a used Chevette.

They weren’t pretty but baby, they could sure take a lickin’ and keep on gettin’. My now husband and I decided to move in together not long after. Now, he’s a Country boy, or what I like to call, Mountain Man. On top of bein’ a Mason, that man can dirty up some clothes and if anyone is married to either or, you know they wear lots of layers, too. So right off the bat, I had a ton of clothes to wash, every single day. And the stains weren’t sweet and easy like. They hooked their claws into the threads of the cloth and held on for dear life. But my ol’ green Washer wasn’t no new girl to any block. She was somethin’ fierce. She’d take fifty tons of clothes and jerk them suckers around like a wolf with a chew toy. She’d barely bat an eye at a stain. She’d go all in with fists ready. And that Dryer got hotter than hussy sittin’ up in church in the middle of August while  a Preacher yelled a warning of damnation to every harlot and drunkard within ten miles.

When we moved back to my husband’s hometown, way out there in Deerfield, Virginia, our very first house had the worst iron water this Country girl has ever seen. I swear to each and every one of you, this iron would come shootin’ out them pipes the size of a damn baseball. Big baseballs of chunky, orange rust. As if we’d walked outside with our clothes on while some snot-nosed kid threw handfuls of orange clay at us. That’s what the hell our clothes looked like. My husband was always muckin’ with the plumbin’ because this god awful stuff would clogged everything up and wear it ten times over like that of tar. Everything we had was ruined and I just knew my Maytag wouldn’t last long. How the hell could it? If this is what that water was doing to the pipes, commodes, sinks and tubs? No way could my lime-green fighter take much of a beatin’ with all that concerned. But I was wrong.

We lived in that house for two years and my Maytag kept on gettin’. I was constantly buyin’ rust cleaner givin’ her a run through even though it hardly made a dent in the toilets, sinks and everything else. Once we moved, to my absolute sadness, my Washer finally bit the big one. She passed onto Washer Heaven and just flat out died. If only I knew what I had then, I might have hired someone to come out and fix her—if she could have been fixed. Instead, foolishly, like a fifty year old man in a midlife crisis, I traded her in for a newer model. Just like those men, my life has went hill every since.

That was over fifteen or more years ago. (Do we really have to depress things further by countin’ up the exact years?) *winks* Since, I haven’t had a Washer last more than four years and the last two, no more than two. In fact, the one I have now, went belly up while it was still under warranty, and for once, the Manufacturer didn’t find a way to screw me out of that. Well, they did in the end, but at the time, it all seemed legit. They sent out a Service Man who literally ended up replacing EVERY. DANG. THANG. THAT. EVER. WAS! I’m not kiddin’. He replaced every dern part when it was all said and done. The part I got screwed on was, he wasn’t certified to work on that particular brand and the reason he replaced everything was, he didn’t know what the hell was wrong in the first place. So, I still have problems but the new girl isn’t under Warranty anymore, so I’m basically draggin’ her along for the ride for as long as I can. *winks*

Anyway, the moral of the story, I’d give anything for that ol’ Maytag back. Sure she was an eyesore, ain’t we all at one point or another? But she worked like a dream and harder than anything they make now. All this (HE) crap is a joke. This less water BS is exactly that….BS. If you can’t wash a full load of clothes, then how the heck is using less water efficient? My Maytag girl would break my clothes down to two loads now – and I have two kids still at home and my husband, who still gets as dirty as mud. Even if my oldest was still home, my Maytag would blow the doors off this sad little joke of a Washer I got now. Now, I have to do four to five loads of clothes—compared to what my Maytag could do in two. Now to me, if I’m washing two to three times more loads of clothes a day then that’s not highly efficient. That’s a high kick in my arse. And Stains? You wanna talk about Stains? If I don’t pre-treat it with the new girls, then I’m cursed to live with the Stain forever and sometimes, even if a bunch of elbow grease and fightin’ of my own, the Stain still won’t pack up and leave. But Mrs. Maytag could whip a Stain with her eyes closed even if I didn’t catch it to pre-treat. She’d whip that sucker six ways till Sunday. Shoot, the other Stains on the second load would catch wind of that and jump clean off the clothes all on their own before they had to dance with her.

Those were the days. What I wouldn’t give to have that ol’ girl back—eyesore or not—because lord knows, all the younger models that took her place, these supposed (HE) wonders, are a big crock of doo doo.



The picture above was snatched off Google—obviously someone is selling one. The one in the pic above looks a whole lot better than the fist-swingin’, fighter I had.  Oh sure, I’d take the chance and buy it but who’s to say she is what they say she is—that she can replace the ol’ lime- green queen I once had.

Those were the days……


Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?

Posted in Back in the Day, Depression Food, From Scratch, Historical, Pork, The Hungry Hen

How to Cook an Aged, Country-Cured Ham


Funny, how one day I noticed just how popular Country Hams were. I was standing at the concessions stand at my daughter’s softball game. Waiting on my Fries, a kid beside me looked up at his mother and said, “Mom, did they make the Country Ham sandwiches again?” Over Hot Dogs, Burgers or Fries, some freckled faced boy wanted salty, country pork. And my slap to attention didn’t stop there. I was at the local, summer Carnival when I seen a lady I had not seen out our way before. I asked what drug her out of the city limits and she replied, “Oh, my husband and I try to stop in every year just to get us a Country Ham Sandwich.” When my Great Aunt Joyce came down to visit not long after, I asked if she was hungry and wanted a sandwich. “Do you have any Country Ham? I haven’t had that for ages. I am just dying for some!”

Country Ham is most certainly right up there with Fried Chicken and Sweet Ice Tea. The problem is, not many folks make one anymore. They wait till they hit up a Family members house, a carnival or, well, as I learned, a ball game somewhere in the South. I suppose one reason could be the size of a Ham. They are rather large and most folks don’t have the freezer space to store the left overs. Most can’t even eat a third of one on their own. But the biggest reason, I think, people make them less and less at home is because they don’t know how. Honestly, it takes a bit of doing and many have lost the know-how.

The trick to a Country Ham is, you want to soak it overnight. You want to soak it for at least 12- 18 hours. You want to cover it in water—and folks, sometimes I change my water out a few times, depending on how salty you want it. I’ve also have soaked mine for two days, as well, before. And, I have actually soaked mine in a five gallon bucket. Not everyone has the sink room, ya know?

Next, and this is a part many forget because the “knowing’ has been lost between generations. Get yourself a pot. Drain the Ham from the water you have been soaking it in, place it in the pot and cover over again with fresh, cold water. You are going to want to SIMMER the Ham for ONLY TWO HOURS. I don’t care if that thing is the size of a watermelon, only SIMMER for TWO HOURS. DON’T BOIL. SIMMER. 

When the two hours is up, pull the Ham off the stove and just let it sit in it’s own juices – that pot of water—and completely cool down. Once it has, cut off the rind and clean it up. You can glaze it…

Honey – Just drizzle Honey over the Ham.

Brown Sugar – 1 Cup Brown Sugar (I like Dark), 1-2 tsp. Dry Mustard and 1/2 tsp. Cloves (optional)

Or whatever Glaze you want to invent. I’ve seen some people make Glaze out of Jams like Orange, Apricot, Apple Butter, whatever. It’s you’re world, so roll with it.

Last, place it in a preheated oven at 400 degrees and Bake (about 30-40 minutes). When you cut Country Ham, don’t cut thick slices. It should be cut in super thin ones. Not unless you are into thick. Freeze any extras in pieces to make Beans or whatever you desire or to pull out when company comes over to make Red Eyed Gravy or Biscuits.