Front Porch and Kitchen Memories

By Chaunte McClure

By now, you know I love to reminisce about growing up with Grandma. I was scrolling Facebook on Sunday night and came across a meme with an image of peas in chipwood baskets, and of course, my mind traveled back to summer months sitting on the porch at Grandma’s.

On occasion, she’d shell peas or butter beans while we, the grandkids, frolicked in the yard. Some days I didn’t have that privilege or thought I was “too grown” to play with the others, but my time wouldn’t be idle because I’d have to get a bowl and help shell peas. Geez, if Grandma could’ve seen the eye roll I imagined upon her demand. Of course, she always knew whether or not I wanted to do what she asked. I’ve heard her say, “If you can eat ‘em, you can shell ‘em.” That meant get your fingernails ready to open the seams of 2,000 pods. (Clearly, I’m exaggerating.)

fresh-peas

It just seemed like it took forever to see the results of my labor, for I thought my bowl would never get full and the pile of unshelled beans always looked so large.

We snapped beans too. I’d much rather the snapping because it was much easier to break off the tips and snap the stems and that was easier on the fingernails, thumbs and index fingers.

Those are classic moments because today I don’t eat fresh vegetables often enough nor do I have a garden like many families did during my childhood. Food was better for you and oh, the memories we made just with food. Picking, peeling, cutting and bagging tomatoes. Canning peaches, apples, and beans. And making biscuits from scratch. I only watched Grandma knead biscuit dough and even at 42 years old, sadly, I’ve never made homemade biscuits nor have I canned fruits and vegetables. But some of my fondest memories were made on the porch and in the kitchen at Grandma’s House.

What are some of your fondest memories growing up in the South?

Memorial Day Fare

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

This is from my senior prom. No, really. I was smokin’ hot!

Raising a child is an everyday adventure, to say the least.  My daughter just finished Kindergarten and is at the age of constant questions, excitement for learning and unstoppable energy.  “Teachable moments” abound when you have a young child.  Being a born and bred Southerner, I want to make sure she learns the history, the stories and the traditions that define the South.  And, as we all know, a HUGE component of Southern culture is FOOD.

This Memorial Day holiday, our family stayed here at home.  In fact, we’re not crazy about going out of town on the big holidays because the Interstate traffic is bonkers, everything is ridiculously crowded and we just can’t stand it.  So the three of us spent the day relaxing and spending time with each other, which gave us the opportunity to talk to the little one about what this holiday means.  She’s already pretty versed (for a 6-year-old) in military knowledge.  We have a niece who is active duty Air Force and a nephew who already served in the Air Force. Her (now deceased) maternal and paternal grandfathers also served in the military.  Recently she saw a video that was shot at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and was very intrigued.  Perfect timing too, as we have a Girl Scout trip coming up in June that will take us to D.C. and Arlington is on the itinerary.  She’s very excited about that!

So, as she was busy making “Happy Memorial Day” cards for Jordan and Dallas, I was busy putting together a traditional Southern meal.  If you think about it, most national holidays are celebrated here in the Southern states with some form of barbeque.  Think about it:  Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day.  The meal I came up with was BBQ chicken, corn on the cob and baked beans.  Generally speaking, I don’t make baked beans often.  Okay, almost never.  I always enjoy them, I just don’t think of them often.  The point?  I “whipped up” a batch in my crockpot, which of course means I didn’t have to do much at all.  I do love crockpots!  The result was quite good and I thought I’d share it with you all.  (Interestingly, the little one who seems to think sweets are the main dish and vegetables are a dessert rejected these sweet beans.  You never know.  Next time, she’ll probably think they’re the best in the world!)

Crockpot Baked Beans

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick sliced bacon; cut in pieces (I like to use my kitchen shears)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 16-oz. cans of pinto beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 ½ Tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • ½ medium bell pepper, chopped

 Directions:

Cook bacon in skillet until crispy, remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.  Reserve the dripping in the pan.  Saute the onion and garlic in the bacon drippings until tender.

Combine bacon, onion mixture and all other ingredients in the crockpot.  Cover and cook about 4/12 to 5 hours on LOW.  You can use HIGH if you like for 2/12 to 3 hours.

Go sit down, have a glass of wine, read a book, whatever, while these babies cook and make your house smell divine!  Unfortunately, most BBQ dinners tend to be pretty monochromatic, but that’s just the way it is.  Just embrace your Southern-ness and dig in!  I hope you enjoy.