Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Pity today’s children who won’t know tastes of old

Grandchildren might never know the unforgettable tastes of:

● Fried "farm" chicken - a chicken that was born free and raised in the back yard on potato peelings and table scraps fried in lard, served with cream gravy, garden fresh green beans and mashed potatoes with fresh-picked corn on the cob and hot biscuits. Wow! Ambrosia!

● Raw sausage seasoned in a washtub on butchering day, finally ready to be stuffed into cloth sacks Mom made out of used flour bags. We didn’t know there was any reason to not do that, and everyone ate it.

● Summer’s firsts: first sweet corn, first new potatoes, first new peas with those potatoes, first wild blackberries, first fried chicken, first strawberries.

● Snow ice cream - new fallen, fluffy snow, with real cream, sugar and vanilla or lemon flavoring. Don’t do it this winter - there’s danger of pollution.

● Apples from our own tree, buried in a pile of loose earth in the fall and retrieved in winter by groping in the dirt pile when the earth thaws deep down in spring. Cabbage keeps that way, too.

● Raw potatoes handed, peeled chunk by chunk, by a mom who’s slicing them for frying; sometimes she fried onions and green peppers with the potatoes.

● Open kettle tomatoes from the garden, salted and simmering - before being "canned" in quart-size glass Mason jars. They were for homemade tomato soup in winter.

● Fresh black walnuts, hulled by stomping and cracked by smashing between two rocks; eating more than a few of those would make the mouth sore.

● Warm watermelon in the patch, opened by smashing it against a big rock or on the ground, served by digging out the seedless heart with dirty little hands.

● Homemade ice cream at Christmas time - three beaten eggs per gallon; add a cup of cow’s cream, 2 cups sugar, vanilla. Pour into a gallon White Mountain freezer can, add the dasher and enough milk to fill the can two-thirds full. Cover. Cut ice from the pond, pack ice and stock salt around and on top of the can. Serve with Mom’s blackberry jam or grape jelly - or cake.

● A single, big, soft-ripe blackberry, juicy, warmed by early morning sun, picked from the briars and eaten in the patch.

● Mom’s big White Mountain cake, four tiers with "filling" between, held together with four toothpicks under a fluffy divinity icing.

● Chicken soup, simmered, bones and all - kids get the bones when they’re removed from the pot - leftover vegetables, plus onions, garlic, sage and other seasonings added before serving on cold winter nights.

● Hot, buttered homemade bread.

● Soft-boiled eggs with crackers crushed in them - kids’ supper on bath night before being sent to bed early in clean pajamas.

● Baked possum with candied sweet potatoes - one time each winter; men in Mom’s Sunday school class hunted and dressed enough possums for the entire group. Mom cooked them on wire racks to eliminate the grease. Girls in the class brought covered dishes for the possum feast.

In addition to these great remembered tastes, there were some not so delightful ones. In fact, they were absolutely horrible!

I never had my mouth washed out with homemade lye soap for telling a fib, but that was not only not tasty, it was absolutely terrible, according to the kids who suffered through the ordeal.

And a mouth washed with a not-quite-ripe persimmon - one was enough!

The worst was something given for curative purposes.

The one time I was given this medicine I ran outdoors, clung to the wire fence and vomited. Mom never gave me that stuff again.

What was it?

Castor oil!


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