Country Meals

Country Meals

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There is nothing in the world that tastes as good as white soup beans grown and cooked in the North East part of Arkansas.  Believe me, NO beans CAN TOUCH THEM!

And watermelon . . .  My oh my!!  What watermelon it was!  Grown in the sandy soils in Clay County.  People from all over Arkansas come there to get those great big ol' striped watermelons.  I can just taste them now.

Grandpa always raised a big garden; and potatoes, and okra, and squash, and Black Eyed peas, and green onions, and lettuce, and cabbage.  Man, what a cornucopia.

I remember going out to Grandpa's house, and Grandma would fry up some cornbread cakes (like pancakes, only out of cornbread), cover them with white soup beans, and stewed potatoes, and hominy, and potatoes.

Have some green onions, fresh tomatoes, lots of iced tea, and you have a gourmet meal fit for any king!  To beat it all, have a great big ol' soup pan full of roastneers (corn on the cob), and lots of homemade butter.

Sometimes, Mom would make us cabbage and brisket.  Or, sometimes we would have okra and squash and potatoes.  Sometimes for meat, Mom would slice the bologna starting in the center and coming out to the edges so it wouldn't curl up when she fried it, and we would have that with cornbread.  Man, talk about a meal!

Or, how about this: Fried wieners and chocolate gravy for breakfast!  With homemade biscuits and lots of fresh milk.  I tell you, people just don't know how to eat anymore!

I remember Mom making sweet kraut.  It was very hard to keep from spoiling, so very few people would even mess with it.  But, it's very good.  We still have sourkraut and wieners with fried cornbread to this day!

Many, many times all we had to eat, especially in the winter, was plain ol' beans and potatoes with home made biscuits.  While this may sound pretty cottonpickin' good, remember, that was 3 times a day!  And nothing in between!  But we got by.

Mom used to buy butter in a 1 lb. cake from Harry Cosseys' store on Maynard St., there in Rector. It was about 2" thick and about 5" in diameter.  She would make us some sugar syrup, and we'd pour that over homemade biscuits.  Man, it was wonderful, but only lasted about 45 minutes, and you were hungry all over again.

I remember old Dr. Futtrell telling Grandpa Shelton that him eating all those fried foods was going to kill him someday, and, it turns out he was right! It finally got him at the young age of 92!  (I think). Had he known that, he would have probably eaten more!

Grandpa had his smokehouse right out the back door of the house when they lived out on a farm at Simmons Chapel.  He would kill a couple of hogs a year, and what he didn't salt, he'd smoke cure.  Talking about a meal!  You could walk into the smoke house and cut you off a big piece of rind from the ham or bacon, and chew on it all day.

In comparison to today, people run to the store and treat it like their refrigerator, but, people back in them days put up their own foods; ham, beef, vegetables, and fruit, as well as canned everything you could think for the coming winter.

If you didn't have access to your own stores of food, then, a lot of times you went hungry.

There was very little sickness due to the lack of all the preservatives and junk found in today's foods.

But there's one thing anyone who has ever visited in the country knows: those folks sure know how to eat!

George Cavaness

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