Sawmill gravy with cornbread, hog jawl, fried chicken, chocolate dumplins’, soup beans and taters, fresh garden mater and onions. These were just a few of the good home cooked meals we enjoyed growing up in Appalachia. Freshly sliced cukes would make a good plate garnishment as well. Many of us still cook these old fashioned meals today. It seemed the greasier the meal, the better the eatin’. Dessert usually consisted of a fresh apple stack cake or fried apple pies with the apples from the tree out back. Every now and then a big chocolate cake or pie would be made if those ingredients could be got from the store. Most mountain mommas made use of what came straight out of the garden.
Despite the proper words for each meal, in Appalachia we call them breakfast, dinner, and supper. Nothing beats fresh chicken eggs fried or scrambled up for breakfast with drop biscuits. Dropped biscuits were made by mixin’ some flour and milk and then dropping spoonfuls onto a greased baking pan. My mother-in-law, Sue, knew how to make those good old cat head biscuits. She often made milk gravy to go along with them. If milk happened to be unavailable, water would be used in its place. My mother always made water gravy. I couldn’t stand the stuff but I’d eat it. If there was any sausage available, it would be crumbled, cooked, and added to the gravy.
Many mountain people received commodities. This was a government box of food we would go fetch from the Neighborhood Service Center. I’ve ate a lot of food but none quite compared to government cheese, canned beans, peanut butter, and powdered eggs. I am craving some powdered eggs as I type this as I’ve not had any in many years. I have purchased different brands of cheese throughout the years but have been unable to satisfy my craving for the brown cardboard box of government cheddar cheese we received for free. When you grow up poor, you eat what you can get yer hands on!
Summer was the best time fer eatin’ cause we had our fill of fresh green beans, fruits, vegetables, etc. Fried taters and cornbread would make a meal for a family during those times. My grandma Ethel would cook cabbage. My how it made the house stink! It sure was good, though. On chicken killing day, I am not sure which was worse, the smell of the cabbage or the hot plucked chicken feathers! I often helped pluck the chickens once Grandma chopped their heads off. It was free entertainment to watch those chickens flop around. Sometimes, the chicken would get up and walk around with no head! Kids these days would near faint of a heart attack if they witnessed such as this. One thing for sure, money may have been scarce but we sure et’ good!