Thursday, October 2, 2014

Harvest Dinner from my North Carolina Mother

My mother and grandmother were from North Carolina and I learned how to can tomatoes, corn, jam, peaches, cherries, pears and a whole lot of other foods....from them.   We had a small house and small kitchen so mom would set up tables outside under the trees for shade with bushels of fruit or tomatoes and that's where my grandma would set up her work station and my sisters and I assisted her in the peeling, pitting and bottle stuffing while mom worked in the kitchen with the hot water bath pot and hot syrups.  

In between hot water bath batches of fruit (7 quarts at a time), she would put on a pot of food for dinner.  It was usually harvest foods from our gardens or neighbors.  This large pot of food would cook slowly through the afternoon, taken on and off the burner as the canning process took priority.  It smelled so good and tasted so good long about 6 or 7 in the evening, it was worth the wait.  There was enough food for at least 2 meals for our family of 7.  

Pictured above are all the ingredients before cooking and below is the finished meal with some whole grain sourdough bread.  

Ingredients and process
In a large pot with lid, layer some new red potatoes on the bottom of pot. Next layer some ears of fresh corn, broken into pieces, next layer some fresh green beans, then some carrots, then some cabbage wedges. If there is more room, add some thin sliced onions, some sliced squash and even some mushrooms.  Pour in a quart of beef stock or water then sprinkle some salt over each layer, maybe some pepper. I like to use my own bone broth stock.  
On the top, place some sausage or bacon strips...not the maple or peppered bacon, just the thick sliced, country style bacon.  Some times  if mom had the time, she would saute the bacon first with some onion and then pour that with the fat over the top, if not, just the raw bacon or "fat back" on top.  

Bring the pot to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for a couple hours with the lid on.  Don't skimp on the sausage or bacon.....this is the age of natural fats and they are good for us and they make vegetables taste good.  This meal is so hardy and good with sliced tomatoes and sourdough bread dipped into the "pot liquor" as my mother and grandmother called the liquid at the bottom of the pot.