Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pots and Pans

Boy, could she cook. Mom was dynamite in the kitchen. She could take leftovers and make a brand new feast. A working farm meant farm hands. Cousins, uncles, hired hands would help with the crops which meant many mouths to feed. Hungry, hard working men with hearty appetites.

We raised most of our food. Mother would chop off a chicken's head and hang it on the clothesline by it's leg, so the blood would drain out. Brenda and I would sit and watch the body flap. (Ah, entertainment on the farm.) Afterwards Mom would boil the chicken and pluck it. My sisters and I were wishing we were on a tractor. Then she boiled the giblets and other useless chicken parts. Nothing went to waste. We knew that when all of the rich broth was cooked out of the bones, she would make her incredible homemade noodles. The chicken was rolled in flour, browned then popped into the oven. Meanwhile we girls peeled potatoes, snapped beans and set the table.

Sweaty farm hands would come in from the field to find a table bulging with piles of mashed potatoes, rich gravy, incredible noodles, bowls of fresh green beans and delicious fried chicken. As always, sometime during the morning, Mom also managed to bake a pie. It was a feast that could have been created for  Thanksgiving but was an every day occurence in the life of a farm wife.

Probably the best thing I learned during those years was this:  When you use something in the kitchen, you rinse it and put it into the dishwasher or you let it soak until you wash the dishes. Not Mom. At the end of a meal, the clean up crew, consisting of me and my two sisters, were faced with a kettled coated with dried mashed potatoes, a skillet caked with greasy crumbs and plates full of leftover scraps. Stacks of pans and dishes loomed over us as the women dined on what was remaining of the feast.

The daily battle would ensue. Each of us wanted to wash dishes and not dry. Not sure why. I think it reverts back to the womb and water. After what seemed like most of the afternoon for her daughters, the dishes would be washed, dried and back in the cupboard. Mom? Oh, she was already preparing for the evening meal.

None of the daughters like to cook. In fact, I believe I'm not stating this too strongly in saying we all HATE to cook. The kitchen is the den of horrors for us. Why? Well, none of us learned to cook, Mom wouldn't let us help with the preparation. Oh, we could find our way around the kitchen if it was full of dirty dishes. No, Mom loved to cook ALONE.

My children cook. Perhaps they had to learn to survive. Me? I rock when it comes to cleaning up.
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also worked on many farms as a youngster. I worked the fields, loaded the hay into the barn and shovelled the proverbial dung until my clothes absorbed all of that beautiful aroma.

I was also privileged to have a Mom, Aunts and other women who could cook better than the galloping gourmet (not sure if any person south of the border really knows who he was). The meals were always the best part of the day and the most interesting. Of course, it was always, and I mean always the most difficult to leave that table and head back to the fields for what we knew would be hours of even hotter temperatures.

Ah, those days, I can almost smell the freshly cut hay and the dust from the oats being seperated from the stalks.

Thanks

JJM

Pamela Loxley Drake said...

JJM,

After those huge meals, Dad and the hands would all sit under the old mulberry tree letting the food settle and, I'm sure, wishing they were finished in the field for the day. Nice memories from back then.

I'm curious. Where did you grow up?

Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed hearing from you.

Pam