Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

July 17, 2011

Home Cooking

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 9:29 pm

I miss having a garden. No, I think I mostly miss my PARENTS having a garden. I have had some terrific cherry tomatoes and eggplant and zucchini in my own gardens, but the gardens I grew up with were the memorable ones. And the ones that didn’t require nearly as much effort on my part.

I grew up on a farm and we had a nice big plot for a garden. Big enough that some years Daddy would pull a plow across it with the tractor to cultivate it at the beginning of the season. I remember him doing that, but that must have been before we had trees and impediments in his way. I don’t think he could do that in later years.

When I woke up in the summer — late, around 11 –I would wander out to the garden in my pajamas to say good morning to Mother. That was usually where she was, hoeing the weeds and watering. I would visit and wake up out there and sometimes dash for the house when I would see a farmer’s pickup coming up the road. That didn’t happen too much because we lived at the end of a road so only the farmer that farmed right next to our house ever came up that way.

In our garden back then we grew everything, but I remember the onions more than anything. We had row after row of 1015s and they would grow into absolutely huge onions that we would dig and hang in old pantyhose with a knot between each onion to separate them and keep them dry. Mostly I remember eating those onions. We would make a pile of onion rings like you’ve never seen at a fast food restaurant (or any restaurant for that matter). They were absolutely mouth watering and we would almost make a meal out of fried onions alone.

We also grew zucchini and one of our favorite summertime dishes was zucchini and onions and canned tomatoes smothered in cheese. Bacon. Yes, it had bacon to get you started. Healthy summer vegetables. Yum!

Those summer meals of fried onions, cheesy zucchini, and a big plate of fresh tomato slices were usually served about 9 o’clock. Daddy would be out plowing until the last hint of sun was gone and then he’d come in and we would eat. I don’t know how he kept a schedule like that because he had a full time job that kept him away from the house from about 7 in the morning until 6 at night, but I guess plowing and farming were more of a stress release and relaxation technique than anything else could have been.

We had beans and we had peas. I wasn’t nearly as fond of snapping beans or shelling peas, though the results were worth it. I miss fresh peas a lot. That truly requires a trip to the farmer’s market to get them and I might have them once a year now.

We probably tried to grow corn in our early experiments and didn’t have much luck. We were lucky though. There were some years that the farmer next to our land — Donny McRoberts –would grow corn. He gave us an open invitation to eat all we wanted. Mom would send Mackie and me across the road to pick some corn and we’d bring it home, shuck it, drop it in the boiling water and have it eaten 30 minutes after it was picked. That is a true plus of living on a farm.

Daddy built some chairs from old tractor seats with a disc from a plow as the base and those were at the north end of the rows in the garden. Many evenings Dad and Mom would sit there as the sun sat, watching the irrigation make its way down the rows from north to south. Usually only Dad and Mom enjoyed those evening because there was prime time TV for me and Mackie to be watching inside. We may have grown up on the farm, but we didn’t truly embrace the farm life.

After I became a Master Gardener in Dallas, I was surprised to find that putting coffee cans around your tomato plants was not practiced in all parts of Texas. I learned at that late point that we had to have those cans, or the end piece of pipelines that Daddy would bring home, to protect the tender plants from the constant Panhandle wind. At least until they got big enough to fight against it themselves.

We planted carrots and lettuce and had plenty of zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and cucumbers. We had a few melons and pumpkins along the way, but that didn’t become a yearly requirement. I learned a lot about gardening on that plot of land. Of course, I haven’t lived anywhere since that had such good, easy-to-deal-with soil.

I started this blog tonight to say that we had corn on the cob for dinner tonight. And potatoes and good Aunt Fanny’s Squash Casserole (that recipe is all over the web if you want it). Oh, and a little tomato salad with green onions and tomatoes. I was feeling like we had one of my childhood-type dinners as I made it. Sadly, now that I write about those dinners in the 70s I know that we most certainly did not. These vegetables were good, but lacked that incredible flavor I remember.

1 Comment »

  1. My mom made great onion rings, too. About the closest I can find is the Rock Inn in Seymour. They are pretty darn good. Cheddar’s onion rings aren’t bad either. Thanks for triggering the memories.

    Comment by sandy — July 19, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

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