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Hominy Day

One of the very best things about Thanksgiving is simply being with family. I am so thrilled that for Thanksgiving 2017 we will have our son Will, his wife Christi, and their three children, William, Thomas, and Mattie, our granddaughter Amanda Evans, her husband Jared, their five children Candi, Hailey, Caitlin, Charli, and Kaison, and our grandson Charles D Reeves all with us. There will be laughter, chatter, games and teasing–and lots of good smells and eating. One of the children will tell the Pilgrims’ story. Charles will pray. And then he’ll carve the turkey cooked on his new Primo grill (our first time doing a turkey on the grill, praying hard!)

So why did I title this blog “Hominy Day”?

We’re not having hominy for Thanksgiving. Maybe corn, not hominy. But thinking about “being with family” brought me to thinking of the togetherness my birth family experienced all the time, one day, for example, being “hominy day.”

If you arrive at your answer as to whether you like hominy by how that anemic hominy in a can tastes you need to taste my mother’s homemade hominy. Not that it’s still available. But wow! That was good stuff. The memory is delicious.

It wasn’t that easy to make. Simple, yes, but not easy.

First you had to have corn. Dry corn. Off the cob, of course. So you had to grow the corn, which required a lot of hot field work, but which also gave an opportunity for word games and philosophying and teasing to the rhythm of hoes clicking. Harvesting dried corn is a rattly, somewhat itchy proposition. Then there’s the shucking. And there had to be some for the cows. So sometimes Dad supplied corn for such a big family by buying some by the bushel from a neighboring farm. I loved it when Mr. Loggins came in the fall with a horse drawn wagon full of dried corn, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and purple crowned rutabagas (not my favorite, but they were pretty).

We didn’t have a corn sheller. Well, we did too. Seven, eight, however many of us were at home. Sometimes we shelled corn in the barn. That was like a party. We had competitions to see how many of the fuzzy red cobs we could pile up, or someone told a wild story, or we ended up in a cob fight. If you’ve never shelled dry corn with your own bare hands you don’t realize how you roll the heel of your right hand over the hard kernels forcing them off the cob to rattle down into a bucket. And, yes, your hands do get sore before they grow tough. Sometimes we all shelled corn at night in Daddy’s study while Mamma read to us from a really good book like Lorna Doone or Tale of Two Cities.

So one day it would be time to make hominy.

The dried corn kernels would be placed in a very large pot, covered in water with a lot of soda, maybe half a box, added. The soda makes the tiny piece of husk detach from each kernel leaving a cute little hollow groove. The soda also turns the kernels a pretty golden color.

The hominy had to cook all day until the kernels were no longer crisp or hard or tough. They would be soft like little tiny pillows but not smooshy like boiled potato.

Then came the last operation late in the afternoon, usually very cold in November. We had to wash the soda out of the hominy so it wouldn’t be bitter. We did not yet have running water in our kitchen. The hominy washing job had to be done at the spring where there was plenty of water to wash and rinse and rinse and wash the hominy back and forth between two buckets. It was cold but it was fun. You never heard any more hilarity and cackling. If there were a minor accident such as someone spilling some of the precious product and having to pick it up grain by grain, that was just cause for more laughter.

Mamma welcomed us back to the cozy kitchen and promptly began to prepare hominy for our supper. She put butter in an iron skillet and piled the skillet full of hominy. Once she’d cooked it for about an hour it was ready to serve. There was never any left over! But of course Mamma had more hominy not yet fried ready to last several days. As we enjoyed that golden hominy we chattered over various interesting happenings of the day, other than hominy making–a sighting of strange tracks on a sandy beach of Ramble Brook, a discussion on how far away the moon was and its relation to Venus, or the discovery of Boleta mushrooms on Firewood Heights.

As I write this the wind picks up speed and our wind chimes play a merry jingle. I’ve been baking pies, making freezer rolls, stocking up on butter, extra coffees, making cornbread for the dressing, purchasing “the bird,” etc. etc. No, we won’t have hominy for Thanksgiving. And, yes, I am thankful for running water in the kitchen! But mostly I’m thankful for my family and that we will be together–laughing, teasing, telling stories and loving each other.

Happy Thanksgiving, All!

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:4 (KJV)


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Cooking With Charli

There’s nothing much more fun, nor, on occasion, messier, than cooking with a grandchild. The following recipe, however, is not one to require a mop-up afterwards and is very rewarding. Charli, who is three and a half, helped me make these muffins this week. It helped that her brother Kaison (2) was taking a nap at the time!

Charli’s mother, Amanda, my granddaughter, started cooking with me at age six months. She was often with me for long spells because her mother wasn’t well–and because I loved having her with me! I would set her on the kitchen counter while I mixed and rolled and stirred. By the time she was five years old, she was trying to teach me! Her mom and her uncle Will always helped me make cookies at Christmas. One year we even made a gingerbread church. It was lovely, so lovely we wanted to save it until the next year. So we placed it carefully in a garbage bag along with moth balls, tied it securely, and set it up in the attic. But when we attemped to retrieve it, the garbage bag was empty, standing like a black castle with only one hole at ground level. There were no crumbs or any evidence at all!

But back to my great-granddaughter Charli–she was wearing a cute little skirted top over tight pants the day we cooked. Her light brown hair was in a ponytail. By the time I finished telling her that she and I were making muffins, she had pulled the step stool to the counter. “What can I do?” she asked.

I set her to work rolling refrigerated biscuits one at a time to 5″ diameter. I have an ancient plastic pastry sheet that has shapes and sizes to go by. That made it really fun for her! As she finished each 5″ circle, I would snug it down into a greased muffin tin.

By the time Charli finished rolling the dough, I had scrambled a pound of hamburger and added to it in a small bowl ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and chili powder, all of which Charli gleefully stirred. Stirring is one of her favorite things to do!

I spooned the hamburger mixture into the biscuits-turned-muffins. Charli wanted to do that but I have my limits. She sprinkled grated cheese on top of each completed muffin before I slid the tins into the oven. Kaison was awake by the time the muffins were done and got in on the eating. He liked the inside part, picking it out, one messy bite at a time. Charli ate the outside of hers, leaving the filling on her plate!

We declared the whole process a great success, especially when Grandaddy came in for lunch and ate two whole muffins with great gusto!

Cooking with children is so well worth the time and mess! They learn how to measure, how to judge amounts by eying, how to cooperate and to tell the difference between stirring, shaking, and sprinkling. They love experiencing the smells, textures, and, of course, tastes. Plus, this cooking scene is a marvelous setting for spontaneous conversations. The laughter and cameraderie are priceless. And the children learn responsibility. Because, you know, clean up is part of any cooking job!

Here’s our recipe:


1 tube (10 oz.) refrigerator biscuits

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (put less if your child doesn’t like hot)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Flatten 10 biscuits into 5 inch circles. Press each into bottom and sides of greased muffin cups. Set aside. In a skillet, brown ground beef and drain. In small bowl mix ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and chili powder. Stir until smooth. Add to meat mixture and mix well. Divide meat mixture into 10 biscuit cups. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. Cool five minutes before removing from cups.

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