Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cooking Up Some Family History in the Mountains of Kentucky

I know you all love to cook or you wouldn't be visiting my blog.  I absolutely love to create new things and to experiment in the kitchen. My family has such a rich history of great cooking.  On my father's side of the family they were raised on a large farm in the mountains of Kentucky.  They farmed right up the side of the mountain.  It wasn't easy to do since the land was not flat, but they did it with literally hundreds of acres of fruit trees and 20 acres of their personal garden.  This garden was used to feed a family of seven.  The year's crops had to last through the winter so there was lots of work to be done.  My grandmother canned all the fruits and vegetables.   They also raised all their own meat and cured it to use throughout the year.
I also love to collect different dishes and items to decorate my kitchen.  I am in the process now of redecorating and am so excited to add new things to my collections.  I think I am going country for my new kitchen and would love some suggestions.  I recently found a pepper shaker in the ruins of an old home that was a homestead for my Aunt Nell in Kentucky.  My grandfather had lots of land in the mountains several of the children built houses on the land.  This house was my Aunt Nell's and it was recently torn down.  It was built in 1935 and the chimney will be left standing as a monument to the home. Since the site had not been cleaned up yet, we went through some was such an adventure and we found some great things.

Fortunately Aunt Nell didn't have to cook over the fire but the fireplace was in the middle to keep all warm.  I wish her stove would have still been there, but most everything had already been removed from the house before it was demolished.  I'm sure many great meals were cooked in that house. 

I'm going to do my best to find a photo of the home from years ago when it was still standing.  I have to do some research, but will bring it to you when I do. We were given the fireplace grate to keep as a special piece of history and will find a use for it somewhere at home.  Don't know yet exactly what we will do with it.  Any suggestions?

We found several OLD canning jars...empty of course. I wonder what was in this one.  Being raised on a farm, my family canned all of their vegetables and raised almost all of their food.  My Aunt Nell would always have a big pot of Chicken and Dumplins on when we came over, along with green beans, corn bread, soup beans (pintos with lots of soup) and usually fried chicken.  She was a fantastic cook and loved to serve everyone with great joy.

 This was an old pepper shaker we found.  We tried to find the matching salt, but to no avail.  I also found this old rug...wonder who made it?
Isn't it so wonderful to actually get to go back and see the place where family history took place?  My Aunt Nell was a wonderful cook.  She is 90 years old now and in a nursing home, but I did get to go and see her and visit her oldest daughter Jenny.  Jenny was canning all kinds of great things when I stopped by her house.  Jenny gave me some green beans, tomatoes and sauerkraut to take home.  I can't wait to try it and I want to share some canning tips with you in another posting.

I want to tell you how we cook Southern Green Beans if you don't know how.  They are cooked until very tender and well done.

2 lbs. fresh green beans
1 ham bone
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
water to cover beans

Wash and string the beans.  Snap into 2 inch pieces.  Stringing the beans means removing the end pieces and any "strings" that are attached to the sides of the bean, just pull down on the string and it will peel off easily.  (If you do not want to do this, you can cheat and use canned green beans.  Just drain and rinse them thoroughly.)  I just add all these things to a large pot and simmer for at least two hours.  The ham bone will make the beans taste delicious.  I always buy a "bone-in" ham so I can have the bone for later.  I just wrap it good in foil or a zipper sealed bag and freeze it until I am ready to use it.  Sometimes I save some of the meat and add to the beans also for flavor.  As simple as this is, my beans are requested at every family dinner.  Even the kids eat them and that's saying a whole lot.  My nephew Christian calls them my "juicy green beans". 


  1. Debbie, Congratulations on being spotlighted in the RWOP Live Richly blog feature! I loved reading about your rich family history. It must have been very exciting to search through your our Aunt Nell's homestead. I love to can as well so I'm looking forward to spending some time here learning about your family recipes!

  2. Debbie, what a wonderful story! How fantastic that you still have such a strong loving family and all those wonderful memories. That's something money can't buy. Great Post!

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Strawberry Heaven

“The “Debbie” recipe – the recipe that is authentically me.
My absolute favorite dessert recipe.”
All I ever talk about loving is strawberries. I am to strawberries as Paula Deen is to potatoes and butter.
When thinking about my absolute favorite dessert, it had to combine cheesecake, strawberries, and chocolate. Chocolate covered strawberries to be exact!!! So I developed a pie that features all my weaknesses. I love a regular pie crust instead of graham cracker so I have used pie crust, topped with a luscious layer of Kraft Philadelphia Ready-to-Eat Cheesecake Filling, followed by 1 pound of ripe, juicy strawberries enveloped in strawberry glaze topped with creamy, dreamy Cool Whip, and followed by 6 GIANT chocolate covered strawberries. This pie would be a strawberry lovers’ most decadent dream. It is mine…now you know what I dream about.

Strawberry Heaven
Prep time: 50 minutes Cook time: 9 minutes
Serves 6 - 8
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 ½ c. Kraft Philadelphia Ready-to-Eat Cheesecake Filling
2 lbs. of strawberries
14 oz. strawberry pie glaze
8 oz Cool Whip
¾ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place pie crust in pie pan and flute edges. Bake at 450 degrees for 9 minutes.
3. Cool pie crust at room temperature for 10 minutes and follow in freezer for 10 minutes to cool quickly.
4. While pie crust is cooking and cooling, prepare other ingredients beginning with strawberries. Wash strawberries, core, and slice in half. Save 6 LARGE strawberries for top of pie. Eat a few and enjoy them while you are working so hard. Save enough for the pie.
5. Melt chocolate chips in microwave for approximately 1 minute stirring every 20 seconds. Dip 6 large strawberries in chocolate about ¾ of the way up the strawberry. Place a piece of parchment paper on a plate and cool the strawberries on the paper in the freezer.
6. After the pie crust comes out of the freezer, spread the cheesecake filling directly on top of crust.
7. Place strawberries directly on top of cheesecake and pour strawberry glaze over strawberries.
8. Pipe Cool Whip over strawberries and glaze and top with chocolate covered strawberries. Place in freezer for approximately 15 minutes and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Strawberry Heaven

Strawberry Heaven
This pie is for the true Strawbery ADDICT and lover.

Mounds of Joy Whipped Pie

Using My Blog

This blog is intended to show you some wonderful recipes and highlight what is happening in the food world. In order to see the recipe demonstrated that is pictured. Click on the photo and you will get to see just how you can make this in your own kitchen.

Cinco de Mayo Layered Black Bean Dip