Years ago when I had a big garden, I tried to “put up” as much as I could. It seemed that if I had a full cupboard of home canned fruit and veggies, the winter would go well. If my cupboard was meager, the winter usually meant hard times for my family. It happened often enough to warn me to be prepared.
My husband liked sliced tomatoes. When it came his time to serve in World War II, tomatoes were out of season. In those days if something was out of season, it was unavailable to most folks; not like today. Fresh fruit and vegetables are flown in from exotic places such as South America and India. Restaurants, back then, did serve what were called hot house tomatoes. They were grown in greenhouses. Such tomatoes were a pretty red, but flavorless.
Anyone who knows about Stuffed Cabbage will understand what Unstuffed Cabbage is all about. There are several ways to fix Stuffed Cabbage but only one way to do Unstuffed Cabbage. The great thing about this recipe is that it is easy to prepare. There is no boiling the cabbage, separating the leaves and then filling each one with a ground beef and rice mixture. Nope. This one is easier. Just shred or chop the cabbage and start in.
Most of us have a pound package of bulk pork sausage hiding in the freezer somewhere. If you do, that is the beginnings of a good casserole. I don't consider this recipe a breakfast dish. It is more like a weeknight supper.
Talking about sausage, I remember twenty years or so ago buying bulk pork sausage from someone over on Texas Valley Road. No boughten sausage tasted as good as that one. When I think of pork sausage, theirs comes to mind. Of course, stores sell their own bulk pork sausage in the meat case. That is good, too.
I remember when I worked full time in a sewing factory. My mind would wander while sewing. After you do the same stitching over and over, it doesn't take all your attention to do the job. My mind would wander to wondering what I would fix for supper that evening. My kids were in the lower grades in school and came home about the same time I did. They had a long bus ride.
It has been said that the name for this favorite food of mine came about when some fishermen, surrounded by their hungry dogs, told them to wait. “Hush you puppies. We will have something for you in a little while.” They supposedly fried up some cornmeal in the grease the fish has been fried in and fed it to the dogs. Makes a good story.
My mother would be horrified if she saw all the food we waste today. She had a knack with left-overs that was almost an art. I guess today it's a lost cause. I still get a guilt trip if I toss good food out to the critters, just because there isn't enough for another meal and the refrigerator is getting covered up with left-overs.
I spent my early years in Michigan. The last thirty years I have been here. If I had known how wonderful Tennessee was, I would have been here long ago. Don't fault me for being from Michigan. We all have to be from somewhere. I will try to keep the secret of how wonderful East Tennessee is. After all, there is only so much room for former Yankees down here.
The Pizza Parlor in Maynardville made good pizza. I worked there for a while as short order cook when they first opened. I prepped and made the salads as well as the spaghetti sauce. It was a time of learning for me. I had never before cooked ground beef in water, stirred to separate it and then drained before adding to tomato sauce to make a spaghetti sauce. Made that was, there was very little oil to skim off the finished sauce. Not enough to bother with.
I'm in trouble right out of the gate. There is no ham in my Ham Salad Sandwich Spread. Nope. Just good old bologna. It sounds better than saying, "Bologney Sandwich. That means something else to me. I remember taking sliced bologney sandwiches to work. They would be warm by lunch time. Yuck! Those weren't happy memories.
There is a vegetable salad I have been making since back in the 70s. Green Pea Salad. When I think of Green Pea Salad, I think of my years in a sewing factory and that reminds me of Arlene. She was on a perpetual diet. Poor soul, she couldn't lose an ounce. It was a time when Weight Watchers was on top of the diet schemes. They are still around. Arlene very carefully ate every morsel of every dish she was allowed to have on their diet plan. I have watched her chase that one last green grape around her plate.
Catfish? That's not a panfish. I grew up eating sunfish, bluegills and such, really whatever Dad could catch. The closest we came to catfish were bullheads and suckers. There would be sucker runs in the spring near where we lived. As a fish, they left a lot to be desired with tiny barbed bones throughout the flesh making them difficult to eat. I didn't much care for bullheads, either. They looked like small catfish, same whiskers and skin. Yeah, skin. They had to be skinned. Dad had a flare for doing that. I never did get the hang of it. I preferred bluegills.
A number of years ago I found a cookbook at a thrift store that didn't follow the usual pattern for cookbooks. This one had Canadian recipes in it. How would that be different from any other cookbook, you ask? Well, for instance, it had recipes in it for carabou. Food City doesn't carry reindeer meat. There were also a few other exotic foods that we don't find in East Tennessee.
One recipe seemed to jump off the page, yelling “Try me!” So I did. It had a different name in the book, but I re-named it “Canadian Hamburger Vegetable Soup.” It is easy and delicious.
I have always liked the taste of rhubarb. It is especially welcome after a winter of eating mostly canned fruit. Mother made rhubarb pie when the stalks were crisp and full of juice. We always had plants growing somewhere around the garden spot. Rhubarb doesn't demand much. Enough moisture to keep it alive during the hot summer months is about it. It is one of the first things up in the spring.
This recipe has been around a long time. I have taken it to church potlucks a time or two. It's a recipe you can make ahead, when you have a little extra time in an evening before bedtime. When you work full time, planning is important to get everything done.
With a husband and four children to tend to, extra moments were precious. I remember thinking how great it would be to lie down for an afternoon nap with the bedroom door shut. That was a luxury I never had. There was always someone or something that needed tended to on my days off.
When I was growing up during the Great Depression, we didn't have meat at every meal. Mother might fix fried eggs and fried potatoes for supper, but that was about it. Meat, such as bacon, wasn't used as an entree, but for seasoning. Boiled potatoes with their jackets on and scorched gravy was the norm.