Country Kitchen: Autumn's Harvest

Country Kitchen: Autumn's Harvest
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As autumn approaches, with chill frosty nights, often sunny days, and leaves changing color, we harvest the remaining foods from the garden and fruit from the orchards. If we don't have a garden ourselves, we look for farm stands where we can purchase the items we enjoy for fall cooking or preserving for winter use.
This was a time for working hard on our farm, as the temperatures dropped and a killing frost might destroy the crops. The field corn must be harvested, the ears gathered too and put in the corn house to dry for winter food for the cattle and chickens. The stalks were chopped and blown into the silo.

During "silo time," neighbors helped neighbors, with the men going from farm to farm. Wherever they were chopping corn, the women gathered and cooked a large noon meal for the crew.

Garden Harvest

Harvest from the garden meant we continued canning and preserving for winter needs. Nowadays, women often freeze the food they need rather than canning. Pickles, relish, jams and jellies were extras Mother made when she had the necessary staples canned.

It's also a time for enjoying the foods that are fresh this season of the year. Corn, squash and pumpkins have been autumn foods since the early days of the Native Americans. They taught the colonists how to grow and prepare them for their culinary use.

Of course, these colonists from England created their own variations and came up with recipes that have become part of our American culinary heritage. Methods of cooking corn followed largely the Indian ways of preparing grits or hominy (rockahominy), succotash (misickquatash) and samp(nasamp) or corn meal mush.

HARVEST SUCCOTASH - During gardening season, our succotash was made with fresh corn, cut from the cob. Many recipes call for lima beans. Mother and Auntie often used cut green beans.

Heat 2 cups cooked, cut green beans or lima beans, 3 cups cooked corn cut from the cob, 3/4 cup milk. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper as desired. When heated through serve as a vegetable with your meal.

My grandmother often added a bit of flour to thicken the milk. She also frequently used cream or "top milk" to make a richer succotash.

CORN FRITTERS - Mother made these for a supper dish. You can use fresh or canned corn. When we had leftover corn-on-the cob, Mother cut it off for fritters or succotash.

Beat 2 eggs lightly. Then add 2/3 cup milk and 2 cups corn cut from the cob. Sift together 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until well mixed.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a griddle. If the batter is too thick to spread out like a pancake, add more milk. Cook first on one side and then the other. (Some cooks drop the thicker batter into hot fat and fry as you would doughnuts.) Serve plain with butter or with maple syrup.



Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen


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Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes
 
 

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