Tag Archives: food

Cornbread and Milk

Sometimes Facebook conversations turn into blog posts.  Recently, it was the anniversary of my dad’s death, and soon after that, I saw an article about Cornbread and Milk: It’s A Mountain Thing”, written by Kim Holloway Stalcup in “Appalachian Magazine.”

I shared the article and wrote the following:

This definitely reminds me of my dad. He loved his cornbread and milk on the occasions my mom made cornbread, and would even bring home leftover cornbread from dinner at a restaurant to have later as a snack in a glass of milk. Interestingly, the woman who wrote this article is from Cherokee County, NC, for a few generations, which is where my dad was born and raised. I think my dad grew up having cornbread every day and they certainly had milk every day, living on a farm. My grandmother never threw food away, so even the tiniest piece of cornbread got saved. I guess to a little boy growing up with nine siblings, and he was next to the youngest, that seemed like a wonderful snack. He might have been lucky to get it lol. Both my parents loved milk, though my mom didn’t do the cornbread thing. But they would each have a glass of frozen milk at night sometimes, chopping and chinking away at it, just plain milk, which is when I knew for sure I was in a weird family lol. I didn’t know any other people who did that, so it definitely seemed strange to me. A lot of work for little reward. For some reason, though, I always hated milk.

Interestingly, that share got more comments than anything I’ve posted on Facebook lately.  People love hearing about folksy, homegrown things like this.  People shared their own memories of cornbread and milk, white bread and milk, warm bread, brown sugar added, and as for the frozen milk, I agree with a friend who said it needed sugar, chocolate, something.  And in regard to buttermilk, which people seem to either love or hate, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground there, one friend shared her suggestion for using it to clean out your septic tank!  While I like cornbread, I never ate the cornbread and milk because I only drank milk if I absolutely had to, like at school or my grandma’s house (unless I could get to the fresh grape juice first).  I never did become an expert cornbread baker either, though I’ve made my share through the years, but not like my grandma would have made it.  I have eaten quite a variety, liking it best very hot, slathered with butter, and maybe a side of beans and chow chow (by the way, I now use Earth Balance for the buttery component).

Cherokee County, North Carolina, includes Murphy and Tomotla and my grandparents’ farm, divided among their many children after their deaths, part of it sold now and developed with new houses.  But the last time I rode over that way, the house was still there, barely, and overgrown in weeds and brush, with a family who were friends of one of my uncles still living there.  They lived with him during the last years of his life at the old home place.  Thinking of trips to Murphy when I was much younger, they had to include a stop for a chili bun (hot dog with all the fixings but without the dog even back then) at Nabers Drive-In in Bryson City, a ride through the Nantahala Gorge, sometimes accompanied by a little carsickness (did you ever see the Andy Griffith Show where his date, Lydia, had to hang her head out the window “like a dog”)?  That was me on more than one occasion.  I’m reminded of taking a walk on the property when we’d visit, swinging on the porch swing, drinking cold water out of a long-handled dipper, helping gather eggs when I was a little girl, chickens all over us when we got out of the  car (which my mom hated, but I thought was kind of cool), walking across the old swinging bridge with a cousin over the Valley River down the road apiece, the route my dad would walk to school as a little boy, an old out-of-tune piano I’d try to play, with half of the yellowed keys sticking, my uncle strumming the banjo or telling a story, and my grandma showing me how to make those delicious boiled chocolate oatmeal cookies, the ones everyone thinks is a special recipe that only their grandmothers make.  She was a quiet, sweet, but no-nonsense woman.  It’s also where my love affair with cats began when I brought home my first little black and white kitten, Bootsie.  My grandpa died when I was young, and while I do remember him, the memories are few.

We usually just visited for the day, rarely spent the night, but we did eat lunch and sometimes supper, and there was always cornbread and real butter (made in a round mold with the imprinted flower design) and, of course, always green beans and corn, too.  I remember seeing my grandma churning butter a long, long time ago.  After we ate, I’d help clean up, and every little dish with even just a spoonful of corn or three or four green beans got saved in the corner cabinet for the next meal.  My grandparents were hard workers, and with ten children and two adults to feed, they wasted nothing.  The milk came fresh from their cows, and I hated it.  I would drink it down with one gulp, holding my nose.  But I understand where my dad got his love of cornbread and milk.  Yes, it’s probably mostly a southern thing, but from what I’m hearing it’s also a mountain/country thing, not fancy, but something good to fill the bellies of a lot of hungry mouths.  I never gave it a lot of thought, but for my dad, that was probably comfort food that reminded him of long-ago times with his family, his Mama and Daddy, brothers and sisters, growing up on the farm.  It was a hard life in rural North Carolina, in the twenties, thirties, and forties, but my grandparents, like so many others similar to them, originally hard-working tobacco farmers, filled their home with faith, lots of love, good fresh and filling food, laughter, music and games, and some happy memories, and seven of those children went on to graduate from college and become teachers.  Food really is powerful beyond satisfying our physical hunger.  It’s about family and love and connections.  It’s nourishment for the soul and the body.  I was grateful for the reminder of my own sweet family memories from an article about cornbread and milk.


Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge

(I’m hoping to find a couple of photos to scan soon to add to this article)

More About Eating Meat

The Universal Pantheist Society has a “Ning” site and we have a group about Ethical Eating.  There was a post with the following quote:  

“Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings or fins or roots.  That is how we consider food.  Food has a culture.  It has a history.  It has a story.  It has relationships. ”  (Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth)

Here are some of my thoughts about it.  I get that about our food having wings or fins or roots and have lived it for my whole life, albeit with some years of inner turmoil over the suffering, the violence. It just no longer serves me and my inner peace to eat food that causes suffering to a creature who can look at me, hear and respond to me, feel pain, suffocate, cry, mourn, smile, or sing.  And how do we as a society, or an individual, decide which animals are fair game for food and which are not?  Which are okay to wear and which are not?  In the last few weeks and days, I’ve made a decision to change my eating habits, not perfectly enough to suit hardcore vegans in terms of every single ingredient or item in my house, but certainly a big change in what I feel is the right direction for me and the animals and even the planet.

Years ago, my now ex-husband was a deer hunter. By the time the meat got to the table it was packaged in various forms. I cooked it and ate it and enjoyed it. Then one day he brought home the whole dead deer, and I saw that beautiful face, the eyes still open, and that was it for me and deer meat. Never again. We each have our moments. I have not eaten veal, the other side of the dairy industry, or pork for years. I know my daughter stopped eating pork when she read how intelligent pigs are, like a 3-year-old child. We each take our steps and have to live with ourselves. But I seriously do believe that eating food that’s a product of violence contributes to overall violence on the planet.

I’m just here to share my own position and any info I may have picked up along the way, not to convert people, at least not yet as, again, this has been a serious and big struggle for me for years and isn’t an easy thing, and I get that.  Like many others, I’ve gone back and forth, guiltless for awhile, then racked with guilt. But now my physical and most importantly mental/spiritual health depend on me making a change.  Each person has to decide for themselves about the food they eat and the clothes they wear, but I can provide facts and my perspective.

Regardless of what we eat, though, I think it’s good to sit down to our food with an air of gratitude for all that went into it, human and other animal efforts, earth, sunshine and rain, everything.  Here’s a special grace that I love and have shared with Pantheists before:

“Bless our hearts to hear in the breaking of bread the song of the universe.” 

(Father John Guiuliani)


Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Dairy and Milk

Earlier today I read an article about the dairy industry.  You can read it here:  Free From Harm: 10 Dairy Facts.  A lot of this information I knew already, but some was new to me and was certainly the kick in the pants I needed.

Dairy is such a cruel industry and makes no sense. As the saying goes, cow’s milk is for baby cows. Humans are the only animals who continue to drink milk as adults, and from another species yet. It’s pretty crazy, but we have been convinced by a billion dollar industry that milk is the perfect food for everyone. So far from the truth unless you’re a baby drinking mother’s milk. I never drink milk, I hate it, always have. It creates a lot of mucus in the body, which leads to infections, and I already suffer with a lot of nasal allergies and ear problems. I have some unpleasant memories of having to drink milk as a kid at school and at my grandmother’s house on the farm. At her house, though, if I was lucky enough to say no to milk before it was poured, I got homemade grape juice, but if the milk was poured already, I was expected to drink it, and this was fresh milk from their cows.  I would literally hold my nose and drink the whole glassful down in one long gulp.  I do admit I’ve been guilty of eating cheese, ice cream. I love ice cream as long as I don’t think about what I’m eating, and I love pizza, but there are lots of good nondairy options here now, and I have no more excuses. Besides, I adore a good almond milk/peanut butter/banana smoothie anyway. And many of us have given up veal years ago, which I never liked so I didn’t actually eat it to start with, but because it’s the other side of the cruel dairy industry, the babies. I no longer want to contribute to a business based on forcing cows to be pregnant all the time, then taking away their babies. Mother cows cry and mourn for their babies when they are taken away like human mothers would do. Then when they’re old and worn out, the mothers become hamburger. I’ve known a lot of this for awhile and have abstained from dairy intermittently, but then slowly compartmentalizing the cruel facts in some hidden part of my brain, that cognitive dissonance thing, away from the pleasurable taste and texture, I went back to my terrible habits, oblivious to my contributions to animal cruelty. I’m not proud of it and I can’t do it any more. It’s killing me inside. Reading articles like this one and facing the facts is uncomfortable, I know, but for me things must change. I must change.  It’s good for animals and it’s good for the planet and it’s good for me.


Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Tuesdays…..and apples

Thankful for a couple of things today.  First, Tuesdays!  I have a long work-free afternoon that’s all mine to do whatever I want to (before I go back to work this evening).  I love my Tuesday afternoons to be productive or to do nothing at all but watch Elementary or Law and Order.  It’s kind of like Saturday mornings for me, full of expectation and promise, and I get to decide how it goes.


And then there are apples.  Western North Carolina is apple-growing country, and autumn is apple time.  I just now heard on the local news channel that North Carolina is the 7th largest apple-producing state in the country.  I’m not sure why it took me so many years to discover the healthy and delicious snack of fresh Gala apple slices dipped in peanut butter.  Simple and good, and right now I’m cutting back on wheat (gluten) products to see if that makes me feel better, being a little suspicious I might have a gluten sensitivity (non-celiac), so needed a new afternoon snack.  I understand from some reading I’ve been doing that that’s the fad of the moment, gluten sensitivity, but I have a lot of chemical intolerances and sensitivities that most people don’t have to deal with, and sometimes they’re downright debilitating, so it’s worth a shot.   I always feel better knowing I’m doing something good for myself like eating a little healthier, especially with heart disease also running in my family.  I’ve written about apples before in Orchard Time and Singing the Praises of Apples.  Enjoy this beautiful autumn day!  #gratitude


Copyright (c) 2016 by Raindrop Ridge Press

sweet dessert

Thankful for sweet potato pie…..filling the kitchen with the sweet scent of fall.  One of my favorite desserts, either warm after a brief cooling-off time on the counter, or cold right out of the refrigerator the next morning with a dollop of whipped cream and a hot cup of coffee.  It’s just not autumn without a slice of sweet potato pie around here every now and then.  #gratitude


Copyright (c) 2016 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Strawberry Shortcake

I don’t cook like a lot of Southern mountain women I’ve known and loved, with fatback in green beans and bacon grease on lettuce, lots of salt and butter in everything, but I DO like sugar on my fresh strawberries, enough to make a nice sweet syrup when mixed with the fruit juice after sitting for a little bit of time.  And the best shortcake, when I’m in the mood for more than just “fruit” is a sweet biscuit, not really cake at all (the texture of the biscuit just sops up that fruit juice in a different and tasty way, and you can make a good one with Bisquick if you want to take a little bit of a shortcut), topped with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (I believe the word is dollop), just because.  Heck, I’ve actually been known to crumble up a lemon Fiber One bar when I don’t have a biscuit of any sort in the house, like about 15 minutes ago!  I remember years ago picking my own strawberries at the old Brinkley Farm up past Cullowhee.  There’s something to be said for making dessert as nearly from scratch as possible, though I now buy the berries, sometimes from the nearby Darnell Farms down Bryson City way that sets up shop out of the back of a pickup truck on the side of the road when the fresh berries are in season, or the local produce stand, or even the grocery store, although local is always better, for lots of reasons.  I’m not the biggest fruit eater ever, but there’s something real special about a bowlful of ripe, red, sweet, juicy strawberries.  Food purists probably shake their head in dismay at messing up a perfect strawberry with sugar, and I get that, but I guess some of the old cooking ways have just stayed with me.


copyright (c) 2016 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Saturday Morning

Yummy…..the smell of coffee brewing and blueberry muffins in the oven.  Add a piece of veggie sausage, and you have breakfast.  Simple joy.   It’s Saturday morning!




copyright (c) 2016 by Raindrop Ridge Press