Oct 27, 2010

Mountain Girls

To welcome my mama back to the States (she's been in Italy taking cooking and Italian classes, tra-la), I decided she needed some food which celebrates our Appalachian roots.  That's a lie.  I was just craving some beans, and didn't want to eat the whole pot by myself.  Scott Peacock talked about soup beans in this months Better Homes and Gardens, and I'd thought I would give his take a whirl.  He stayed at the Beach Barn once.  I got there right after his stay, hoping for shelves filled with Tupperware full of leftovers from all his cooking.  My hopes were dashed.  He mainly ate out. 

Moving on.  Beans, greens, and cornbread remind me a lot of dinners with me and mama, when Brother and Daddy weren't around.  Although they like it.

Not as much as my maternal grandfather though.  He ate lots of beans, greens and cornbread.  Papa Bruce was a doctor, and believed that a big bowl of greens would cure whatever ailed you.

So for the beans, get a hunk of country ham.  I'm lucky to have Benton's right down the road, so I used that.
After rinsing them off, soak a bad of pinto beans in cold water overnight.  Drain the water, cover again in cold water, and toss your country ham on top (about a quarter of a pound or so).  Cook.  Cook. Cook.
Seriously, bring the beans to a strong simmer and cook for an hour or so.  Meanwhile, throw a big can of whole maters in a bowl and break them up with your fingers.  It's a mushy job.

Next, chop an onion.  I like a rough chop since my eyes were watering so bad I could not see for ten minutes, because it's a rustic dish.

Sauté the onion and a couple clove of garlic in some olive oil until they are soft.

Add the tomatoes and cook for about fifteen minutes.
Then add the tomato mixture to your beans.
Cook for a couple hours til the beans are tender.  Add more water if necessary, as the beans should be pretty soupy to dip your cornbread into.  Mine were not, as I was under the influence of mad amounts of cold medicine.  I decided to rest my eyes while the beans and greens were cooking and zonked out for an hour and a half.  So the beans cooked down a little too much.
My grandfather's farm in Cades Cove.

While the tomatoes and beans are simmering away, start your greens.  Put a couple cups of chicken broth in a big pot, and bring to a boil with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Add your greens.  I prefer collards, but it's really a matter of personal preference.  Now you no longer have to go through the rigmarole of washing all the sand off the greens.  You can just buy a bag of greens in the salad section.  Maybe not as farm to table, but it sure is convenient. 
Add about a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of baking soda to the greens.  The baking soda makes them sooo tender.  Now, I was going to be good, and make heart healthy greens with no meat.  But I had this hunk of country ham just staring at me, dying to make good pot likker with these greens.  I acceded to the ham's wishes, chopped it up, and added it to the pot.

My mama and her mama in the garden.

Mama made cornbread and brought it over.  I can't make cornbread for the life of me.  Mine always turns out off. 
My brother and Papa Bruce, my grandfather, on the farm.
Then we ate.

It was good.  I ate the entire pot of greens, with some help.  The beans lasted a week, and were tasty.

Just like how my great-great-great grandparents ate.

I resemble my father's side of the family, who were also Appalachians.  Next time I eat something country, I'll scrounge up pictures of that side.


  1. Love the pictures! And I love family recipes and dishes that are filled with love (also? Love = bacon/ham/meat/fat/butter, cheese, etc).

  2. Faye! Love the recipe and the pics! My family had a farm growing up as well in Waynesboro GA. Brings back memories! Ps love the facial expression of the little girl in the last pic! How sassy!!

  3. I love this post! First off, I've always wondered how to make good beans (something my mother always used to do) and secondly, the old pics are fabulous.

    Sometimes I wish I lived way back when...

  4. LOVE this post, Samma Faye! So cool seeing the old pics of your family. Can't wait to try the recipes :)

  5. I'm so obsessed with these family photos you post - beautiful!!

    You make me want to take a vacation day to scan pictures - fabulous!

  6. yum yum! I was craving beans the other day. Looks like I need to just give in!

  7. Best post in this history of this blog that I love. Oh, you! I need to get out to the mountains, stat.

  8. I have crazy mountain families too....except we never escaped...we're still in the back country of NC!



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