I’m Every Woman, It’s All In Me!
I was raised in the “it takes a village to raise a child” lifestyle of my hometown of Washington, PA (aka – “Little” Washington)! If I was at a friends house and did something wrong, I would get disciplined by my friend’s parents and sent home to be disciplined by own parents – who by now had gotten a call about my bad behavior! But because I was such a perfect child, I rarely got into any trouble! 😉
I thank God for the love and nurturing that I received as a child because it’s made me who I am today. My roots on both sides of the family firmly embed me knee deep in soul/southern/country food and cooking. I come from a long line of unbelievably good cooks with my Mother being my most memorable example!
My Mother, My “Shero”
To me my mom could cook anything! I can remember going to work with her one day and watching her make hollandaise sauce and chestnut dressing among other things.
It must have been Christmas dinner for the family she was working for but I don’t remember the occasion, I just remember the food! My Grandmother, my Dad’s mother’s crackling corn bread, sweet potato pies and her fabulous pound cakes!
Another of my great cooking influences was my Aunt Winnie (Wilkerson)! She always made “different” food, that was out of the ordinary! She cooked capon, goose or pheasant for the holidays because she didn’t like turkey! She also made corn pudding and macaroni salad with shrimp and crabmeat – two of my favorite dishes.
Another great cook, Aunt Georgia, raised my mom and she was Aunt Winnie’s mother. She made the best chicken and dumplings in the world! Even my dad could cook and in fact he taught me how to make gravy when I was about 15 years old. Since his mother (my Gram) was from Alabama, his way of making gravy started with a roux of bacon grease & flour! My cooking influences is really what this blog is all about!
The Whole Hog
Soul food to me is a combination of the food I ate growing up, southern food and country food. It was greens, beans and all kinds of vegetables! Some as a child I couldn’t stand… OKRA, BRUSSEL SPROUTS, CAULIFLOWER! You know, the classic list of foods that most kids can’t stand! Of course, I love them all now! Soups, stews, roasts, baked, fried and grilled meats. My mom expertly fixed every part of the pig, from the rooter to the tooter – the whole hog! From hog head cheese to pig tails, we ate it all!
There were all kinds of home made bread and rolls, scrumptious desserts. Cakes, pies, cookies, donuts, ice creams, all homemade and all unforgettable! It was the food that I grew up eating and cooking.
Soul Food is World Cuisine
Now I know that soul food doesn’t come from just one culture, instead it is global cuisine! I remember saying that a dish was Polish soul food (Haluski/cabbage and noodles)!
I had a lightbulb moment when I realized that soul food exists in every and not just in mine! The common thread is the desire to nurture, comfort and please our families and friends, using simple, frugal food!
My journey is about my food and what I know and grew up eating. Who’s to say that we can’t learn a “new” soul food recipe or two along the way! Simple food expertly prepared by people with love and care, often in the most adverse of conditions! Taste the love! It’s my culinary heritage – it’s from whence I came and I love and embrace it!
Celebrate the special chefs and cooks in your life! Let’s build the best and biggest soul food recipe sharing site on the internet! All of your fabulous cooks out there please join us! Submit your recipe, photo and short story about why your recipe is so special to you! Just click on the submit recipe page and fill out the form!
Love this ❤️ Thanks Char!!!
Daddy grew a plethora of vegetables and blessed so many folks, near and far with free bushel baskets of fresh vegetables. Greens (mustard, collard, kale), cabbage, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, onions, scallions, green peppers, red peppers, hot peppers, chili peppers(just to name a few) green beans, okra, tomatoes(many varieties) his favorite I believe were beef steak ?. Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash(many varieties) and the list goes on. He was also a avid and skilled hunter. He blessed many with fresh deer meat, quail, pheasant, rabbit, raccoons, and the list goes on ? Our freezer was stocked with fresh caught fish, Fresh meats and vegetables year round. There was always plenty to share. All of our neighbors shared with each other.
Hi Phyl and thanks for the update to what Daddy grew in his garden! I think of it often since I still live here at the house with all that beautiful black dirt in the back yard!
I can’t believe that I forgot to mention the wild game that Daddy caught and we ate! Rabbit was never a favorite of mine but I could gut and skin one like a pro by the age of 12! I also knew how to clean a rifle, something which I won’t even touch now! 🙂 I used to be able to pluck a chicken with the best of ’em but all those talents are simply memories of my youth now!
I also still remember the Blue Gill that Aunt Johnni Mae Winegartner used to cook! She made the best fish I ever ate in my life, still to this day! She cooked the fish so good, you could eat the bones!
Funny how things change over time! Or maybe not since I have deer meat (steaks and ground) in my freezer right now! 🙂
Hi Char! I was looking for a pinto bean recipe and found yours. I have the beans soaking now and can’t wait to cook them! Thanks for all your recipes and stories (love them!).
Hi Cheryl and you’re welcome! Thank you for your comments! I know you’ll enjoy the pintos, I love them! I bought some when I was at the grocery store pandemic shopping with the empty shelves and all! I got the last 2 bags of pintos that they had at my local Walmart! They were on the shelf, in the back behind other beans like somebody stashed them there just for me! 🙂