Oh how I wish I would have experienced “summertime on the farm!” My grandmother grew up on a 42-acre orchard farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania complete with chickens, cows and pigs. As young children my mother and aunt would spend a few weeks there during the summer in the care of my great grandmother.
This took place in the early 1940s. With the antics of six uncles the little girls were kept squealing! The boys were great at teasing and game playing. Of course the two little girls loved every minute of it! The stories I have heard over the years makes me long to go back in time. Taking a walk in the woods, picking berries out in the fields and sitting at my great grandmother’s dinner table are grand images to me of “living life the old fashioned way.” There was a bounty of farm fresh foods served at every meal. What I wouldn’t do to taste my great grandmother’s country cooking with her roasted chicken made in the old coal/wood stove or her homemade bread spread with her own churned butter and fresh raspberry jam.
For my summertime memories fast forward to the late 1960s when I was about ten. My grandmother, Elizabeth, would have us over every Wednesday for the day. We’d get there in the morning for breakfast (usually had “big pancakes” otherwise known as crepes) then we’d have a simple lunch in the afternoon. Being located in the suburbs of Philadelphia her home was not a farm but it defined itself with its warmth, mouth watering aromas wafting out of her kitchen, antique dishes and wares proudly displayed and its beautifully lush gardens. The front porch was draped with a huge wisteria vine which originated from the farm. The “roots” of our family are present here. When you entered her home it almost felt as if it wrapped itself around you with its love and comfort. That is why I cherish every memory I have of those days.
There was a second floor porch out back just off the kitchen which was surrounded by a wrought iron fence covered in grapevines. Between lunch and dinner I’d go out there and take a nap on the old white wicker cushioned sofa. It was a time for me to dream and to just enjoy being a kid with no worries. How heavenly and peaceful those naps were! As I’d drift off I’d hear my grandmother and mother chatting in the kitchen while preparing dinner. I’d wake up to the wonderful aromas of comfort foods such as pot roast or fried chicken baking in the oven and mouth watering side dishes being cooked on the stove. And of course there was always dessert! How lucky I am to have been nurtured so by my family! And how lucky to have tasted such scrumptious treats which came out of my grandmother’s kitchen!
Below are two of my grandmother’s simple summertime recipes which bring back memories of those days. Please try them and let me know what you think!
String Bean Salad
Prepare one pound of fresh green beans by cutting off the ends and cutting in half lengthwise. Cook in salted water (about ½ teaspoon salt) until done but not too soft. (About 8-10 minutes) Drain and put in a bowl. Add one tablespoon sugar, sprinkle of pepper, ¼ cup olive oil and ¼ cup vinegar. Finely chop one tablespoon onion, one tablespoon fresh parsley and one garlic clove. Toss all ingredients together lightly until mixed well. Serve hot or cold. This recipe is seasoned to taste.
Corn and Apple Fritters
Cut the kernels off of three ears of fresh corn. You can use frozen, but fresh is better. Sift ¾ cup flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of paprika. Add 1 egg yolk and ¼ cup milk. Mix well. Add the corn kernels. Beat the egg white until stiff. Fold into the corn mixture. Drop carefully by tablespoon into hot oil on a medium heat. They should look flat and round about the size of a silver dollar pancake. Fry on each side until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. These are delicious drizzled with honey!
You can use this same recipe and use 1 cup shredded apples instead of the corn. Apple fritters are yummy and are best when sprinkled with powdered sugar!
Carrie J. Gamble is co-author, editor and publisher of Grandmother’s Cookbook, a collection of recipes, treasured memories, wildflower watercolors and feelings from the heart.
Photo. Elly Fairytale