A Master Cook in the Making

Hi, and welcome to my humble website. My hope is that you bookmark this site so that you can come back often and try the different recipes. Click on the discussion board link in the menu bar to leave your comments regarding any recipe. Your suggestions, and your recipes are appropriate things to post on this discussion board. Lots of people will read it, so don't post anything you don't want to world to read. We get literally THOUSANDS of visitors every day.

Now a little about myself.

I grew up on a tobacco farm in Fairmont, North Carolina. My two younger brothers and I were raised by my grandmother (Mary Alice Jones). From as early as 5 or 6 she started teaching us to cook. At first - simple things like grits, eggs, and toast. Later things such as cakes from scratch and stuffed turkeys. Part of her motivation may have been due to the fact that by the time I was 6 she was already 65. Anyway - she wanted us to learn to take care of ourselves. So she taught us to cook, iron, sew, do laundry, etc. at a very early age.

Since we were very poor, we also learned to work at an early age. In fact, we were so poor that if you looked up "poor" in the dictionary, you did not see our picture. Nobody owned a camera at least until we were teenagers. We were helping neighborhood farmers with their tobacco and cucumber crops as early as 6 years of age.. We were also doing chores for relatives at a very early age. My aunts and uncles had me doing things like feeding their livestock after school, unthawing their electric water pumps, and doing yard work. This was good because this was how we paid for our school clothes and supplies. We bought the majority of our school stuff, and the government provided us with free school meals. The school lunch program fed a major portion of my neighborhood.

At home, we grew much of our own food. We had a large garden with tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, collards, turnips, okra, peas, string beans, butter beans, squash, strawberries, and whatever else we cared to plant. We froze many vegtables for winter although collards and turnips would continue growing half-way through the winter. Relatives (slightly better off) also frequently gave us food they had canned or frozen for the winter. The sweet potatoes my Uncle Thomas stored in potato hills were probably my favorite.

We also had livestock. I personally raised pigs and rabbits. I tried raising chickens but without much success. The chick were very frail and few survived the drafty chicken pen I put them in. The hogs I raised did well and I periodically sold one at the local stock yard for what was big money back then. I fed my hogs commercial livestock feed when I could afford to. In the summer it was more often weeds I pulled from nearby fields. In the fall I often gathered corn left behind by the mechanical combine to feed my pigs. This lasted into the winter at times. The winters were fairly mild, my hogs did well and provided food and a little money.

When I was about 14 or 15, my grandmother bought me a 22 rifle with my money. I used that to hunt rabbits and squirrels after school. I was a good shot and frequently brought home squirrels. An old squirrel with rice made a very tasty treat. Me and my relatives were all fairly good shots. I learned to shoot by shooting pecans off our trees with my bb gun. Sometimes I could even hit a grasshopper sitting on theclothes line - although this was more luck than skill.

The food we raised or hunted was supplemented with surplus government food. We would go to the local welfare office to pick up dried beans, powdered eggs, powdered milk, huge blocks of cheese, milk, cereal, and other goodies. I still like the taste of powdered eggs.

It was a harsh life, yet a good one. We never really went to bed hungry. We learned to be self-sufficient. Cooking was something I really liked to do. Since we did not have a telephone, television, or car for much of my youth, cooking also gave me something to do. I would also periodically go to my Aunt Ruth's house and cook for her. She had a television, so I liked visiting her. She frequenly had me prepare chitterlings when I went to visit. That's where my love of chitterlings first developed. I'd clean, then boil them. Next I would fry them and sit down with her and eat my fill. What a treat! She seemed to like my cooking and that stroked my confidence.

This website is comprised of my favorite recipes learned from my grandma, Aunt Ruth and a few others.

The recipes I learned were not written down. So I am writing to a large extent from memory although I still prepare many of these dishes freqently. When I learned to cook, it was just, put so much of this and so much of that. I learned at an early age to adjust my recipes to taste. I encourage you to feel free to modify my recipes to your taste. If you like something spicier, add more pepper for example. Cooking is easy and natural.

Be sure to tell your friends and relatives about this site. You can send me an email with your comments by clicking here. You can also leave your message on our message board by clicking here. We also have a mailings list associated with the site. This is where list members can mail in their favorite recipes or request a special recipe. Two or three times a week a moderator looks over the emails sent in and sends out a digest of all the messages to the list members. The list is moderated to keep people from sending off-topic posts to the list. To join the list, just enter your name and email into the box in the menu bar (on the left).


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