Elderly residents remember
saving up for Christmas
few years back, oral history sessions were held each month with
nursing home residents, who were quite elderly but alert. They had
wonderful memories of the past, especially Christmas and its holiday
of these oldsters were from Patrick County, where pronunciation used
to be a bit different--the county comes out "Padriac." As
with all mountain families at the time, fancy food was scarce but
they remember saving and planning ahead, using what foods were
available, buying perhaps sugar and dried fruit and a few other
staples at most.
remembered pulling up the last of the tomato plants, covering it
with straw and having green tomatoes for a Christmas dish. Ice holes
were dug and lined with the first ice from ponds to store meat that
had been butchered earlier. Tenderloin could be cooked and stored in
crocks with lard poured to the top to preserve it and other fresh
game, especially wild turkey, was prepared with sage and onions.
Apples, root vegetables and cabbage were stored in a dirt cellar if
available. Sometimes holes were dug and they were stored on straw.
Molasses, apple butter and jellies were prepared.
December a goodly supply of foods had been gathered and stored. One
man said he'd go out and 'holp' (help) himself to a bag of black 'warnuts'
(walnuts) for candy.
said a typical holiday feast at their family cabin would include
tenderloin and gravy, cabbage, apples, beans, hot bread, pumpkin
pudding, molasses pudding, apple stack cake - "and sich as
you imagine the happy scene of yesterday, when the family would
gather around the big fireplace? Someone would bring out the fiddle
and Christmas songs would be sung until Mama called them all to a
big table full of food for which they had worked so hard.
are recipes from that era that were enjoyed with holiday spirit.
GREEN TOMATO PUDDING
MOUNTAIN PORK TENDERLOIN
Split lengthwise one pork tenderloin and flatten it
with a cleaver. Rub with melted butter, flour, salt and pepper. Bake
at 350 degrees for 35 minutes per pound. Use juices to make pan
gravy. Slice tenderloin into gravy. Serve with hot sauerkraut.
PADRIAC COUNTY MOLASSES PUDDING
Folks made their own molasses - Just about all the
sweets they had were what they raised, found or made themselves.
4 C milk
the fire dies down to hot coals and all the good old Christmas songs
have been sung, there's still room for a special treat.
BLACK WARNET CHOCOLATE FUDGE
2 C sugar
Christmas, seek out an oldster from another time and place. Let them
regale you with how the holiday used to be. They will enjoy it and
you'll gain a new appreciation of 'saving up for Christmas'.
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