Summer is wearing a tattered gown, sweeping through hills that are decorated with scraggly wild sunflowers and half-turned leaves. She is tired and more than ready to give her place to coming autumn. Autumn has put forth subtle signals that she is on her way.
Cornstalks in the dying gardens have turned brown and withered, and weeds are taking over once flourishing crops. Wild morning glories weave their way through the garden, climbing the dead cornstalks and making bright spots of color. Bright pink, sky blue and various shades of purple turn velvety faces to the sun.
The garden crops are about gone for the year, with a few tomatoes and bright yellow peppers still on the vines. Canning is almost finished also; with the last of the corn crop placed in jar in the cellar to pickle. There will still be apples to can or freeze, so it is too early to put all the canning equipment away.
Betty Bragg inquired about a spaghetti sauce recipe, and Stella Alford of Milton was quick to respond. She says this is the best recipe she's ever had, and it is also good for pizza.
One half bushel ripe tomatoes
Seven green bell peppers
Three pounds onions
Grind/blend and cook one hour (She uses blender)
Three garlic cloves
One half teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons basil
Six bay leaves
One pint cooking oil
Three fourths cup of sugar or one cup Splenda
Two tablespoons oregano
Two tablespoons parsley flakes
48 ounces tomato paste (eight six-ounce jars)
Cook for one hour; can in jars. No need to process-she turns jars upside down to seal. Makes 10-12 quarts. (I think I'd put them in a boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes.)
We had another spaghetti sauce recipe from Judy Gray of Duck, which also sounds delicious.
Spaghetti Sauce to Can
One half bushel ripe tomatoes, or eight quarts tomato juice
Three pounds onions
Three or four green peppers
One cup sugar
One pint oil (Crisco or Wesson)
72 ounces tomato paste
One fourth cup salt
One fourth teaspoon red pepper
One tablespoon garlic powder
One tablespoon Italian seasoning
One tablespoon oregano
Cook tomatoes until soft, and then put through juicer. Grind onions and peppers and drain. Put all ingredients in large cooker and cook until thick, stirring as it cooks. Put in jars and seal. Makes 18-20 pints.
We had an interesting letter from Sharon Heritage from Pennsylvania, but who was born and raised in Roane County. She sent explicit directions for playing "corn hole," and also commented on canning and preserving food. She says she cans just like her mother and grandmother before her, but is told by friends there that canning is a "lost art."
Here in the hills of Clay County, there are plenty of folks who still can and preserve "just like Mom and Grandma did." My daughters both garden and put away food by canning, freezing and pickling. I would hate to think that this way of life would die out. In today's economy, with so many unemployed and trying to make ends meet, it only makes good sense to preserve food. Mom used to tell us that she was canning food "for snowy days."
We had an inquiry from Patty Strickland about paw paws, and got an answer from Ray McCune of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is originally from Gassaway, and writes that his mother made pies from them. He also heard that his father made paw paw wine (he wasn't sure about that!)
He also added a note about parched corn. He led a Boy Scout troop and one day they found a patch of sweet corn that had dried up on the stalk. They got permission from the farmer to pick some of it, and they took it back to camp, blew the chaff out of it, tossed it in a pot with some oil and parched it. (I'm sure he used an iron skillet.) He said it was better than any you can buy.
T.G. Griffith sent us a note about paw paws-he said to us a good banana bread recipe, only substitute paw paws for the bananas. He added that they try to make a batch every fall, and it is scrumptious! It sounds good to me.
It seems as if a lot of people know about the "cornhole" game. Our own daughter, Crystal Sparks of Andrews, N.C. says that "Pop" Sparks is unbeatable at the game. We also got a reply from Fran Naylor of Clendenin, and Barbara S. of Fort Wayne, Ind., with instructions.
This column is beginning to sound like "Hints from Heloise." We had an inquiry asking how to clean an iron pot. She said it still turns everything black. Bob Craft from Florida says that his sister used to clean iron ware by scrubbing it with coarse salt. My sister Mary Ellen sent more detailed instructions.