By Deborah Miller
It takes little more than a hot July day to take me back to one of my favorite summer memories when my Grandmother would bring a pot of water to boil before telling us to run out to the garden for some “roasting ears.” My younger sister misheard that as “rosemarys” and called them that for the longest time. Today when she says “I want some rosemarys” we all know what she means.
Farm-to-fork isn’t really a new idea. That farm outside made its way inside and onto my fork every day. It was the way it was when you lived on a farm, or near one. True, food wasn’t cooked with the same light touch it is today, but we knew where it came from and, heck, had probably even shelled those peas, snapped those beans, and likely gathered those eggs from the hen house that very day. My grandmother used to deliver tomatoes and vegetables all over town when she had too many. We always came home from my grandparents with a “mess” of something. Greens. Peas. Beans. Corn. Tomatoes.
That Depression generation really did have to worry about whether they’d have enough bread or butter or eggs to last the week and feed the family. They respected the land, what was grown there, and how it was grown. And since they were dependent on weather, they had to worry about too much or too little rain. It could affect how you lived and ate in every season going forward.
My mother went to UNC-Greensboro when it was still “Woman’s College.” She majored in home economics, so you might be imagining that our family dinners were out of this world. Well, sort of, but not in a gourmet way. That woman knew how to stretch a pound of ground beef or one cut-up chicken fryer to feed two adults and four growing children. We never starved. Meals were on time, predictable, and nutritious, even fun, like when she made Snow Cream or created Hiffikickles (recipe below). Then again, there was “Spanish Hambolaga” and “It Smells to Heaven,” both of which sound way better than they actually were. I don’t know what made Hambolaga “Spanish,” but trust me, it was not good. If you’re dying to know the recipe, just holler.
I didn’t eat my first lightly steamed asparagus or even know what an artichoke was until I left home. The morning my Dad sat a plate of awful looking gray stuff on a plate in front of us for breakfast and then told us it was scrambled brains had all four of us running from the table screaming and gagging.
When I asked my siblings if they remembered how to make Hiffikickles, we all had a different memory. Truth was that Mom just used whatever she had on hand when she couldn’t take one more second of our begging for them. I’m pretty sure one time she even just smushed up Merita bread and rolled it out. My personal favorite uses leftover pie dough.
I bet every family has a version of these. What did you call them and how did you make them in your house?
Left over pie dough, can of biscuit dough, Bisquick (your choice)
Roll out extra pie dough and spread with mix of cinnamon and brown sugar. Drizzle melted butter on top and roll up. Cut into rounds and bake at 350 degrees until brown.
Smash out biscuit dough and flatten with your hands. Sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. With a knife, cut squares out. Drizzle melted butter on top and fold over into a triangle. Bake at 350 degrees until brown.
Make Bisquick according to directions on package. Roll out or smash with your hands to flatten. Sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. Drizzle melted butter on top and fold over into a triangle. Bake at 350 degrees until brown.
Deborah Miller, Program Administrator at the North Carolina Folklife Institute, is a native Tar Heel and lifelong foodie.