Feeding family and seasonal farmhands for more than 20 years meant that my mom, Jean Bailey, spent lots of time in her huge kitchen.
During the tobacco harvest, Mom would feed our family of five, in addition to 12 to 15 workers. She'd prepare our big meal at noon—often a beef or pork roast, potatoes, a couple of vegetables, fresh bread and pie. The evening meal was lighter, with salads, cold meats, fruit and baked tarts, cookies or cake.
All of Mom's meals were wonderful, but during the harvest, they were the best! My favorite was Barbecued Spareribs, Yukon Mashed Potatoes, Carrot Broccoli Casserole, Fluffy Biscuits and Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie.
The aroma of those spareribs baking in the oven had us drooling long before they were ready to eat!
The garlic-seasoned Yukon Mashed Potatoes were incredibly creamy. And Carrot Broccoli Casserole complemented the ribs and potatoes so nicely. This colorful side dish can be assembled ahead of time.
Fluffy Biscuits were the result of many years of practice. Mom didn't enjoy biscuit-making, so she gave that job to me. (Because she worked alongside my dad in the fields, I began helping Mom in the kitchen when I was 10.) We both learned that the secret to good biscuits is to have cold ingredients and not overmix.
My two brothers and I topped slices of Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie with mounds of freshly whipped cream. It's hard to believe this yummy pie doesn't contain eggs or milk.
Mom, who lived on farms as a child, always used the best ingredients. She grew a big garden, and most of the vegetables she served were picked that same morning. We also made our own butter…I still remember how sore my arm got from turning that churn handle!
As I got older, I took over the harvest cooking and Mom planned the meals. I'm so thankful she gave me an early introduction to preparing nourishing foods. I've loved to cook ever since!
My husband, Morry, and I are retired, but I still help out in the special education department at the elementary school where I taught for over 35 years. I spoil the students by baking them cookies for work well-done.
Every Sunday, I prepare the big family meal. Our children, Scott and Trisha, their spouses and our two grandsons, Riley and Devin, live nearby. So do my brothers and their families…and Mom, of course.
She mostly cooks for herself now, but she still prepares many of her favorite dishes for us. I'm happy to share my Mom's memorable meal with you and hope you enjoy it, too!