What’s Cookin` in the Kitchen?

I come from a family with roots in Attala county Mississippi.  Some of my fondest memories are from pea-pickin` and shellin` days on the front porch.  Papaw Dorsey always had a large garden so there would be lots of time spent preparing the veggies and fruits for canning/freezing.    They had a nice, covered front porch that faced the dirt road.

We would sit on the porch and shell peas and butter beans, shuck corn, etc.  Papaw Dorsey had a friend named Sidney who would frequently drive past and wave.   When Papaw would see Sidney, he would always throw his hand up in the air to wave and say “aaaawwwww  Sidney!” with this funny tone of voice.  🙂 That was one of those things that made time with them so special.

The men always did the picking (according to my memory) and the women did the kitchen work.   Oh my goodness…would it ever be hot in that little kitchen!  I remember Granny and my Mother working in that hot kitchen all day long.   There would always be plenty to fill Granny’s freezer and there was always enough to share with us too.

There’s nothing like garden veggies.  I don’t think young people even know where food really comes from.  I’m serious.  They see it in the produce section and freezer cabinets and in boxes on the shelves at Winn Dixie or Albertsons or your favorite grocery store…but do they really, truly know where it comes from?  Do they understand that someone some where tills up the soil, plants seeds or plants, fertilizes and waters the soil, checks the garden daily, picks the yield?  I don’t think so.

We’ve always had “real”  food in our freezer.  Many years, we didn’t grow any of it ourselves but we bought fresh peas and put them up in the freezer.  A few years ago I discoverd the farmers market in McComb, MS and that’s where we get a lot of our fresh veggies/fruits.   There’s a couple who sell tubes of shelled peas/beans and we buy those.  I don’t mind shelling stuff but it’s lots quicker to buy them pre-shelled.  Our garden this year hasn’t done too well as it has just been way too hot and no rain to speak of.

I “put up” 14 bags of these peas last week.  For anyone who isn’t sure what “put up” means….well…down south, it means we’ve prepared it for freezing or canning.  🙂

Pink Eyed Purple Hull peas

Pink Eyed Purple Hull peas

I’ve never been much for canning.  I’m afraid of the pressure canners/cookers so the only thing I’ve ever canned are jellies/preserves/pickles.  It’s been years since I did anything other than pickles and I’m trying to learn the proper way to do it safely.   Almost 39 years ago when we got married we got 2 pressure cookers as wedding gifts.  Those things got thrown out after a few years because I was terrified of them.  Lol.   I just bought a new pressure canner but it’s still in the box.  No telling how long it will be in the box before I get enough nerve to use it. Lol. This post was started days ago….I took the canner back yesterday.  Call me chicken…it’s ok.  😉

Chilton county [Alabama] peaches

Chilton county peaches ...Yum!

I bought a case of Chilton county (Alabama) peaches last week at the farmers market and this week, I’ve made peach preserves.

I made 2 separate batches.  One is kind of goopy and the other looks to be about the right consistency.

I think they’ll taste the same and I processed them in a BWB (boiling water bath)  according to the Ball Blue Book (BBB in canner speak).

Peach Preserves

Peach Preserves

Don loves Watermelon Rind Preserves and he bought 2 jars when we went to McComb.  I decided to see if I could make some and they turned out pretty well.

Watermelon Rind Preserves

Watermelon Rind Preserves

I also made Fig Preserves….a couple times.  The first time, I made “fig flavored paste”.

Burnt Orange Fig Spread

Burnt Orange Fig Spread

That stuff was so sweet and so thick it almost needed a trowel for spreading.  🙂  I thinned it with some unsweetened orange juice and reprocessed it.  In all the cooking I think I overcooked the syrup a bit so I call it “Burnt Orange-Fig Spread”.   It’s pretty tasty but still too sweet for my liking.  Mother who doesn’t need the sugar {diabetes} says it’s “fine”.  Lol.

The second batch of fig preserves turned out real pretty and the sweetness meter is just about right for me.  Sorry, I don’t have a picture of that batch.    Tonight I’ve been working on the last 2 pounds of figs.  I’m experimenting with no sugar added preserves and have some in the dehydrator.

The new fig preserves  are “resting” overnight per the recipe.  I’ve got tomatoes cooling so I can put them in freezer bags.  Watermelon rind has been trimmed and cut and is ready for more preserve-making tomorrow.    I pitted about 20 pounds of Bing cherries and plan to make some jam/preserves with part of those and will probably freeze the rest.  Someone mentioned making Cherry Lemonade.  That might be something good to make with them.   If you have ideas for the cherries please speak up!  I’d love to hear them.

Hmmmmm…what else have I got going on in the kitchen…Oh….we’re picking up 2 bushels of shelled Mississippi pink-eye peas tomorrow afternoon and will get those blanched and frozen.   We’ve got another bushel of crowder peas ordered when they’re ready and that will be the last of the peas we’ll put up this year.

I’m tired now so I think I’ll head off to bed.  After all…tomorrow is another day.  😉


Leave a comment


  1. After my first batch of strawberry jam the BBB way, I tried a different pectin (Pomona Pectin) which doesn’t require as much sugar.

  2. I chuckled at your burnt orange fig preserves because I have a batch of burnt cinnamon and sugar fig preserves. I was too tired to finish it one evening so I dumped it in the crockpot and accidentally set it to high! It is still good, just strongly flavored.

  3. Doris Read

     /  July 20, 2009

    This brings back memories of my hard working grandmother and grandfather. Their’s was a generation that had to work for EVERYTHING. No one now can even being to know what life was like then but one thing for sure, family ties were as strong as the people of that generation. Maybe that is what is killing the “family” now.

  4. Annie Rasberry

     /  August 19, 2010

    This has brought back so many memories. We had ocer 400 acres of peach trees, and started early in the morning picking, then later we made peach perserves, and my fovorite peach marmalade or jam. We had a large garden, a family garden and canned with the pressure cooker, canning everything in the garden, we finally got a freezer, and then things changed some. My fondest memories are of the farm, canning, freezing and making picking and homemade saurkraut in the old brown churn. The sauerkraut smelled, but it was oh so good on hot dogs,I can almost taste it now. I loved those days and my mother also made watermellon pickles. Once I ate half a jar and got soo sick. Living on a farm, growing all we ate, and preserving it was soo good. Thanks for the memories, Ann

  5. sarah

     /  October 19, 2010

    Enjoyed your story from your past memories. I my mom and dad have small garden. She didn’t do any canning, not that I know of. Next spring I am hoping to do well growing and selling strawberries and purple hull peas.


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