June 29, 2010
The Garden Looks Good

I am a 63-year-old Grandmother of four, ages 22 months – 13 years.  I now live in Rushville, but my original roots and part of my heart are in Southwestern Indiana where my parents were raised and both sets of my grandparents lived.  Many of my growing up years were spent visiting those farms. 

I received a letter from my 80-year-old aunt today, who lives on the farm near Patricksburg, where my paternal grandparents raised her and three others.  She stated in her handwritten letter that “the garden looks good.”  I immediately became very nostalgic, thinking about that perfectly groomed garden on the hillside.  I drifted back to past generations and the love and care that went into those Owen and Clay County gardens. 

 While I was feeding my 9-year-old grandson, a lunch we had carried in from our local China buffet, I recalled the lunches my Grandmothers would have fed me.  No matter what month it was or how many people were at the table, the meal focused on what was available in the garden, cellar and freezer.  Of course, a trip was made to town every week or so for bread, staples and some treats like bologna, cheese, crackers, ice cream and some soda pop. The big meal was served in the evening which we called supper.  It was a feast; but its right now at the lunch time hour that I’m thinking of as I write.   Below are a few sample lunches that I remember and enjoyed as a child:

Fresh asparagus or peas with a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.

Wilted lettuce, corn on the cob, and a hamburger.  (If more people showed up and not enough hamburger had not been thawed, she would mix cracker crumbs and eggs with it to make more patties.)

Creamed tomatoes with bread or macaroni stirred in and eaten with a hot dog or lunch meat. 

Potato soup, made with rivels and served with cheese and crackers.  (Rivel soup is a treasured German home-style soup and everybody has their own version of it.  We simply mixed the following and dropped little bits into soup: 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 1 large egg, 3/4 tsp salt.)

 And an all-time favorite lunch – Chili.  I have included my version of our Four Generation Chili and told how each generation adjusted it to the times: 

My Great Grandmother would have made what she called Chili Soup.  It consisted of only five simple ingredients.  Rachael Ray would have loved her.  Home-raised ground beef, browned with a chopped onion, home canned tomato juice, macaroni and chili powder. 

Grandma “Mom” used their own hamburger and an onion but she added kidney beans and some canned whole tomatoes along with the juice.  Macaroni, chili powder and she added a secret touch of cinnamon.

My Mother discovered this chili sauce roll at the IGA that gave it a wonderful flavor.  The Brooks seasoned chili beans were also available now, which gave it more kick.  She also branched out and used spaghetti sometimes.  Then added Chili powder and that secret dash of cinnamon. 

Here is my fourth generation way to make chili:  2 lbs ground round, browned with 1 large chopped onion, 1 large can of tomato juice, 2 cans of Brook s “Just for Chili” seasoned tomatoes, packet of chili seasoning, 1 large can of chili beans and 8 ounces of spaghetti,  Chili powder and, of course, don’t forget to add a little dash of cinnamon. 

Whether you have raised your own vegetables, have your own beef, or like me, go to Kroger.  Make a big pot of lunch memories for your family to share around the table.  Maybe my Grandchildren will erase those carry-out meals from their memory data for their future generation’s journals.  

This post was submitted online by reader Yvonne Carter. Submit your own, on the right hand column, and don’t forget to submit your version through the Indiana State Fair.

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One response to “The Garden Looks Good”

  1. Leslie says:

    As schools are back in session and the thought of fall being just around the corner, I can’t wait to have a large bowl of fourth generation chili. Thanks for sharing the memories…I have a lot of lunch memories from spending Sundays at Moms.

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