Category: Domestications

Carrying on a Carolina Tradition… the dying community “art” of the hog killin!

 

Hog Killin ~ Hopkins, NC

The work has commenced. The ladies have trimmed the “scrap” meat, and it’s time to add the seasonings… it’s SAUSAGE time y’all! The best you ever had…

Published in Carolina Country Magazine… November 2019!

 

Always eager to share my culinary adventures… foods and traditions of my life and growing up in the country, this tale and annual “ritual” I have grown up around is a story not often told. Folks love pork chops, ribs, butts and sausage, but some balk at what it takes to have such on their plates.  Those pork chops, like the vegetables we/they also eat, don’t just “appear” behind swinging doors at the local grocer.  Whether corporate farm-raised, or backyard grown and harvested, those are the places our nourishment comes from.

I realize that for some, parts of this pork harvest may be bothersome. So YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.  I have shared more of the day’s images here on my blog post beyond what is appropriate for or would fit in the magazine.

This is for me… as I addressed in my piece. But as I pondered, and prayed about “the deed” of putting down the hogs, and being a part of this day from start to finish, I found peace.  Generations before us have carried out this annual butchering… often on several community days on chilly, even really cold, winter days, to do as they just did “back in the day.”  This was just part of life… and necessary to feed their families throughout the year.  I can still remember my Ma Perry grabbing a chicken out back, ringing its neck, pluck’n and frying up the best chicken ever.  These things are part of my personal heritage, and I’m damn glad of it. 

Writing about this topic had to be handled judiciously.  And I think I accomplished telling the story… of the spirit of the little rural crossroads community of Hopkins, NC… with love and with a focus on its purpose, the love and spirit these friends and neighbors have for helping one another… and most especially, with the tale of multiple generations of the Jackson family carrying on this century-plus old tradition.  It truly made my heart smile that day to be a bystander, and watch as the “dance” was done… teaching a next generation all the intricacies from start to finish… culminating with a freezer and salt house full of the BEST pork you could ever eat.

I wish I had a patty of that perfectly seasoned, hand mixed sausage right now… with a little “crunch” just the way MY family made it decades ago.  There are some things that just need to carry on till eternity… and this is one of them!  I hope you will enjoy my story, and feel as though you were there with us.  Please do share your own such memories in comments below, OR come over and add them to this post on my facebook community!
And editor Scott at Carolina Country might like for you to share your own memories after reading the article too… send those to editor@carolinacountry.com 

There were too many pictures from the day for the magazine… here are a few for you to enjoy!  But just know that if blood is bothersome, you’ll want to leave now.  Be sure you subscribed to my blog while here as one of these days I will add videos from the kill’n here. And subscribe to my YouTube channel where they will be eventually for you to enjoy as well.

The posse is all here...

The posse is all here…

Sun up on Jackson Farm

Sun up on Jackson Farm

 

Starting the scalding vat fire...

Starting the scalding vat fire…

 

Terry feeding the scalding vat fire...

Terry feeding the scalding vat fire… temp must reach 150 and no more than 158

the deed is done

the deed is done

hauling the hogs to the vat

hauling the hogs to the vat… each weight out 350-400 pounds!

scraping the hair has commenced

scraping the hair has commenced

all hands on deck for fast hair scraping

all hands on deck for fast hair scraping

preparing tools of the day

preparing tools of the day

the art of the butcher

the art of the butcher

master artisan teaching the next generation

…master artisan teaching the next generation

butcher time... work has commenced

butcher time… work has commenced

easy going... don't want to cut the innards

easy going… don’t want to cut the innards… because THAT would be a big stinky mess o’poop!

future chitlins no waste

future chitlins ~ no waste

bone cracker

bone cracker… more tools of the day

everybody has their job

everybody has their job at the kill’n…

working fast before the temp rises

working fast before the temp rises on this unseasonably warm January day…

neighbors helping neighbors

all hands on deck… neighbors helping neighbors

everybody knows the brains are Mr. Rudolph's

everybody knows the brains are Mr. Rudolph’s!

Feet anyone? No Waste

Feet anyone? No Waste

everybody trims scraps for sausage

everybody trims scraps for sausage… Love the old and the new… technology! lol

the fat ratio for sausage has to be just right

the fat ratio has to be just right for the sausage…

doin the dew and peanuts... quick break!

doin the dew and peanuts… quick break! Eat’n local NC Baker’s Peanuts

a generations old community sausage seasoning recipe

a generations old community sausage seasoning recipe passed down from Booger Hopkins

seasoned hands seasoned meat Mr. Rudolph

seasoned hands seasoned meat Mr. Rudolph Bunn

Three generations of Jacksons

Three generations of Jacksons…

grinding sausage

grinding sausage…

Sausage! The best you ever ate

Sausage! The best you ever ate!

got to fry up a test pan of sausage

Waddell Mitchell… got to fry up a test pan of sausage!

Lunch time... been simmering all morn on the wood stove

Lunch time… homemade soup’s been simmering all morn on the wood stove! Soup and saltines…

 

back to work... slow and steady filling link sausage in casings

Lunch over… back to work… slow and steady filling link sausage in casings!

as good as gold... link sausage

This right here is as good as gold… link sausage!

well deserved sit-down

…well deserved sit-down

The ladies pack'n up the sausage

The ladies pack’n up the sausage!

Wanda Jackson wrapping meat in freezer locker paper

Wanda Jackson wrapping meat in freezer locker paper… hundreds of pounds of meat!

everybody stirs the cracklins

everybody stirs the cracklins.. hurry up, we can hardly wait!

cracklins almost ready

cracklins almost ready… smells sooooo good!

fix'n the lard crock

…fix’n the lard crock

sun setting & the lard is rendered

…as the sun sets, the lard is rendered

the best cracklins ever

Y’all… the best cracklins ever!

Rural Folk. Rural Community.... traditions.... it doesn't get any better!

Rural Folk. Rural Community…. traditions…. it doesn’t get any better! Neighbor helping neighbor.

 

The Jackson Family

BIG thanks to The Jackson Family for letting me photo-journal this day…. sorry Rebekah couldn’t join us but she was there in spirit!

time to put the coat on and head on to the house

The torch has passed to Caleb… time to put the coat on and head on to the house!

 

I am most grateful to my friends, the Jackson family, and to the community folk who let me be a bystander on this day… to capture these images of what so many of us grew up with and around.  I hope you enjoyed the day I photo-journaled for you all.  The sense of community is alive in well in Hopkins… and little crossroads outside of Zebulon, North Carolina… my forever home.  May this time-honored tradition of neighbor helping neighbor survive this crazy world… and continue for generations to come.

As I close, I give thanks to the 2 hogs that provided the meat for this family and those of us who helped that day. As noted, we must be grateful, and teach future generations that their food doesn’t magically appear through those swinging doors at the grocery store. Much sacrifice is made for them to eat… and eat good food.  We honor and give thanks to these animals… the farmers that feed and tend them, and prepare them for the family table.  

Published in Carolina Country Magazine… November 2019!
Wendy Perry
Freelance Writer  & Culinary Adventurist

For more information visit my web age at WendyPerry.com
I would love to hear from you if you have other ideas of interest or if you have stories to be told for your publication. 

Grilled Eggplant with Blueberry Mustard Vinaigrette …and how to freeze eggplant

Grilled Eggplant with Blueberry Vinaigrette & Stone Ground Mustard

Grilled eggplant drizzled with blueberry mustard vinaigrette and fresh herbs

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Summer Corn & Crab Salad with honey citrus dressing

Summer Corn and Crab Salad with honey citrus dressing

Lazy hazy hot days of summer… nope, no cook’n around here! Throw together this no-cook fresh and light salad featuring fresh summer corn and the best crab you can find… like sweet lump North Carolina crab!

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Flash’n… this way or that?

It hasn’t been that long ago when I set my bedroom ceiling fan for the winter, I think! But a week or so ago, I went to flash’n… so while snow was fall’n outside, I was on my step ladder pull’n chains on my bedroom ceiling fan till I found that sweet spot…

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…southern wine glasses

I much prefer a nice glass of wine in a mason jar… as a matter of fact, i think everything tastes better in a mason jar! So as i enjoy a glass of red wine this evening,

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Blackboard Blurb!…. **NEWSFLASH!!!** Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year… i loveeee! and YOU?

Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year is beautimous and will brighten up your world. Don’t you love it?

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Popcorn & Vintage Candy Bar! Fun for all…

 

Guests both young and old will love this fun festive popcorn and vintage candy bar!


Over 3+ decades of catering, I did many a party of every description… for young and old alike!  When my friend Jim called me to throw a surprise 50th for his wife, we talked about several themes, and ended up doing a variety of fun stations and bars, each features local and NC products.  There was a hot dog bar, hot and cold corn on the cob station, pickle tub, pimento cheese and field pea caviar area and for dessert… a blueberry and strawberry shortcake bar too.  Since there was a bunch of kiddos coming, he wanted something fun for them, so I did a great big table of old fashioned candies, peanuts and all sorts of popcorns with spicy shakes for those who wanted theirs spiffed up a bit.

Shake your popcorn…

Since Sunday was “National Business of Popping Corn Day”  (and forgot to post this then), I figured this would be a good time to share this popcorn bar!  With the holidaZe on the way and gatherings of friends and family, this would be a fun, budget-friendly and quick idea for your entertaining… 

Folks of all ages love popcorn and vintage candies.  Just keep it simple… pop corn or buy it in a big old tin… add some kettle, caramel and candied corns.  See what you have in your spice cabinet, or pick up some fun salts and seasonings. I’m a big fan of Savory Spice Shop and shop often at the Raleigh location, but they have other stores all over.  Or you can just shop online and have goodies sent right to your door!

Throw a sheet of burlap or something festive over a table… sit boxes of various heights up under there so you can put your containers at different levels on your table!  If it’s in a dark corner, don’t forget to sit a lamp on the table.  The light will give your display a “pop” and draw folks to it. 

TIP:  Do that with all your tables!  Lighting creates beautiful ambiance for your food displays, not to mention, it helps your guests see what they are getting in dimly lit areas. 

It’s also helpful to make little folded cards to sit by your foods for that same reason.  You can make with stickers right onto notecards or any number of ways.

Pick up some festive “take home bags” for folks to take a goodie bag with them so you’re not stuck with leftovers…

Enjoy your holiday season, and have FUN!  If you do a popcorn (or any other) bar, please do snap a picture and send me!  I’d love to share your ideas here with others.

Peas, please… field peas, that is!

…field peas and country ham

Peas are such a simple food… they don’t need much fuss’n with, and can be fixed in all sorts of ways. Cook simply with some country ham pieces.  Ladle up a cup of the pot likker from their cook’n. Add some cornbread and call it supper!  Top with stewed tomatoes or homemade tomato jam

White acre peas with a dollop of tomato jam!

 

 

Whirl up for some right tasty hummus. Or make what we call “Carolina Caviar” for porch sit’n or tailgate’n which we will be doing soon! 

Add some tomato based BBQ sauce for a little kick to your Carolina Caviar!

To make this rather southern “dip,” you can cut up fresh veggies like peppers and tomatoes and onions and shake in some hot sauce, or just stir in some prepared salsa and “doctor it up” for a simpler version. I like to stir in some thicker tomato based BBQ sauce for a tasty surprise too. I like to serve mine with pork rind dippers as you’ll see here at this big reception I did long ago, but just serve with your own favorite chip!  

 

All sorts of fresh field peas are plentiful during July and August… time to stock up!

Any way you use them, North Carolina field peas are just good eats.  And right now is prime pea pick’n season. Load your freezer with all sorts of great peas to enjoy throughout the coming seasons, until it is time to load up again next summer. 

 

Putting up peas… White Acre Peas

 

You will need to blanch them before freezing, but that’s really easy to do.  You will find several methods to do that here, at the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s site! 

 

So run along to your local farm or farmers’ market and pick up PEAS!  Beautiful peas in all shapes sizes and beautiful colors!  Cook some cornbread, pour a glass of iced tea, and plop yourself down in that rocking chair on the porch… enjoy these dog days of summer before they are gone.  

….beautiful summer field peas

I rocked many a mile with my mama and grandma…. shelling peas on my grandma’s porch… back in the day, before pea shelling machines stole that “joy” from us.  Who else has those memories?  I remember my mama saying… “you will be glad you shelled those peas when we are eating them this winter” to which I defiantly declared… “I’d just as soon not eat a pea as to have to do this right here” as any young girl wanting to go play would say. But you know what, those WERE “the days.”

Oh how I’d love to turn back the clock… to these days… porch pea-shelling days!

And oh how I’d give ANYthing… to go back and have those days again… with my mama, my Ma Hocutt, and the sounds of peas falling into those metal pans and my sore little thumbs. Anybody care to join me?

A backroads aventure…. clothesline

A backroads adventure…
clothes·line  ˈklōT͟Hzlīn/
{-noun- a strong, narrow rope, cord, wire, etc., usually stretched between two poles, posts or buildings on which clean laundry is hung to dry.}

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Counting blessings ~ what we take for granted…

bless·ing  [bles-ing]
the invoking of God’s favor upon a person

I should rename this “The Molasses Blog” since that’s about the speed I do blog posts!  So many things get ‘in the way’… work, new projects and clients, having fun with my incredibly fun-funny-wondermous nephew Wyatt and just life in general…
What a blessing to have Wyatt in my life!

Determined to throw out one more post before flip’n my calendar to 2012 (!), I squint as I write this as my left retina decided to just randomly detach itself from my eyeball days before Christmas… I ended up having emergency eye surgery on Christmas Eve eve, then having more (laser) surgery at my recheck the next morn on Christmas Eve… I was ordered to stay flat on my left side until today, and still must spend as much time as I can stand sideways a few more days for proper healing.  (For the record, should you ever find yourself sideways for long periods of time, you can do Control/Alt/Left or Right Arrow and your screen will magically turn that way for horizontal computing!)

I did get a great report at my follow up yesterday and am (knock-on-wood) healing nicely!  Before I get back to the topic at hand, I would like to sing the praises of all the docs that took care of me… from Eye Care Associates in Zebulon to Retina Associates in Raleigh and right on over to those at the Kittner Eye Center in Chapel Hill… what a grand bunch of well-trained folks… INCLUDING caring ‘bedside manor.’ I’m so grateful to all these folks and happy my sight is still intact in my eye… all the docs told me that had I waited even a day longer, it was probable I would have lost sight in my left eye… gosh how we take so many things for granted, like being able to SEE what’s around us!!
What a blessing it is to have sight!

And a quick hug to my sis too… for being my chauffeur and ‘patient advocate’ staying right by my side thru all of this and letting me recoup at her house too!
What a blessing to have a SISTER!

Do things in your freezer appear to be from outer space?

As we rush off into the new year, if you are like me, you feel the need to tidy things up a bit… organize and reorganize and have a fresh start.  Now, more than ever, so many of us continue to slide the old budget belt a bit tighter and I’d like to help you with that, starting, of course, in your kitchen.  When was the last time you took inventory of what’s in your freezer?  Have you EVER taken inventory of what’s in your freezer? I take for granted the fact that my freezer (make that freezerS) are full and hunger or the lack of money to feed myself  (or children if I had any) isn’t a worry as it is for growing numbers of those around us.  I admit I hoard food… another topic for another post… but ,
What a blessing it is to have a pantry, fridge and freezer(s) full of all sorts of foods at arm’s reach!

This weekend is a perfect time to take stock of your food blessings, starting in your freezer.  It really doesn’t take very long… here are just a few tips to get you going as you look to SEE what’s in yours! Be sure you have plenty of time to do this right and are not rushed so halfway through you abort the mission and have to go do something else.

The things in BOLD will give you a quick glace to see what you will need to gather and have ready in advance… now GO “git ‘er done” then come back and add your comments about your freezer adventure and let me know this post inspired youBearShareV10!

  • Put on some fun peppy music that will get you in the mood… stuff you like to sing in the shower or car…  or just plug in your iPod and let ‘er rip!
  • Sit out supplies:
    • name brand zippered bags, assorted sizes (based on my experience, store brands SUCK in this category)
    • dry erase board with markers
    • notepad/pen
    • some way to make labels (label maker, freezer tape and perm marker, your own paper labels with tape, etc.
  • Clear countertop and/or table so as you take everything out you can organize the ‘stuff’ into categories and like-items into piles for repacking.
  • Remove everything from your freezer.   If a small freezer, you can work fast enough so foods won’t thaw.  I do not recommend doing this on a hot day.  If you have a big freezer(s), do this on a cold winter’s day when you can simply sit the foods outside in shaded cold area.
  • Give it a quick cleaning by washing out with warm soapy water.  “Rinse” with a mixture of water and baking soda.  This will remove soap residue, remove odors and give a fresh start.  To keep it smelling fresh, I prefer a few lumps of charcoal.  I find they absorb odors better than other options.  Just put them in a cup somewhere in the freezer and I think you will notice the same.
  • As you get ready to restock foods into the nice clean freezer, toss out any with freezer burn (ice crystals…that stuff you can no longer recognize) or is so old you wouldn’t feed it to stray dogs or throw in a pond for fish!  And always remember…
    Never risk the plight of food poisoning over a little pack of old food… a regret you should never have!
  • Using the ziplock bags and other supplies, repackage anything that needs it.  Mash things flat for easier stacking or for sliding into small spaces in your freezer.  Freeze in a pile, then you can leave that way, or stack like this upright, depending on what works for best use of space for you.
  • As you repackage/replace your food, write each thing on the dry erase board.  As you menu plan for the week and make your grocery shopping list,  you can quickly glance at the list and see what you have to use.  As you use, simply wipe off the board, and as you buy and add new things or add leftover tidbits, write on this board (while also dating and labeling the package).  This system will greatly reduce your freezer waste (but only if you use it).
  • I have a couple of outdoor refrigerators with small top freezers and a chest freezer… i keep ‘inventory’ on those by writing on the freezer door with a dry erase marker (just like a dry erase board)… and at a glance I can see what’s in there… wipe off with my finger when something comes out and keep a pen on top of the freezer to add what goes in.

For tips on freezing foods, I’ll point you to a recent online article where I was consulted and provided helpful information on this topic.  You can read that at DinnerTool…

“How To Prevent Freezer Burn”
by Amber Greviskes

Now that you have your nice inventory list… here are a few sites where you can visit to plug in ingredient(s) to find recipes to create with them, or… simply “Throw Cook” something yourself.  If you need help or suggestions, post for me over on my “Throw Cooking” facebook page and I’ll throw you some ideas.

Now… sit back, relax and enjoy ringing in the New Year with your freshly cleaned freezer and ‘whatever’ you pulled out to cook up!  And “just in case” our superstitions hold true,  I hope you’ll ‘throw’ some Southern Traditions on the table…

Black-Eyed Peas for prosperity and good luck… greens (cabbards for this gal-see recipe) for money and fortune… and of course, cornbread, which represents gold!  I’m having thoughts of a Bloody Mary BE Peas and Greens Soup… kept warm in the crock pot for anybody who wants to drop by… throw in your fav bloody mary mix, drain/rinsed canned or frozen, greens (cabbards, collards, cabbage, etc.), some chopped onions and celery if you have… and whatever seasonings strike your fancy!  Serve with Cornbread Cookies or your own cornbread recipe… iced tea or a real cold beer!  Now wipe that drool away, get ready to clean out your freezer for a fresh start… and have a safe and fun weekend with your friends and family… see y’all NEXT year.


What a blessing it is to be here today, writing this blog post, with ‘saved’ eyesight looking towards a new year!

Happy New Year Y’all…
Wendy… aka “Dee Dee”