Exploring Kentucky gardens and greens

Penny’s Pantry Penny Case

I recently went down to Kentucky for my late husband’s mom’s 93rd birthday.

For being 93 she never sat down until I got after her to rest for a while. I had such a great time with the family. They made us biscuits and bacon gravy every morning, plus fried apples they had canned in the fall. They also fixed shelled green beans, fresh fried corn off the cob, and white corn bread — good eating the Southern way. They gave us a mixture of jams and pickled relish with hotdog slices in it. I love to dip tortilla chips in it. The mix is also good on hot dogs.

I’m planning on staying longer next June. I really love it down there. They have a large garden and it’s almost to produce already. I’ve never seen a garden with no weeds but there’s not a single weed in theirs. I got to eat green onions from their garden with my beans and corn bread. What a treat! I always dip my onion in salt. They’d never seen anyone do that before.

I’ve been reading a five-volume book set on the Great Depression and found that some of the people in that time ate weeds. The mothers would fix them in certain ways and some said they were good eating. I know my mom would send us out to gather fresh dandelion leaves. She’d rinse them off, then fry some bacon to a crisp and crumble it, adding sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper. In the greens she’d put some sliced green onions and chopped hard boiled eggs. She’d put the hot bacon mixture over the greens. Boy was this ever good.

You can also put this bacon grease over lettuce from your garden. Mom called it wilted lettuce. She would also use it on turnip and other greens. People during the Depression had little money so they had to use what they grew and what their farm animals produced. Some had many children and they still had happy moments.

Until next time, enjoy these recipes:

Quick Baked Beans

• 1 pound bacon, diced

• 1 large chopped onion

• 3 cans (28 oz. each) pork and beans, undrained

• 1 cup barbecue sauce

• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

• 1/3 cup prepared mustard

In a large saucepan, cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp and onion is tender; drain. Add remaining ingredients, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Greens with Citrus Dressing

• 1/3 cup orange juice

• 1/4 cup cider or red wine vinegar

• 3 tbsp. honey

• 3 tbsp. water

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

• 1 tbsp. finely chopped raisins (optional)

• Torn salad greens (romaine, spinach, bibb, etc.)

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine all ingredients and raisins if desired; shake well. Serve over salad greens.

Yield: 1 cup 2 tbsp. of dressing (without raisins)

Ground Beef and Baked Beans Casserole

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 2 large onions, finely chopped (2 cups)

• 1 pound ground beef

• 2 (15 oz.) cans Boston-style baked beans

• 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (1 cup)

• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

• 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

• 1 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. black pepper

• 5 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a two-quart casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cook about 10 minutes or until brown, breaking meat up with a fork as it cooks. In a large bowl, combine the beef mixture with the remaining ingredients except the bacon and mix well. Pour beef mixture into the prepared casserole. Arrange the bacon slices on top. Cover with a lid or foil. Bake about 45 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Uncover dish and preheat broiler. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

Yield: 8-10 servings.

Penny Case is a lifelong resident of Wellington who loves to cook and share recipes. Send recipes to her at 22 Johns St. or at news@theoberlinnews.com.