Saturday, April 18, 2009

I just reviewed a cookbook by Evelyn Birkby, Up A Country Lane. It makes me wish I was in my grandmother’s kitchen , standing beside her, making a pie! I have had comments from quite a few of you about my memories of the Ogg Family Farm, so I know many of you are as enamored with the country life as I am. Family history is so important to us as Americans. Our lives and our country are changing so quickly, and not necessarily in a good way. We need to stick to our roots, and mine are in the kitchens of my Grandmothers, Ann Baker Robnett Johnston and Minnie Florence Joiner Ogg. There are days I pick up the remote, turn off the news and grab a photo album and my laptop. I let myself be whisked away to the past. It was soooooo much better in so many ways!

Life in Boone County, Mo and Ray County, Mo in the mid 1800s to mid 1900s must have been hard but fulfilling. When I arrived on the scene in 1941, the world was about to make some major changes in industry, science, and government….not that my arrival had anything to do with it! But no matter how much things changed in the world, my grandmother’s daily chores didn’t change all that much. In Evelyn Birkby’s cookbook, life on the farm is described, so closely, to my mother’s stories of the Ogg farm.
I was interested in the chapter describing the beef clubs. When a hog was slaughtered, the smoke house was filled and the meat was preserved. However, when a steer was butchered, there was way too much meat for one family to consume before the meat spoiled. Remember, there was no refrigeration yet. So, the area farmers set up beef clubs. A schedule was developed so one farmer would butcher a steer, the meat was divided among the club’s members, and the meat was consumed over the next few weeks. When it was almost gone, the next farmer on the schedule butchered one of his steers and the meat was again distributed. This way, everyone had fresh meat all year long.
I asked Mom about a club, but she had no memory of one. She does remember having steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it could be there wasn’t a beef club in Ray County, Missouri! I asked her how Grandmother cooked them and she replied “Fried!” and then added “with eggs and biscuits! And then there was her Salt Rising Bread!” I think Mom had a very strong food memory! She also talked about the Beef Roasts that Grandmother fixed. There is nothing like fresh cut beef I have started going to Steve’s Meat Market in DeSota, Kansas for beef. Their ground beef is the best in the world! Don’t ever buy ground beef at the grocery store…go to Steve’s and watch them grind it and take home a couple of pounds. Shape into big fat burgers and throw them on the grill.
You won’t be disappointed! And their Roasts! It is a short drive to DeSota from Kansas City, about half way to Lawrence. Wherever you are, hopefully there is a true, oldtime butcher shop.
Find it and become their new best friend!
Now, for recipes…I think I should stick with beef….maybe my all time favorite cut..the majestic Porterhouse Steak!

Grilled Steaks with Basil-Garlic Bread
4 Porterhouse steaks, cut 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 loaf Italian bread
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Combine oil, basil and garlic powder; reserve.

2. Place beef steaks on grid over medium coals. Grill steaks 10 to 17 minutes for rare (140ºF) to medium (160ºF), turning once.
3. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Meanwhile cut bread in half lengthwise; brush 1 1/2 tablespoons basil mixture evenly on cut side of bread.

4. About five minutes before steaks are done, place bread, cut-side down, on grid with steaks; grill 2 to 3 minutes. Turn bread; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

5. Continue grilling 1 to 3 minutes or until bread is golden brown

6. Cut bread diagonally into slices. Carve steaks into thick slices.

7. Serve with bread
To serve with this delicious steak, try this recipe from Birkby's cookbook. My Dad loved wilted lettuce. I think it is that bacon thing! This recipe is exactly the way my Grandmother Johnston used to make it. When spring arrived and leaf lettuce was growing like wildfire, she made lots of Wilted Lettuce!
Wilted Greens
6 slices bacon (I say Farmland, of course!)
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups washed and dried lettuce leaves or spinach leaves
Fry the bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet and set aside.
In the bacon drippings in skillet, saute the diced onion until golden. Add honey, vinegar, and water. When hot, puor over the greens, toss lightly, crumble bacon over top, season with salt and pepper.
I'll be writing more about the Ogg Family Farm. I'm neck deep in the history of the house, the layout of the farm, the animals on the farm...and of course, Grandmother Ogg's and Granny Sampson's recipes. ...........Until next time.....

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