Country Kitchen Amenities: Pinto Beans, Turnip Greens, and Cornbread
Having grown up and lived in the South all my life, I have eaten my share of peasant cuisine. After I left home and out on my own, I discovered that there were many country kitchen conveniences that I had left behind. Over the years, I collected recipes, especially from my mom, and spent countless hours in the kitchen doing something I love, which is cooking.
I believe in eating healthy as often as possible. However, some of the foods mentioned in this article contain butter, bacon, bacon fat, salt, etc. So if you’re watching your salt and fat intake, some of these dishes may not be for you or require modifications. Alterations, however, will affect the taste.
Here’s a rundown of some of my country kitchen favorites:
- Pinto Beans and Cornbread served with a Fresh Large Green Onion and Hot Chow Chow
- Turnip greens topped with crumbled bacon, half-cooked egg, and Texas Pete® pepper sauce
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Fried Pork Chops Topped with White Sauce and Served with Crackers
- Green beans cooked with small white potatoes
- Open crackers with sausage patties topped with white sauce
- Day-old cornbread served in a tall chilled buttermilk glass
- Salted ham served on homemade biscuits
- Freshly cooked corn on the cob buttered, then salted and peppered
- Skillet-cooked cabbage in bacon grease
- Country Fried Steak served with White Sauce, Tomato Slices, and Crackers
- Savory Pork and Beef Pie topped with Bacon, Ketchup and Brown Sugar served with Mashed Potato Topped with Brown Sauce and Hot Buttered Buns
- Homemade Beef Stew with Slices of Fresh White Bread and Cold Iced Tea
The secret is in the seasoning
Seasoning is an important part of peasant cooking, just like any other type of cooking. Not all country recipes have to include bacon and / or butter. For example, let’s take a closer look at the seasonings in my recipe for the field cooked green beans that I was used to eating growing up.
You can use canned or fresh green beans. If I’m using canned beans, I opt for Green Giant® or another quality brand, preferably the canned variety with the white interior. I usually get the large can and two regular cans of whole white potatoes.
I place the beans in the pot, liquids and all, and add a cubed or two of beef bouillon. You may need to add a little water depending on how much liquid is in the can; Beans should start barely covered or with the water level even with the top of the beans.
I add a little cooking oil; I don’t normally measure things like this, but I guess it would be a tablespoon or so. I simmer them until the liquid is half, then drain the potatoes and add them to the pot.
I shake the pot gently so the potatoes slide down into the remaining liquid. You don’t want to stir because it will break the potatoes. I cook until there is barely any liquid left; then I turn off the heat and cover until dinner time. They are even better after sitting down for a bit.
Southern cooks are frequently accused of cooking food until the nutrients are depleted. This may or may not be true, and if it is, it is probably more so with some dishes than others. It is a matter of personal preference and I like that my green beans are cooked this way and so does my family.
I plan to cook green beans tonight, and they will be served alongside chilled deviled eggs, whole green onions, fresh sliced and savory red tomatoes, homemade coleslaw, cornbread, and iced tea with fresh lemon wedges. My husband is already asking what time we are going to eat!