Heritage Cooking — What’s in YOUR cooking pot?
Years ago, we were able to make the trip from Connecticut to the Smith family homeplace in Lynchburg, Virginia two years in a row for the family reunion. There, five generations mingled for stories and laughter. Besides getting to know my husband’s family and enjoying all the musical talent, the best part was undeniably the food.
Southern cooking was very different from what I had been fed as a kid. My mother-in-law presented me early with a Southern Living cookbook and taught me how to cook summer squash, green beans and much much more. I was rather dismayed, however, when I asked her how to make biscuits and she took a can out of the frig. She told me some things are better left to professionals. *G*
So, we had pretty eclectic cooking in my home, what with my gradual improvement with Southern cooking and the few dishes Sam’s daddy could cook, together with my heritage cooking from my grandparents’ European roots.
Heritage cooking brings back memories from childhood. Life was simpler (for us kids anyway) then and we can fall into old pleasant memories with a taste of lemon cake just like Aunt Tootie’s or a mess of beans that reminds us of the ones we ate at Granny’s house.
Here in West Virginia the Country Roads Cook-Offs showcase regular home cooks, not chefs like on tv, to prepare their favorite recipes. Assisted by the West Virginia Farm2U Collaborative, the Country Roads Cook-Offs encourage people to remember and share these heritage recipes so they are not lost. All cook-offs have the same two basic requirements-using local ingredients and honoring both the local food traditions and nonprofessional cooking enthusiasts—but each differs to fit the specific location.
The judges (Ruby Dean Collins of the Baker’s Kitchen in Sutton, Oscar Aguilar of Diogi’s in Fayetteville, Graham Rankin a well-known foodie in Huntington, and Sam Smith the winner of That Dam 5K Race in Sutton that morning) carefully tasted and deliberated.
This year additional cook-offs will be held as part of festivals throughout the region, including the Heritage Farm Museum and Village’s Fall Harvest Festival in Huntington, on September 1, where cooks can enter for sharing and tasting without being in the formal competition. There will be other Country Road Cook-Offs held on October 13 in Abdingdon, Virginia and in Elliott County, Kentucky.
I challenge all you wonderful cooks to get out and show off your favorite dish!!!