By Kellie Henderson
Beverly Murdock has the strong sense of family that seems harder to find as time goes by. From her grandmother to her grandchildren, Beverly said her plans always seem to involve some segment of her family and meal times are no exception.
"I cooked dinner every night when my children were still at home, but we sort of take turns now. I’ll cook one night, my mother will cook the next, and so on, but we usually have several people gathered around somebody’s table," she said.
A lifelong resident of the Henagar community, Beverly learned to cook from the women in her family.
"I grew up watching and helping my mother and grandmothers, and I started cooking at a young age. The first thing I learned to cook was cornbread, then I made green beans and deviled eggs. I remember thinking I was doing something when I could cook three things by myself," she said.
To Beverly, it seemed like people used to have cornbread at every meal, and cornbread at her grandmother Burton’s house was a special treat.
"She used to give us white Karo syrup over hot buttered cornbread, and it was wonderful. I never heard of anybody else eating it that way. She could fix anything," Beverly said.
Beverly’s surviving Grandmother Smith still makes delicious food from scratch.
"She makes tea cakes by hand, mixing the ingredients with her fingers like people do biscuits. And she can have a homemade pie crust ready before I can sit down to watch how she does it," she said.
Beverly’s husband, Danny, works at Dekalb Farmers Co-op store in Rainsville and they raise cattle near their home in Henagar, where their family is never far away.
"Our son, Chad, has two children and our daughter, Holly, has three, and they all live in Henagar. We also live across the road from my mother, Novie Burton. We plant our garden with Mama, and we have a good time in the evenings and on the weekends working in the garden and talking while we put up what we’ve grown," Beverly said.
Beverly and Danny have also gained a fresh perspective on the joys of farm life through the eyes of their grandchildren.
"They like to ride the 4-wheelers out across the pasture to check the cows. Not long ago they pulled up to the barn at Mama’s and were throwing handfuls of feed to the cows just over the fence. The cows kept pushing each other so close to the fence we were afraid they’d all get out," Beverly laughed like any grandmother would.
Beverly said she cooks a big meal at her house on Sundays, when she usually has her children and their families visiting.
"Everybody in our family likes home cooking, vegetables out of the garden and roast or chicken, so that’s mostly what I cook," said Beverly.
And the recipes she passes along reflect that kind of family table feeling, calling for ingredients common to most pantries.
Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.
Cypress Inn Bran Muffins
1 (15 oz) box raisin bran cereal
3 cups sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
1 quart buttermilk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400°. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Gently stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 15 minutes.
Note: Batter will last up to 4 weeks in refrigerator.
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
1 cup sugar
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup margarine, melted
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup margarine
Combine sweet potatoes and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and place in a casserole dish.
Combine topping ingredients in a separate bowl and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs, beaten
1¼ cups oil
1 cup chopped nuts
2½ cups strawberries, chopped
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix in eggs, oil and nuts. Stir in strawberries. Pour batter into 2 prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
2 pounds each seedless red and white grapes
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
½ granulated sugar
1 (8 oz) package sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup chopped, toasted pecans
Remove grapes from stems; wash and dry thoroughly. It is important that grapes are very dry.
Mix together softened cream cheese and granulated sugar.
In another bowl, mix together sour cream and vanilla, then blend cream mixtures together. Fold in grapes and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans. Cover and refrigerate
8 slices white bread
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pound sausage, browned and drained
1 (12 oz) package sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 cups milk
Remove crust from bread slices. Butter bread and arrange slices, buttered side down, in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Layer bacon, sausage and cheese over bread. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with milk. Pour over casserole. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake casserole uncovered for 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and bake 15 additional minutes.
Note: 1 pound diced ham may be substituted for either bacon or sausage.
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
1 (16 oz) package grated coconut
1 (1 pound) box powdered sugar
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 (12 oz) packages chocolate chips
1 block paraffin
In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients. Spread in a large pan and chill 4 to 6 hours.
Melt chocolate chips and paraffin in a double boiler. Cut coconut mixture into squares; dip squares in chocolate. Cool on wax paper or parchment until chocolate is set.
Note: 1 large package chocolate candy coating may be substituted for chocolate chips and paraffin.
1 sleeve buttery round crackers, crushed
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, melted
2 (16 oz) cans Veg-All, drained
1 can water chestnuts, drained
½ cup celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Place half of cracker crumbs in bottom of a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish and drizzle with half of melted margarine. In a bowl combine vegetables, soup, mayonnaise and cheese. Pour over bottom layer of crackers. Top with remaining cracker crumbs and margarine. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 (4 to 5 pound) bottom round roast
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (10 oz) bottle cola
1 (12 oz) bottle chili sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Hot pepper sauce to taste
Combine salt, garlic salt and pepper. Rub over roast. In a Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil and brown roast on all sides. Drain off drippings. Combine cola and sauces; pour over roast. Cover and bake at 325° for 3 hours or until tender. Makes 8 to 10 servings.