Appalachia and Comfort Food: Tonic for the Soul

I guess, when life gets too much for us, we go back to our roots. My roots lie in two very diverse places, but one of my feet stands in the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky. I think that the cooking, when I was growing up, was perhaps the best in the world! Even now, when I’m way past all grown up, I want to eat what my mother cooked, and what her mother cooked. My comfort food comes straight from Appalachia with only a few exceptions.

I still seek out roadside vegetable markets that crop up in the summer all around where I live. I now live on the fringes on Appalachia and, just about every week in the summer, I’ll take a drive 50 miles south in search of homegrown vegetables. I did that on Saturday and have a refrigerator stocked full of wonderful vegetables grown in the region.

Today was a very stressful day for both my husband and myself. About mid-afternoon, all I could think about was cooking some of those vegetables the old-fashioned, Appalachian way. I knew that eating what I grew up on would be a tonic for my soul. During this pandemic and the uproar in our country, I think we’re all looking for a little tonic.

I started to cook dinner and grabbed the green beans. I wanted green beans and cornbread. I’ve already given you my recipes in another blog post, so I’ll skip that. I put the green beans on to cook after spending two hours stringing them. I made the cornbread, with buttermilk, and put it in the oven. While the cornbread baked, I sliced fresh tomatoes, small cucumbers, and a cantaloupe for dessert. I took the cornbread out to cool and waited on the green beans. I don’t cook my beans with meat anymore, my one nod to health. I slice up a sweet onion and season them with onion, salt, and pepper. Delicious!

Dinner was wonderful and I was much calmer and less anxious after eating my comfort food. What’s your comfort food? Try it during the pandemic. Maybe it will be tonic for your soul too.

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