THE LAST BIT OF SUMMER – News From The Hills

October is spinning out her days of gold under the deep blue skies of autumn. Summer is gone, taking with her the wildflowers that marked her days, and hot days of sunshine. The cheerful songbirds that warbled throughout the day are heard less and less, as flocks of them have departed for sunnier climes. The cawing of crows resounds through the skies now, along with the sassy comments of the blue jays. As Kathy Mobley of the Gazette said, “We’ve squeezed out the last bit of summer.”

Although we have not had any frost yet, it is only a matter of time until a creeping white death will lay low our summertime flowers and slays the last of the garden. We have had green beans and tomatoes up until now, but all good things eventually come to an end. It is time now for pawpaws to ripen, and persimmons to fall, sweet and luscious.

Since this last rain, fall mushrooms are popping up in fields and meadows. We have been enjoying the fat puffball mushrooms, and some delicate oyster mushrooms, so fresh and tender that they must be handled gently. Chanterelles are also found in the late fall. Puffballs must be used while they are featureless and pure white—if they are the least bit yellow; then discard them. Puffballs can be prepared by melting ¼ cup butter in a heavy skillet, dice 1-2 cloves garlic in pan, and then add sliced, peeled puffballs and sauté until golden. Most wild mushrooms are lovely with added garlic. Although I’ve never tried it, some cooks substitute large slices of puffballs as an eggplant substitute, by slicing them thin and then breading and sautéing them.

We like to dip the slices (peel the outside skin) in an egg-milk mixture, and then roll in flour, salt and pepper, and fry in hot oil or butter. These are delicious served with a breakfast egg. The oyster mushrooms can be covered with a fish-fry seasoning mix, and fried in hot oil. Oyster mushrooms can be fixed with steak, and like most mushrooms, can be incorporated into an omelet.

There is a warning about wild mushrooms, however. Don’t serve or drink alcohol for 24 hours before or after eating wild mushrooms. There are many varieties of wild mushrooms, and an infinite number of ways to prepare them—just be sure they are of the edible variety.

Here is a delicious recipe using wild mushrooms that you may like to try.

HERB-BAKED
MUSHROOMS
1 cup chopped wild mushrooms
3 cups cooked brown rice or brown and wild rice combination
½ cup chopped wild onion (or store bought)
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup chopped broccoli
¼ cup diced chives
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix ingredients in large bowl; spread in a shallow, well-greased baking pan and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until casserole is set.

I’ve received a number of old expressions and country dialect in the past few weeks, and I’d like to share some with you. From Barbara Crow of Dunbar (whose mother was from Kansas) come these familiar sayings, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” and “Clean up your own doorstep first.” Norma Seested of Charleston remembers an expression that her grandmother used (whenever they wished for something,) “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.”

Ralph Pauley of Charleston sent several expressions that we say or have said down through the years (some I’ve used, but some are new) including “slower than the seven year itch” and “clumsy as a cow on crutches” also “feeling fair to middlin’” (I think that’s the stage I’m in now!) He mentioned “riding shank’s pony” which referred to walking. Mom used to say, “It’s a fur piece to walk.” That was her stock answer when someone invited her to visit. I’ve heard that someone was “as ugly as a mud fence” and Ralph supplied “she’s so ugly that her face has wore out two bodies.” There’s plenty more . . .

I just remembered something my cousin Phyllis said at one time, and we still use the expression. Instead of saying, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” she said, “You can’t make a silk sow out of a purse’s ear!” She was famous for mixing up her sayings. One time instead of saying, “When I was young, I would fight at the drop of a hat” she said, “I’d fight at the drop of a bucket!” And was it her who said, “I felt like a bird out of water?” I love her!

A lot of my readers have been wondering at the absence of my columns, and I’m almost ashamed to confess that I fell again. I was sailing through the house (without my walker) when I tripped over a dog toy, stumbled several feet, and landed hard on my left shoulder. Remember that old song, “He flew through the air, with the greatest of ease, a daring young man on a flying trapeze.” The flight was great—it was the landing that was hard!

I broke the humerus bone smack in two. A year ago I broke the same bone in my right arm, and now I have a matching pair. It is the most painful break that I have suffered, and I have six weeks of therapy facing me. Due to extreme osteoporosis, whenever I fall I’m sure to break something.

I wish I could express my gratitude for the wonderful cards and letters that I have received since my accident. The sentiments and prayers have warmed my heart, and the love expressed means so much to me. I wish that it were possible to respond to each one, but since I can’t, please believe that I love and value each one. Thank you so much.

Thanks to Ida Pitt of Louisville, KY, we have a copy of a very old song; in fact it is one that my Uncle Myles mentioned a long time ago. While it may not be politically correct, it is still true.

(Title Unknown)
If you don’t like your Uncle Sammy,
Then go back to your home o’er the sea;
To the land from which you came,
Whatever be its name,
But don’t be ungrateful to me.
If you don’t like the stars in Old Glory,
If you don’t like the red, white and blue,
Then don’t act like the cur in the story,
Don’t bite the hand that’s feeding you!
Author Unknown

Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer