Growing up in the southern Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, we had terms for our daily meals that weren’t necessarily used by citizens in the Northern states. When I moved to Ohio, I quickly learned that my vocabulary was apparently out of synch with the rest of the country. So here’s a list of the daily meal names a southern WV Hillbilly may have grown up using.
- Breakfast: That’s a given. It’s always breakfast, the first meal of the day, no matter where in the English-speaking part of the world you may be in. So there’s no debate where breakfast is concerned. Mom spoiled us with preparing a variety throughout the week. Breakfast varied from sausage, gravy, and biscuits to eggs, bacon, and toast. But there was always, always homemade jam, jelly, or apple butter for our biscuits or toast. And pancakes! Eggs, bacon, and pancakes with homemade maple syrup were, hands down, my favorite breakfast fare but that was only available on Saturdays.
- Dinner: On Sunday, our noon-ish meal was cooked and most often consisted of at least three courses – meat, potatoes, and green vegetables. It often included rolls or biscuits on the side and was always, always followed by dessert. Tea – a drink that was meant to be sweet, I don’t care where you live – was plentiful as it was made by the gallon.
- Lunch: This is what the noonday meal was called when it was “light” and not necessarily cooked. That means it consisted of a sandwich and chips that you washed down with water, Coke or an RC cola, or tea if you had any leftover from Sunday. This is the meal served around noon Monday through Saturday except on holidays and other special occasions. However, if you worked on a farm you probably had dinner around the Noon hour because your day started around 5 or 6 AM.
- Supper: The very last meal of the day. This was sometimes a big spread with meat, potatoes or other starch, and green veggies with bread of some sort on the side, tea or (Egad) water to drink, and followed by dessert such as pie, cake, or homemade vanilla pudding over stewed apples. YUM! Now supper could also be a big pot of soup beans (pintos) with either biscuits or cornbread baked in an iron skillet. When we were our poorest, we had (or so it seems) pinto beans every night of the week with the only switch being the type of bread we ate as accompaniment (biscuits, cornbread, sliced white bread, repeat). Very seldom did we have liver and onions. When we did, there was weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. I still can’t believe there are restaurants that serve that and patrons who order it from the menu. Blech! Come Saturday, Mom would make a big pot of chili using the leftover pinto beans. Sometimes she and Dad would make homemade pizza. It was to die for.
We had a cow when I was growing up. She was a Black Angus – Jersey mix. She gave 3 gallons of milk per day, about 1 and a half-gallon each milking. The milk went in the fridge and once the cream settled on top (about an inch or so deep), Mom would scoop it off and keep it in the churn. At the end of the week, the cream was churned and the butter separated from the buttermilk. The buttermilk went into biscuits and pancakes and cakes and pies. Butter was added to these as well. Gosh, we were fat and we were so poor! I miss that cow.
Apple butter making was big deal. We would borrow the kettle from my grandmother (about 10-gallon size) or anyone else that had a good copper kettle of sizeable girth and depth. We spent days and weeks up until Apple Butter Making day peeling, coring, and slicing apples. Not just any apple: The Wolf River, green spotted apples that we gathered from far and wide. Dad would build a big fire out in back of the house, fix the kettle on a tripod over it (or vice-versa) and apples were dumped in to cook all – day – long. When the apples would cook down so far, more apples were added. When the apples softened and the water cooked off, a little cinnamon oil was added and stirred through then it went into innumerable quart and pint-sized jars that had been heated in the oven. Lids and rings were heated in water on the stove and these were used to close the jars so the apple butter would keep through the winter without spoiling. As if it might last that long. I can hear those jar lids popping now as they sealed.
And that, my friend, along with garden-raised veggies, is a sample of what I ate growing up in the hills of West Virginia.