Alyce Faye Bragg: Modern conveniences no match for Mom's cooking

All across our country, busy cooks spent last week making early preparations for the Thanksgiving Day meal, which is probably the most popular dinner of the year. As we go about performing the early tasks, in our minds are the things that our mothers did in getting ready for that day.

We do have it easier than they did, with modern kitchen equipment and labor-saving devices, but some things require the same care and effort. As for scraping the oranges in order to acquire the zest from their skin, is there a modern way to do it? Preparing fresh pumpkin for pies is easier when you can put the pieces in the microwave oven and scrape out the mushy content.

I remember how we used to have to peel the pumpkin and chop it into pieces. Then we would cook it until it was tender and ready to mash. I have fought a pumpkin battle this year, which has almost got the best of me. In fact, I have decided to use the store-bought pumpkin next year and forget the tradition!

I had to use an orange pumpkin, which was better suited for Halloween than for pie making. I had always used the green-striped Cushaw squash, which was given to me by Shane Boggs. This year I had no choice (except the store-canned variety) so I microwaved and microwaved, and scraped and scraped.

The electric mixer was called into action multiple times. No matter what I did, it stayed stringy. I wish someone would tell me if they have a secret way to cook and use the orange pumpkin for pies. My sister, Mary Ellen, said she uses the butternut squash for pies, and it is far superior to pumpkin. I can’t look an orange pumpkin in the face now.

I have the pies in the oven, strings and all, and I will suffer the consequences. There’s nothing like your mother’s cooking! This reminds of a story that Mom used to tell us, about the apple dumplings that Daddy bragged about — how his mother cooked them. She boiled them in a cooker of water until they were blue and gummy. Mom proceeded to fix Daddy some just as his mother did, and Daddy happily dived into them.

He took a bite, and his face fell. “These don’t taste right,” he said lamely to Mom. She grinned in satisfaction, and thought to herself, “They taste just like his mother’s did — hers weren’t fit to eat either!” I think that when you are just a youngster growing up, anything that your mother cooks tastes good! I remember that brown beans, fried potatoes and cornbread was wonderful food!

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Thanksgiving always brings out fancier recipes, although the traditional menu of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, yeast rolls and pumpkin pies can’t be beat (in my opinion!) By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be over and will be only a memory to hold in our minds. I hope the memories will be precious and heartwarming and will last. It seems that there is always a special day that stands out in our minds.

The Thanksgiving we spent during the time we lived in Jackson County has lingered in our family’s minds. It was a beautiful Indian summer day, with blue skies and warm sunshine and colored leaves floating in the air. I baked a turkey in the wood-burning range, and Mom and Daddy and all my siblings came from Clay County.

I remember that Susie carried her plate out to the wood box on the front porch, and ate without bread because she wouldn’t ask for a biscuit! Mary Ellen and I took Mike between us and ran up to the old pole barn above the farmhouse, and we ran through the falling and scattered leaves. It was a day to remember — and we do.

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We will be doing a lot of baking now, and I hope some of you were able to harvest persimmons. I used to struggle with the cows on Kevin’s farm in Looneyville for the fallen persimmons, for they must have liked them as much as I did. Since I am not able to get out, that’s another memory! My sister Mary Ellen sent me a cookie recipe that she said turned out delicious. I want to share it.

Persimmon Cookies

1 cup sugar

½ cup shortening (butter or margarine can be used)

1 egg

1 cup persimmon pulp, mixed with 1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice (I left out the nutmeg and used ¼ teaspoon cloves)

1 cup chopped dates or raisins (I used chopped dates but also added a handful of raisins)

1 cup chopped nuts

1 ¾ to 2 cups of flour, depending on how soft you want the cookies (I used 2 cups, and they were soft and moist)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Cream shortening and sugar; add egg and mix well. Add persimmon pulp (it will be gelatinous with the soda mixed in). Add dry ingredients, and fold together. Add dates and nuts last. Drop onto greased cookie sheet by teaspoon. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

Thank you, my dear sister, and we appreciate the personal notes that you added.

Gary and Brenda Browning, of Wyoming County, and Stephanie Gunno enlightened me on the term “under the weather.” It is a nautical term used when a sailor got sick, he was sent below deck to get him out of the harsh weather at sea. At this time, I think I’m “on top of the weather,” for which I am very thankful. I fell in my closet (leave it to me!) and hurt my back again. I have had several fractures on my spine and I might have just irritated an old one. Thanks for the prayers that have been sent my way. God is good.

On this Thanksgiving season, let us count our blessings and realize that it is to God that we owe our thanks.

Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at

alycefaye@citlink.net or write to 2556 Ovapa Road, Ovapa, WV 25164

Funerals for Sunday, December 8, 2019

Board, Dencil - 3 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Booher, Hughes - 3 p.m., Maranatha Fellowship, St. Albans.

Carpenter, Homer - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Collins, Jacob - 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Donahue-Moubray, Kathleen - 3 p.m., Haven of Rest Mausoleum, Red House.

Estes, Peggy - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Friel, Ruth - 1 p.m., Lantz Funeral Home, Buckeye.

Johnson, Marvin - 1 p.m., High Lawn Mausoleum, Oak Hill.

Linville, Vada - 2 p.m., Orchard Hills Memory Gardens, Yawkey.

Pettit, Michele - 3:30 p.m., Faith Baptist Church, Spencer.

Prue, Margaret - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Scott, Robert - 3 p.m., Capital High School, Charleston.

Smith, Wanda - 3 p.m., Billy Hunt Cemetery, Kettle Road.

Sneed, Virginia - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.