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Elizabeth Woodworth: Still eating the southern Illinois way

By Elizabeth Woodworth
Contributing writer
updated: 7/3/2019 5:32 PM

Today on July 3, the Earth reaches aphelion, the point at which it is farthest from the Sun. On the 4th the Moon reaches perigee, its position closest to Earth. July 4 is Independence Day in the U.S. Early black raspberries, mulberries, elderberries and the first wave of summer apples, peaches, and wild grapes should be appearing on bush, tree and in the market. Under the dark moon of July's first week, seed or set out the autumn garden with carrots, turnips, beets, collards, kale and broccoli. Fertilize and water your pansies and mums for late August and September blooms. Don't cut the lawn too short, while the summer is at its peak; let it rest a little longer than you would in May or June. (Countryside)

For a simple twist on s'mores, no campfire or stove needed. Fill a large mug or treat bag with a mix of Golden Grahams cereal, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Easy and will delight the kids, but long time Girl Scouts will be disappointed. Mom wouldn't like them. I learned from her to toast marshmallows over a gas burner, or to put a pie pan full of them in the oven until brown and gooey.

Summer lunch program still going strong -- every day at the high school, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. with Thursday being soup day; every day at the Presbyterian annex on Locust Street; Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. at the library with activities for children to follow. Salads for those who don't like soup and corn dogs. Under 18 free, others $3.

Leonard Hall says, "A fellow I once met boasted that he had loaded his family into the car and driven through 47 states in exactly 48 days. The kids replenished their comic books at every stop, his wife studied the road maps as they drove along, and he kept his eyes glued to the highway. I questioned him about some of the beauty of the state in which he lived and was rewarded with a blank stare. Not for him were the dogwood and redbud blooming along country roads in April, the golden crops of June mellowing toward harvest, the skein of geese traversing the October sky. His interest was all in the going, and not at all in where he was going or what might be seen along the way." (Leonard Hall, "A Journal of the Seasons on an Ozark Farm").

Only once did we take a "vacation" like most families did. We took mini trips almost every Sunday after Sunday school. In cold weather we ate in the car -- Mom could stretch a can of tuna into 5 sandwiches with carrots and celery and fruit for dessert -- in warmer weather we might eat in a country schoolyard so we kids could play on the swings and merry-go-round. Dad thought that we should know about the area around us. We sat on a hill overlooking peach and apple orchards in the spring -- and that is where we learned about peach defuzzers. We saw the Ohio and Mississippi with ice along the edges and watched barges going through the lock at Golconda. We saw the places Dad and his friends rode their bikes, where later my friends and I did the same. We knew where Eagle was, the place where Mom was born. We saw cotton fields and tobacco patches and picked apples in the fall. We didn't know the whole country except from books, but we were well versed in the changing seasons of southern Illinois. No two-week vacation can take the place of our Sunday trips.

Did you know green beans are good for dogs? They're a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, C and K, folic acid, magnesium calcium, iron and potassium. (Good for humans, too.) As long as you don't add salt or seasoning you can feed them to your dog every day. No seasoning means not the Southern way of cooking. (Have you noticed that many who grew up eating beans thoroughly cooked with potatoes and bacon, will now only eat them semi-raw and crunchy? Sister's a case in point. I still cling to my old unhealthy way.)

I am too southern Illinois to change many of my eating habits. Yes, I learned to eat a lot of formerly unwelcome things when we lived overseas. I have hated Brussels spouts since I was very young. Mom made me sit at the table until I ate what was on my plate. When she left I put them back into the bowl. She brought them to me while I was in the bathtub and made me eat them.

Early one spring, when we lived in Spain, we went out to dinner and they were the veggie of the day. Ate them all, then was at the marked bright and early the next morning. After a winter of potatoes and cabbage, any different vegetable was welcome. Ate a lot of them that spring, but I still don't really like them.

I am not the only one who has strange thoughts.

"You look deep in thought."

"I am."

"What about?"

"How old would Bill Bailey be now if he came home?" (Shoe)

• Elizabeth Woodworth lives in Harrisburg.