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Autumn entered our hills with wet feet, and it has been mostly damp ever since. Our hills are not the colorful scene as usual, since there has been no frost or freezing weather. We still can look forward to bright autumn weather, which is yet to come. The summer season is now gone, with gardens being mowed off, and turnips planted.

Turnips remind me of the late Roy Bullard, whose house was situated right across from the Hagar Grade School. He always planted a crop of turnips in the fall, and when they got big enough to eat, he would invite the schoolchildren to help themselves. Each recess and noon hour, one could witness a flock of children chomping on a turnip. I am sure these were much healthier than the snacks that children eat today.

We would gather them until the ground froze and the turnips would freeze. I can remember how good and crunchy these turnips were as we ate them raw. I am still fond of turnips, cooked with a little bacon grease. I also need a turnip or two for my vegetable soup. My dear husband has no luck with raising turnips—I think he has finally given it up! One year he had a lovely crop of turnips come up, with green flourishing leaves. In came a rain shower, and the next morning, his crop of turnips had all wilted over.

As the weather cools, we get in the mood for baking, or at least I do. Since pawpaw’s are in season, I found a recipe given to me years ago by my sister Mary Ellen. It is for pawpaw cake, and more than the recipe, she brought us the cake she had baked. It was absolutely scrumptious!

Mix together in a large bowl three cups of flour, two cups of sugar, one teaspoon soda, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon cinnamon, and one cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts.) In a medium bowl beat three eggs, one and half cups of oil, one and half teaspoons vanilla, two cups mashed pawpaws, and one eight ounce can of crushed pineapple. Pour this over the flour mixture and mix well, but do not beat. Pour into a greased and floured 13X9 inch cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Frost with cream cheese frosting. Soften one 8 ounce package of cream cheese and ½ cup butter or margarine at room temperature. Cream together with one pound confectioner’s sugar and one teaspoon vanilla. Sprinkle with one cup chopped pecans and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Be sure and cool cake completely before frosting. Mary Ellen used pecans in this cake, but she said our native black walnuts would be delicious in it.

Schoolchildren generally like pawpaws. This banana-tasting fruit hangs in the trees at this time of year, free for the taking. After the green turns black, they are ready to eat. Patty remembers a little boy in grade school (many years ago) who brought them every day for a snack. The only problem was, he carried them in his pocket. Have you ever seen a ripe pawpaw after it has been carried in a little boy’s pocket all day? That reminds me of my dad. He went to Hagar School when he was a kid, and he told me all he had to take for lunch was a baked sweet potato that he carried in his pocket. Needless to say, his schooling didn’t last long. However, he was self-educated and very well read.

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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