Alyce Faye Bragg

We awoke to snow covering our home in the hills, but the sun comes out sporadically and tries in earnest to melt it. There are bare spots showing now, but the air is still quite cold. The songbirds still flock to the bird feeder, with lots of bright cardinals and sassy blue jays. The smaller birds pick up seed underneath the feeder, and there is a big brown dove in their midst.

Just as dawn arrived, I heard one lone songbird lift his voice and greet the morning. It was an encouraging note, and one that bespoke of spring. Spring surely is coming. As certain as summer follows spring, autumn follows summer, and so spring follows winter. It is time.

The past couple of weeks have been a nightmare. It started with my being excessively sleepy, and a trip to Clay Primary Care. All of this is fuzzy in my mind, but then I was sent to Braxton Memorial Hospital in Gassaway. This little hospital surprised me by the personal and constant care that I received there. My personal care doctor kept trying to find a room in a hospital with a cardiac care physician, and there seemed to be no beds available in CAMC. Finally, a room became available in Ruby Memorial at Morgantown.

This huge hospital seems to be spread all over a hillside, and I was placed in a room in the new unit. All my nurses seemed to be young and pretty, and I never suffered for constant care. They were there for me, and always with a smiling face which was cheering.

This diagnosis was congestive heart failure, pneumonia and COPD. I realize that my age is also a contributing factor, and I will have to be careful. If God calls me home, I am ready to meet Him, but I would like to stay here a litter longer for my family’s sake. I don’t know if I will be able to write my columns, and I have met so many friends through my writings. Please pray for me to regain my strength. Now that is enough about me.

We received a letter from Criss’ cousin’s wife, Priscilla McLaughlin of Ivydale, providing us with a recipe for dried pinto beans in a crock pot. We are planning to try the recipe tonight, with the soaking of the dry beans. I have been put on a salt-free diet, and this sounds as if would be good. In fact, Priscilla says that they are very good, and freeze well.

1 lb. dried pinto beans
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ lb. lean ham, cut into small chunks
1 med. onion, chopped
Wash the beans, soak overnight in cold water. Drain, dump into the crockpot. Stir in the chili powder and oregano. Add the ham, and salt and pepper to your liking. (I will use some Mrs. Dash’s seasoning instead of salt.)
Cover with water. Sauté the onion in some butter and stir into crockpot. Cover and cook on high for about five hours, or until tender.

We have a letter from Lydia Pierson of Elkview discussing cornbread. She said that when she makes cornbread, she uses Jiffy corn meal mix, which she does not consider the “real thing!” She has faint memories of her mother’s cornbread being baked in an iron skillet.

It is hard to print a recipe when you use “just a pinch of this and a dash of that.” I will try to put one together. First, heat oven to 450 degrees and put a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease in an iron skillet. Place skillet in oven to heat. Use a couple of cups of self-rising meal in bowl, and about 1/2 cup of self-rising flour. Add a tablespoon of sugar, one egg, and enough buttermilk to make a batter. (This is where the rub comes in—you sort of have to know the “feel” of the batter.) Pour batter into hot skillet and bake until brown.

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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