Hello, and welcome back to Down Home Food. Before I get started, I’d like to make one correction to a previous column. It was the one about my Granny Lawson. I made a typing error on her age when her husband died. She was 49 instead of 39. I’ll chalk that one up to my elderly eyesight and arthritic fingers. Ha!
Now for today’s topic. Every year around this time, when summer has begun and school is out, my mind takes me back to my “glory days” of 4-H camp.
Like many other kids, I was a member of the 4-H Club. I loved going to the meetings and singing the fun (and maybe silly) songs. Once a year there was the baking competition which is one of the building blocks in my love for cooking. I always made corn muffins, and won several ribbons. One year, I won for the entire school and received a five pound bag of cornmeal as a prize. I got to go to the regional contest, but didn’t do so well there.
You could join 4-H during the fourth grade, and at the end of that year, you could go to 4-H camp. Well, I’ve told you before that I liked participating in just about everything, so I was all in on going to camp. The year was 1960, and five days at camp cost a whopping $15. We were given a list of items to bring besides our clothes. That included sheets, towels, and the absolute necessary swim cap. Yes, we girls had to wear one. Still don’t understand why the boys didn’t need one.
I still remember where we met on that early June Monday morning. That was where the old bus shop for the school system was located. That was in front of the old high school (now middle school). I must have been a sight for sore eyes with my little brown suitcase in tow. I couldn’t wait to get on that bus. You’d have thought that I was about to set out for California! Ha!
The camp is located in Greeneville, and is today known as the Clyde Austin 4-H Center.
Students from all over the county were bused to the camp. We all got off the buses with our suitcases in tow. We all met together, and then we were divided into four groups. You were now with some people you knew, and others you didn’t know. As a group, you were now set to compete for points for the week. The group with the most points won. You wouldn’t know that outcome until Saturday morning just before your departure for home.
As a group, you made up a song based on the name of your group. I remember being in one group called the Oregons. You soon made friends with people you had just met. That was probably one of my favorite parts of camp. I made friends with girls from Bulls Gap, Church Hill and Mt. Carmel. I became pen pals with one girl that I still remember, Jane Anderson. She was from either Church Hill or Mt. Carmel.
Activities were planned for each day which included swimming, softball, rifle range and folk dancing each night. Our leader was Ralph Testerman. He was so much fun. I think he enjoyed the activities even more than the kids.
On one morning, each group got to go into the woods for a breakfast cooked outdoors by Mr. Testerman. I still recall how good those eggs and bacon tasted.
Each morning all the campers assembled in front of the administration building. The flag was raised by selected campers, and then we all said the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we all lined up to go in the dining hall for breakfast. After that, campers proceeded to the activities planned for their group. You also had some free time when you could choose alternate activities such as making a project in the craft building. On Friday night there was a talent contest that each group had worked on all week. This was another way your group earned points.
This was an amazing amount of independence and growing up for a little nine-year old girl. I forget exactly how many times I went to camp, but it was either four or five times.
I found out the camp has a Facebook page, and I really enjoyed looking at the photos they have posted. I thought the swimming pool was big when I was there, but they now have an Olympic sized pool complete with a huge water slide.
Each day ended the same. We again assembled outside the administration building. The flag was lowered and folded (more of our learning experience). We then ate dinner and had folk dancing outside. Our day ended when we gathered on benches beside the swimming pool and sang songs like “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”.
Sometimes I wish I could rewind time and go back to camp again. It was such a good, safe learning experience for kids. Maybe your kids have asked about going to a camp somewhere. I would definitely check it out.
The 4-H camp in my opinion was one of the happiest experiences of my childhood. If you’re interested in 4-H camp, contact your county extension agent for more information.
All recipes today are 4-H recipes. The first one for 4-H Barbecue Sauce came out of a Heritage Days Cookbook. The recipe was from Mr. Tom Carney who many people will remember being our county agent at one time. The 4-H Club used to cook chickens at various events including Heritage Days. The chicken was oh so delicious!
The second recipe for the oatmeal cookies was on a little piece of paper I have that I picked up somewhere. It says it’s a 4-H recipe. The third one for the muffins is one that I found online. I thought it sounded like it would be good. It would be a handy recipe for folks with kids to feed.
4-H Barbecue Sauce
1 cup vinegar
4 tablespoons salt
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of garlic salt
Onion salt or onion flakes
Combine all ingredients and heat until butter melts, stirring well. Dip chicken pieces into sauce or use mop to cover chicken. Baste frequently while cooking chicken.
Note: This recipe was for grilled chicken and came from Mr. Tom Carney former county agent of Hawkins County.
4-H Oatmeal Cookies
6 tablespoons shortening
6 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup oatmeal
1 pkg. (7 oz.) Apple-Cinnamon Mix
Cream shortening and sugar with cinnamon. Blend in egg and vanilla. Stir in oatmeal and muffin mix. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Six Weeks Muffins
(Live Oak County, Texas)
15 ounces raisin bran cereal
3 cups sugar
5 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup applesauce
1 quart buttermilk
5 cups all-purpose flour
Mix cereal, sugar, flour, soda and salt in a very large bowl. Add eggs, applesauce and buttermilk. Mix well. Store covered in the refrigerator. Will keep 6 weeks. More raisins and pecans may be added if desired.
To bake, fill greased muffin tins two-thirds full and bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
Yield: 30 regular or 90 mini muffins.