Main Dish/ Soups & Stews

My Grandma, Emiline (and Navy Bean Soup)

grandma's ham and bean soup

My Grandma, Emiline – what a lady! She raised nine (NINE!) kids on a busy farm and helped take care of us grandkids in her “spare” time. She cooked incredible stick-to-your-rib meals (scalloped potatoes and ham, soups, roasts) with whatever ingredients she had on hand and baked pies with apples picked from their yard. She helped with hogs and cattle, planting and harvest. She drove the combine and tractor well into her 70’s and did all of these things – cooking, raising children, and farming – with an amazing blend of grace and strength.Grandma

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, sometimes I ask her how she juggled it all, hoping for some insider tips.  She usually waves a hand casually and says “I didn’t really have a choice. Besides, life is much harder for you nowadays,” which I know isn’t really true. It’s  her way of being entirely too humble about her hard work as wife, mother and farmer. I’m fortunate that she lives in the town next door and I can still talk visit with her, ask questions, and watch her spend time with grandkids and great-grandkids.

Grandma and Eleanor
This fall my rank is shifting up the ladder from cook, errand runner and shuttle driver. I will be lending a hand in the grain cart from time to time, and I am secretly petrified. Actually, I suppose it’s not a secret now that I’ve posted this for the world to read. I’m not one who deals well with disappointing others so I have a lot to live up to in my own mind. My husband says he’s not worried even though the largest piece of equipment I’ve driven is a U-Haul with a trailer. Next largest is a lawn mower, so you get where I’m coming from, right?? You better believe I’m scheduling a visit to Grandma before harvesting begins to get tips from a pro!

No doubt she’ll have some wisdom to share with me about driving tractors, just as she has shared tips from her kitchen in the past. Years ago I asked Grandma for recipes and tried shadowing her in the kitchen. I had hoped to document some of her recipes, but they’re usually “a pinch of this”or “a cup of that”. And by cup, I don’t mean a measuring cup but rather a random, actual, beat up looking tin cup. In the end, I usually sat back and enjoyed our visit instead of chasing her around, interrupting her cooking in an effort to “document”.

Every now and then she has a recipe captured somewhere, and I’m thankful for those! I’m sharing one of those today from our family cookbook and even though you may not be in the mood for soup on an 80 degree day today, you may want to come back and try it in a month or two when the weather shifts.

Navy Bean Soup Recipe

Farmers (men and women alike!) what tips can you share with me about driving the grain cart? How do you juggle it all? I have another month (at least) for the anticipation to build – I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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