COOK/Canning and baking are lost arts if not shared
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 1:00 AM
Nestled atop a scenic hill in Neshoba County at the end of a winding red dirt and gravel road lives Linda Beckham along with her husband of 44 years, Joe.
After retiring from 32 years of work at Garan and then six years at Ability Works, Beckham spends her time doing the things she loves.
She learned to cook and can vegetables and jellies at an early age from her grandmother and mother.
"Canning and gardening are lost arts if they're not passed down from generation to generation," said Beckham.
She and her brother and twin sisters learned early on the value of hard work and the rewards of eating what you grow.
"Growing up on a dairy farm, we did what had to be done. We milked cows, plowed fields, picked cotton and worked in the corn field."
An avid fisherwoman, Beckham often enjoys a day at the pond with her sister. With a wink and a mischievous grin, she says she is the better fisher.
She recently landed a 10- pound catfish with a bream hook and a cricket and had to call for help to get it on the bank of the pond.
"When the fish was about 10 feet from the bank, I hollered to my sister, 'Oh Lord! What have I got? Bring the dip net! I can't get this one on the bank,'" she said.
Beckham and her husband have two daughters, one son and 11 grandchildren. She enjoys spending time with them and cooking for them anytime they stop by.
After years of sharing her homemade canned goodies and delicious baked goods with friends and family members, someone suggested that she should sell her items at the Farmer's Market.
Beckham attended the necessary class to receive a permit to sell at the Farmer's Market and now shares her delicious goods there each Saturday.
From vegetable soup to strawberry-kiwi preserves, Beckham's assortment of canned items is remarkable, to say the least.
In an air-conditioned building just outside her home, Beckham proudly showed off her jars stacked from floor to ceiling of canned fruits, jellies, preserves and vegetables that will soon make someone's belly very happy.
Not to mention, the variety of baked goods she makes. Beckham makes all of her treats from scratch.
"I bake banana nut bread. caramel cakes, cornmeal pies, toasted coconut cakes, red velvet cakes, and Italian cream cakes," she said.
However, Beckham says she doesn't share many of her recipes.
"I'll tell you the ingredients. But as to how to make them, well, that's a secret," she said.
Standing alongside her raised beds garden, Beckham proudly showed off her lush peppers, tomatoes and strawberries.
When asked what she used to grow such healthy plants, Beckham replied with a school girl smirk, "That's a secret, too!"
Beckham and her husband, who serves as a deacon, are active members of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Stephenstown. She attributes her successful long marriage to her faith in God and hard work.
While Beckham may be tight-lipped about her baking and gardening success, she is quick to share her opinion on how to stay happily married for so long.
"You might go through hard times, but you just hang in there and keep going. You don't give up on someone you love," she said.
Beckham has shared a few of her recipes.
1-3.4 ounce box vanilla instant pudding and pie filling
1 box vanilla wafers
2 cups milk
1-8 ounce container Cool Whip
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Mix milk, vanilla pudding, sweetened condensed milk and Cool Whip. Layer sliced banana and vanilla wafers. Pour filling over bananas and wafers.
Chicken Pot Pie
2-13 ounce cans chicken breast
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small can English peas
1 small can sliced carrots
2 small chopped potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1 Pillsbury pie crust
Put chicken and water in bottom of pan. Layer English peas, potatoes, onions, carrots, bell peppers on top of chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour cream of chicken soup evenly on top. Spread pie crust over the top of the dish. Bake at 350 degrees until pie crust is golden brown.
Chicken & DumplingS
4 chicken breasts
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
Boil chicken until done. Remove chicken from water. Debone chicken and set aside. Add milk and butter to the water chicken was boiled in. Mix flour and water.
Roll out dough until thin. Cut into 2" pieces. Drop in boiling broth/milk/butter mixture. Add chicken. Salt and pepper to taste.