Having good neighbors can add such richness to our lives. We don’t live in a neighborhood- we live down a country lane but that doesn’t stop us from getting to know one another and being friendly to the folks who reside near us.
Our neighbors range from horse trainers to farmers, bakery owners to herbalists, missionaries, quilters and couples who have been married over 50 years (and that’s just a few of them.)
When we first moved to our land, I made it a mission to get to know our neighbors. I prepared tins of homemade hot chocolate mix and my young children and I went door to door delivering them. That simple act introduced us to some of the most wonderful people.
They have come to our rescue by watching our children for us when I had to rush my husband to the emergency room after a painful fall. Another always checks up on us if a strange car pulls up the driveway. Even though our blood relatives are far away in Tennessee, we feel that our neighbors have become an extended part of our family
Upon moving in to our little white farmhouse on Smith Road, we met one kind neighbor who gave us tickets for a fundraising dinner hosted by his church. That church meal was our introduction to a couple of North Carolina specialties- Sundrop pound cake and red slaw. That same neighbor’s mother sent over homemade cookies and a church cookbook with a hand written note to welcome us to the community.
A few weeks later, a large van pulled up to our house and out walk a beautiful family with 8 children. The oldest girl was carrying a chocolate cake that she and her mother baked from scratch, also to welcome us.
After being treated like that, how could you help but to fall in love with this place?
From my herbalist neighbor, I have learned how to companion plant vegetables, use herbs to heal and how to properly use my serger/sewing machine.
From our neighbors who have been married for 57 years, I have learned that a union between two teenagers can, and will endure if they both stick to the commitment they made.
From my neighbor who is a quilter, I have learned how to speed up the process of cutting out quilt blocks and the value of teaching the next generation the art of sewing up a beautiful, warm cover.
They all come from different walks of life but they all have one thing in common, the love for the land, community and for this little patch of paradise we call home.
The recipe that I wanted to share with you this week was adapted from one that my friend and neighbor, Margo Plyler shared with me. I walked into her house one evening as she was cooking this and the smell was heavenly, it tasted even better. I could never get the hang of cooking cubed steak until Margo showed me how.
5- Cube Steaks
3 Cups Sliced Mushrooms
1 Small Onion, halved and sliced
Salt & Pepper
2 cups Chicken Stock
Put your cube steaks on a plate and season both sides with salt, pepper. Coat both sides of steaks with flour. Pour enough oil into your skillet cover the cooking surface with oil, about 1/3-1/2 cup. Heat oil on medium high. When oil is nice and hot, test with a pinch of the flour for the steak plate to see if it bubbles & sizzles. If it does then add your steaks to the pan. Cook at medium high for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove steak to a clean plate. Remove Pot from burner; discard all oil except about 2 tablespoons. Return to heat, add mushrooms and onions and stir to get any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until mushroom and onions start to turn golden, make sure nothing burns. Add 2 table spoon of flour and stir. Add Chicken stock and stir well. Turn stove to low and return steaks to gravy. Let cook and get really tender in the gravy for about an hour.
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.
That’s the news from Sweet Harvest Homestead.