Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Once the rage, WW II Victory Gardens and memories thereof inspire us today

The world's "champeen" Victory Garden-grower passed from this life a year ago tomorrow.

Our Aunt Frances, up until a week before she died last May 22 at 102, was still recalling how she and Uncle Herbert once raised their own food to reduce the pressure on the food supply brought on by World War II.

Any time my hubby and I arrived at her assisted-living facility and mentioned that our new garden looked promising or that we had just brought in our first peaches or that we were planning to put up this year's beet pickles, immediately Aunt Frances' eyes would light up. She always would reply, "Oh, you know, Herbert and I had a Victory Garden during World War II. He grew tomatoes the size of grapefruit just outside our door."

Even though she might be a little forgetful about remembering names, Aunt Frances--my mother's older sister, to whom my new book, Way Back in the Country Garden is dedicated--never forgot a single detail about this 1940s enterprise, which saw citydwellers such as Frances and Herbert set aside plots in their yards to cultivate their own homegrown food.

As war raged overseas, Victory Gardens became a major part of daily life on the home front. The government called on citizens to feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.

Besides tomatoes, she and Herbert also had large expanses of speckled butterbeans that scaled their cedar fence at their bungalow on South Montreal Street in Dallas' Oak Cliff.

Afterward a leviathan canning effort in Frances' kitchen followed the harvest. Aunt Frances and her lifelong friend, Olive Rhodes, would labor over batches of stewed tomatoes, butterbeans (see recipe below), and other items.

As with quilting bees of old, girltalk and fellowship shared over the hiss of the pressure-cooker and the steam of boiling-water baths forged relationships forever. No wonder Aunt Frances, though wheelchair-bound and frail with advancing age, had this memory ready for immediate recall every time my hubby and I made chance mention of our own garden!

Her recipe, Butterbeans with Ham, is memorable as well.

Aunt Frances, we miss your stories, miss how your eyes twinkled when you recalled the long-ago, and--even though you were thoroughly ready to go meet your Savior and be reunited with Uncle Herbert--miss having you on this earth.

On this anniversary of your passing, we celebrate your life and thank God that because of your faith in Him, you are enjoying a Victory in heaven even greater than the one your Victory Garden ever brought.

Butterbeans with Ham

1 pound fresh butterbeans
1/2 cup bacon drippings
1 cup green bell peppers, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 pound cooked ham, cubed
2 ham hocks
1 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and sort beans. In the refrigerator soak them overnight in cold water. When they are ready to cook, rinse beans once again in cold water. In large pot melt bacon drippings. Add bell peppers, onion, and celery. Saute until vegetables are tender. Add garlic, ham, and ham hocks and cook 5 additional minutes. Add butterbeans and enough cold water to cover beans about 2 inches. Add green onions; bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to simmer and allow to cook 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep vegetables from scorching. Continue to cook about 1 hour until beans are tender. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. With a stirring spoon mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot until they are creamy in nature. Garnish with parsley. Be sure the beans are tender before you serve them. Serves 6-8.


  1. Congratulations on your beautiful blog. :) Great recipes + wonderful stories = blessed visit and inspiration! I love your cookbook.

    I had no idea you were into gardening! I love gardening and am blessed each time I get to experience the harvest of the season.

    In case you are wondering, we are the home school family from out at the campgrounds a few years back. We were neighbors. :) We moved not too far from there and I now am a county master gardener. I love teaching kids to garden and have been given the opportunity to use my skills to help others. Stop by my blog to see what I've been doing in the garden. I'm trying to get back to regular posting since my son just graduated and is now headed off to college.

    Have a blessed day! --Melissa

  2. Melissa--How great to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words. We have wondered about you again and again. We are still enjoying the campground. Would love to know more about some of the things you grow in your garden. We think of how kind you were to help my hubby move the rock the day it was all delivered.