501 Life Magazine | In-laws are a gift!
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In-laws are a gift!

by Don Bingham
Mike Kemp photo

Looking back over the years, I find myriads of people who have been a source of encouragement to us to persevere and stand strong, and are the greatest of cheerleaders to live life to its fullest. Among these encouragers were our “in-laws.”

Now, as our children are all grown and all have in-laws of their own, it has been such a joy to watch their in-laws in action. While sometimes challenging, and everyone has their favorite in-law joke, it has been our privilege to observe an example of in-laws in action during the past few months.

Siblings Ellie (front, from left) and Lane Bingham with their grandparents, Tammy and John Driggers.

My son, Joseph, is married to the former Carrie Boyce. His in-laws are John and Tammy Driggers and Wesley and Lisa Boyce. Both sets of in-laws are amazing in their support! For this article, I want to tell you about my recent observation of John and Tammy.

Joe and Carrie bought an older home in February. The house is spacious and lovely with good bones and wonderful potential. The renovation process will take months to remove walls, add new flooring, address the kitchen, entrance, etc. The house still is not quite ready for occupancy and the in-laws decided the following.

John tells the story: “The idea for a garden in Joe and Carrie’s backyard began while our oldest daughter and Carrie sat around the living room on a cold winter’s night, discussing the recent purchase of the home in West Conway. The thought of a house-warming gift of an urban garden that was completely organic was born. 

“The new house has one acre of land and the previous owners had a 25-foot by 40-foot area established as their garden – with fertile dirt – and all it needed was some sweat equity and TLC.

“We wanted to give the kids a house-warming gift that would keep giving all summer long – one that our families could enjoy, and Lane and Ellie (grandchildren) could watch in their own backyard. God has blessed this garden with lots of rain and a perfect climate for growing all of our favorite vegetables (corn, okra, string beans, pumpkins, watermelons, butter beans, black-eyed peas, cantaloupes, zucchini squash, yellow squash, broccoli, several varieties of tomatoes and several different peppers).”

The photos with this article show “the rest of the story.” Joe and Carrie are getting close to moving in to the new home and the gift from the in-laws of a producing garden is ready for their arrival. What a gift this garden will be – and what a reminder of how much our in-laws have done for us through the decades. “Thank you!”

Recipes included are favorites enjoyed around our family table during this season.

SUMMER SQUASH AND CHEESE

2 eggs

2-3 cups cooked squash

2 cups cracker crumbs

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cups chopped onions

1 cup milk

1 cup cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick melted margarine

Mix together and place in casserole dish. Cook 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Serves 6-8.

GRATED ZUCCHINI

2 to 2 1/2 pounds zucchini, grated

Salt

6 tablespoons minced shallots, scallions or onions

Pepper

Salt the zucchini to de-gorge it. Rinse, squeeze and dry it. In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter, add the shallots and zucchini. Toss for 4 to 5 minutes. Zucchini is ready to serve as soon as it is tender. Taste for salt and pepper. May be prepared to this point several hours ahead, cooled and reheated, if desired. Garlic, sour cream, tomato sauce or fresh basil may be added.

FRESH CORN-STUFFED TOMATOES

6 ears of corn

2 tablespoons onion, grated

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons water

12 tomatoes

Cut off corn from the ears, scraping back up the ears to get juices. Place corn in skillet; add enough water to halfway cover the corn. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Add onion and cook in skillet about 10-12 minutes. Mix flour with cold water until smooth. Add to corn and stir until thickens.

In the meantime, core the tomatoes. Salt and invert to drain. Fill with corn and bake 10-12 minutes. Serves 12.

FRIED CORNBREAD

2/3 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup self-rising flour

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 egg

Oil for frying

Mix all ingredients; heat oil in skillet. Drop batter by spoonful and fry until golden on each side.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

4 to 5 green tomatoes, sliced 1/3-inch thick

1/2 cup cooking oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine egg and buttermilk until well blended. Set aside. Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dip sliced tomatoes in the egg mixture, then in the dry mixture. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place tomatoes in hot oil in single layers. Cook on each side until golden brown. Repeat procedure. Add more oil if necessary. Drain well and place on paper towels.

 

Don Bingham

Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has authored cookbooks, presented television programs and planned elaborate events.