Wild Onions

Wild Onions

 

 

The following is by my mother, Susie Latty Day. She tells about hunting for wild onions when she was a girl at Etta, many years ago.

“On a farm, each season brings its celebration of particular events. When my sisters and I were young girls, we particularly looked forward to the coming of spring. One of the things we really liked was hunting for wild onions. Armed with old dinner forks for digging and a pan to hold the onions, we set out in the afternoon to walk the half mile from our house to the Illinois River. Even the walk itself was fun. The sun warmed our backs and we could smell the fragrance of wild flowers. We sang as we walked, stopping now and then to pick a particular flower peeking out from the flintrocks  for Mama.

When we reached the river, we began looking for the thin, green onion blades growing in clumps in the dark , damp earth. We raked away wintertime leaves heaped against dead logs and stumps. This was where our green-topped treasure grew. The blades poking up from the ground were about six inches high. We had to be careful not to break off these fragile green tops when we slid our forks into the earth to prod out the white onion heads. When we put the onions in the pan, we made sure we placed those white, small heads together so they would be easier to clean later.

The afternoon sped by while we hunted, dug, talked and sang. Then we took our bounty home. Somehow, the tedious job of cleaning those wild onions always fell to Georgia and me. Hunting for them was fun; cleaning them was not. Alice, because she was oldest, started supper while Mama was busy with the milking.

Georgia and I took our load of onions to the spring branch. There, in the clear, cold water, we trimmed off the tiny roots and swished away the clinging dirt. It seemed to take a long time to get those little onions heads clean and glistening.

In the kitchen, biscuits were already baking in the oven on the wood-burning range. Alice helped us finish our chore by chopping the onions into small pieces. Then she heated bacon drippings in an iron skillet on top of the stove. When it was sizzling hot, she slid the onions into the pan. Next came the eggs, scrambled in the pan with the onions. 

Mama came in with the evening’s milk which she strained and poured into jars to be cooled in the spring. Papa came in from plowing the fields, hungry and ready for that supper that he smelled cooking even before he got into the house. We all sat down around the table and, after the blessing, enjoyed wild onions, eggs and biscuits with butter. This was a perfect ending to a spring day and one of the many happy memories of life on our farm at Etta.”

 

Comments

  1. Hello from Australia! I just found this by chance – I had been looking up Hezekiah and his mother and read your piece on this. Thank you! I love this Spring onion search and the sense of another time and place. One thing – could you tell me what those “biscuits” were like? I don’t think they would be what we mean by biscuit here (always sweet). Was it more like a pancake or pikelet?
    Thank you!

    • Blanche Manos says

      Hello. So glad to hear from you, all the way from Australia. Thanks for writing and I’m glad you enjoyed the wild onions piece. Biscuits are a Southern staple here in the states. They are bread. I think, in Britain and Australia, biscuits are cookies, aren’t they? I make biscuits the way my mother and grandmother made them. You can start with either flour or milk. About a cup of milk, two tsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. salt, melted shortening, about l/4 cup (either cooking oil or melted Crisco or butter.) Add enough flour for them to hang together and not be sticky. You can flop them out on a floured board and cut them out with a round cutter or the floured open end of a glass, or flour your hands and pinch them off. Bake them in a hot oven (400 or 425 degrees) until the tops are golden brown. Delicious with butter and jelly or honey or just plain.

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