Thursday, April 15, 2010

Okie Girl Eats

Have you ever wondered about my name Coedith?  My name is Nichole Edith.  (Say them together) When Mav and I were dating he started calling me 'coedith, as a pet name that reflected my Okie roots.  He took that picture of me in a cotton field where I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley.  Okies are the people who came out to California to escape the dustbowl in Oklahoma during the 1930's.  The term is also used for those from Arkansas and Texas.   They loaded up all they had and headed to Californi-a.  Most became migrant farm workers.  That's the story of my mother's side of the family.  She was actually born in '36 while her parents were hitch hiking to Cal.  She was born in Yuma, Arizona.  Shortly after her birth they hit the road again.  She was born in April and hitch hiking in the desert sun resulted in a sunburn.  My grandma said my mother had practically no skin left by the time they got to the San Joaquin Valley.   That's my family pictured above while still sharecroppers in Oklahoma.  My grandma Lois is the little girl on the right end.  Her parents, Frank and Ehthel, stand on the opposite end.

 This all has heavy influence on how I wear vintage.  I will post on that another time, but for now I thought I would share a bit of my Okieness with you by way of food.   Here you have chili beans and cornbread with a couple variations.  Nothing fancy- pinto beans, ground beef, el pato, and a little chili powder.   Of course the original recipe had bacon grease added. (most things did) Now I must say my mothers childhood consisted mainly of plain beans and fried potatoes.  Occasionally there would be meat to go with the beans, beans that have evolved through out the years into the chili beans I cook for my family.  I bake the cornbread in muffin tins, but originally it would have been cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Traditionally we would have tacos the night before and use the left over meat in the beans.  

I have a picture of the meal plated.  Cornbread crumbled in with a dallop of mayo on top.  My mom was strongly opposed to us eating it this way when we were growing up, although other family members did and once I tried it I had to have it that way too.  My parents simply had their beans with saltines and a sliced onion.  Okies were poor and had to stretch a meal so if there was leftover corn bread you had it in milk for breakfast.  (Buttermilk is best- but not in my opinion.)   If you were fortunate enough to have chocolate cake...yep, you put your beans right on top of it.  (my mom doesn't approve of that either)
Look for more about Okie lifestyle, fashion and history in my posting future! 


  1. oh my darlin i am so in love with this post...girl i think i wanna be your friend!

    My very heart of my vintage is the home life of a 30's & 40's hard workin farm wife...i wanna make good ol' meals, sit at the table and shoot the breeze, & eat pumpkin pie along side my family and ol friends! I wanna put on potlucks after sunday church with fried chicken and cornbread!And show off the latest farm dress I made with my own hands...ahhhhhh...where mama was the backbone of the family!

    Your family photo gives me that hard home lovein' feelin'...i am so in envy! Kitten thats you and your roots! Wow what a wonderful history to share with your girls!!! thanks for sharing with us...oooooooh i can't wait to hear more!Cat~

  2. That's a wonderful family history, I look forward to your future posts about it. It's great to learn, being from Europe, I hardly know anything about American history like that. The food looks very wholesome, something to get you going all day. It reminds me of the food my grandparents used to eat, preparing for a hard working day at the farm. See, you already got me thinking about my grandparents, inspiring!

  3. I'll have to look further info about what you did explain 'cause I'm not sure i did really understand... uhm...
    I hope I had some family photos like yours, but is was Franco time here, and WWI or II so it is just impossible to find anything...


  4. great post! i live in a town in northern california nicknamed "oaklahoma by the sea" because it was populated by okies during the dust bowl era.
    i assume you have watched the HBO show "carnivale"? if not, you should. set in the 1930's dustbowl...amazing costumes. you'd love it.

  5. Comfort food at it's finest! Thanks for sharing your history.

  6. I loved this post - it reminds me of my mom and grandma. My mom was born in 1932, she came from Indiana in 1943 with her dad, mom, and brother in an airsteam trailer (one that looked like a silver bullet). They came to live in Portland Oregon and they parked thier silver bullet in a trailer park over by Division Street and 82nd, the trailer park was right across the way from the Piggly Wiggly store.

    The food is also all too familiar, it was foods such as those that I was raised on. To this day my mom prepairs her chili from scratch with a recipie similar to yours. While growing up we would eat chili with saltines, fresh sliced walla walla sweet onion, and the sweet bread and butter style pickles.

    My mom would make corn bread (from the Jiffy box)with a big pot of homemade white bean soup with hamhock in it. We would also have our left over cornbread in milk for breakfest the next day.

    Thank you so much Nicold for sharing!

  7. Oh Thanks so much for all of your comments. I have been wanting to do some Okie posts and wondered how they'd go over. I love that we all found a common thread, even The Lady way over on Belgium.
    Mosquito Head I will post more and hope to make it clearer for you.
    I haven't seen Carnivale because I heard it is scary.
    Brooksie I would love to see photos of your family.

  8. As far as pictures go my mom has all of them still however I do have the pictures of my grandma when she was in her 20's during the 1920's (some before her hair was bobbed and some after)she was born in 1905. Someday when I get a scanner I will scan them and post them.


  9. I love this post! My mom's people were from West Virginia, and ate virtually the same thing, with a few differences: cornbread crumbled over the beans and raw onion, fried potatoes, greens or green beans, and a squirt of mustard over the whole mess! I thought it was disgusting as a kid, but now it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Love your blog!

  10. I really appreciate this post. My grandmother was an Oakie but I didn't get to know her as she passed away while I was very small. However she passed some of her recipes on to my mom (her daughter-in-law). What strikes me is that you said your family would eat tacos with the left-over meat and taco's is our families favorite get together recipe that she handed down to my mom. I often wondered where my grandmother learned to make tacos. I realize its been over three years since you posted this, but thanks. I like your blog. Your blog reminds me a bit of my oldest daughter.


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