I ain’t no cook and I can prove it by asking anyone in my family, but I try on some things.

There are 10 of us family members I call the “lasagna crew.” We get together on birthdays or holidays and have some sort of a casserole dinner to celebrate the occasion. Kay’s birthday just passed and the “crew” again voted to have lasagna casserole in honor of her birthday, so last Saturday evening I had family over to eat.

Paula, my daughter-in-law, was on her way to a time-share in Florida with some of her friends from work and couldn’t make it, but the other nine came to eat and the entire big Pyrex dish was emptied. I have a birthday coming up in 2 1/2 weeks — the big number 90. You got it, that’s nine-oh. So far, my choice of our supper is gonna be “Mexican Casserole.”

I really like this dish because it has four veggies and lean ground beef cooked together with a few other tasty things as well as a thick layer of cornbread baked brown right up on top of it — everything you need to make a delicious supper cooked right in the same pan. It sure is good.

Speaking of trying to cook, let me ask you a question or two. If you lived your childhood days here in this part of Tennessee then I bet your mama baked cracklin’ cornbread sometimes and I want to know if she ever fixed it as muffins. I can’t really say I recall my mama ever making it any other way except as thick pones in her cast iron skillets.

My Aunt Maymie Brooks, mama’s sister, fixed it sometimes as muffins but I don’t think mama ever did. Anyway, I’m gonna have a pinto bean supper here for me and Kay tomorrow evening. In fact, the beans are already in their overnight cold water soaking right now and after a six-hour cooking on high in the crock pot tomorrow they’ll be ready to serve. Along with the beans I’m planning on cracklin’ cornbread muffins just as a kind of test to see if they taste good enough to have again sometime with the “crew.”

I just wondered if you ever had muffins of cornbread with cracklin’s or not. Please let me know how you feel about this, OK?

Speaking of making cracklin’s, my source of them was from Kay’s cousin, Maybelle, down around Philadelphia. Her family isn’t raising hogs anymore so if you or someone you know are doing so and are planning on cookin’ cracklins sometime this fall, please call me. I want to make pictures of your hog killing and rendering lard and cooking cracklins and put some kind of a story about all this “lost art” in our paper. It is an art and I feel it needs to be told to everyone.

Our youngins need to have some knowledge of this old time “hog killin’ time” activity that took place every year when the weather got cold enough that the meat wouldn’t easily spoil. I cannot beg you enough to please call me if you know of any way I can get some good, firsthand information and maybe some pictures of our folks rendering lard and making cracklins.

It just ain’t proper for that culture to slip away. We all, including our youngins, never need that to get away from our memory.

Well, there’s a lot more we could talk about right now but I guess I need to close for now and not use up any more space in the paper. I’ll see you next week, and do be careful.

Herb Linginfelter is a Lenoir City native who often writes of his years growing up here. Contact him at 865-986-7248.