Jerry Mitchell of Bruce has been a Green Apron Cooking Team member and a stew maker over 30 years. And for that many years or more, the cooking team has made stew and grilled chicken to raise money at Calhoun Academy.
This fundraiser originated in the fall of the early 1970’s when Bud Hardin, John Harmon and Wayne Johnson took a 15 gallon pot of stew to a trade day in Vardaman. They sold it by the bowl and it was a hit, so they found other places men would gather such as the American Legion, to sell their stew and raise money for the school. The Green Apron Team was formed and started buying huge pots in which to make the stew, and now they have two 25 gallon and one 50 gallon pot. In the 1980’s and early 90’s almost every class made a stew to raise money for their Halloween project. Today only two classes choose stew as a fundraiser. Jerry learned to make stew from Earl Mayhan and Hubert Horn, who used to have a neighborhood stew cooking every spring to clean vegetables out of the freezer. This past weekend Mitchell led the making of over 110 gallons for the K-5 class. With five grandchildren ages five years to six months, Mitchell hopes to have several more good years of stew making left in him. “I’ll do it as long as I can stand it,” he said.
“I can remember all the good times with my daughters’ classes making stew. It was hard work, but the friendship with Shelia Crump, Doris Flemons, Dorothy Hughes, Kay Barefield, Martha Parker, Brenda Tedder, Mae Lollar, Jo Easley and Jeanette Mayhan were worth all that hard work, not to mention all the money we raised for the school. We have made as much as 115 gallons of stew at one time. Who knew what started out so small would grow into something that might have kept the school going all these years?” said Becky, Jerry’s wife, a 40-year teacher at CA. Jerry also says he enjoys the fellowship that takes place during the two days it takes to make the stew. The first day is spent cooking the meat and taking the chicken off the bone, and peeling and chopping the vegetables, and the second, cooking, and “tasting...you can always add more of something, but you can’t take it out.”
Jerry learned to make Sunday Morning Biscuits (and fried peach pies) from watching his mother, the late Mable Mitchell of Vardaman, and he used to make the biscuits on Sunday mornings for his girls, Holly and Haley, while they were growing up. Sometimes now they ask for them, so the family has breakfast for supper. The meatloaf was a favorite of Holly’s when she was little, so it got named for her. Besides stew and biscuit making, Jerry also likes to grill.
120 lbs. beef
80 lbs. chicken
150 lbs. potatoes
100 lbs. onions
22 gal. tomatoes
20 gal. English peas
20 gal. whole kernel corn
10 lbs. margarine
15 lbs. thin spaghetti
10 bottles chili sauce
2 bottles tabasco sauce
2 boxes salt
2 boxes pepper
Cook meat the day before and save broth. Get pots hot and add ingredients in this order:
1. Broth and meat
2. Onions and carrots
3. Potatoes and margarine
4. After potatoes are soft, add corn, then peas
5. Spaghetti--chili sauce
6. Tomatoes go in last, then add salt, pepper and tabasco to suit taste
When the handle of the boat paddle stands up by itself in the center of the pot, it is done.
Note: You must stir constantly. Cooking time: approximately 4-5 hours. Makes 100 gallons.
Sunday Morning Biscuits
I use a special flour bowl (Tupperware with about six cups of flour in it that I keep all the time with a lid on it).
Make a well in the center of the flour. Add one cup milk, put two tablespoons Crisco in cup and melt in microwave.
Put 1 1/2 Tbsp. melted Crisco in milk mixture. Mix with two fingers and pinch off, roll into balls and put in greased glass dish. Spoon extra Crisco on top and bake at 350° until golden brown.
1 lb. ground hamburger
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3-4 slices American cheese
1/2 cup ketchup
2 cups creamed potatoes
Mix hamburger, egg, salt, onion, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup together. Place in a casserole. Bake a 350° for 25 minutes. Drain fat. Top with creamed potatoes and place cheese on top. Return to oven long enough for cheese to melt. Serve hot