Bessie Williams a down-home cook
by By JOYANNA WEBER Banner Staff Writer
Nov 12, 2012 | 860 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bessie Williams
Bessie Williams
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Homemade slow-cooked meals are the best.

That’s a motto that Bradley County resident Bessie Williams lives by.

Williams doesn’t like to use a microwave.

“As you cook it on a stove, slow like it ought to be, it’s a whole lot better,” Williams said.

Williams takes her time and schedules everything out to keep it warm until serving time.

Cooking for company takes her hours, but for her it’s worth it. She said to her food that she has made herself is better than going to a restaurant.

Williams also likes to can her own vegetables.

“I’m particular when it comes to my canning and my cooking,” Williams said. “I don’t think it’s hard. It’s just learning how to do it.”

She learned the process when she was either 15 or 16, Williams said. Back then the process was called “cold packing.”

“My mother taught me how,” Williams said. “I enjoyed it. I had 200 cans filled when I got married.”

The method she uses today varies little from then.

Williams said she tried using a pressure cooker to cook her corn for canning before, but met with disastrous results.

“We was cooking corn in it, and so that little valve that pops up and down, it got so full of corn husks ... The lid blew off ... it throwed corn all over the ceiling. The lid, we couldn’t find it,” Williams said.

Eventually they did find the lid — behind the refrigerator.

Since then she hasn’t used a pressure cooker. Instead, she uses a large pot with a special insert to do her canning.

She would also make jams and jellies with her mother.

Williams said she loves eating vegetables she has canned herself. She has been canning for about 73 years.

Growing up, Williams lived on a 50-acre farm in northern Georgia.

“We raised every kind of vegetable,” Williams said.

Today, when Williams cans, many of the vegetables she uses are bought from local farmers rather than from her own garden.

She said she likes canning because she knows that the vegetables were prepared in a clean environment.

Vegatable soup is one of her staples this time of year. Willams said she puts a wide variety of vegetables in her soup including beans, corn, peas, okra and more.

“It’s really good on a cold day,” Williams said.

Williams also enjoys canning saurkraut. This year she and her grandaughter Beth Henderson canned together.

Williams moved from Georgia to Chattanooga with her husband after getting married at the age of 21. Later, the family moved to Cleveland, and Williams has lived here ever since.

Her husband was in the Army before the couple was married. Williams used this time away from each other to work and save money for their future needs. She also continued adding to her collection of housemaking neccessities. She had already purchased pots, quilts, pans and linens before they were married.

“I had enough linens to do me nine years before I had to buy sheets and towels,” Williams said.

Williams also enjoys the more traditional forms of making clothes.

“I was 12 years old when I sewed my first dress,” Williams said. “I never will forget it ... I can see the material today ... it was little bitty checks, blue and white.”

When she made the dress, the material only cost 10 cents a yard. Now, fabric she buys costs $8 or $9 a yard. Williams enjoys sewing jackets, quilts, purses and pillows.

“I love to sew for my grandkids,” Williams said.

She has four grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.