There were two of them, one larger than the other. Dull bronze in color and because of their size difference, each had a different ring tone. They were stored in the closet of the bathroom, on the dark,emerald green painted steps which had its lower half cut off, and led to the upper floor. These two cow bell were rarely used, but today we had reason to take one out.
Being raised on a dairy farm, work never ended. Summer time was hay time. Field hands were hired for the gathering of hay bales and I was Momma’s helper in the kitchen. With the hard work of picking up hay bales, the crew had to be well fed. Momma would cook what we lovingly called 7 steak, or shoulder steaks of baby beef from cattle that had been raised on the farm, slaughtered at the local slaughter house about a mile from home and packaged in white freezer wrap paper and sealed with masking tape. These wonderfully, tasty steaks were browned well in a large, oval, Magnalite pot. After being darkened well in the heavy aluminum pot, chopped onions, bell peppers and banana peppers were added along with seasonings of salt, granulated garlic and red cayenne pepper. A sauté of the vegetables and meat for 10 minutes and water was added to allow for braising. The lid was set into place and the meat slowly cooked until it was tender.
I loved “fixing”, or serving, the plates. Rice was always fundamental to the meal so the rice was served first, then the meat and the gravy created from the meat and vegetable braise were served on top of the rice. To go along with this, there was usually smothered okra and corn macque choux and, because it was summer time and the garden was in full production, large medallions of vine rip red tomatoes and chunks of cucumbers to finished the plate lunch.
Besides serving the plates, I was in charge of making lemonade. We had a 1 gallon glass jar with a screw top lid and I would squeeze lemons on our glass juicer and add the juice, sugar and water to the jar. A good stir and ice cubes from the aluminum trays in the freezer were added and the refreshing lemonade was ready to go.
It was now time to head to the closet in the bathroom, to the emerald green stairs and select my bell of choice. I would then head to the screened-in porch and stand on the steps vigorously shaking the cow bell to call in my daddy and brothers and the hired field hands to come for “dinner”, our noon meal.