Thursday, November 15, 2018

My Mountain Memories: Popcorn & Hee Haw

When I was little, my brother and I would spend the night with my Granny and Pa Holloway. We loved getting to stay over and always had a good time. Granny would usually cook one of our favorite suppers for us to enjoy...grannies are good like that. After a long day of quilt fort building and games, we'd settle in for the evening for my favorite thing: eating a big pot of popcorn and watching Hee Haw. 

I wasn't born until 1979, so I only got to enjoy the reruns. I remember my Granny telling me that her Daddy liked to watch it too. Grandpa Wilson (Granny's Daddy) died when I was 2 so I don't really have any memories of him but always loved that I got to enjoy something that I knew he liked too. My Pa liked the show more than my Granny and I always hoped that there would be something funny enough on the show to make him laugh until he lost his breath and slap his knee. He had one of those laughs that would get you tickled too. 

My favorite memories from Hee Haw are the "Pfft, You Were Gone" song, Archie Campbell telling the story of Rindercella, and Grandpa Jones' supper report. My son enjoys the show too and still asks, "Hey, Grandpa, what's for supper?" Here's a clip I found of Hee Haw's Rindercella over on YouTube if you've never seen it or would like to watch and laugh again. Roy Clark, Minnie Pearl, & Buck Owens will always evoke happy childhood memories for me.

My Pa was the official popcorn popper at my grandparent's house. He would take my Granny's big yellow pot (that she still has and I hope to have some day), pour in a little oil, heat it up, and pour in the popcorn. After he put the lid on, we'd all wait to hear that first little pop. He'd shake the pot around on the stove eye to keep the popcorn from burning and take it off the heat once the popping slowed down. What a treat! Even when we finally got a microwave, this was and is my favorite way to make popcorn. 


A couple of nights ago, my little family was watching a movie and I got a craving for popcorn but wanted something salty AND sweet. I decided to whip up a batch of Salted Caramel Popcorn. It's really not a hard recipe to make but will take a little time.

Salted Caramel Popcorn
  • 1/2 c. popcorn kernels
  • coconut oil or preferred oil for popping
  • 3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. light corn syrup
  • sea salt
Preheat oven to 300*. Add coconut oil to a large pot until there's enough to cover the bottom of your pot. Heat for a few minutes and add popcorn kernels. Place lid on pot and listen for the first kernels to begin popping. Slightly shake the pot back and forth over the stove eye until popping slows down and then remove from heat. I like to look through my popcorn and remove all unpopped seeds once it cools for a few minutes. In a saucepan melt butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and about 1 tsp of sea salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 4 minutes without stirring. While your caramel mixture boils, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. After the 4 minutes, remove from heat, pour, and mix the caramel over the popped corn. Once mixed, pour the covered popcorn onto your lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Place sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes. Pour mixture onto parchment paper spread out on your counter until cooled. Enjoy!

 
Warning: Highly addictive! 

Please let me know if you get a chance to make this delicious sweet and salty snack! I'd also love to hear about any of your favorite memories of Hee Haw or spending the night with your grandparents. You can leave me a message down below in the comments section. And remember, if you ever lall in fove with a prandsome hince, be sure and slop your dripper! 
This post was originally published here on Appalachian Mountain Roots on 01/04/17.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Signs, Superstitions, and Omens: Week Three


Here is our last week of Signs, Superstitions, and Omens! If you happened to miss the past two installments, you can find them HERE and HERE.





*SIGNS*
A sign is believed to predict the future but unlike the omen, signs do not foretell negative happenings.
  • According to Native American superstition, biting your tongue is a sign that you will soon receive either good news or a present.
  • A dropped towel is a sign that you will have the arrival of an unwanted visitor. According to Scottish pioneers, you can nullify the sign by stepping backwards over the towel.
  • If you dream that your teeth fall out, its a sign that your enemy will soon die. I always heard that it meant you would have sickness approaching.


*SUPERSTITIONS*
A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.
  • Is there a thief in your community? Have a group of suspects dance around an upturned axe & when if falls over, the shaft will be pointing to the thief.
  • If a baby sees it's image in a mirror before the age of six months, it will die before it turns one year old. 
  • I remember when my Dude was around 5 months old, I left him sleeping on the couch while I went to make up my bed. I heard a thump and a cry not even 2 minutes after leaving the room. I raced back to the living room and scooped him up and cried right along with him. My Papaw Glenn happened to call about that time and calmed me down. He told me that he had always heard that if a baby didn't roll off of the bed before it was a year old, it would die. I'm not sure if that was really a superstition he had actually heard or if he was just trying to make me feel better...it helped a little.


*OMENS*
Omen- a phenomenon that is believed to tell the future, which also signifies change...usually negative.
  • Bad luck will come to a household if someone dreams of an axe.
  • Dreaming of a lizard is an omen that you have a secret enemy.
  • If a bat comes close to flying into a person, it is an omen that the person will be betrayed by a friend. 
  • A cat in a coal mine is an omen and the cat must be killed to avoid a death in the mines.


I hope that y'all have enjoyed this last week of SSOs. I've enjoyed reading the ones some of you have shared in the comments here and over on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Signs, Superstitions, and Omens: Week Two

It's time for our next installment of signs, superstitions and omens! If you missed last week's you can  CLICK HERE to catch up.


*SIGNS*
A sign is believed to predict the future but unlike the omen,
signs do not foretell negative happenings.

  • Two blackbirds flying together is a sign of good fortune.
  • If a person's medicine has been spilled accidentally, it is a sign that he will soon recover. 
  • A bee that flies into the house is a sign that a stranger is coming. 
  • If a chair falls over as a person rises from the table, it is a sign that the person is a liar. 
  • It's a sign of good luck when your right eye itches.

*SUPERSTITIONS*
A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.


  • If you walk barefoot in the first snow of winter you will not catch cold all year. -submitted by Mary Blevins
  • If you leave a piece of tin on top of an ant's nest during the full moon it will turn to silver.
  • Placing a knife on the doorstep of the house where a birth had taken place will prevent witches from entering and harming the baby. (Scottish)
  • You should not was a baby's right hand for its first three days or life or you will wash all of it's luck away.
  • If a coal miner washes his back right before going to work, the mine roof will collapse on him. 

*OMENS*

Omen- a phenomenon that is believed to tell the future, which also signifies change...usually negative.  

  • If a picture falls off a wall for no apparent reason, it is an omen of a coming catastrophe. 
  • It is an omen of an extremely hard winter ahead if several plants come into bloom out of season. 
  • See a butterfly at night? It is an omen of unexpected death. 
  • A candle that has been put out but continues to glow is an omen of misfortune. 
  • If a rooster crows as you leave to go on a trip, it is an omen of trouble. 

I loved reading some of these that you shared with me here and over on Facebook. I would love to hear any more that you happen to thing of! *This post was originally published here on 9/27/16*



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Signs, Superstitions, and Omens: Week One

As the diversely ethnic settlers came into the Appalachian region, a detailed system of folklore was developed by combining signs, superstitions, omens, music, stories and beliefs. This system was passed down orally through the years and practiced as a way of keeping the folklore alive. I've heard many of these stories and beliefs while growing up and while I would not consider myself a superstitious person, the possible outcomes of not abiding by these rituals will inevitably worm its way into my mind. Better safe than sorry, right?

Over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing some of these signs, superstitions, and omens and hope that you will be willing to share any that have been passed on in your families and communities. 




*SIGNS*
A sign is believed to predict the future but unlike the omen, signs do not foretell negative happenings. 
  • A chin dimple is a sign of bad character. Dimples on the chin are said to be made by the devil's shoe. (Why not start off with one the applies to me, huh? I have a chin dimple and like to think that I'm not known for my bad character!)
  • Tingling or itching ears are a sign that someone is talking about you. If it is the left ear, you're being gossiped about. If the right, good things are being said.
  • Sole of your foot itching? This is a sign that you are about to embark on a long journey.
  • If you have a candle that is hard to light, it is a sign that rain is on the way.
  • Dreaming of bees is a sign of good fortune.


*SUPERSTITIONS*
A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation. 
  • An acorn placed on a window will will protect the house from lightning strikes.
  • Treading on an ant nest will cause rain that day.
  • A man who wipes his hands on a girl's apron is sure to fall in love with her. (German)
  • Spitting on a new baby will bring the child good luck. (Irish)
  • Never leave a baby's washed diapers on the clothesline during a full moon because they will attract evil forces.


*OMENS*
Omen- a phenomenon that is believed to tell the future, which also signifies change...usually negative
  • A chicken laying an uneven number of eggs is an omen of danger.
  • If a rabbit crosses your path before sunrise, unhappiness will cloud your day.
  • If the dough for baking bread cracks while being shaped, a funeral will occur soon.
  • If a broom falls over for no reason when someone walks past, it is an omen of bad fortune.
  • Calling out the name of a deceased person while dreaming is an omen of a death.


I would love to hear any of the signs, superstitions, and omens that are a part of your families or communities. Feel free to share in the comments section below or you can send me a message on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page. 

*This post was originally published here on Appalachian Mountain Roots on 9/20/16.*

Monday, October 15, 2018

Persimmon Seed Winter Weather Predictions (And A Few Home Remedies Using Persimmons)

I love fall. The fruits and veggies are canned and on the shelves. The leaves are just starting to put on their last glorious display before saying goodbye. And the cooler temperatures have FINALLY arrived in my little part of Appalachia! That's western NC for those of you who are new to Appalachian Mountain Roots. 

As much as I enjoy this season I can't help but wonder what kind of winter we can expect this year. Sure, I could read extensive scientific predictions from all of the "experts" but we both know that they don't really know any more than us plain folks. SO, I did what any country person does if they want to find out...I found me a persimmon tree! 

Lucky for me we have a persimmon tree out at our old place and drove out to pick some Saturday afternoon. Most people wait until after the first frost to pick them but we found a couple that were already REALLY ripe. My father-in-law's honeybees were not happy that we were invading their territory so we grabbed a few that we could easily reach and skidaddled back to the car! 


The deer and turkeys have left us with slim pickings!


 

         I had already peeled some of the skin off of this one before 
I thought to take a picture. It was delicious!

After enjoying a couple we got to work splitting open the seeds. We cut through about 10 of them so we would have a good number to compare. And the persimmons seed says....


Looks like spoons to us! That means we can expect plenty of snow to shovel (spoon). We did have a couple that looked like a knife which means cold, "cutting" winds. Had there been a fork shape in the seeds we would have had a mild winter with some light, powdery snows. 

I love snow so that might be part of the reason most of these looked like spoons to me. I think we see what we want to sometimes. 

I realized that I didn't know a whole lot about persimmons so I decided to read up on them. This is what I found in Foxfire 3: "Persimmons are very high in food energy. The leaves, rich in Vitamin C, can be used for tea." The book, Folk Medicine In Southern Appalachia, says that persimmon juice on the tooth and gums is good for a toothache and for an earache, "A green piece of hickory or persimmon wood was thrown on a fire, and the sap emitted during burning was collected in a saucer and poured into the ear."

I guess only time will tell if the persimmon seed prediction is true or not. Like I said, I love snow so I'm hoping it's right!

Have you peeked into any seeds this year? What do the seeds say in your neck of the woods? You can leave a comment below and let me know!












Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Family of Feeders




I come from a family of feeders. A long line of feeders. I've always known that I was a part of a group of women who tend to help people mourn and celebrate different circumstances of life with food but I never really had a name to put on what we do. Until I read a blog post by one of my favorite southern bloggers, Sean Dietrich of Sean of the South. Let me explain...

In my family, if someone is sick you feed them. Someone died? You feed their family. Someone just had a baby? You feed them. Food is the answer for any emotion. Sad? Feed 'em. Happy? Feed 'em!

Now I know that this isn't just an Appalachian thing or even just an American thing, but it's a part of MY Appalachia so I decided to write about it.

I grew up going to church and being around ladies who were all feeders but I really didn't notice it until my mom passed away. After my Dad had told my brother and I that she had died my Great Aunt Lois arrived at our house to take us to my Granny & Pa's house. It took about 20 minutes for her to get us there. When we walked in the door there was food everywhere. Not only do they cook, they're also quick. News travels fast in small towns and even faster in a Baptist church. 

When someone is hurting I believe that most people realize that they can't fix it but they find a million different ways to help ease the burden and pain.  

The women I know do that through food.


I don't know if you've noticed but it always tends to be what we call "comfort food." Why? Because they aren't just bringing you a casserole. They're hoping to deliver comfort as well. 

These meals aren't just for deaths though. Women in my part of Appalachia will plan a meal for people who have been sick, baptisms, and many other occasions. 

My church has a tradition where we always have a meal after a baptizing as a way of celebrating the occasion. Last Sunday, after a scheduling mix up, we realized that a family had all shown up to see their grandson be baptized and we didn't have a thing to feed 100+ people. 

I ain't going to lie...I panicked for a minute. Then after talking to my stepmom, we agreed that we could call in a pizza order after Sunday school. We called as soon as they opened (11AM). "Sorry, ma'am. We need at least a 2 day notice for anything over 20 pizzas." PANIC. My stepmom and I flew down the highway heading for town and called a local sandwich shop. "Sorry, there's no way we can have that many sandwiches ready by 12:30." PANIC. We called a local grocery store deli to see if they could help us out. NOPE.

After collecting myself and praying to the good Lord that He'd disable any hardworking law enforcement's speed tracking devices, I shouted, "We can make soup and sandwiches!!" At this point, it's 11:30ish and we still have to run into Walmart to buy the food and drinks, drive the 15-20 minutes back to the church, and get it all set up. Fix it, Jesus.  

I called my husband and prayed that the Lord would forgive him for answering his phone during preaching. He plays the banjo in the church band so I told him that we couldn't get the pizzas but we were figuring it out and to play lots of music...and STALL!

We tore through Walmart like our pants were on fire. We ended up buying pre-made subs from the deli, condiments, soup mix, chips, cookies, and drinks. Beggars can't be choosers. By some miraculous heavenly intervention, we didn't have to wait long in line to check out. 

We arrived back at the church at around 12, unloaded my car, sliced up sandwiches and filled up trays, made two huge pots of soup, put out the chips and cookies, filled up cups with ice, and had it all done by 12:30. I asked the Lord to bless our humble meal like he did the loaves and fishes and that's about the time we heard music and people started to trickle in.

Like I said, I come from a long line of feeders. And that's a good thing because I also like to eat.

I married into a family of feeders. Just about every Saturday evening my little family & my brother-in-law and his family have supper at my husband's parent's house. My mother-in-law does it so we can all spend time together. I look forward to it every week. 

A typical Saturday spread. My mother in-law is a professional feeder.


As if all of that food wasn't enough, she went and made a nanner puddin'!


Are you a feeder or happen to come from a family of feeders too? I'd love to hear from you! You can either leave a comment below or in the comment section on this post on Facebook. I really do read them all! 

I realize that it's been several months since my last blog post. I enjoy writing but I'm not always able to find the time or sometimes even the desire to write. Life is hard sometimes. I'd like to thank all you faithful readers for sticking around and continuing to follow the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page. I do try to post a quick snapshot of what is going on in my world at the moment or an interesting article over there to keep it active. It ain't much but the page continues to grow. Thank you. 

I hope to sit aside time each week to write now that the garden is petering out and we're back in our homeschooling routine. I enjoy writing and sharing a bit of my life and love of Appalachia and I thank y'all for being kind enough to read it!












Thursday, March 8, 2018

Appalachian Spring Tonics

My mood always seems to perk up when the flowers start springing up and green begins to replace all of the dreary browns brought on by fall and winter. I enjoy all of the seasons but dislike when any of them extend their stay. It makes me want to say, "Winter, you are like a guest that has overstayed your welcome. Pack it up and move it out!" 

I've been reading about spring in Appalachia and how the mountain people would improve their health after a long winter. "Spring was the time to refresh the spirit and tone up the system with a tonic." (The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery)  

 Spring Tonic, 1936 - Norman Rockwell
  
Many Southern Appalachian folks believed that blood rises and falls along with the seasons, like the sap in a tree. Blood volume was said to be low in the winter and high in the summer. It was thought that blood lost its vitality due to a winter diet that was lower in vitamins and minerals.  

"In the spring the blood's invigorating properties were restored by taking a tonic, variously called a "blood builder," "blood restorer," "blood toner," or "spring tonic." The most popular tonic in Southern Appalachia was sulfur and molasses, which some thought was also good for cleaning the blood. Eating a "mess of poke" (poke plant leaves) and other wild greens (such as branch lettuce and watercress) in the spring was also practiced for blood restoration. Homemade tonics were displaced in some homes by commercial products like Scout's Indian Tonic, Hadacol, and Geritol. Cooking in iron utensils added iron to the diet. Another way of adding iron was to drink water that had been boiled in an iron pot or skillet, or a glass of water in which nails had been soaked." (Folk Medicine In Southern Appalachia) 

 Mountain people have used teas as a remedy for fatigue for many, many years. "They would gather the roots or barks in the proper season and dry them, and then they would store them for use as the need arose. ..Spicewood, sweet birch, and sassafras were common spring tonics. The spicy, distinct flavor of sassafras made it a particularly popular tea served hot or cold." (The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery)

I found a list of spring tonic/tea recipes in The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. Do not gather and use ANY plants unless you are 100% certain that you can identify them. Choosing and ingesting the wrong plant can be deadly. It is best that an experienced person helps you identify them in person or you can purchase them from a trusted source. 

  • Sassafras Tea: In the spring, gather roots and tender twigs of sassafras. Pound the roots to a pulp if they are very big and wash them with the twigs. Boil them, strain and sweeten. (Spring tonic.)  
  • Spicewood Tea: The spice bush (Lindera benzoin) grows along branch banks. It is best to gather the twigs in early spring when the bark "slips," or peels off easily. Break the twigs, place them in a pot, cover with water, and boil until the water is dark. Strain and serve hot. Sweeten if desired, with honey or molasses. (Spring tonic.)
  • Mint or White Horsemint Tea: Gather mint leaves in the summer when the plant is young, just before or just after blooming. Boil the leaves in water, strain, and sweeten with honey. (Used both for enjoyment and as a spring cold remedy.) 
 Have any of you used these or other spring tonics? If you know of any others please leave me a comment. I would love to add to my list! 

*I'm having a giveaway sponsored by Foxfire over on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page to celebrate reaching 10,000 likes. You can scroll through the posts and follow the directions for your chance to win a 45th Anniversary book and CD!*