Monday, May 15, 2017

Family Heirlooms: Granny's Biscuit Cutter

Granny has been on my mind a lot lately. Most of you that read this blog via Facebook know that she passed away on April 25th. I feel like there just wasn't enough time for me to ask all the questions that I had about her life. Out of all of us, I believe I'm the one who was always probing for stories about what life was like when she was growing up and everything should could tell me about the rest of the family. 

When I was little, I always watched her flit around the kitchen as she prepared meals for us. When she'd make biscuits she'd use this little metal cutout that had a wooden handle. I thought that it was fascinating that she had a special tool just for cutting out biscuits because I remember my mom using just whatever she could find & it was usually the opening of a cup.

I don't know what prompted me to ask Granny where she got it but she told me that it had belonged to her mother-in-law, my great-granny Fannie. I always thought that was a funny name. She passed when I was around four or so and I remember being confused when she wasn't around. My Dad told me that they took her up to heaven. In my four year old mind, I pictured them packing her up in our big yellow Chevy Malibu and them driving up like Danny and Sandy did at the end of Grease! Ha! 

I asked Granny if I could have it some day. My Uncle Doug (my dad's youngest brother who is more like a brother than an uncle) overheard the conversation and told me that HE was getting it. Now, why in the world would a feller who never made biscuits want with an old biscuit cutter? From that point on, me & Uncle Doug would go back and forth over who was going to end up with Granny's biscuit cutter and Granny would just laugh and wink at me. 

Last week when the family was reading over Granny's will and wishes for her funeral, they came to a section written out for me. She left me a few things but the best part said, "I want Kim to have my biscuit cutter (ha ha, Doug)." She always had a great sense of humor! 



The Saturday following my discharge from the hospital, my stomach was still kind of queasy but I got to craving biscuits close to lunchtime. I got out Granny's biscuit cutter and got a little emotional using it. It has been used by three generations of Appalachian women (although I'm the fourth generation to own it) to make biscuits for their families. No amount of money could persuade me to give it up. 

I decided to send a message to my Uncle Doug to let him know that I was enjoying it. Here it is: 

Granny would've gotten a kick out of this!



The biscuits were good but the memories are better. I will think of her every single time I use it. My priceless family heirloom. 



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Places To See & Things To Do: The International Biscuit Festival

Hey, y'all! It's so good to be home! Thanks so much for all of your kind words and prayers. I'm still trying to get my feet back under me but being home makes things MUCH better.

Now that spring seems to be here (ignore the cold and windy weather that just doesn't seem to want to leave WNC) there are festivals popping up all over the place! And I want to go to ALL of them. I was very disappointed that I didn't get to go to the cornbread festival last weekend but I found one that helped ease the disappointment: The International Biscuit Festival! Doesn't that sound like heaven?! I can't think of Appalachian food without thinking about biscuits.


A whole festival dedicated to celebrating those hot, flaky, buttery layers of southern goodness...heaven! This will be our first year attending and I'm counting down the days. You may be wondering what this festival is all about. Lucky for you, I've been speaking with Ms. Lindsey Collins, the event director. Lindsey says, "This is the Biscuit Festival's 8th year, and it has helped grow Knoxville's downtown community into what it is today." 

There is a section of the festival known as Biscuit Boulevard. "Several of the region's finest restaurants and bakers bring their Signature Biscuits for you to sample." Glory! According to their website, Biscuit Boulevard will be open starting from 9am Saturday, May 20th, 2017. The Boulevard runs along Market Street, just south of Market Square in downtown Knoxville. You can buy a Biscuit Boulevard ticket for just $15 and try FIVE different Signature Biscuit creations! Vote by placing the perforated tab of your ticket in your favorite Biscuit vendor's Mason Jar at their booth and help to select the People's Choice winner. Boulevard participants will also be offering a selection of other goodies for you to purchase directly. 

There will be some long lines so prepare to arrive early! Lines continue to grow throughout the day and the festival ends at 2PM. We're planning on getting there when the doors open!

Believe it or not, the Biscuit Festival isn't just about eating biscuits. Besides Biscuit Boulevard, there is:
  • The Miss or Mister Biscuit Pageant 
  • Biscuit Baking Contest
  • The Biscuit Songwriting Contest
  • The Biscuit Bazaar
If you'd like to find more information about any of these events and/or order tickets, you can check out their website: The International Biscuit Festival.

The festival was kind enough to team up with me to sponsor an Appalachian Mountain Roots giveaway! Tomorrow, May 5th, look for a giveaway post and follow the directions in the post to be entered. The prize includes 2 Biscuit Festival tickets and a handmade wooden biscuit cutter made by my very talented woodworking husband! 

$70 Value

We'll be wearing our "app-uh-latch-un" t-shirts so if you're at the festival and happen to see us standing in line, come up and say hi! I'll be writing a post all about it when we get back. I mean, who doesn't like a good biscuit?! 

Be sure to check back tomorrow and find the giveaway post so you can be entered to win the prize pack! 




Monday, April 24, 2017

Memories Of Home

Today's guest post is by Jequeta Mullins Briskey. Jequeta was the youngest of 11 children and she grew up in Clintwood, Virginia. She didn't start writing until after she was married and most of her short stories and poems are centered around growing up in southwestern Virginia. She currently lives in northwestern Ohio with her husband, John, and they have 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.  


Jequeta's parents at their 50th Anniversary, 1979.

Memories of Home

I went back once more to the home of my birth, 
That's when I realized how much memories are worth.
The home that my father had built with his hands
had lost all it's luster, but serenely stands. 
The kitchen was downstairs, the bedrooms above.
The living room, the "can house"; they were all built with love.
The front porch, so big, was adorned with two swings.
Relived in my memory, how much pleasure it brings.
I remember the river once so clear, flowing free.
I remember every rock, every bush, every tree. 
The animals we had both for food and for fun. 
The strawberries we picked in the hot blazing sun. 
The meals my mom cooked on the ancient old stove.
We walked to the store 'cause nobody drove.
My dad told us stories of when he was a boy.
We kids played for hours with our handmade toys.
When winter winds came and the world seemed at rest, 
it was time to do quilting and mom was the best.
Her fingers would fly making stitch after stitch,
and when it was needed, she could yield a mean switch.
My dad was a giant, both gentle and kind.
His voice was enough to make us kids mind.
I remember him plowing and clearing the land
to start a new garden to feed all his clan.
My mind overflowing with memories of home, 
as I stand there staring at the life I had known.
There were no flowers in the yard anymore. 
The little creek was gone. It had been there before.
As I relived the memories of my childhood years,
I couldn't stop my eyes from filling with tears.
I couldn't believe, but I should have known
how time changes things after you've grown.
So, I vowed then and there to never return.
I would never go back, though my heart it would yearn.
If I ever feel the need to return back home, 
I would do it in my memory because memories live on. 

I hope you enjoy Jequeta's poem as much as I did. I shared one of her short stories, Summer In The Mountains, last month. If you missed it, you can find it HERE.




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Places To See & Things To Do: The National Cornbread Festival

Hey, y'all! I've got some exciting news: my husband and I will be attending the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN for the first time on Saturday, April 29th. We decided to make it our wedding anniversary trip.   

That sounds like it could be the punchline of a joke...if you go to the National Cornbread Festival for your 17th anniversary, you might be Appalachian. Ha! ;)

If you are a regular follower here at Appalachian Mountain Roots, you know all about my love of cornbread. I wrote about it in my Cornbread & Milk post several months back. After hearing about the festival on the radio I thought, "A festival that's all about cornbread?! Sign me up!" 



We would love to meet any of you who plan on attending! My son is modeling the t-shirts that my husband & I will be wearing. If you see us out and about, please come over and say hey! 




Here is what you can expect at the festival:

National Lodge® Cast Iron Cornbread Cook-off
Cornbread Alley (sample various cornbread recipes)
Live music throughout the festival.
Arts and Crafts from area vendors.
Tours of the Lodge Cast Iron Foundry
Cornbread 5K Race
Tours of historic South Pittsburg
Classic Car Cruise-In
Cornbread Eating Contests

Play games, ride carnival rides, and enjoy wandering through the booths that line the streets of historic South Pittsburg. Enjoy cornbread, handmade arts and crafts. Taste Southern, artisan treats like honey, fudge, and rock candies. The festival is packed with great family fun – including a Kid’s Corner with games, face painting, and inflatables!
******************

Sounds fun, right? I can't wait to tour the Lodge Cast Iron Factory. I love Lodge products because they're American made and last FOREVER. Have any of you attended the festival before? I'd love to hear how it was. Are any of you going this year? I plan on writing a post about it and share some pics from the event over on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook and Instagram pages. Please be sure to say hi if you see us in our 
"app-uh-latch-uh/ Appalachian Mountain Roots" shirts! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Phrases of Appalachia: Like It Or Lump It




"Like it or lump it": To accept or tolerate a disagreeable situation whether one likes it or not.
Example: We're going to have leftovers for supper and you're just going to have to like it or lump it. 

I used this phrase this weekend. Actually, I used the exact example that I shared above. My son had asked, not even 15 minutes after finishing Easter lunch, what we'd be having for supper. He is 15 so food is constantly on his mind. He earns that honest! He wasn't too happy to hear that he would be looking at the same food choices again but, he just had to like it or lump it. I asked him if he knew what like it or lump it meant and he said, "I can either like it or like it." Ha, pretty much. 

I found some conflicting information as I was researching the origins of this phrase. Some sources claimed it originated in England while others said Ireland. I also found that in Northern English, "lump" as a verb also means carry, especially something heavy - so you can like it or have to carry it anyway. No matter where it started, it definitely made it's way to Appalachia. This was the "go-to" phrase for my parents and grandparents whenever there was something that I complained about. Looks like the phrase will hold up well for at least another generation. 

Have you ever heard or said this phrase? 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Easter In Appalachia & The Legend Of The Dogwood

This year just seems to be flying by! I can't believe that spring has arrived and we're only a few days away from Easter, but I sure am glad.

When I think of Easter and growing up in the southern Appalachian mountains, I think of these things: 

  1. Church. We were at church every Sunday morning (and every other time the doors were open) but Easter Sunday was a special time because we were specifically celebrating my Savior's resurrection! 
  2. The biggest, itchiest Easter dress that you can imagine complete with crinoline, hat, gloves, tights, purse, and matching shoes. Let me give you a little background...my Granny Janice had 4 sons. Her first grandchild was my brother, the Mater Hater, and then I arrived 3 years later. Granny was so excited to have a little girl and was determined to make me a prissy little lady. Bless her heart, she didn't get what she wanted. She must have forgotten that I was going to be surrounded by all of those uncles and an older brother. I was and am what you would call a tomboy. I hated dresses then and I'm still not crazy about them today. But, Granny got to dress me up like a little doll on two holidays: Easter and Christmas.
  3. Easter dinner at Granny and Pa's house. There would be ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese (my favorite), and several different desserts to choose from. We would eat until we couldn't hold another bite and then end up in the backyard under the trees were would tell stories, laugh, and have a great time. 
  4. Watching The Ten Commandments. To this day, there hasn't been an Easter that I haven't watched this movie. I honestly can't imagine an Easter without it. 
  5. Dogwood blooms. Dogwood trees are a big part of the landscape of Appalachia and they're one of my favorite trees. Their blossoms happen to be NC's state flower. I can't look at one without thinking of my mom. They were also her favorite tree and she painted the blossoms in many of her paintings. She passed away in April around the time that all the trees are in bloom. Seeing them always makes me think of her. I remember her telling me about the legend of the Dogwood tree.





The Legend of the Dogwood
Author Unknown

In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew 
To a stately size and a lovely hue. 
'Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven. 
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen. 
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood 
Christ made a promise which still holds good: 
"Never again shall the dogwood grow 
Large enough to be used so. 
Slender and twisted, it shall be 
With blossoms like the cross for all to see. 
As blood stains the petals marked in brown, 
The blossom's center wears a thorny crown. 
All who see it will remember Me 
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree. 
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be 
A reminder to all of My agony."

What was Easter like for you growing up? Have you ever heard the legend of the Dogwood tree? 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Annie Watson: Mother Of A Legend

Do any of you happen to enjoy Appalachian based folk and country music? If so, do I have a story for you! I recently came in contact with a man named Stacy Thomas after he posted a video of his grandmother, Annie Watson, singing an old folk song. Take a listen to this recording that was made in 1969 when Mrs.Annie was 74 years old. 

The Churning Song (Come, Butter, Come)



Nancy Adina "Annie" Greene Watson was born in Watauga County NC on March 22, 1895. Her parents were George Washington Greene and Mary Elizabeth Greene. She was the third of nine children. In describing her childhood she said her family was very poor. "We could not afford a coal oil lamp so our only light of a night was from a stick of rich pine (fatwood) stuck in a crack inside the fireplace." 
At age 16 she met and married 19 year old General Dixon Watson. General soon built them a cabin on the Osborne mountain near Stony Fork, NC on land granted to his Great Grandfather, Thomas Watson, for his service in the Revolutionary War. 
Their lives were hard but no more difficult than everyone else in their small, close nit community. General worked at all sorts of jobs from sawmill to carpentry to cutting timber and of course farming his land while Annie kept up all the chores of keeping house and raising 9 children. 
They attended Mt Paran Baptist Church, some three miles from their home every Sunday. General was the "singing leader" for the congregation. General died of cancer in 1949. Annie never remarried and lived the rest of her life at the home place on the Osborne. She died in 1985 at the age of 89. 
Her sixth child, Arthel Lane Watson, better known as Doc Watson went on to a career in music. Watson's influential guitar playing and his singing of traditional Appalachian music won him seven Grammy awards including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2003. He was presented the National Medal of Arts Award in 1997 by President Clinton. 




Many of you will recognize the name, Doc Watson, especially if you're from NC. Every year, there is a festival called Merlefest in Wilkesboro, NC. It was hosted by Doc prior to his death and is named in memory and honor of his son, Eddy Merle Watson, who was killed in a farm tractor accident. 

Doc is pictured back row, second from right. 

Doc wasn't the only musician in the family. In 1963, he and several family members released an album, The Watson Family. It was re-released on Smithsonian Folkways on CD in 1990 with additional tracks from the 70s. (Source:Wikipedia)

I had read about the song that Mrs. Annie sang above in the first Foxfire book but had never heard anyone sing it. Now I can't get the tune out of my head! Do any of you remember hearing it? I've always been a fan of folk music, new and old. I know that the people who came to this country probably couldn't bring many possessions with them but thankfully, they were able to bring songs and their love of music. It is and I believe always will be a part of the Appalachian DNA.