Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Appalachian Mountain and Gulf Shore Connection

Did you know that when you walk on the white sand beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast you're walking on what use to be part of the Appalachian Mountains? I didn't until my friend Dayna sent me a picture of a history marker in Florida that her sister had shared with her. That got me digging around online and I found out the sand is made from pure white quartz crystal, which came from the Appalachian Mountains at the end of the last Ice Age and was deposited into the Gulf of Mexico. So the source of the coast's beauty is from none other than my beloved Appalachian Mountains! How amazing is that?!

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 
even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
~Psalm 139:9-10

I love living and even vacationing in the mountains. As a matter of fact, my whole little family does. When giving Dude (my soon to be 15 year old son) the option between Disney World and Cades Cove, TN he will pick Cades Cove every time. That makes this mountain girl's heart happy. But as much as I love the mountains, I do enjoy visiting the beach occasionally. I enjoy early morning and late evening walks on the shore. It's amazing to think that the same God who made the beautiful mountains and vast ocean looked at me and you and thought that the world needed one of us too.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

In Every Thing Give Thanks

I decided to share a special guest post from Tennessee poet and pastor, Robert Fultz, in honor of Thanksgiving. Robert shares many of his beautiful poems over on Facebook at PreacherPoems and at his blog

Every day I think about
How good God is to me
A healthy body, thankful heart
My loving family.

I wake up thankful each new day
For blessings I've received
And every night when I lie down
Thank God I'm not deceived.

I know the Bible is God's Word
No longer I'm a slave
Through faith in Jesus I have hope
That goes beyond the grave.

Thank God for those who taught me well
This truth I can't deny
That Jesus died for sinful men
For such a worm as I.

I'm saved by grace through faith alone
His blood now covers all
What Jesus did on Calvary
Redeemed me from the fall.

So yes I'm thankful to the Lord
And thankful I'll remain
Until my last breath I shall draw
You'll not hear me complain.

~Robert Fultz, 12/15/15

Thank you, Robert, for allowing me to share your beautiful poem with my friends. I hope you and your's have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Appalchian Bluegrass Gospel: Thank You Lord, For Your Blessings On Me

This gospel song was written by James Easter who is part of the group, The Easter Brothers. The Mount Airy, NC band was formed over 60 years ago. Other popular songs by this group are "The Darkest Hour" and "They're Holding Up The Ladder".

A friend of mine shared a couple of lines of this song on Facebook and it instantly made me smile. You see, my mom sang this song just about every morning that I can remember. We didn't have much growing up but my parents taught me to be thankful for what we did have. She passed away over 20 years ago and I hope she'd be proud that I'm trying to teach my son to be thankful for what he has too.

Thank You Lord, For Your Blessings On Me
Written by - James Easter and the Easter Brothers 1975
Copyright - LeFevre-Sing Publishing Co.

As the world looks upon me, as I struggle along
They say I have nothing, but they are so wrong
In my heart I'm rejoicing, how I wish they could see
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

Chorus: There's a roof up above me
I've a good place to sleep
There's food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord 
And a fine family
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

Now I know I'm not wealthy, and these clothes they're not new.
I don't have much money, but Lord I have you.
And to me that's all that matters, though the world cannot see
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

Chorus: There's a roof up above me
 I've a good place to sleep
There's food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

I hope all of you can find something to be thankful for this holiday and every day. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! 

A Couple Of Recipes For All Those Thanksgiving Leftovers

Is there anything more wonderful than leftovers? Probably, but they're still ranked high on my list of favorite things. And if there was a ranking of favorite leftovers, Thanksgiving leftovers would be in the number one slot! As much as I love them, I do find myself wondering how I can put a twist on whatever I have to work with. Make do with what you've got! If that ain't Appalachian, I don't know what is.

With Thanksgiving being my favorite holiday and in preparation of a fridge full of leftovers, I have decided to share one tried and true recipe and one I plan on making as soon as I get my hands on some of that turkey: Turkey Corn Chowder and Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches.

Lets start with the Turkey Corn Chowder. It is AMAZING. I ran across this recipe here a few years ago and make it several times a year. What could be more perfect than having a recipe that uses leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, AND corn?! The original recipe calls for 2 cans of corn but we always have corn that we've put up from our garden. Use whatever you have! 

Turkey Corn Chowder
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped 
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 quart milk 
  • 4 cups cooked mashed potatoes
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, cut into chunks
  • 2 cans corn (again, I use about a 1 1/2 cups of our corn)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional) 
  • salt & pepper to taste

  1. Using a 4-5 qt pan, cook your bacon over medium heat until it's crunchy. Remove when done & keep your grease in your pan.
  2. Add your chopped onion and cook until it is translucent.
  3.  Stir in milk, mashed potatoes, turkey, corn, cilantro, salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Serve immediately & garnish with bacon.

Now for the recipe that I'm looking forward to trying as soon as possible. I found this recipe here a couple of months ago and have been chomping at the bit to try it. I'll give an update on how they turn out soon. **Update (11-25-16): Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln, these things are GOOD. Possibly the best sandwich that I've ever had. You can easily half the recipe. Give them a try!

Leftover Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches
(Makes 8-10 sandwiches)
  • 1 loaf very soft French bread, sliced thick
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce
  • 12 oz thinly sliced Muenster cheese (you can sub with any cheese)
  • thinly sliced leftover turkey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4-6 tbsps butter
  • powdered sugar

  1. Spread each slice of bread with cranberry sauce. 
  2. Layer your turkey between 2 slices of cheese or 1 slice cut in half on the cranberry sauce and top with another slice of bread, cranberry side in.
  3. In a shallow pie plate, add eggs and milk and beat with a fork until well combined. Soak each side of your sandwich in the egg mixture...you want the bread saturated but not soggy.
  4. Over medium heat, melt a couple tbsps of butter in a nonstick skillet. Cook a couple of sandwiches at a time until the bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and do the same for that side.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Please come back and leave me a comment if you decide to give one or both of these recipes a try. I always like to read the comments of more than just whoever is sharing the recipe and I'm sure that future readers would too. I hope y'all like them! :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Phrases Of Appalachia: Eating High On The Hog

The phrase "high on the hog" originally came from the fact that the wealthy ate the the best cuts of meat from a pig - ham, chops, and loin. The not so well to do folks ate the lesser cuts - side pork, spare ribs, and just about every other part of the pig. 

This phrase has come to not just refer to pork but to eat well in a general sense. Example: Leroy cooked enough prime rib to feed an army. We sure did eat high on the hog!  

It is also used as a way of saying that someone is doing well in life or living beyond their means. Example: Jimmy sure seems to be living high on the hog since winning the lottery. What does an old country boy need a private jet for anyway?

I've heard it used both ways in my part of Appalachia. I've even heard a few people use "low on the hog" to mean that someone isn't doing so well in life. 

This picture was taken during a 1980 something Thanksgiving. I'm not sure who's idea it was to take our picture with the remains of the turkey instead of the whole thing but you can tell that all of us must have eaten high on the hog that day. You don't mess around with a thing like picture taking when it comes time to eat! 

Me & the Mater Hater. :)

Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I'd like to know what some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods, traditions, and memories are. Do you spend the day eating high on the hog? Let me know in the comments & I might just choose a few to share in a Thanksgiving post next week! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Have You Ever Eaten Leather Britches?

Last week, I was in need of some comfort food. Whew, what a week it was! My husband was in Costa Rica for work and since it was just my son and I to cook for, we started the week off with simple suppers of a sandwich, soup, or takeout. That lasted until about Wednesday and I was ready for some REAL food. I decided on a menu of chicken 'n dumplins, sourwood honey glazed carrots, and leather britches. 

Some of you may be wondering, "What in the world are leather britches?!" No, I didn't cut up and cook a pair of leather pants. Leather britches are what people in my part of Appalachia (western NC) call dried green beans. As you can see from the picture below, dried green beans are wrinkled and brown...much like what a pair of wet leather pants end up looking like once they've dried. These dried beans are also called shuck/shucky beans and fodder beans in different parts of Appalachia.

 Long before canning jars and freezer bags, people needed a way of preserving food for the winter and most vegetables and fruits were dried. Beans were a main staple to be "put up" because they provided a great source of protein throughout the winter months. 

According to the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, "Two drying methods were commonly used. For both, the bean was harvested when mature but while the pod was still edible. The first method involved stringing whole, unbroken pods, like stringing popcorn for Christmas garlands. Using a big darning needle, the processor carefully inserted strong thread between the two middle beans in a pod. When the string of whole beans was three to four feet long, the thread was knotted and the string of beans hung to dry, traditionally in such places as the porch, from roof rafters, or on a wall behind a wood burning kitchen stove. The beans slowly dried, turned straw colored, and shriveled. After drying, they were stored in cloth sacks or, more recently, in glass jars or freezers."

I use the first method to prepare my beans and hang them up in a warm upstairs room. Once dried, I remove them from the strings and store them in glass Mason jars.

"The second method was to snap the pods into bite-size pieces, then spread them on white cloths and place them in a sunny place to dry. Many women chose to break their beans before drying because it was nearly impossible to pull the threads out of beans dried by the stringing method." My husband's Granny Bertha used this method but would spread the broke beans out on a cookie sheet and place it in the back window of her car until they were dried. 

I always remove the strings from the beans before I thread them up into the "garland." I use kite string but any good strong thread will do. I found that it took around 4 weeks for my beans to be completely dried but the time will differ based on the temperature and humidity of where you choose to dry them. 

When I'm ready to prepare the beans, I soak them in a bowl of water over night...just as you would any dried bean. 

The next morning, you'll notice that the beans have swelled back up to normal or close to normal size. Drain the water and add the beans to a pot. Cover the beans with fresh water and add a piece of fatback or bacon. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are tender. 

The finished product! My husband kept rubbing in the fact that he was getting to enjoy some fresh, Costa Rican pineapple. I sent him this picture and told him that he could have his ol' pineapple because I was planning to eat "high on the hog" that night! ;)

I've had some people tell me that you can cook these beans in a slow cooker all day and I plan on trying that method out very soon. I'll let you know how they turn out!

I canned most of my green beans this year (white half runners and greasy backs). Even though canning has replaced the need for drying beans, I feel connected to my past when I string up, dry, and then cook a pot of leather britches. The intense meaty flavor and good memories they bring will probably encourage me to continue working up and cooking them for many more years. 

Isn't it amazing how a bite or smell of certain foods can transport you back to a different place and time? My great grandma Collett (Mamaw) always had leather britches for holiday meals. After my first bite, I was taken back to sitting in Mamaw's kitchen while she buzzed around making sure that everything was ready to be enjoyed by her family. Food seems to provide an express ticket to Memory Lane for me.

Have you ever had leather britches? Is there a certain food or foods that take you back to a different place and time? Please leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fire In The Mountains

If you follow me over on Facebook, you've seen some of the pictures and news reports that I've shared about the wildfires in the mountains. At least 18 wildfires have doubled in acreage since the weekend. More than 10,000 acres continue to burn across western North Carolina and many more throughout Appalachia.
 **Update: As of this morning (11/10/16), the fire has spread to more than 14,000 acres in western NC.**

The sun trying to shine through the smoke in Nantahala 
yesterday (11/9/16) at noon. Photo Credit: Scott Postell

There are hundreds of firefighters, from NC and all over the US, putting their lives on the line to fight these fires.These people are running on a little sleep and a lot of adrenaline. One of them is my brother-in-law, Lonnie. I would like all of these men and women to know that I appreciate everything you're doing and I'm praying for you daily. They need our prayers! 

Firefighters work to put in dozer lines to assist in containment of the Boteler Fire.
 My brother-in-law is in one or both of these pics. (11-3-16)

People in surrounding towns are now being evacuated from their homes and many more are being told to be ready to leave at a moments notice. These people are walking away from a home that may not be there when they come back. They need our prayers! 

"Fire on the Mountain(s)" - Downtown Franklin, NC blanketed 
in smoke and forest fire in the mountains. (11-4-16)

Smoke and raging flames after midnight in mountain forest fire. 
Franklin, NC (11-5-16) 
Photo Credit: John MacLean Photography

Please pray that God would protect these people and the homes that are in the path of the fires and that God would send the rain that we so desperately need. 

You can find more of John MacLean's pictures at the links posted under his pictures or at his Facebook Page. Thanks again for allowing me to use them, John. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Phrases Of Appalachia: By Hook Or Crook...

By hook or (by) crook- by any means, legal or illegal 
Examples: I'll get that job done by hook or crook.
The car broke down, but I'll get there by hook or by crook.
I'm running for office and I'll get there by hook or crook!

This is a phrase that I've heard a lot in this part of Appalachia but I hadn't thought about it in a long time. Someone used it in an Appalachian group that I follow on Facebook & I thought, boy, if that doesn't describe this election I don't know what does! Apparently, I wasn't alone in thinking this because another member in the group named Brenda D. commented, "I think those two are front runners in the election this year - hook has 44% of the vote and crook has 45%." I horse laughed, y'all. I can't believe how much mud slinging has went on and the things that these people are accusing each other of. Lord, help us all!

This term has a disputed origin but many believe that it was first used in Ireland. A widely held theory is that it comes from the custom of allowing commoners to remove as much timber from the royal forests as the people could reach with a shepherd's crook and cut down with a billhook.

There is a southern rule that says there are certain things that shouldn't be discussed with guests at the dinner table: politics and SEC football. Ok, SEC football isn't one of them but it should be...it can get just as heated! I can see the reasoning behind this rule. I can't tell you how many friends and family that I've heard arguing over this election. I TRY not to get involved. I think that it is our responsibility, as Americans and Christians (for those of us who are), to do our OWN research and decide who it is that will represent us best in office. Don't believe what the media is reporting. They are as crooked as a dog's hind leg...on both sides. I thought about not even voting in this election but through prayer and research, finally decided that I couldn't do that. Please do your own research and get out there and vote! 

Have you ever heard "by hook or crook" in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Phrases Of Appalachia: You're just like a fart in a hot skillet!

When it comes to funny southern sayings, my family is well versed. Out of all of them, "You're just like a fart in hot skillet" is my favorite. This was a common phrase used by my Granny and Pa Holloway. My Granny would probably skin me if she knew that I was writing about such, but she doesn't know anything about the internet or blogs so I think I'm in the clear. 

I remember asking her where she had heard it and what it meant. She told me that she had always heard her dad say it as she was growing up and it meant that a person couldn't make up their mind or they didn't know if they were coming or going. Her dad probably heard his dad say it too. I'm sure they would laugh if they knew their  great or great great granddaughter now finds herself using the phrase fairly often! 

This saying fits me well. My decision making skills resemble that of a squirrel when crossing the street. It takes me forever to make up my mind about anything! I let my mind fill up with too many "what if" scenarios. I'm working on that. I usually don't know if I'm coming or going either! I don't know if I'll ever be able to fix that one. 

Have you ever heard of this saying? What are some funny sayings that you've heard growing up? I'd love to hear them!