Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Words You May Never Have Uttered

Today's guest post is by Brandi Creasman Watkins, aka Bonnie Sherrill. Brandi was born and raised in the mountains of western NC. After being away for nearly a decade, she returned to her hometown and spent the next decade working in victim services and social work. She retired so that she could focus on her family, Thirty-One Gifts Business and her writing. She started blogging, writing & even published her first book, Mountain Notes to Grant-Writing in 2016. She is now working on the 2nd book in this series, Mountain Notes to Parenting, while she homeschools both of her youngest children. You can find more of Brandi's writings at her blog, A Country Girl Surviving.

Words You May Never Have Uttered

You may need a passport to enter another country, but you just need an open mind and some gas to reach the South. However, you may experience the same culture shock that you would endure in the Congo or African Sahara – we have similar language barriers and mating habits. You will certainly encounter those that think you should just turn around and head back where you came from. But…just maybe, if you are in the right frame of mind, you will find us just as fascinating as the Amish, the Cherokee, New Yorkers or the Mormons.

The single defining characteristic of any foreign culture is language and for real, the Southern language should count for a language in college prep. For example:

Befuddled. Definition: confused with a hint of ignorance to the reasoning that X topic is even being discussed. Like…why do you have to discuss ear wax when you could instead discuss the ramifications of Billy Bob thinking that he could fix the leak in his house with anything other than duct tape? This word MUST accompany the gesture of scratching your head at least one time during the conversation.

Flabbergasted. Definition: shocked with a hint of anger. You may hear this when a redneck stubs his toe and blames the wife for placing the incriminating obstacle in his path. Apparently, the wife thinks that if something is static for 50 years, her husband should learn to walk around it. Whatever!

Spirits. In the south, we refer to all alcoholic beverages as ‘spirits’ because it lifts our spirits to partake. Very simple. However, southerners don’t get the whole wine connoisseur mess….we make our own wine from the fruit that God gave us…right here in our backyards. The idea that ‘wine tastings’ happen, definitely befuddle us.

Tattoos. We all run into people and ask them about their tattoos and some get very upset if we insinuate that they had a personal experience with image that they later marked themselves with because they just get tattoos. BUT, in the South, our tattoos mean something. Period. Most may say MOM, some may say F-Obama, but they all mean something to us that will still mean it tomorrow (unless we were drunk.)

Mountains. Some may believe that this is a geographical distinction or even a place where they “vacation.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘Mountains’ is a way of life. It’s a religion. It’s a people.

Helldamn. Although Webster does not recognize this as a compound word, it is the only compound word that can succinctly describe something that went wrong. This something could have been intentional, stupid or just plain fate.

Waterlogged. Definition: a state of being after too many hours in the water. In the olden days, logs were transported via the rivers and they stayed in these rivers for quite some time before they reached their destination. See, our words make sense to us!

Church. Definition: The single reason to defuse any argument under the sun. This word is synonymous with the Good Book, the people attending or the very argument that you can’t win. Church is the end all, be-all in the South. You don’t wear jeans to church….ever….under any circumstances. TV Shows do not have any place in a Southern Church – no divorce, no Modern Family, no Law & Order, no Teletubbies. Criminal Minds and other murder shows would be acceptable.

Caddywompus. Definition: describes when something is askew or off-centered. For example, I have this retarded tree in my yard that has limbs that are caddywompus and drives me to the brink of a misdemeanor. I would include a picture, but I don’t want to ensue riots, because we don’t have the parking space.

Oh Fresh Hell. Definition: A new ‘alternative’ way of thinking, acting or being. A southern woman might exclaim this after seeing her teenager come downstairs in all black attire and make-up or maybe hearing her son exclaim about the newest way to talk to his girlfriend. ‘Oh Fresh Hell’ may be timeless, but the shit it explains is not – just grab a homemade wine, get flabbergasted, drag them to church in the mountains and scream a Helldamn to those that are caddywompus.

This post is brought to you by the my personal friends on Facebook! I hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you have some Southern Terms that weren’t included!


I hope you enjoyed this guest post as much as I did! Brandi and I grew up in the same small town in western NC. I tried to think back to when I first met her but if you were from Andrews, NC everybody just always knew each other. She is still just as funny as ever! She reached out to me during my last hospital stay and decided that we need to team up to share some of our posts with us both being "small town Appalachian bloggers". I look forward to working with her again and sharing more of her hilarious posts in the future

This is a pic from the area where Brandi & I grew up. Pretty, huh? 
This was taken by my friend and fellow Andrews girl, Tammy West McCoy. 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Sweet Lesson In Life

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.  


A Sweet Lesson In Life

It started back in the early 50s when I was in the fourth grade. My dad decided that he would go into the strawberry business. He thought that it would be profitable and would bring in some much needed money for our family. Not only did he have the space and the know-how to plant the seedlings and bring them to life, but he also had the extra hands to help him with the task. Those extra hands would belong to me and my siblings.

He picked out a prime spot on our little mountain side farm and prepared if for planting, naturally with our help. I don't recall actually helping to do any of the prep work with the soil, the planting, weeding, and care of those tender plants but somehow they survived. The first year is never great for strawberries but the second year found us working hard at picking the nice red ripe fruit every other day. 



Most of those strawberries were four our personal use and we really enjoyed them. After working all morning in the blazing sun on our hands and knees, picking the fruit from those verdant green plants, one would think the last thing on our minds would be eating that fruit. But, knowing that Mom was in the kitchen baking an old fashioned strawberry pie for lunch would make our mouths water. These pies were not like the pies of today with their glaze and piled high with whipped topping. Her pies were made with sweetened cooked strawberries thickened with a flour mixture and poured into a handmade baked shell. They contained no topping and we never asked for a topping because in those days, we didn't know that anything of that sort existed. We accepted what we had and were thankful for it. 

By the third year, Dad's strawberries were producing in abundance. We started letting other people know that we had an excess amount of strawberries and that we would be willing to sell some of them. So, off we went to the fields early in the morning to pick the fruit. We had attained gallon buckets over the past two years in anticipation of this day. These buckets were most likely gallon lard cans or anything of that sort. Each of us would carry a bucket along and we would take what my Dad called a "swath" which was our individual portion in which we were to remove all the ripe fruit, leaving the green ones to ripen for another day. And we were cautioned not to step on the plants as this would likely damage them from producing again. 

Dad had told us that we would get paid for helping him with this task. We were allowed to pick one green berry for each gallon bucket we filled and he warned us that he knew our capacity for picking and he would know if we cheated. In one day, if we picked well and fast, we could make a dollar for picking ten gallons of berries, That was a lot of money for us in those days. We felt rich! We didn't think about how long it took for use to make that much money but just having the money was joy beyond compare. 

When we had filled one of the buckets we could pour them into a larger container to be carried down the hill to where our home was. This would eliminate several trips up and down the hill. Eventually, my brother rigged up a pulley system from the house to the top of the hill so we could hang a bucket of berries onto the pulley and lower them down to the house by way of a handle. This sure saved a lot of steps and time for us. 

Word got around our community that we had strawberries for sale and people started placing orders with us. Whether it was only one gallon or a huge order of twenty to thirty gallons, we could always fill those orders. Dad would fill the gallon buckets heaping full until the berries were falling off the sides. Then he would transfer the berries over to the containers our customers had brought with them, all the while he would make sure the customer helped him count the gallons so as not to short them on their order. And when it was time for them to pay up, the price was always $1.00 a gallon. In all the years we kept that business going, he never changed the price. Word got around that Dad was very generous and fair and that made more business come our way. Eventually we got to the point of selling thousands of gallons of berries each season.

Mom would never want the first berries in the spring. These were the ones that were bright red and huge. Just looking at them would make your mouth water. Most people would ask for those but not mom. She would always wait until the end of the season when the berries were smaller and a deeper red. Then she would ask for her share of the crop. These late berries had a sweeter taste. Sure, it took longer to clean and process them but it was well worth the effort. The jams and jellies she made from this fruit was the best and it was always a great treat to pull a box of sweetened berries from the freezer on a snowy winter day and taste summer sunshine. I think back on this now when I go out to buy strawberries for myself, might I say at a ridiculous price, and I try to choose the smalls berries in the bunch because I know they will taste the best. 

This business for us lasted about twenty years. By the time I graduated high school, there were no more children left at home to help Dad and his age had slowed him down. Eventually, he let the strawberry patch go but even after our crops had gone and we no longer kept it producing, we would get phone calls asking if we still had strawberries for sale. I guess Dad had a good idea after all. That business kept our family going for many years all for the price of a few plants, some fertilizer, and several strapping young kids capable of picking their share of red summer sunshine. Oh, the memories it brings for all of us. Thank you, Dad, for teaching us another lesson in life.

I hope y'all enjoyed Jequeta's short story as much as I did. She couldn't have sent it to me at a more perfect time because I've had strawberries on my mind for the past month! I agree with Jequeta...they do taste like summer. If you missed my post last week and would like to make some jam with all of the strawberries that seems to be poppin' up, you can find my post and recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam here. Does strawberries taste like summer to you too? 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Strawberry & Rhubarb (Pie Plant) Jam

Hey, y'all! I feel like I haven't written a blog post in FOREVER but I needed to take a break. It was nice and I'm ready to get back in to the swing of things. I've missed y'all! 

A couple of weeks ago, I went over to my husband's grandparent's old place and came home with some rhubarb! We dug up most of it to transplant it here at the house but ended up with quite a few stalks in the process. I knew exactly what I was going to use it for even before we got our hands on it: strawberry & rhubarb jam! 

My great-grandma Collett was the one who introduced this sweet-tart combo to me when I was a little girl. She would make the best strawberry rhubarb cobbler and I loved it from the very first bite. I've always liked the combination of sweet and tart flavors...maybe that's why I love Sour Patch Kids so much! 

As I was looking for some info about rhubarb, I came across the word "pie plant" in a couple of articles online. I immediately thought of the Little House On the Prairie books! I'm a HUGE Little House fan and recently re-read (for possibly the 100th time) the books in preparation of visiting the Ingall's homestead in De Smet, SD in a couple of weeks. In The First Four Years, Laura was deciding what she was going to fix for the threshers which also happened to be the first meal that she was fixing in her and Almonzo's new home. She said, "There was pie plant in the garden; she must make a couple of pies." She goes on to cook the big meal and accidentally forgot to add sugar to the pies. The threshers were all kind and added their own sugar but Laura was embarrassed by her mistake. Live and learn, right? 

As many times as I've read that book, I never knew what "pie plant" was. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was rhubarb! Have any of y'all ever heard it referred to as pie plant? 

Once I got home with my rhubarb, I went to our local produce stand for strawberries. They were so pretty! 


The first thing you need to do, of course, is wash your strawberries and remove the stems and slice them up. 


I used my chopper that you see above to chop those things up! You could do this in a blender or food processor but why dirty up more than you really need to? I just used a little muscle and had those babies chopped up quicker than you could pull out a machine and load it up. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. 


You're going to need 2 cups of chopped strawberries for one run of this jam. 

Next, you're going to wash and dice up your rhubarb. Not all rhubarb is completely red. If you buy it from your grocery store or produce stand, you'll probably find the red variety because that's what most people want when purchasing rhubarb. There are a few different varieties and mine happens to be mostly green with a little red marbling in it. Whichever type you have, you'll need 2 cups for this recipe. 


Add your berries and rhubarb to a heavy duty pot. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the mix along with one box of Sure Jell. I also like to add a little butter to prevent it from foaming up as much but this is optional.

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring the whole time to prevent scorching. Once the mixture is boiling, add 4 cups of sugar. Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil and, while continuing to stir, boil for 1 minute. 


Remove from heat and ladle the mixture into hot jars leaving about an inch of space at the top. If you choose not to add the butter, skim the foam off of the top before ladling the mix into your jars. 



I used both pint and half pint jars. Wipe the rims clean and add hot lids and rings, finger tight. I used this little pot holder that my husband's granny made me to hold the jars while I put on the rings. She is also the one who originally planted the rhubarb. I thought of Granny Jones the whole time I made this jam. I think she would appreciate the fact that someone is still getting get use out of her work.

Once you have the jars full and sealed, add the hot jars to a boiling water bath and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from canner and set on a kitchen towel to cool. If you happen to have a jar that doesn't seal, just put it in the refrigerator and use it first! 


We've really been enjoying this stuff on biscuits and toast. I ended up making three runs and ended up with 4 pints and 12 half pints. One run should make around 6-8 half pints, depending on how much space you leave at the top. 

You can find the complete recipe below if you'd like to copy, paste, and print it out. Let me know if you make some!

Strawberry & Rhubarb (Pie Plant) Jam
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 cups diced rhubarb (pie plant)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pkg Sure Jell
1 tbsp. butter (optional- it will help lessen the amount of foam)
4 cups sugar

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil on high heat. Add sugar & stir until dissolved. Continue to stir and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and ladle into clean, hot jars. Wipe rims and add lids and rings until finger tight. Add to boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on kitchen towel. 











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. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reckon Heaven Will Have Tomato Sandwiches?

My local produce stand opened this week! I was so excited. They posted a picture over on Facebook and they had some of the prettiest tomatoes which upped my excitement. I immediately started craving a tomato sandwich. If there had to be a perfect Appalachian sandwich, it would be the tomato sandwich. Anywhere for that matter! Since it's too early to have any homegrown tomatoes and since I refuse to make a sandwich out of what our local grocery stores try to pass off as tomatoes (they have no taste!), the produce stand is the next best place to get them. 

Now I firmly believe you need to have three essential items (not counting salt and pepper) to make the perfect mater sandwich. 
  1. Real tomatoes. If they're not homegrown, get them from a local produce stand or farmer's market. 
  2. Mayonnaise. I'm going to be honest, I was never a fan of the stuff until about 2 years ago. I mean I would eat it if it was on a sandwich or burger that I had ordered but I never added it to my homemade sandwiches. That was until I finally decided to see what the fuss about Duke's mayo was all about. GLORY! It was life changing. I can't make a sandwich without it now. Mayo is a very touchy subject in the south. I won't tell you what kind to buy but I will highly recommend Duke's. It was life changing!
  3. FRESH white bread, also known as light bread in these parts. I understand that society is shoving the "white bread is the worst and has no good nutritional value" stuff down our throats but I don't care. If you're going to make a good tomato sandwich, it has to be with white bread. And it needs to be FRESH. I'm talking "stick to the roof of your mouth without even having anything on it" fresh. You know what I'm talking about! My favorite brands are Kern's, Sunbeam, and Bunny bread (in no particular order). I had just bought a loaf of Sunbeam so that's what I used. 
I like to spread mayo on both slices of bread, add some fairly thick slices of tomato, salt, and a lot of fresh ground black pepper. 

See that thumbprint I left in the bread? FRESH. 

Ah, glory, is there anything better?! Well, maybe a tomato biscuit. I wrote about them this past fall when I was enjoying the last of my parent's tomatoes. You can read about that HERE if you missed it. I'm sure my brother, the Mater Hater, will have plenty to say on this matter but I've never paid much attention to what he has to say anyway. ;)

As I was enjoying my sandwich, I started wondering if heaven will have tomato sandwiches. Heaven will be a perfect paradise and I can't imagine paradise without them. 

Do you like tomato sandwiches? How do you make yours? If you happen to be a local follower I highly recommend Peachtree Produce. Stop by and check them out! 




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Phrases of Appalachia: Poor As Job


"Poor As Job": poverty stricken 
Ol' Joe is as poor as Job. He ain't worked in well over a year. 

This is a phrase that I know a good many of you have heard. If you're a Bible reading and believing somebody, you know all about how hard of a time poor ol' Job had. He was a righteous man and God allowed his faith to be tested by Satan. He lost his children, his health, everything he owned, and his livelihood. Through all of that, he remained faithful and his perseverance was rewarded. So to say "he/she is as poor as Job" would be comparing someone's situation to the worst of the worst. 

Over time, this phrase has been embellished to include Job's critters. "Poor as Job's turkey" is one that I've heard growing up. I'm not sure that ol' Job even knew what a turkey was but if had he belonged to Job, you can bet that he was poor. I found that some areas use "poor as Job's cat" but I don't remember hearing it around here. 

Another phrase that includes Job is "he/she has the patience of Job" and knowing what all Job went through would mean that this person was a very patient person. This is definitely one thing that me and Job do NOT have in common. I'm working on that. 

Have you heard or used these phrases where you're from? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Phrases of Appalachia: Cooterin' Around



cooterin' around 
hanging around, doing nothing
Example: What are you doing on your 
day off? Ah, I'm just cooterin' around. 


According to Smoky Mountain Voices: A Lexicon of Southen Appalachian Speech Based on the Research of Horace Kephart, a cooter (noun) was a box-tortoise. "The noun is turned into a verb with an ease characteristic of the mountaineers." It is chiefly a southern Appalachian word and believed to be a Scotticism which is a phrase or word that is characteristic of dialects of the Scots language. It makes perfect sense that it would be a Scotticism since so many Scots settled in the southern Appalachian mountains. 

According to Kephart, in Our Southern Highlanders, similar terms include: broguin' about; loaferin' about; prodjectin' around; santern' about; shacklin' around; spuddin' around; and traffickin' about. .

A few more that I've heard and occasionally use:
lollygagging; dilly-dallying; dawdlin'; piddlin'; assin' around (sometimes pronounced asslin'); monkeying around; and my personal favorite and most used, fiddle farting around. 
Example: Son, I told you to turn that video game off 30 minutes ago. Now stop fiddle farting around and get ready to go! 

Appalachian vocabulary sure is colorful, ain't it? Have you heard any of these phrases in your area? Did I miss any that you've heard or still use? Let me know in the comments! 


Monday, March 20, 2017

As Appalachian As Cobbler

I had a craving for something sweet this evening which is nothing new. It happens WAY too often. I was mentally going through what was in my pantry and I realized that I had everything I needed to throw a peach cobbler together: peaches that I had canned this past summer, flour, sugar, butter, and milk. Simple enough, right?

Those simple ingredients are something that most people have on hand at any given time and they are something that the early Appalachian settlers would've had too. Many of their old recipes were transformed because the ingredients needed were hard to come by. They "cobbled" together what they had, usually using canned, dried, or fresh fruits. 

Now I'm not saying that cobbler is strictly an "Appalachian " dessert but I think it's safe to say that you'd have a hard time attending an Appalachian get-together (reunion, dinner on the grounds, homecoming, etc) that didn't have a cobbler or two. It has become an accepted part of our food DNA. 


My peaches from this past summer.  


My granny and mom always used a super simple recipe that seems to be very popular online - One Cup Cobbler. It's called this because you need: 



  • 1 cup of fruit (not drained - I used home canned peaches that I preserved with honey instead of sugar but you can use a can of store bought peaches too)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour (or 1 cup plain + 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
That's it! Of course you can modify it a little here and there which happens to be what I did. This was what went through my mind after I gathered all of my ingredients...

Wow, one cup of sugar seems like a lot. Those peaches are already sweet so I'm going to half it. That'll make it a little healthier. I think I'll also add another can of peaches but I'll drain the second one. More fruit is healthier, right? Right! Maybe I should cut out some of the butter...who am I kidding? The butter stays! This sure is going to make a big cobbler. But there will be leftovers for a day or two! Right, you know good and well that you're going to end up eating peach cobbler for breakfast tomorrow morning. But it's okay because it has less sugar and more fruit! 

This is my struggle every time I make dessert, y'all. Every. Time. Enough of that. Let me tell you how I throw all of this together. First, preheat your oven to 350*. Unwrap your butter, put it in a 9x13" baking dish, and let that butter begin melting while you mix up everything else. Mix your milk and sugar together and then mix in your flour a little at a time to avoid it clumping up. I also add a little cinnamon but that's totally optional. Once your butter has melted, remove your dish from the oven and pour your batter into it. If you're using one can of peaches, just pour the whole thing over the top. If you decide to be healthy *ahem* and add more fruit, drain your second can. Do not stir. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour. 

Hot from the oven! 

Most southerners enjoy a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top, but I'm trying to be healthy. ;) Strawberry rhubarb is my favorite kind of cobbler but I didn't have either on hand and went with the peaches. What's your favorite kind of cobbler? 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Summer In The Mountains

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 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 childhood home in Clintwood, VA.

Summer In The Mountains

By the time the morning sun topped the tree line on the ridge by our mountain home, everyone in our family had finished breakfast and moved on to their specific chores for the day. Breakfast came early at our house. We were to be up and ready to eat breakfast by 6:00 a.m. every day. Cows were waiting to be milked, hogs waiting to be slopped, chickens waiting to be fed, eggs waiting to be gathered and the family dog Rookie waiting for another adventure with my brother Johnnie. The girls had the inside chores like making beds, washing dishes and sweeping floors right after breakfast. Mom would usually be in the kitchen preparing to cook, can, freeze or bake anything that had been harvested from our gardens. Dad would be out on the mountainside working to keep down the weeds or burning off the trees, twigs, weeds or bushes as a way of strengthening up the soil to start yet another garden spot for more crops. We raised all the usual, including corn, beans, peas, lettuce, carrots, onions, beets, squash, pumpkins, watermelon, and okra (my least favorite). We also had fruit trees which included apple, pear, peach and papaw (which was dad's favorite). Growing wild in the area was blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and ground cherries. Of course, my dad had his well known strawberry patch which I am sure helped clothe us and keep shoes on our feet throughout the year.
After all our chores were done, we could run wild in the mountains as we pleased. Johnnie would take the dog Rookie and play his games of Cowboys and Indians. Joyce, Marline and I would never venture far from the house. We spent a lot of our time on the big front porch swinging and dreaming through the Sears and Roebuck catalog, planning our future. Many times there were interruptions of Mom calling us to come wash up some canning jars or churn up some buttermilk or help string some beans, or hang some clothes on the line. It seemed there was always something to do especially in the summer.
The mountains held all the entertainment we needed. All around us were a multitude of lessons to be learned from experience. We learned early what was safe and what was not. Swinging on the wild grape vines that intertwined thorough the expanse of trees surrounding our home was something we could not resist, even with the warnings from our Mom that they were unsafe. We could always find something to snack on throughout the hillside. Mountain Teaberry is an experience that is beyond belief. Though the berries are hard to find and as hard to see, the taste is worth the effort of the search. If you have never heard of this treat, just imagine Teaberry Gum in its true organic form. We also could chew on birch bark from young birch trees. And though we had a huge strawberry patch at our disposal, we would gladly forego those to have strawberries growing wild in the mountains. And a cool mountain stream was never far away if we were thirsty.
Rookie was our faithful watch dog and we could always tell by his bark whether there was an intrusive animal about or if a stranger was lurking around, or even if he had roused up a copperhead. The air in the mountains was clear and refreshing. The sounds of critters and crickets were always present. During the day, we could hear all kinds of birds including the woodpecker, the bob white and the ever present crow raiding our corn patch. Sometimes Mom would allow us the take out the old .22 rifle and shoot a warning shot to scare them away. However I am sure they ate more in corn than the cost of the shells we wasted. As dusk fell, we would watch and listen for the elusive whippoorwill. As night time grew we would all gather on the front porch and share the quiet of the evening with a chorus of croaking frogs in the nearby river. Two swings and many chairs, most likely home made, offered us comfort as we rested our bodies from the days work. In the cooler evenings. we would have a quilt to work on instead of sitting outside. I have spent many hours sitting with my dad on that front porch watching a thunder storm move into the area or move off into another direction as the rain fell and serenade us with the gentle sound of nature.
As summer drew to a close we would find a new crop of treats out in the mountains. Chinquapins, beech nuts, butternuts as well as black walnuts were plentiful. The cooler autumn days drew us deep into the mountains searching for ginseng which we dug, brought home to dry and sold for a nice price. We never knew for sure where this ginseng ended up but we sure enjoyed the search for the big red berries that honed us in to that much sought after treasure. As the days marched on and the winter winds blew, we could bring summer time back again by opening up a quart of green beans or corn from our can house or a pint of frozen strawberry jam from the freezer. We knew the mountains awaited us for yet another year of work and pleasure as we enjoyed summer in our Appalachian Mountains.



I hope you enjoy this short story as much as I did! I look forward to sharing more from Jequeta in the future. 


Monday, March 13, 2017

Planting By The Moon & Signs

There are still plenty of people who hold to the old ways and plant by the moon and signs in Appalachia. This is nothing new and has been passed on for generations. 


A shot we got of the Harvest Moon - September, 2016.

Some believe that if the moon can effect the ocean's tide, it can also effect seeds and plants. This method states that you should plant above ground crops when the moon is waxing (getting bigger). Above ground crops consist of things like green beans/peas, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, greens, etc. Below ground crops (carrots, potatoes, radishes, etc.) should be planted when the moon is waning (getting smaller). 

Learning about the signs is a little more complicated. Each month, the moon passes through each sign of the zodiac. These signs can be divided into four elements:
  • Water - Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
  • Earth - Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
  • Fire - Leo, Ares, Sagittarius
  • Air - Gemini, Aquarius, Libra

The fertile elements are water and earth while the barren elements are fire and air. For the most part, you want to plant during the fertile signs and prune and harvest during the barren signs. You'll also want to combine the phase of the moon with a fertile sign. Example: You should plant your tomatoes during one of the fertile signs (water or earth) while the moon is waning (getting smaller). 

You should always avoid planting while the moon is full, new, or in a quarter phase. It's also important to check to see when the last frost date for your area is. 

The first Foxfire book is a wonderful source for more about planting by the signs. You can order a copy for yourself HERE. They are a great resource for learning more about the old ways and homesteading. Here's a description of the first book that I found at the Foxfire webpage:

"This volume, the original anthology, celebrates the home life and creative history of Appalachia, featuring sections on hog dressing, log cabin building, soap making, basket weaving, planting by the signs, preserving foods, making butter, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, and moonshining."

Another great place that has all of this figured out for you is The Old Farmer's Almanac. You can find the moon's phases and when the signs are in the perfect stage for planting. They also have great gardening tips! You can also check out a recent post at The Blind Pig & The Acorn where a fellow blogging friend of mine shares her recommendations for planting by the signs. It's also a great source if you're if you're interested in learning more about Appalachia. She's been doing this blog stuff much longer than I have! (Simply click on the red words & it'll take you there.) 

Do you follow the signs when planting?