Let's be honest — did anyone actually enjoy communion as a kid?
At my church, I'm pretty sure the “wine” was unsweetened prune juice and the “unleavened bread” tasted like saltless oyster crackers that had been left unsealed for six months. Compare them to the sugary bowl of Cap'N Crunch I ate before each service, and it's no surprise I grew up to be such a heathen.
Maybe things would have been different if I attended Emmanuel Baptist Church in Kanawha County, West Virginia. There, Chef Mike Costello’s grandmother helped keep the communion game strong.
"In the kitchen of the basement of the church," he said, "she and a lot of other women would be cooking together, and one of the things they'd be making, especially later in the week, were these communion wafers."
Though Mike never actually took them as communion, he and his brother would snack on the crackers while the church ladies cooked. "They were so light and crispy and salty. And they were just so delicious."
Looking back, he realizes this was the first time he watched a community come together to prepare food. As a farmer and chef, that's now part of his daily life. At Lost Creek Farm, Mike and his wife Amy Dawson host community dinners, and each meal starts with his childhood wafers.
"These little crackers," he said, "are some of the most significant things I could put on the plate."
See more from Mike and Amy below, and tell us about your experience with communion wafers. Have they been handmade delights like Mike's or prepackaged blandness like mine?
from Emmanuel Baptist Church
via Lost Creek Farm
Makes a half sheet pan of crackers
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Total time: 20-30 minutes
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup room temperature water
¼ cup canola oil (vegetable oil or olive oil can be used, as well)
1 teaspoon kosher salt or other medium-coarse salt, divided
Preheat oven to 400 degrees In a large bowl, combine the flour and ½ teaspoon of the salt, then stir to combine.
Add water and oil. Mix until ingredients are evenly combined and there are no pockets of flour remaining. The dough should come together as a soft mass. It should feel slightly oily, but not at all sticky.
On a floured surface, roll dough evenly, maintaining the general shape of your baking pan. Flour dough, rotate and turn over frequently during the rolling process. Roll until thin, about ⅛ inch or thinner.
Sprinkle the remaining salt evenly over the dough. If desired, add other flavoring (herbs, spices, seeds, cheese, etc.). Make a light pass over dough with a rolling pin to press additives into the dough. Carefully transfer dough to a baking sheet.
Use a sharp knife or a rotary cutter to trim excess dough from edges of pan. Cut crackers into desired shape. If making crackers larger than 1 or 2 inch squares, poke several holes into the dough with a fork.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before serving.
With layers of cake and spiced apples, this hearty desert is sort of Appalachia's answer to the English trifle. And like the trifle, it can have variations. <
A delicious mini version, the fruit stack pie uses fewer layers and invites you to pick whatever filling you like best. Apple, peaches, pears, plums — they're all game in this second scrumptious recipe in Foxfire's baking series. Inspired by the hit TV show The Great British Bake Off, this Appalachian culture and history center is drawing from over fifty years worth of recipes to spotlight four delicious bakes.
Have you ever had an apple stack cake? What do you think about this adaptation?
Be sure to leave a comment below, and check out the first recipe in this series — Scotch Cake.
*The original recipe calls for 1 full cup sugar + 1/2 cup molasses. We found this was too sweet and reduced it.
**We recommend making your own filling; any pie filling will do, so long as the juices are cooked to a thick syrup. Check out our post on half-moon pies for instructions on making apple pie filling.
Sift together dry ingredients in separate bowl. Cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Mix in molasses/sorghum. Slowly mix the flour mixture into egg moisture. Divide dough into 3 or 4 balls. Lay out 3-4 squares of parchment paper. Trace a 9″ circular cake pan on each parchment sheet then flip over. Roll out dough (one on each parchment sheet) to 1/4-inch thick and bake each circle about 5-8 minutes in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven. (Watch these closely!) Let pastry cool completely, and then spread fruit between each layer of pastry and stack. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
For more stacking layers, double the recipe! If you find your layers are too dry, add a little buttermilk to get the consistency you want. But remember, after it sits overnight, the layers will soften from the fruit juices.
This photo ran with the recipe when it was originally published in 1984. Photo provided by Foxfire.
True confession — I am obsessed with The Great British Bake Off. Watching it, I discover amazing food like pavlova, a meringue dish named after a Russian ballerina. I find inspiration in the contestants, who exude camaraderie even as they compete, sometimes even helping one another in a pinch. And I laugh out loud at the show's comedian hosts. Seriously, I'd buy a Noel Fielding action figure if I could find one.
Turns out, I'm not the only one who loves the show. The folks at Foxfire, Appalachia's premier center for history and culture, are honoring Bake Off with a delicious series of mountain bakes. Having collected heritage recipes in the region for more than fifty years, they have no shortage of options.
After a lot of pondering, baking, and eating, they decided to start with scotch cake. This showpiece of a recipe was originally published in 1984 as part of their now classic collection The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. It's a spicy, warm cake that ends up surrounded by thick, fluffy frosting. As if that's not enough, it's then studded with pecans and coconut, making it both delicious and beautiful.
Have you ever tried or made a scotch cake? Would you? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Originally published and shared by Foxfire
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Icing (recipe follows)
Combine flour and sugar. Mix butter, oil, cocoa, and water in a saucepan; bring to a rapid boil and pour into flour and sugar mixture. Mix well. Add buttermilk, eggs (one at a time), soda, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour batter into two greased and floured 9-inch layer pans or a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. When cool, frost. Icing for Scotch Cake
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 box confectioners sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flaked coconut
Cream together butter and cocoa. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in confectioners sugar and mix thoroughly. Last add pecans and coconut.
As Quaker Oats acknowledges that Aunt Jemima syrup is "based on a racial stereotype" and rebrands the product, guest writer Dave Tabler looks back at the Appalachian woman who originally portrayed this controversial character.
Nancy Green (1834-1923), a former slave from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, moved to Chicago after the Civil War, where she went on to become one of the first African American models employed by an American company to promote a product.
Nancy Green as Aunt Jemima, by A.B. Frost. Not dated but likely c. 1890s.
Green was the first person to portray the character Aunt Jemima. The concept and backstory for the character had already been carefully scripted by Charles Rutt and Chris Underwood, founders in 1889 of the Pearl Milling Company.
They created America’s first ready-mixed pancake flour, and a year later registered the Aunt Jemima trademark and renamed the company the Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company. In 1893 they sold the Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company to the R.T. Davis Milling Company.
Nancy Green first appeared to the public that same year, presenting R.T. Davis Milling Company’s pancake mix at the Columbian Exposition (aka Chicago World’s Fair). Before trying out for the Jemima role, she had been working as a domestic for the Walker family, whose children grew up to become Chicago Circuit Judge Charles M. Walker and Dr. Samuel Walker.
Her Aunt Jemima was a hit: “Her exhibition booth drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving,” says her bio on the African American Registry.
“The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship.” The milling company proclaimed Green ‘The Pancake Queen,’ and signed her to a lifetime contract, which she honored until her death in 1923. Green’s ongoing presence, combined with the sophisticated marketing machine behind her, made such a lasting public impact that the company was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1914.
Green’s employers sought to merge her personal history with that of the fictional mammy, though the two couldn’t have been more different. And it worked: The Sunday Morning Star, in its 1923 obituary for her, described how her young charges Charles & Samuel Walker “spread her fame among their boy chums, and before long ‘Aunt Jemima’s pancakes’ became a common phrase in Chicago when good things to eat were discussed. A milling concern heard of her, searched her out, obtained her recipe, and induced her to make pancakes at the World’s Fair.”
Now, perhaps the boys waxed enthusiastic about ‘Nancy Green’s pancakes,’ though THAT phrase was certainly not the common one used throughout Chicago when ‘good things to eat were discussed.’ Nancy Green never created pancakes as ‘Aunt Jemima’ when she was a domestic at the Walkers. Also, Pearl Milling Company had formulated their ready-mix pancake formula long before they ever hired Green. They didn’t need her recipe.
“Aunt Jemima’s success,” says Kimberly Wallace-Sanders in Mammy: a century of race, gender and Southern memory, “was predicated upon a fascinating interweaving of commerce, memory, and racial nostalgia that served as a vehicle for post-Civil War national consolidation.
“Aunt Jemima was created to celebrate state-of-the-art technology through a pancake mix; she did not celebrate the promise of post-Emancipation progress for African Americans. Aunt Jemima’s freedom was negated in this role because of the character’s persona as a plantation slave, not a free black woman employed as a domestic.
“An African American woman, pretending to be a slave, was pivotal to the trademark’s commercial achievement in 1893. Its success revolved around the fantasy of returning a black woman to a sanitized version of slavery. The Aunt Jemima character involved a regression of race relations, and her character helped usher in a prominent resurgence of the ‘happy slave’ mythology of the antebellum South.
This doll is the daughter of the fictional character Aunt Jemima. “Diana Jemima” is written near the bottom of her backside. Aunt Jemima and her family were an advertising scheme by the R.T. Davis Mill Co.
“Nancy Green was a middle-aged woman living on the South Side of Chicago, working as a cook and housekeeper for a prominent judge. After a series of auditions, she was hired to cook and serve the new pancake recipe at the World’s Fair. Part of her act was to tell stories from her own early slave life along with plantation tales about Aunt Jemima’s New Orleans childhood written for her by a white southern sales representative.
“The Aunt Jemima trademark was constructed as part of the budding concept of an American Dream for the American family. One year after the Fair, the R.T. Davis Milling Company introduced the Aunt Jemima paper doll family: five dolls that could be cut out from the pancake box. Aunt Jemima’s paper doll family was one of the most popular company premiums; collectors still prize a complete set over the individual dolls.
“This popular re-creation of an African American woman’s life stood in direct opposition to the efforts of real African American women struggling to publicly assert their citizenship. As a symbol of racial harmony, Aunt Jemima proved to be the preferred version of African American womanhood — an exaltation of ‘slaveocracy’ nostalgia.”
It's an annual tradition at this point. Since 2015, we've published pawpaw cocktail recipes around the cusp of autumn. First, there was the elegant Appalachian Martini. Then we shared The Mabon, a spicy sweet mixture that honors the changing seasons. And, last year, we introduced the Pawpaw Whiskey Sour, a hillbilly take on this classic libation.
(If you're counting, we somehow missed publishing a recipe in 2016. Perhaps too many pawpaw cocktails?)
In spite of all these terrific drinks—which were created by my buddy Kat, an officer in the U.S. Air Force and aspiring mixologist— we've not talked much about the pawpaw puree that makes them possible.
If you've ever had fresh pawpaws in your home, you can probably guess where this is going. They ripen and rot in about fifteen seconds, attracting fruit flies faster than you can say North America's largest edible native fruit (which is exactly what the pawpaw is!)
But Kat, ever the innovator, had a great solution. What if you blended the pawpaw fruit and froze the resulting puree in ice cube trays?
This gives you little pawpaw pucks that you can thaw and use all year long. Want pawpaw cocktails at Thanksgiving? You're good to go. Ringing in the new year with pawpaw drinks? Absolutely. Planning a pawpaw-themed Valentine's Day? Nothing expresses unabashed love better.
So that's the secret to our pawpaw cocktails, including this year's silky smooth addition—Petticoat. Who knows when chefs began marrying creamy fruits with chocolate? From chocolate covered bananas to mango chocolate mousse, this classic combo always delights. Petticoat is no exception. The perfect after dinner drink, it's unapologetically rich, an exclamation point befitting the end of a delicious meal and, also, its flirtatious name.
2 ounces Mozart Black Chocolate Liqueur 3 tablespoons pawpaw puree 3/4 ounces half and half
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a champaign bowl.
I don't know that it's possible in Appalachia, but if your granny didn't teach you how to make chow chow, we have a treat for you. The below recipe was crafted by a team of chefs, farmers, and food fanatics who adore our region's signature relish so much, they named their new food festival after it.
Chow Chow, the event, will bring some of the nation's biggest food stars to Asheville, September 12 to 15, 2019, and promises to cement the Paris of the South's reputation as a culinary mecca.
It's helmed by restauranteur Katie Button, the chef and entrepreneur who sets up (and sometimes breaks down) food ventures faster than most of us make coffee. In 2011, she opened the Spanish influenced Curate, which was lauded as one of the 40 most important restaurants in the last 40 years by Food & Wine magazine. On the heels of writing a cookbook with the same name, she opened Nightbell, an upscale bar that pulled heavily from Appalachian food traditions. While it was hit, Katie made a tough choice and closed Nightbell, shifting her attention to Button & Co. Bagels, which opened last year and, now, Chow Chow, the festival that will spotlight Appalachia's creative spirit while bringing together all kinds of makers—from celebrity chefs to multi-generational farmers to millers, bakers, potters, weavers, and brewers.
And still, Katie still found time to chat with us!
The below interview has been edited a bit for brevity's sake. Also, be sure to post a comment—how do you like to eat your chow chow? And do you have a favorite recipe?
TR: What inspired Chow Chow—both the event and its name?
KB: Asheville is a city of makers, from beekeepers to farmers, to brewers, distillers, chefs, potters, glassblowers, it is pretty amazing everything that this city has to offer. We wanted a festival that celebrated all of the makers that come together around what we are calling the "creative table." As for the name, we loved the name Chow Chow because it incorporated a little bit of education about the region we are in, Southern Appalachia, and a pickle relish that is at the core of the food culture and history here.
TR: What are the must-do sessions for fans of Appalachian cooking? KB: Pickled in the Park is our main event throughout the weekend, and it should not be missed. There will be a makers market, tons of local and nationals chefs and beverage professionals, live music, demonstrations, educational experiences, and you will get to see some of our makers in action in our technique area. It will be the best way to learn the most about our corner of Appalachia. Each day will have different chefs and makers. On Friday in the park, Vivian Howard will be doing a conversation about pickles throughout the world and across North Carolina, and Ashley English and Barbara Swell will be doing a demo of cooking chow chow.
TR: I noticed that you all use the words “Appalachia” and “Blue Ridge” a lot, but I also see that chefs are coming from all over the country. Is this an Appalachian food event or a food event set in Appalachia? KB: It is a food event set in Appalachia. Therefore there will be lots of influence by the ingredients, culture, and traditions of the region popping up throughout the festival, however this festival is not exclusively about Appalachia. We are inviting chefs and friends of ours to come cook beside us, learn more about Asheville, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Southern Appalachia, and take what they learn back to their own communities.
TR: For folks who are visiting our mountains for the first time—celebrity and otherwise—what do you hope they take away from the experience? KB: I hope they learn something. We have really wanted to make all of our programming to have an educational element as well as a collaborative element inviting different types of makers to collaborate and work together at each event.
TR: You invited people to host “non-official” activities around the event? What’s the most exciting ones you’ve seen? KB: I'm super excited that Cherry Bombe [a magazine described by one of its founders as "food, femininity, and a kind of fierceness'] will be here hosting a panel discussion. I love what they do and the voice that they have in the restaurant industry, supporting women.
Mountain Dew — now the country's third most popular soft drink — began because two Knoxville brothers needed a tasty mixer for their bourbon.
That 1940s-styled Mountain Dew didn't taste like today's lemonade-citrus, caffeine- and sugar-charged drink. As clear as the moonshine whose moniker it borrowed, this Dew tasted like today's 7Up or Sprite.
Years later, when Mountain Dew began tasting like today's Mountain Dew, it was first called lemonade and sold in a clear bottle.
Turning a Knoxville whiskey mixer into a soft drink to "tickle yore innards" took mixology magic, business savvy and a marketing campaign filled with gun-toting, jug-swigging barefoot Appalachian hillbillies.
I’m sure that for the unsuspecting outsider the sight of my 110-lb granny climbing a West Virginia hillside with a burlap sack tied around her shoulder would have proven to be quite a spectacle – especially when she’d hunch over and begin filling her bag with what would appear to the untrained eye as nothing more than a bunch of weeds.
If asked what she was planning to do with all those “weeds”, I have no doubt that this 5ft.-nothing tower of a woman would have replied with something akin to, “these here ain’t no weeds – this is my poke salad.”
Pawpaws aren't just for eating. A while back, my friend Kat, an officer in the U.S. Air Force and aspiring mixologist, decided to try drinking North America's largest native fruit.
The results were pretty inspiring. The Appalachian Martini showed how classy our mountains can be. The Mabon married the pawpaw's creamy goodness with the heat of ginger and spiced rum. And now, I'm pleased to share the Pawpaw Whiskey Sour—an Appalachian twist on a classic. This latest drink retains some lemony bite, but the autumn fruit gives it a smooth complexity like I've never tasted.
Pawpaw Whiskey Sour
3 ounces bourbon
2-3 teaspoons pawpaw puree
1 egg white
1 teaspoon suger
Drop of lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to ensure the egg whites froth. Strain into rocks glass over ice.
How would you make an "Appalachian doughnut"? Maybe top it with moonshine glaze or fill it with pawpaw puree?
One family has taken up the challenge. In Charleston, West Virginia, they're selling fried dough that reflects local food traditions and, at the same time, builds community. This piece is from guest blogger Jennifer Gardner, who originally wrote it for Charleston Gazette-Mail. Thanks to them both for agreeing to share it here!
Is it presumptuous to say a couple selling doughnuts out of a 1960s trailer can grow the local economy?
But Charleston natives Stephanie and Josh Woody might be on to something. Last week, the couple debuted “Vandalia Donut Company” — a 6-foot-by-10-foot hyper local bakery on wheels that prominently features ingredients from the Mountain State and surrounding areas.
“I wanted it to be a business that we could take to Chicago and they would know that it’s from the Appalachian region,” Stephanie said. “We’re really proud of where we live, and we want people to know that really good things come from here.”
By “really good things,” she doesn’t only mean her fresh homemade donuts. “Our goal is to use this as a community builder,” Josh said. “Community is our goal, and we’re just using doughnuts to get there.”
It’s easy to sugarcoat things when you’re talking doughnuts. In fact, launching their company has been far more challenging than either of them thought it would be. For starters, neither has extensive experience in the food world; Stephanie is an interior designer and stay-at-home mom, and Josh is an engineer.
But they had an idea, which became a dream. Turning it into reality meant relying on a whole community of supporters.
The idea came about while the couple was visiting Stephanie’s family in Roanoke, Virginia. They stumbled upon an Amish family selling fresh doughnuts at a farmers market, which sparked the idea of opening a doughnut trailer. “We thought it looked easy and like something we could handle on the side,” Josh said.
They mulled it over without really committing until May, when Stephanie spotted a 1963 camping trailer for sale in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Facebook. The next day, the two hopped in their car and traveled to pick up the $500 fixer-upper, hoping this might be their pot of gold.
“It had been sitting in a field for who knows how many years,” Stephanie said. “It was a disaster. It was awful.”
But they have a love for do-it-yourself handy work — and some relevant experience. The two had fixed up a camper the previous summer for their family, using Stephanie’s background in interior design and Josh’s experience flipping houses.
“They’re just kind of their own animal,” Stephanie said. “They’re tiny and they have a lot of specialized parts and pieces. There are no square corners.”
They dragged the trailer to an auto shop in Charlotte to have new tires put on, and then towed it home to West Virginia, where it sat for the summer until they began renovations in late August. By then, they were “all in.”
It became a family project for the couple and their three kids. They tore the trailer down to its metal frame and started to rebuild. Neighbors, friends and family were part of the process, from helping build the trailer to taste-testing the doughnuts.
Along the way, they put in as much of Appalachia as they could. Hundred-year-old pieces from Bear Wood Company in Hurricane were used to build shelves, and local artist Kayleigh Phillips painted the logo. Elk City’s MESH Design and Development helped them develop the branding and come up with the name “Vandalia Donut Company.”
Vandalia was the chosen title of a proposed early British colony located in what is now West Virginia and northeastern Kentucky. It never came to be used as the state’s name, but it is still used throughout the Appalachian region.
“We both grew up going to the Vandalia Gathering and loved it,” Stephanie said. “It’s such a family-oriented event that is all about West Virginia culture. Any association I have with that name is positive.”
As for the ingredients: the eggs are from Lincoln County, the apples were grown in Jackson County and the salt is from J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works in Malden. The couple is also selling hot coffee custom-roasted by a man in Roanoke. “We’ve just had such a good time interacting with Charleston businesses, we wanted to try to support as many local businesses as we could,” Stephanie said. “It’s more expensive, but I feel like people will appreciate supporting the local economy.”
Making doughnuts in a tiny trailer poses its challenges — namely, space. So they make just a few flavors at a time. Each doughnut is made from scratch. The batter must be a perfect 71 degrees to achieve the right texture. Then the doughy rings are fried in a commercial doughnut machine Stephanie found at an apple orchard in Winchester, Virginia.
Vandalia Donut Company’s signature doughnut, Number 42, is the 42nd iteration of Stephanie’s original recipe. The doughnut is flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
“I knew I wanted it to be a buttermilk doughnut so it would have a little more fat and be a little more tender,” she said. “I knew I wanted it to be just the most basic, real ingredients. I didn’t want it to have any preservatives or anything you couldn’t make yourself at home.”
Once the signature recipe was down pat, the family began to test seasonal flavors. They decided to feature two specialty doughnuts each season. In honor of fall, they are currently featuring pumpkin and apple doughnuts.
The Great Pumpkin doughnut is the Number 42 recipe rolled in cinnamon sugar, topped with pumpkin pie and brown sugar vanilla bean cream, then drizzled with J.Q. Dickinson salted caramel.
The Apple Orchard doughnut is a Number 42 doughnut covered in an apple cider glaze, topped with fried apples and brown sugar vanilla bean cream, then sprinkled with brown sugar.
“The quality is as high as it’s going to get; we’re not cutting any corners,” Stephanie said. “For the apple cider glaze, I have to boil the apple cider for five hours. I wouldn’t do that if we had 10 different varieties.”
The signature and seasonal doughnuts debuted at Bible Center Church’s Trunk or Treat on Oct. 29. The truck was also set up at the George Washington high school football game on Friday.
Next, the bakery will be at the Clay Center’s grand opening of its new exhibits from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 18. Josh and Stephanie are also seeking a location where they could set up regularly in downtown Charleston, and plan to attend local events, including FestivALL. One day, Stephanie said the company might consider more varieties and even opening up a brick-and-mortar bakery on the West Side.
“Even if we don’t do anything past right now, the relationships that we’ve made with the people who we’ve worked with on this project so far have been so rewarding and so encouraging that it would be worth it for that,” she said. “We’ve made some great connections with people who love our city and love our state and who value the vision that people have for what we can be.”
You might remember The Appalachian Martini, a pawpaw-infused cocktail that showed how classy our mountains can be. Well, it's that time of year again. Appalachia's favorite fruit is falling from trees, and as the temperature begins to drop, we'll all need something to warm our innards.
This year, I'm pleased to introduce a cozy new drink—one that marries the pawpaw's creamy goodness with the heat of ginger and spiced rum. In honor of the changing seasons, it's called The Mabon, and like its martini cousin, it was created by my friend Kat, an officer in the U.S. Air Force and aspiring mixologist.
Kat, thank you for your service to our nation and also our taste buds!
3 ounces spiced rum
3/4 ounces St-Germain
2-3 tablespoons pawpaw puree
Splash of ginger beer
Add the rum, St-Germain, and pawpaw puree to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into rocks glass over ice. Fill the remainder of the glass with ginger beer.
The 2016 Appalachian Appetite food photo contest focused on family recipes. These are the kinds of dishes that connect us to forbearers, people who passed long before we were born; dishes that inspire transplants like me to cross state lines, sometimes even national borders, making our way home for a single meal; dishes that produce scents so powerful just one whiff surfaces memories of reunions, holidays, and childhood.
The Revivalist's readers know what I'm talking about. They submitted delicious images, some complete with recipes, showing everything from apple cobbler in a hundred-year-old cast iron skillet to sausage gravy being made by the photographer's grandfather. This special collection illustrated how deep roots run in Appalachia, and a few of these shots inspired people to vote big.
The year's second runner up was an image of chocolate gravy photographed by Emily Roberts in Gallatin, Tennessee. Emily said the dish always make her think of her granny. "She made it as a special treat for breakfast at her house," and was dead-on when she observed that it may be an Appalachian thing to turn whatever you have into some type of gravy.
Our first runner up, Carrie Cox of Salem, Virginia, shared a shot of "Baba's rolls." They were a signature dish of her grandmother's, whom she called Baba. "After she was no longer able to make them," explained Carrie, "my aunt used to make them for family holidays...eventually the recipe made its way to me."
And then we have our 2016 winner. Few things epitomize country cooking quite like canning. Beth Epley Minton learned this culinary art from her mother. "I can remember her canning all summer long," Beth said, "everything we harvested out of the garden." Among the garden's bounty were beets, which were featured in Beth's winning photo alongside cans of homemade sweet mix.
To this day, Beth and her sister still comb through their deceased mother's recipe box, uncovering dishes that date back for many generations. "They mean the world to me."
As the grand prize winner, Beth and a guest will enjoy a weekend getaway at Mast Farm Inn in North Carolina, complete with a meal at Over Yonder restaurant. Our first and second runners up receive one-year subscriptions to Smoky Mountain Living, and all three images will run in an upcoming issue of the magazine.
Thanks to all the shutterbugs who submitted and to everyone who helps keep our unique food heritage alive.