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Stories about Modern Appalachian Life

Back in January, West Virginia hosted the Cast Iron Cook-Off, which may be the tastiest day this side of Thanksgiving. Organizers describe it as "West Virginia’s culinary trade fair."
That seems like a sterile description for an event that features dishes like Butternut Squash Corndogs, Old School Vanilla Bean Waffles, and Sweet and Spicy Pork Rinds.
You can find the winners and, more importantly, the recipes on the event's website. Here's one to get you started:
Buttered Hickory Nut Ice Cream
from Cafe Cimino
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup chopped hickory nuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cooking Directions:
Into a medium hot skillet, add the butter and the nuts, stirring to avoid burning, and remove from the heat when they start to brown and soften, then set hickory nuts aside
Heat a sauce pan to low and pour in the heavy cream and milk and vanilla extract.
Blend the beaten eggs and brown sugar
Pour 3 tablespoons of the heated cream mixture into the bowl with the egg mixture to temper the liquid. Stir.
Once the egg mixture is tempered, pour it into the sauce pan at a rate of one-third of the mix every 45 seconds
Stir while simmering for two to three minutes
Then add the hickory nuts and romove from heat and let cool
pour this cooled mixture into your ice cream maker, mix until it becomes the texture of creamy custard
Serve garnished with a drizzle of maple syrup and whole hickory nuts
Serve with hot, black French Press coffee
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If you're from the mountains of Tennessee or North Carolina, go ahead and stop reading. You surely know all about Popcorn Sutton. He's dead now, but until last year he was a gun totin', model T driving, quick witted, self promoting one man tourist attraction on the Tennessee side of the state line. He was also a moonshiner.
Sutton was more than public about his illegal profession, which he likened to a calling. He wrote a book of his own --  the hard to find and even harder to afford Me and My Likker(currently priced at $428.24 on Amazon) -- and was the subject of a photo exhibit, countless articles and "The Last One," an Emmy Award winning documentary.
Some say Sutton was the last of his kind. That's debatable; I've met some pretty colorful mountaineers, but take one peak at the below clip. You'll see that Sutton was a character, and you might agree that his death, an apparent suicide sparked by a fifteen year sentence for making illegal liquor, was more than a loss to tourists and niche media. It was a loss to Appalachian culture.
If you'd like to see the full documentary "The Last One", I've read that it can be rented at TV Eye in Asheville. If that's not in your neck of the woods, you can also buy it online.
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[caption id="attachment_239" align="alignleft" width="219"] Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Institute and Museum of Ferrum College[/caption]
With Moonshine - Blue Ridge Style, the folks at the Blue Ridge Institute have broken the seal on home brew. Get your recipe, learn your jargon, and figure out which type of still is going to fit in your backyard, basement, or holler.
All the secrets are here, along with historic info and images. For instance, did you know that the last big bust ended just nine years ago in Franklin County, Virginia?
It revealed that the primary local producer had purchased 500 tons of sugar and 125,000 one gallon jugs in just four years. That's enough to give every man, woman, and child in nearby Roanoke City their own gallon and still have enough to throw one helluva' party at Ferrum College, home to the Blue Ridge Institute.
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