5 Things

True Appalachain Men

1. These 4 men recently received a well deserved Award of Excellence for the work they do. Knowing the people they provide service for on a daily basis nominated them for the award makes it that much sweeter. Knowing every last one of them is a true Appalachian man born and raised right here in my mountains makes my heart sing. If you didn't recognize him, The Deer Hunter is the third back from the front. If I were going on an epic journey filled with great peril-these are the men I would beg to go with me. They could handle any task, chore, or issue that arose-AND they would tackle it all with an encouraging kind compassionate spirit.

In memory of Pap Wilson
2. We have been overwhelmed by the out pouring of love that has rained down upon our heads since Pap died. Hugs, love, food, cards, letters, emails, texts, flowers, donations to the JCCFS music scholarship in Pap's name, stories, kind words, books donated to libraries in Pap's name, and even rings-all given to us in memory of Pap and what he meant to the givers and to the receivers.

Pap loved the avett brothers

3. I've told you before that Pap was a fan of The Avett Brothers. He liked their music, he liked the lyrics to their songs even more. He said he didn't know about all that jumping around they do sometimes, but he sure liked how they did their own thing and still managed to make it in the music world. Pap was really pleased when he found out their uncle was his friend and fellow musician Wally from right over in Martins Creek. I never know when I'm going to bust into tears over missing Pap. The other morning on the way to work it was The Avett Brothers that caused it. As I listened to one of their songs I started thinking about what a cool old man Pap was. He not only knew who The Avett Brothers were, he could even tell you which of their songs he liked the best. I shared this one with him a few weeks before he passed. Like many of their original songs it has an old sound but with a totally modern interpretation.

Granny Gazzies Pink Rose
4. Years ago Granny gave me a start of an old fashioned pink rose she got from her mother, my Granny Gazzie. I planted it beside the driveway and fell in love with it the first spring it bloomed. The prettiest deep pink you ever seen, but even better than the color is the sweet fragrance. After a year or two I realized choosing to plant the rose by the driveway was a mistake. I had to constantly keep it pruned back out of the way. I finally wised up and started a piece of the rose near the edge of a bank on around the house where it could sprawl and grow to its heart's content. The rose only blooms once in the spring but it's worth waiting on.

Stamey creek creations unique jewelry from appalachia
5. If you haven't checked out Chitter's Stamey Creek Creations Etsy Shop lately you need to. She's added some especially interesting designs lately. I especially like the snap type clasp she's used on some of them-very easy to put on when you're in a hurry.  


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How to Make Pickled Beets

How to make pickled beets 

The pickled beet recipe I prefer to use can be found in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I've tried pickled beet recipes that called for onions and other things, but they all seemed too complicated for my bunch. I've found simple is often what works best for us. 

Pickled beets recipe 
The recipe calls for 3 quarts of beets or about 24 small ones. None of the beets that we grow are ever the same size. I have gigantic beets and little bitty ones too.

I cook and peel them like Miss Cindy taught me to do years ago. It's so much easier to peel them after they're cooked.

I slice the cooked beets and then see if I have 3 quarts. Sometimes I end up with 6 quarts. If I do, I doubled the recipe and it works out perfect. *The measurements below are for a single run of pickles using 3 quarts of beets.

Old time recipe for pickled beets 

In a large stock pot combine: sugar, cinnamon, whole allspice, salt; vinegar, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The ball recipe says to remove the cinnamon sticks at this point, but I leave them and just make sure one doesn't go into the jars as I finish the pickles.

While the pickling mixture is simmering sterilize your jars. The Deer Hunter likes to heat his jars in the oven, I prefer to use a dishpan full of simmering water.

Best pickled beet recipe 
Pack the sliced beets into the jar;

Easy recipe for pickled beets 
Ladle hot pickling mixture in the jar leaving a 1/4 inch headspace; attach lids and rings.

Canning pickled beets 
Process pints and quarts 30 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Print Pickled Beets Recipe (right click on link to print recipe)

How to can pickled beets 

I have beets in the garden ready to pickle, I hope to accomplish that task next week sometime. Do you like pickled beets? The Deer Hunter and I love them-the girls not so much. Chatter and Chitter say pickled beets taste like dirt. I say I know they do but I still like them!


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This Little Light of Mine

This post was originally published right here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in 2013.

Oconaluftee church smoky mtn park

A few months back, we visited the Lufty Baptist church in the Smoky Mountain National Park. If you've been reading the Blind Pig for a while, you'll probably remember the time we hiked back to the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church (if you missed it-just click on the words in orange) 

Last fall Chatter was looking through some videos when she came across the one we filmed at Little Cataloochee. She said "You know that was one of funnest things we ever did. Didn't you say there were other churches in the park?" I told her there were other historic churches in the park and she said "Well lets go sing in another one!"

I passed Chatter's wish along to Don Casada-aka Smoky Mountain Park Expert. With Don's help we planned a trip to the historic Lufty Baptist Church.

Lufty Baptist Church

The church is located near Cherokee, NC and is easily accessible. There's a place to park within view of the church which made carrying the guitar a breeze compared to toting it back to the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church.

Smokemont Baptist Church

There's a sign at the bottom of the hill that reads Smokemont Baptist Church. One closer to the church reads Lufty Baptist Church. Don loaned me a book about the church: Ocona Lufta Baptist Pioneer Church of the Smokies 1836-1939

Ocona lufta baptist church

The morning we set out for the church was cold, but the day warmed up fast and the sun shone brightly for us. We'd been planning the trip for a few weeks. The girls knew what songs they wanted to film, but it seemed like every time they planned to practice something came up. I hoped they would at least be able to practice the night before the trip.

Unfortunately, the day before the trip ended up being filled with teenage angst. Once I realized there'd be no practicing that night either, I wondered if we should call the whole thing off, but both girls begged me not to and promised they could handle it. 

Visiting lufty baptist church

Since the church was shut up tightly and the sun didn't quite hit it, the inside was cold! Even though the sun felt warm outside you could literally see your breath inside the building.

Historic buildings in the smoky mtn park

We checked out all the cool details of the church and then it was time to get down to the business at hand.


After the girls changed into their performing outfits they found some flowers that had been thrown over the bank. Don said he thought someone had recently had a wedding at the church. The flowers just happen to match the girls' outfits which tickled them to death.

Smokemont nc

When the silliness finally subsided (it never goes completely away) the girls made some of the best music they've ever made. I'm not sure if they were trying to make it up to me or if it was just the perfect day for singing.

Once we had planned the trip to Lufty Baptist Church, I kept hoping a story would come to me the way the Cora Lee Mease story did when we visited Little Cataloochee Baptist Church.

No story came in the days leading up to the trip.

I looked in every nook and cranny of the church the day we were there-still no story. I thought well, it may just be about us this time.

A good while after we visited Lufty Baptist Church the story finally came. It's not anything like the Cora Lee Mease story. Actually it's more of a connection or a thought than a story.

Drop back by over the coming days for more about the church, the singing, and the story too. 


I hope you enjoyed this re-post. The girls have been wanting to film in another historic church and I'm hoping we can make that happen sometime this summer so be on the lookout for another Pressley Girls church singing video.


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Ever Hear of a Yonce Bean? How about a Young Prince Bean?

Younce Bean in appalachia
A few years ago Brian, one of The Deer Hunter's friends told him about a greenbean variety that had been passed down through his family for generations. The family lives in the Junaluska area of Cherokee County.

Young prince or younce bean heirloom bean in appalachia

Brian's family call the variety a Yonce Bean. Brian figures that's probably because whoever first gave the bean to his ancestors was a Yonce. 

The bean is a bush bean. Brian said the bean plants will produce more than once over the course of the summer. The greenbean is larger than a white half-runner or greasy bean. When it's cooked the greenbean makes almost a broth. They are very tasty.

When I questioned Brian about how long his family had grown the Yonce Bean he said his Granny told him her parents grew it from the time she was a little girl. Her brother, Alvin who is 95 years young, told Brian he remembered the greenbean was also called Young Prince.

The family almost lost the bean seed several years ago and have only recently built up their stock enough to share. This is the first year we've tried growing the Yonce Bean. I'll let you know how it does.


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing this Saturday May 21 at 3:00 p.m. at the Stecoah Valley Center

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Reaching for the Sunshine

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2013.

My life in appalachia reaching for the light

The other evening I was walking up the hill from Granny and Pap's when I noticed a Blackberry briar growing in an unlikely place. I probably would have never noticed it-except the white blooms seemed to shine in the shady edge of the woods.

The roots of the blackberry lay well within the woods. The briar was long and lanky with not many leaves or blooms except for the portion that had found its way out into the sunlight. 

I stood there looking at the blackberry briar thinking it was truly profound. Even though it was rooted in the damp dark woods beyond the ditch, it fought its way through the trees and laurels into the sunshine where it bloomed in fragrant beauty in the hope that it would produce berries-its life's calling. 

I walked home, got my camera, and went back down the hill to take a photo. I thought "Maybe if I take a photo and write about the lone blackberry briar on the Blind Pig it will remind me to reach for the sunshine too."  


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Sow True Seed Cucumber Reporting @ Large Update


Blind pig and the acorn cucumber reporters at large sponsored by sow true seed

I finally manged to get my Sow True Seed Reporting @ Large Cucumber varieties planted. At the end of a long tiring day Chitter helped me plant:

Slicing Cucumber Muncher: I've never grown this variety before. I typically grow cucumbers that stay on the smaller size because I think they taste better, but the description states that this one won't get bitter even at the longer lengths that it grows-so I'm anxious to see how it turns out. 

Richmond Green Apple: I have grown this one before - it's an excellent producer for us. The roundish cucumbers have a milder flavor and the skin seems thinner to me. 

Marketmore 76: This one is described as one of the best all around cucumbers - even good for selling at the market. I've never grown it before either. 

Boston: According to the description, this is the cucumber for pickling. I'm excited about growing it for the first time because I put up lots of pickles each summer. 

Bush Pickle: I grow this one every year. It is a great producer and it does take up way less space than cucumber varieties that run. 

Suyo Long: These babies can grow up to 18 inches long!!! I was excited about trying them for their size alone, but somehow I didn't mange to keep any of the seed. I'll be anxious to see how they do for the Blind Pig and The Acorn Cucumber Reporters @ Large. 

Sow True Seed is hosting a giveaway, you can read all about it and about growing sweet potatoes here

If you signed on to be a Cucumber Reporter @ Large send me an update when you get a chance and I'll share your report with everyone. I've only gotten one so far so I'm anxious to see how everyone else is faring. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing this Saturday May 21 at 3:00 p.m. at the Stecoah Valley Center

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Appalachian Sayings - Spitting Image

The Pressley Girls and Pap
Chitter, Pap, and Chatter 

spitting image = looks just like someone

There are lots of folks who can't tell the girls apart, don't feel bad if you're one of them. Most of the time folks who are around them often pick up on the differences in their personality and use those nuances to tell which one is which. However there are a few people who have trouble distinguishing between the two even though they're around them on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I've never thought they looked that much alike. I will admit, when I look at photographs of them I do see the startling similarities that are found in twins.

From the very first day I laid my eyes upon them I saw Chatter as being the spitting image of her Daddy and Miss Cindy. Chitter on the other hand was a Wilson up one side and down the other as they say.

Today, I still see the family genetics clearly showing themselves in the same manner when I look at the girls.

I've always thought Chitter especially looked like Pap through the brow of her face. After Pap passed away we collected photos to share with folks at the funeral. Ben noticed that Pap had his eyebrow cocked in the same position in most every photo. I said "That's it! Chitter does her eyebrow just like that sometimes!! That's why I always think she looks like Pap!" Another time I think Chitter looks just like Pap is when she squints her eyes. 

We all see things differently though.

Even though I believe Chatter gets her looks from her Daddy's family, Pap always said Chatter reminded him so much of his grandmother Carrie. One time Zelma Mason, who lived down the road, told me the same thing about Chatter-she said "That one is the spitting image of your great grandmother Carrie."

spitting image = looks as if the child were spit from their mouth


p.s. On the day the photo above was taken the girls played at a 9-11 Service. There was even a camera crew there to film part of it for NC Public TV. Chatter got her guitar some kind of all messed up and out of tune. Pap swooped in tuned the guitar and told the girls not to be nervous cause he'd be right there in the front if they needed anything-in other words his helpful and encouraging manner saved the day as it so often did. 

p.s.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing this Saturday May 21 at 3:00 p.m. at the Stecoah Valley Center

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How do You Eat Green Onions?

Best way to eat green onions

This time of the year is the best for eating green onions. I swear a green onion straight from the garden makes anything taste better.

Green onions and salt

My favorite way to eat them is to shake out an ample supply of salt and dip every bite of onion into the salt.

Another favorite way to use green onions this time of the year is to fix kill lettuce-a traditional Appalachian recipe.

Green onions in appalachia
Pap once shared the story below with me, one of his friends told it to him years ago.

A new preacher was elected to the local church. Once the preacher began the usual tradition of going home with members for Sunday dinner it became apparent this particular preacher had an insatiable appetite-to the point that folks began to dread having to play host to him. Members of the church knew their turn to have the preacher home for Sunday dinner would come sooner or later. 

One man decided he knew exactly how to handle the situation when he and his wife were called upon to feed the preacher. As everyone sat down to the dinner table, the father said "Well preacher we don't have much but we're more than willing to share what we do have. We're going to have some onions and salt for dinner." The preacher said "Oh I don't eat onions." The father said "Well help yourself to the salt."


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing this Saturday May 21 at 3:00 p.m. at the Stecoah Valley Center

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At the Name of Jesus

Original music by Pap Jerry Wilson
Pap picking on Granny Gazzie's front porch - Ranger, NC

Pap has written tons of songs over the years.  I always liked the songs he wrote, but as I got older the songs took on a brighter meaning for me because I knew each word described what was in Pap's heart and mind.

At The Name Of Jesus is among my favorite songs penned by Pap. From the first time I heard it-I loved it. The song has a lonesome sound to it. The tune is reminiscent of the ballads Appalachia is so often associated with.

I liked the song so much, that when the girls first started singing with Pap in church I begged (then forced) them to learn it. At that young age, they thought the whooo part was embarrassing and they never did do the song more than once or twice.

We did eventually play the song together as a group. Chitter's fiddle seemed a perfect fit for the melody. I used to think  it was like Pap wrote it and then for all the years in between the song patiently waited to be played with all the needed instruments. 

I hope you enjoyed the video. The song is featured on Paul and Pap's new cd Shepherd of my Soul.  The cd contains 13 original songs written by Pap, 1 written by Paul, 3 gospel standards, and one Instrumental Reprise of the first song on the cd.  If you're interested in purchasing a cd you can buy one directly from me (go here for the details) or jump over to my the Blind Pig and The Acorn Etsy shop and pick one up there. 


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