I Made Three Bean Salad for the First Time!

Three Bean Salad from Appalachia

When I go to a homecoming or dinner on the grounds I always keep an eye out for Three Bean Salad, but I've never made it myself until this past weekend. I was taking a look through one of my favorite Appalachian Cookbooks - Mountain Cooking by John Parris when I saw his recipe for Three Bean Salad and decided to make it with a few minor changes. 

Three Bean Salad - Adapted from Mountain Cooking by John Parris

  • 1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (Parris used greenbeans)
  • 1 can yellow wax beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 medium onion thinly diced (Parris sliced his onions)
  • 2 stalks of celery thinly sliced (Parris used 3 stalks)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (Parris used 2/3 cup)

Drain beans and rinse with cold water. Combine onion and celery; mix with beans.

Combine sugar, pepper, vinegar, salt, and oil; mix well. Pour sugar mixture over bean mixture and toss to combine. Place bean salad in refrigerator for several hours or overnight stirring or tossing several times to make sure all the beans marinate equally.

Drain before serving.

Print Three Bean Salad  (right click on link to print the recipe)

The amount of vinegar, oil, and sugar used can be easily changed depending on one’s taste. The original recipe called for diced pimentos. I left them out because I didn't have any on hand, but I'm sure they would be good in the salad too. 

The recipe I adapted from Mountain Cooking turned out very good. I'm betting more than a few of you have your own recipe for Three Bean Salad since it's such a common recipe. I'd love to hear about your recipe so please leave a comment and tell us about it.


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Father's Day in Appalachia

Fathers Day in Appalachia
Steve and Pap - 1970

Father's Day in Appalachia is special dinners with Daddy's favorite cake or pie. It's fathers young, middle aged, and old feeling backward and uncomfortable from the extra attention. Father's Day in Appalachia is gifts of cards, tools, shirts, books, or something as simple as painted rocks from the creek. 

Happy Father's Day to all the Fathers who read the Blind Pig and The Acorn. 


*UPDATE: It's 7:00 a.m. on Sunday June 11 and I just discovered Father's Day is next Sunday! Oh well guess I'm a week early but at least I'm not a day late and a dollar short like usual. 

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Appalachian Sayings - Help My Time

Appalachian saying help my time

Chitter, Morgan, and Chatter - 4th Grade Martins Creek Elementary

help my time interjection A mild exclamation of surprise.
1924 Spring Lydia Whaley 2 Well help my time. 1993 Ison and Ison Whole Nuther Lg 29 = an expression used as a soft exclamation. 1996 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Last week one of the girls' elementary teachers was cleaning off her computer and found the photo above and sent it to me. When I saw it I said "Help my time wasn't that just yesterday? How did they grow up so dadjimmed fast!"

Help my time is a saying of exclamation that is still very common in my area of Appalachia. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blairsville GA.

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Tipper's Fairy Tale - The Second Part

The emporer tree

I'm finally ready to share rest of my fairy tale with you. If you missed the first post about my own secret fairy tale-click here to read it first and then hit the back button to continue reading here.

The Princess Tree

My fairy tale has grown even larger since I first told you about it and now casts a large shadow over my kitchen window. Ten feet of growth in one summer is amazing and spooky all at the same time. Jack's beanstalk immediately comes to mind, but this fairy tale comes from a far and distant land: China.

Paulownia tomentosa is the scientific name of the species with the more common names being Princess Tree or Empress Tree. Even though the tree is not native to any portion of North America, it can be found from Canada to Florida and way out west in Washington and California too.

Once the tree matures it has purple drooping blooms which are then replaced by large seed capsules that are noticeable from a far distance.

Before the tree matures it has amazing green leaves that can grow to be as large as three feet wide. After maturity the leaves are smaller and more uniform in nature. The tree can reach heights of between 65 and 125 feet-hence the reason it can't stay hugged up to my kitchen window.

Unfortunately Paulownia tomentosa is invasive in some areas and interferes with the native vegetation. If you've ever ridden through the Nantahala Gorge you can see the trees seem to thrive a little to well in that environment.

Paulownia tomentosa the princess tree in appalachia

Just down the road from my house, where Pap lived when he was a boy, there is a lone Princess Tree standing tall in the pasture. There have been a few others here and there around our holler, but I'm not aware of any that have reached maturity.

There used to be one that grew to be about 20 feet tall near my uncle's house-right on the side of the road so you noticed it as you came or went. I paid special attention to the tree when cold weather arrived in the fall of the year. After the first heavy frost every leaf on the entire tree would fall off. The leaves would just be laying around the bottom of the trunk like giant curled pieces of paper.

Pap's Uncle Blaine brought the tree in the photo above out here with him back in the day.

Blaine Elmer Wilson 1911 1959

Blaine Wilson 1911-1959

What I mean when I say out here is that he brought it from the Asheville area to Brasstown. Our family has made their own sort of migration between Brasstown and the Asheville/Canton area over the years. One generation will decide to go back to one place or the other and another will decide to stay where they are at, but it's always seemed like Pap's family was connected to both areas. 

Blaine lived from 1911 till 1959 so I never knew him, but Pap had fond memories of Blaine. Pap said he loved to fish and hunt and was even President of a Wildlife Association at one time. Blaine found the fishing especially nice out this way.

Pap said Blaine brought what he thought were Catawba trees to plant around the old home place. Catawba trees are well liked by fishermen because they attract what is commonly known as a catawba worms. Actually they're caterpillars, but either way fish seem to like them.

Blaine thought if the trees grew he'd have instant fish bait when he came out to visit and fish. He unknowingly had Princesses Trees and the only one that survived to maturity is the one in the pasture.

Empress Tree

After my fairy tale started growing under my kitchen window I started asking questions about the tree and Pap told me the story of Blaine and his hopes of ready fish bait. I never thought of asking around to see if any of my family had a photo of Blaine until Pap told me the story. Sure enough someone had a picture and they were kind enough to send it to me. I couldn't wait to see Blaine's face-you know to see if he looked like any of us.

In a very serendipitous manner I was sent the picture of Blaine holding the fish, even though the person who sent it had no clue why I wanted a photo of Blaine or anything about Pap's story of Blaine and the fish bait trees. 

So why do I think the Princess Tree growing under my kitchen window is a fairy tale? Because in the 17 years we've lived in this house not one Princess Tree has come to grow around our place. The tree is magical because it grew over 10 feet in one summer and has 3 foot wide leaves.

Mostly I think it's a fairy tale because my Great Uncle Blaine, a man I never knew, brought the parent of my Princess Tree to my mountain holler all those years ago. It's like Blaine settled down by the house to wait and then when I was ready he knocked on the kitchen window and told me to come find out who he was.

My fairy tale came full circle once I was sent the photo of Blaine holding a fish and now I'm sure Uncle Blaine won't mind a bit when I let The Deer Hunter cut the tree down. 


It's been 5 years since I first shared my fairy tale with you and in that time not one Princess Tree has decided to take up residence around my house. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blairsville GA.

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Appalachia Through My Eyes - The Man Who Can Fix Anything

My life in appalachia the man who can fix anything

The Deer Hunter is the man who can fix anything. I swear it doesn't matter what is tore up he can figure out a way to make it work like new. Sometimes I think he's MacGyver-remember him from tv?

Unlike most musicians we don't own a sound system so we're always at the mercy of whoever we're playing for and often have to just make the best with what's available. At a recent show they were one vocal mic short which meant Paul or Chatter one would have to play and sing into the same microphone. The gentleman helping out thought he saved the day by finding another stand in the back until we noticed it was missing the mic holder. Oh well we all said, we'll make do.

Before I knew what was going on The Deer Hunter followed the man back to the room where he found the extra stand to see if he could find something else that might work. When he failed to find anything he taped the microphone to the stand allowing the audience to hear Paul's amazing flat top picking as well as his beautiful voice. I said "Where in the world did you get the tape?" The Deer Hunter said "I had it on the handle of my knife, all I had to do was take two pieces off." See what I mean about MacGyver? Who carries tape on their knife handle just in case?

I know there are resourceful people like The Deer Hunter all over the world, but it seems my area of Appalachia is chock full of them: folks that can figure out how to fix things with what they have on hand and I'm mighty glad to be married to one of those people. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blairsville GA.

Appalachia Through My Eyes - A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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The Mountain Whippoorwill - Stephen Vincent Benet

The Mountain Whippoorwill written by Stephen Vincent Benet

The Mountain Whippoorwill written by Stephen Vincent Benet 1925

Up in the mountains, it's lonesome all the time,
(Sof' win' slewin' thu' the sweet-potato vine.)

Up in the mountains, it's lonesome for a child,
(Whippoorwills a-callin' when the sap runs wild.)

Up in the mountains, mountains in the fog,
Everythin's as lazy as an old houn' dog.

Born in the mountains, never raised a pet,
Don't want nuthin' an' never got it yet.

Born in the mountains, lonesome-born,
Raised runnin' ragged thu' the cockleburrs and corn.

Never knew my pappy, mebbe never should.
Think he was a fiddle made of mountain laurel-wood.

Never had a mammy to teach me pretty-please.
Think she was a whippoorwill, a-skittin' thu' the trees.

Never had a brother ner a whole pair of pants,
But when I start to fiddle, why, yuh got to start to dance!

Listen to my fiddle -- Kingdom Come -- Kingdom Come!
Hear the frogs a-chunkin' "Jug o' rum, Jug o' rum!"
Hear that mountain whippoorwill be lonesome in the air,
An' I'll tell yuh how I travelled to the Essex County Fair.

Essex County has a mighty pretty fair,
All the smarty fiddlers from the South come there.

Elbows flyin' as they rosin up the bow
For the First Prize Contest in the Georgia Fiddlers' Show.

Old Dan Wheeling, with his whiskers in his ears,
King-pin fiddler for nearly twenty years.

Big Tom Sargent, with his blue wall-eye,
An' Little Jimmy Weezer that can make a fiddle cry.

All sittin' roun', spittin' high an' struttin' proud,
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh better bug yore eyes!)
Tun-a-tun-a-tunin' while the jedges told the crowd
Them that got the mostest claps'd win the bestest prize.

Everybody waitin' for the first tweedle-dee,
When in comes a-stumblin' -- hill-billy me!

Bowed right pretty to the jedges an' the rest,
Took a silver dollar from a hole inside my vest,

Plunked it on the table an' said, "There's my callin' card!
An' anyone that licks me -- well, he's got to fiddle hard!"

Old Dan Wheeling, he was laughin' fit to holler,
Little Jimmy Weezer said, "There's one dead dollar!"

Big Tom Sargent had a yaller-toothy grin,
But I tucked my little whippoorwill spang underneath my chin,
An' petted it an' tuned it till the jedges said, "Begin!"

Big Tom Sargent was the first in line;
He could fiddle all the bugs off a sweet-potato vine.

He could fiddle down a possum from a mile-high tree,
He could fiddle up a whale from the bottom of the sea.

Yuh could hear hands spankin' till they spanked each other raw,
When he finished variations on "Turkey in the Straw."

Little Jimmy Weezer was the next to play;
He could fiddle all night, he could fiddle all day.

He could fiddle chills, he could fiddle fever,
He could make a fiddle rustle like a lowland river.

He could make a fiddle croon like a lovin' woman.
An' they clapped like thunder when he'd finished strummin'.

Then came the ruck of the bob-tailed fiddlers,
The let's-go-easies, the fair-to-middlers.

They got their claps an' they lost their bicker,
An' they all settled back for some more corn-licker.

An' the crowd was tired of their no-count squealing,
When out in the center steps Old Dan Wheeling.

He fiddled high and he fiddled low,
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh got to spread yore wings!)
He fiddled and fiddled with a cherrrywood bow,
(Old Dan Wheeling's got bee-honey in his strings).

He fiddled a wind by the lonesome moon,
He fiddled a most almighty tune.

He started fiddling like a ghost.
He ended fiddling like a host.

He fiddled north an' he fiddled south,
He fiddled the heart right out of yore mouth.

He fiddled here an' he fiddled there.
He fiddled salvation everywhere.

When he was finished, the crowd cut loose,
(Whippoorwill, they's rain on yore breast.)
An' I sat there wonderin' "What's the use?"
(Whippoorwill, fly home to yore nest.)

But I stood up pert an' I took my bow,
An' my fiddle went to my shoulder, so.

An' -- they wasn't no crowd to get me fazed --
But I was alone where I was raised.

Up in the mountains, so still it makes yuh skeered.
Where God lies sleepin' in his big white beard.

An' I heard the sound of the squirrel in the pine,
An' I heard the earth a-breathin' thu' the long night-time.

They've fiddled the rose, and they've fiddled the thorn,
But they haven't fiddled the mountain-corn.

They've fiddled sinful an' fiddled moral,
But they haven't fiddled the breshwood-laurel.

They've fiddled loud, and they've fiddled still,
But they haven't fiddled the whippoorwill.

I started off with a dump-diddle-dump,
(Oh, hell's broke loose in Georgia!)

Skunk-cabbage growin' by the bee-gum stump.
(Whippoorwill, yo're singin' now!)

My mother was a whippoorwill pert,
My father, he was lazy,
But I'm hell broke loose in a new store shirt
To fiddle all Georgia crazy.

Swing yore partners -- up an' down the middle!
Sashay now -- oh, listen to that fiddle!
Flapjacks flippin' on a red-hot griddle,
An' hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose,
Fire on the mountains -- snakes in the grass.
Satan's here a-bilin' -- oh, Lordy, let him pass!
Go down Moses, set my people free;
Pop goes the weasel thu' the old Red Sea!
Jonah sittin' on a hickory-bough,
Up jumps a whale -- an' where's yore prophet now?
Rabbit in the pea-patch, possum in the pot,
Try an' stop my fiddle, now my fiddle's gettin' hot!
Whippoorwill, singin' thu' the mountain hush,
Whippoorwill, shoutin' from the burnin' bush,
Whippoorwill, cryin' in the stable-door,
Sing tonight as yuh never sang before!
Hell's broke loose like a stompin' mountain-shoat,
Sing till yuh bust the gold in yore throat!
Hell's broke loose for forty miles aroun'
Bound to stop yore music if yuh don't sing it down.
Sing on the mountains, little whippoorwill,
Sing to the valleys, an' slap 'em with a hill,
For I'm struttin' high as an eagle's quill,
An' hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose in Georgia!

They wasn't a sound when I stopped bowin',
(Whippoorwill, yuh can sing no more.)
But, somewhere or other, the dawn was growin',
(Oh, mountain whippoorwill!)

An' I thought, "I've fiddled all night an' lost,
Yo're a good hill-billy, but yuh've been bossed."

So I went to congratulate old man Dan,
-- But he put his fiddle into my han' --
An' then the noise of the crowd began!


Whippoorwills and fiddles - wow what a great story!


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blairsville GA.

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Tipper's Fairy Tale

Fairy tale

I've been keeping a secret from you this summer. There's a fairy tale taking place just outside my kitchen window. A real live fairy tale.

It was early May when I first noticed its unfurling green leaves hugging up to my house like it needed to share its warmth. I knew it was there, and I swear it knew I knew it was there. Every time I'd walk up the hill to the kitchen door I could see it out of the corner of my eye watching and waiting to see what I would do.

One day The Deer Hunter said "You know you're going to have to do something about that don't you?" A few days later, Granny said "I walked up to your house to see if you had any ripe tomatoes while you were out of town. You know you can't let that thing stay under your kitchen window don't you?"

I told them "I know, I know, I'm going to take care of it." But deep down inside I knew I wasn't going to do no such thing.

The Deer Hunter and Granny soon forgot my promise to fix the little problem and I was left to watch, wonder, and be only slightly spooked every time I washed the dishes. I would stand on my tippy-toes when no one was in the kitchen and look down at its beauty. I'd think of the stories Pap told me about his Uncle Blaine that I've never even seen a picture of and I'd remember my own magical story that happened every year on the first hard frost of fall. I wished that I could leave my new fairy tale like pal where it was and see what other magic it would bring me, but in the back of my mind I knew I would have to dispose of it before summer was over.

Early Saturday morning as I stumbled bleary eyed to the coffee pot my brain tried to tell me something was different. As I stood by the sink stirring cream in my coffee, I noticed a shadow falling over my hand.

I no longer need to stand on my toes to see it, the fairy tale is looking in the window at me now.


Come back in a few days and I'll tell you the rest of the fairy tale.


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blarisville GA.

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Old Fashioned Chess Pie

Best recipe for chess pie

I first tasted Chess Pie at the John C. Campbell Folk School and that's also where I learned to make it. 

Chess Pie is an old recipe which has many variations. The basic pie is made slightly different depending on who's making it and then there are lemon, chocolate, and coconut versions of chess pie too. 

Old fashioned chess pie

The pie is super simple to whip up. If you happen to have a store bought pie crust on hand it will literally only take you 10 minutes to make the pie.

Chess Pie

  • ½ cup butter melted
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 unbaked pie crust

Pre-heat oven to 350˚

Mix melted butter with sugar and eggs. Add cornmeal, vinegar, and vanilla; mix well.

Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for 35 minutes or until pie is golden brown.

Print Chess Pie Recipe

Chess Pie is very good, but it is mighty sweet!


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blarisville GA.

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I'll Fly Away

The pressley girls I'll Fly Away

The old standard I'll Fly Away was written by Albert E. Brumley aka gospel song writer extraordinaire. According to the Brumley website, I'll Fly Away was the first song Brumley actually sold and one of the songs he is most famous for. The song's steady popularity over the years since it was written, has to be a source of pride for his family.

The girls have been singing the song for years, it's become one of their most requested songs at performances. Chitter first learned to play it on the piano and it was the first song they learned to sing harmony on. 

Harmony is a must for the type of music we perform, but harmony isn't an easy thing to master. Pap and Paul were old pros, but trying to explain what they were so good at to two silly girls was a different story.

One day Chitter and Chatter surprised us all when we overheard them singing harmony on I'll Fly Away. Almost in unison we said "When did you learn to do that?" To which Chatter replied "Oh I've been able to do that for a while now." Of course we asked her why in the world haven't you been doing it?

For today's pickin' and grinnin' session I'm sharing a video of the girls doing I'll Fly Away in the greenhouse. If you listen close you can hear the pit-pat of rain hitting the plastic. Just after they finished the song a frog strangler came down and we were stranded in the greenhouse with our instruments until it was over. 

I hope you enjoyed the song!


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blarisville GA.

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Overheard in Appalachia

"Look around and see what you can find. You're welcome to use anything I've got that you need."


Generosity is alive and well in Appalachia. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Saturday June 3, 2017 @ 1:30 p.m. Art, River & Music Festival - Murphy NC and on Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. Vogel State Park - Blarisville GA.

Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia

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