Cake Making on Peeks Creek

Cake folklore from appalachia

"Grandma even baked cakes on the fireplace. She baked them in this oven I've got here. It came down to her from her grandmother. And when Grandma was married in 1888, her wedding cake was baked in it. It was a yellow pound cake and my great-aunt Annie Strain, who used to stay with us a lot, helped make it. When I was growing up, Mama always told me when I made a cake never to let anybody else stir the cake batter. She said it would cause it to fall. She never would let anybody stir the batter. Neither would my grandmother nor my great-grandmother. And I won't either. There's another thing too. In mixing a cake by hand, you never stir it two ways. You always stir it one way. I stir mine clockwise. Even with a mixer, I never switch it from one side to the other. I keep it going in one direction. Mother always said a cake would fall if you stirred it two ways. She said you had to stir cake batter like you stir lye soap, one way."

Excerpt from Pothooks and Spiders - Peeks Creek - Mountain Cooking written by John Parris


Now that you know how to stir your cake the right way, here's a few of my favorite cake recipes from the Blind Pig and The Acorn archives.


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Aunt Faye's Pound Cake

Old Fashioned Pound Cake easy recipe

We've add two more laying hens to our small flock of backyard chickens and the extra eggs have me trying to come up with recipes to use them in. I got to thinking a pound cake would be good and immediately thought of Aunt Faye's Pound Cake. I've told you about Aunt Faye before-she was Granny's oldest sister. 

I thought I had her pound cake recipe, but couldn't find it so I asked Granny to borrow hers. You'd have thought I ask her for a million dollars. She said "Can you take a picture of it with your phone so you don't have to take it with you?" I said "No not to where I could see it good. Can't I take it? Or would you rather me sit down and copy it off?" Granny said "Well I'm pretty sure you've got my original recipe that she gave me." I admitted that I thought I did too but couldn't find it. 

I think the fact that I had just took her to get groceries, carried them all in the house, and helped her put them up made her give in and say that I could take the recipe with me, but I better bring it tomorrow. 

Aunt Fayes Pound Cake
Granny said Aunt Faye was such a good cook that she was always tinkering with recipes trying to make them better. According to Granny Aunt Faye came up with the idea of mixing plain flour and self-rising flour to make the cake easier to whip up as well as have a better density. 

Aunt Faye's Pound Cake

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ½ cup plain flour (all-purpose)
  • ½ cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar together until thoroughly mixed. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each.

Combine flours.

Alternately add flour and milk mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Pour batter into a well-greased Bundt pan.

Bake in a 325˚ oven for 1 hour or until done.

Print Aunt Faye's Pound Cake (right click on the link to print the recipe)

In case you're wondering, I delivered Granny's recipe right back to her the next day...and she was right I later found her original recipe for Aunt Faye's Pound Cake. 


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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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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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Old timey kraut

A noun Sauerkraut, widely made in the mountains, stored in barrels and kept for winter consumption. The food is the most significant German contribution to mountain cuisine, and the term is one of the very few from German in the mountain vocabulary.
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 289-90 In the vocabulary of the mountaineers I have detected only three words of directly foreign origin. Doney is one. Another is kraut, which is the sole contribution to highland speech of those numerous Germans (mostly Pennsylvania Dutch) who joined the first settlers in this region, and whose descendants, under wondrously anglicized names, form to-day a considerable element of the highland population [note: sashiate is the third word, according to Kephart]. 1939 Walker Mtneer Looks 3 The German word kraut survived, for the obvious reason that there was no equivalent in the technical vocabulary of the Scotch-Irish housewife. 1960 Mason Memoir 15 The barrels were utilized as containers for the storage of such mountain comodities [sic] as saur kraut, pickled beans, bleached apples, and pumpkin butter. 1962 Hall Coll. Newport TN A pregnant woman will spoil kraut or [the] mash for a run of liquor...A woman, when her menstrual period is on, when she makes kraut, it'll rot. (Burl McGaha) GSMNP-80:15 We would put a cloth over the kraut now and pickled beans, and we'd put this big plank and then we'd hunt and get us a big heavy rock, wash hit off right clean and put it on the plank and that would mash it down in below kraut, and that's how we would have it, you know, the kraut and pickled beans, [and] you know that kraut was so good we would just go get us a handful, squeeze the juice out and just eat a handful. 1977 Madden and Jones Mt Home 27 Pickled beans and kraut were kept in large stone crocks in the spring-house. 
*B verb To make sauerkraut of.
1917 Kephart Word-list 413 I don't do like old Mis' Posey, kraut my cabbage whole. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


More than a few interesting tid-bits in the definition for kraut from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.

I wonder if Kephart's statement about the three words is true? And I wonder what in the heck sashiate means?

I've always heard a woman who is menstruating can't help put up kraut or pickled beans and corn, but never heard about it effecting liquor. And I've never heard anything of the sort said about a pregnant woman.

Papaw Tony said his mother would make several crocks of kraut each year. She would can the kraut as a crock made, but she left the last run of the year and they would eat that crock before using the canned kraut. Papaw's mother krauted the core of the cabbage to. Similar to the person in the definition, Papaw would sneak and stick his dirty little hand down in the crock and dig around until he found a core to eat. 

I can't imagine krauting a whole cabbage-I wonder if it would work?

I'll leave you with a few kraut posts from the archives of the Blind Pig and The Acorn



  • The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday May 27 at 7:00 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater in Bryson City NC. The cost of admission is 10 dollars and all money raised will be used for maintenance of the Lauada Cemetery.
  • The Pressley Girls will also be performing Sunday May 28 at TBA in Blairsville GA at the Spring Arts and Crafts Festival. 


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Our Mother's Day Meal

Favorite foods from Appalachia

Yesterday we cooked a Mother's Day supper for Granny and Miss Cindy. As I was cooking, I wondered if there was anything that I could snap a few photos of and share the recipe with you. 

While I was wondering I was reminded of the bit Grandpa Jones did on Hee Haw  "What's for Supper?" A little googling around turned up this video and led me to discover someone has created a Facebook page dedicated to the man and the bit, Grandpa Jones, What's for Supper?

Here's we had:

  • Baked pork roast with potatoes and carrots 
  • Sweet corn from the freezer that we put up last summer
  • Deviled eggs 
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Miss Cindy's homemade bread
  • Homemade sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream

Turns out I've already shared 4 of the things we made for our Mother's Day Supper. You can click on the links below to see the post and the recipe for some of our favorite things to eat.


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday May 20, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m  at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center - Robbinsville NC and Sunday May 21, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m.  at Mount Moriah Baptist Church - Murphy NC

Soupy Taters

Potato Candy

Like most everyone else in Appalachia potatoes, or more commonly called taters, make up a large part of our diet at the Blind Pig house. It would be hard for me to say which way I like taters cooked the best. 

Fried taters would be at the top of my list, but I've never been able to get mine to taste as good as Pap's. I'm telling you he could flat make a pan of fried taters-they were even good cold. He said most people messed with the taters too much as they cooked, that's probably what I'm guilty of doing when I fry taters. Pap said Bergan Moore made the best fried taters he ever tasted. He said Bergan only flipped them once. 

I like a good baked potato. They're the easiest way to fix potatoes and if you add enough toppings you can make an entire meal out of one. 

I'm a french fry lover too, I think Granny makes the best homemade fries. She ought to be good at making them cause I know she's served up a tremendous amount of french fries over the years for her family.

Easier than french fries are Granny's oven potato chips. If I can't think of anything else I want to eat, I make me some of them. You can go here to read more about Granny's oven potato chips if you missed that post. 

Mashed potatoes go best with meatloaf, roast, and deer meat. And I happen to like my own mashed potatoes more than anyone else's so that's a good thing. 

Scalloped potatoes are good and so are cheesy potatoes. 

As much as I love fried taters, right up there with them would be soupy taters. Granny Gazzie made the best soupy taters ever! Paul always said hers were shaped like little boats so that's how I think of them too. Granny's aren't shaped like boats, but they are good and so are mine. Our soupy taters are really just stewed potatoes with a little butter and seasonings to taste but we've always called them soupy taters. Some folks add other things to their soupy taters like flour or onions or both. You can read more about soupy taters on this website.  (Thank you for the link Gregory!)

I looked in my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English to see if it had anything to say about soupy taters and found this interesting recipe:

tater noodling noun See 1997 citation.
1961 Seeman Arms of Mt 52 We're havin' 'tater noodlins. 1997 Montgomery Coll. = balls of corn bread cooked in potato and ham broth (Andrews).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I've never had tater noodlins, but now I want some, and I wonder if anyone in Andrews is still making them?


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Green Onions and Salt

Early Spring Lettuce

Ethelene Dyer Jones sent me the following piece about her memories of eating from the spring garden as a child:

A palatable memory from my childhood is the first taste of spring lettuce fresh from the garden and early spring onions, tender and juicy, cut over it. Then, to top off that treat after very few greens through the long winter (especially after the cabbage we'd "buried" in the keeping pit had run out), hot grease from freshly-fried side meat (bacon) was the salad dressing, poured over the greens until they wilted. It was indeed, "Kill Lettuce," a taste to kill for! And we all rooted to have our share, so delectable and fresh and tasty.

And the treat didn't end with the salad bowl being passed around at our table. After the lettuce started bearing, we children would often slip into the garden and "rob" Mother's lettuce bed. We'd pick the tender leaves fresh on site and eat them. Nowadays, we would frown at this repast not being washed and clean, but we could always find leaves fresh-washed with dew, and never gave a thought to it's otherwise having to be washed before consumption. After all, we were hungry, growing kids, and here was something delightful to eat, right in the garden. These "messes" of lettuce, whether served on our table or straight out of the lettuce bed in the garden, were benefits of having grown up on an Appalachian farm.


Eating green onions with salt

Ethelene's wonderful memories reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend the other day. We were talking about the goodness of eating the first fresh veggies from the garden in the spring of the year. She said her father was so crazy about green onions that he kept a spare salt shaker in the barn so he could eat onions right from the garden. She went on to tell me that at the super table her father sprinkled salt in a little mound and dipped his green onion in it as he eat it. She asked me if I had ever seen anyone else eat their onions with salt in the same way and I said yes-ME! 

Granny eats her green onions by dipping every bite or so in salt. I'm sure that's why I eat mine the same way. 


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Lettuce and Onions

Killed salad

killed salad, kilt salad noun A salad made by pouring boiling grease over lettuce or other greens. Same as wilted salad. 

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Each Spring The Deer Hunter and I look forward to the first kill lettuce of the season. Various names are used for the traditional Appalachian dish: killed lettuce, kilt lettuce, wilted lettuce, lettuce and onions, lettuce, killed salad.

Just like different families call the dish by different names-it's also cooked a little different by folks too. Today I'll share 2 of the most common recipes with you. Both recipes are the same in regards to serving. Kill Lettuce should be served immediately after making.

The dish uses fresh leaf lettuce from the garden-or even branch lettuce that grows wild along the creek and branch banks.

The way Granny taught me: Begin by picking and washing your leaves of lettuce-making sure to dry off as much water as possible. Sometimes I wash mine early in the morning and leave it drying on a towel on the counter.

Next-cut up several green onions and mix with torn lettuce in a bowl-adding salt and pepper to taste.

Pour hot bacon or salt pork (Pap and Granny call it streaked meat) grease over the lettuce onion mixture. Be prepared for lots of hissing and popping when the grease hits the lettuce. Stir and serve quickly. It doesn't take much grease-a little bit goes a long way. I've found hot olive oil works well too.


Miss Cindy's family made Kill Lettuce by a different recipe-but one that is also common throughout Appalachia:

I learned from Dad how to make wilted/killed lettuce.

Cook a few slices of bacon and crumble it in a bowl on top of the torn lettuce and cut green onions (cut onions including the tops). Add salt and pepper. Heat the remaining bacon grease and pour it on the greens then add vinegar or lemon juice to the hot pan and swirl it then pour it on the greens. Toss the bowl contents to mix and eat immediately...with cornbread. The lettuce is so fragile that it doesn't take much grease to wilt it and the lemon/vinegar is hot so it helps to wilt it as well.


Our favorite way to eat kill lettuce is with cornbread and soup beans (pinto beans). The other day we had it with hamburgers-it was pretty good that way too, actually it ain't bad with a piece of light bread.

Ever kill your lettuce?


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Granny's Carrot Cake

Grannys carrot cake

Several years ago I decided I wanted to make a carrot cake. I searched and searched online till I found the fanciest recipes you've ever seen for carrot cake. I tried a couple of them and didn't like a one. Finally I did what I should have done in the first place, went down to Granny's and got her carrot cake recipe. 

As I copied down her tried and true recipe I noticed at the top it said Kay Morgan's Carrot Cake

In Granny's hand written recipe book she always writes down the name of the person who shared the recipe with her. I find myself doing the same thing.

Kay and her husband were close friends of Granny and Pap's back when I was a baby and Paul wasn't even born. I wonder what Kay Morgan would think about us still making her carrot cake all these many years later.

Granny and Kay Morgan's Carrot Cake

  • 2 ½ cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sodie (baking soda)
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups shredded carrot
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • ½ stick butter/margarine
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup shredded coconut

Old fashioned carrot cake for Easter

Cake directions: Mix together flour, cinnamon, salt, and sodie-set aside.

Cream sugar and oil.
Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each.
Add dry ingredients and mix till combined.
Add carrots and mix till combined (and nuts if using)

Pour batter into 3 greased 9 inch cake pans and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or till done. Granny's notes say you can add a little milk if the batter is too thick but I've never had that problem.

Let cake layers cool while the icing is made. My layers always stick unless I use parchment paper to line the bottoms. Most of the time I go with the theory that what matters is how a cake tastes not how it looks. 

Icing directions: Mix cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Spread over cake and sprinkle with coconut. I only spread the icing between the layers and on the top. Granny ices the entire cake-I guess you'd say I take the easy way out. 

Download Print Granny's Carrot Cake (right click to open link and print recipe)

This is the time of the year for Carrot Cakes and I have one of Granny and Kay's sitting in my kitchen, if you lived close enough I'd share a piece with you.


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