Good Coffee

  Good coffee in Appalachia

Burningtown

The old coffee mill that hung on grandma's kitchen wall has disappeared. The homemade oven Grandpa used to parch his own coffee has been torn down and carted off. The country store up at the crossroads no longer handles the big tow sacks of green coffee beans. The fire-blackened old tin coffee pot has been replaced by the percolator.

And the art of brewing coffee is almost lost.

"Folks nowadays," said the Old Man, "just don't know what a good cup of coffee is. Real tastin' coffee's a scarce thing. Most of the stuff a body drinks ain't fit to put in your mouth. It ain't got no body to it and it don't taste like coffee used to, at lease not like the kind your grandma cooked."

The Old Man considers himself an authority on coffee. And well he should. He was born in 1859 and he's been sipping it black and scalding-hot for most of his 97 years.

"I reckon," he said, "I've parched and ground as much coffee as any man in these mountains. Folks used to say I had a right good hand for parchin' coffee. Just wasn't ever 'body that could parch it. Some parched it too much and others never parched it enough. Like makin' molasses. You've got to know when it's right for takin' off the fire."

Mountain Cooking written by John Parris

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I come from a family of coffee drinkers. I never seen any of them parch coffee beans, but most of them liked it black, strong, and scalding hot. Pap preferred to use a perculator to make his coffee, The Deer Hunter does too. 

I was probably the girls age when I started drinking coffee. I'm not as tough as The Deer Hunter and Pap, like Granny I like cream in my coffee. I only drank coffee of the morning, but it was the first thing I went for after getting up from the bed. 

My illness earlier in the summer came with a never drink coffee again order from my doctor. Boy I knew that would be hard, but I was so miserable I'd have given up anything and like a good girl I haven't even tasted coffee since the day he told me not too.

Man I missed it! More than the taste I missed having something hot to drink of the morning and I didn't like messing up the routine I've been living for the last 20 years.

Miss Cindy bought me some low acid coffee but I was too afraid to try it. Then about a week ago she came in with a jar of Postum which is a coffee substitute made from roasted wheat grain and molasses, it's all natural with no acid. 

I've been drinking Postum every morning since she brought it over. It's not coffee, but it's not bad!

Tipper

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Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins

This time of the year I always start getting a taste for pumpkin recipes. A couple weeks ago, one of my favorite girls and me whipped up some Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins. I've had the recipe for ages. Years ago I cut it out of a Country Living magazine. Although the muffins are a little fussier to make than regular muffins they are so worth the extra effort. 

According to the magazine the recipe is a specialty of Second Creek Farm Bed and Breakfast in Owensville, Missouri. 

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins - from Country Living

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 2½ cup sugar (divided-see recipe)
  • 2½ cup flour (divided-see recipe)
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1¼ cup packed pumpkin
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Best pumpkin cream cheese muffins

Pre-heat oven to 375°.  Lightly coat two 12-cup standard muffin tins with oil and set aside or use paper liners.

Mix the cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Toss 5 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup flour, pecans, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the rest of the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining cinnamon in a large bowl.

Lightly beat the rest of the eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour the pumpkin mixture into the well, and mix with a fork just until moistened.

Evenly divide half of the batter among the muffin cups. Place two teaspoonfuls of cream cheese filling in the center of each cup and fill with the remaining batter.

Sprinkle some of the pecan mixture over the top of each muffin and bake until golden and a tester, inserted into the muffin center, comes out clean -- 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Pumpkin with cream cheese

The muffins are best right out of the oven, but they're not bad even a day later...if they last that long!

Tipper

p.s. Be sure to jump over and watch Sow True Seed's video

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Bonus prizes will include artwork, seed books, seeds and more!

Check out this link/video and see if you can give Sow True Seed a hand. They do a tremendous job of ensuring our seeds continue for the future generations. They especially focus on the heirloom seeds that have been passed down for generations in Appalachia. And if all that wasn't enough-you already know they support the Blind Pig and The Acorn by sponsoring my garden and my garden reporter @ large projects. If you decide to donate to their cause-you can get some pretty cool things in return-so check it out. 

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Ice Cream Cake

Easy to make ice cream cake

The first overnight trip we took the girls on after they were born was to Papaw Tony and Nana's house. As you might imagine newborn twins caused quite a stir. Lots of family came over to see the newest members of the Pressley clan. As you might also imagine, there was lots of good food brought as well. 

One of the best desserts of the day was an ice cream cake made by one the The Deer Hunter's cousin's wife. I liked it so much she made sure I got a copy of it-that's it below.

Ice cream cake recipe

The funny thing is I've kept the recipe all these years, but never made it one time until the girls'recent birthday.

About a week before their birthday I was studying on what kind of cake to make them for the special day. I even ask them what they wanted, but didn't really get a firm answer. Then one morning I woke up with the ice cream cake on my mind and new that was what I would make.

Birthday ice cream cake

Ice Cream Cake

  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 4 cups crushed rice chex cereal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (I'm sure other flavors would be good and a box of ice cream isn't truly a half of a gallon, but it worked fine)
  • Chocolate syrup (My recent health issues have resulted in no chocolate for me-so I used caramel syrup instead)

Combine butter, coconut, chex cereal, sugar, and pecans-mix thoroughly. Layer half of the mixture in the bottom of an oblong tupperwear dish.

Spread softened ice cream on top of mixture. Ice cream will spread easily if you set it out for 10-15 minutes then beat it with a mixer (I didn't need to use the mixer).

Drizzle ice cream with syrup and top with remaining chex mixture. Cover and put in freezer until firm.

Best ice cream cake

The ice cream cake is just as good as I remember it being! It is really sweet, I'm sure you could play around with the ingredients and make it suit your tastes better if you don't have an extreme sweet tooth like me. 

Tipper

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Canned Sweet Apples

Canned sweet apples

I came across this apple recipe in the cookbook Mountain Cooking written by John Parris. When I read it I was immediately intrigued because it sounded almost exactly like the way Granny taught me to make pear preserves.

Uncle Henry used to bring me Pears and Miss Cindy had a friend with two different kind of pear trees who gifted me with pears. In those days I had plenty to make the pear recipe that's been handed down through Granny's family. Unfortunately I no longer have access to pears, but when I read the apple recipe by John Parris I knew I had to try it. 

You'll remember the squirrels ate all my apples this year while I was sick. Thankfully Miss Cindy got more than enough apples from farmer Tim down the road for me to put up applesauce and to try this recipe. 

Canned Sweet Apple Recipe

Canned Sweet Apples - Mountain Cooking - John Parris

Peel and slice enough sweet apples to fill a large dish pan. About a half a bushel. 

Cover with about 8 or 10 cups of sugar and let set overnight.

Old recipe for apple preserves

Next morning cook until tender, then pack in hot jars and seal.

Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

If old-time sweet apples are unavailable, use Golden Delicious. In preparing the apples for canning, never add water to them. The sugar draws the juice from the apples and they cook in their own juice.

Old fashioned recipe for canned sweet apples

The apples turned out so tasty! I do believe I'll be making this recipe for years to come...if I can keep the squirrels out of my apple trees!

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. at the JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Bleached Apples?

Old way of bleaching apples for putting up

This is the season for apples in Appalachia. I've made applesauce, apple jelly, and apple preserves. Most years I dry at least a few apples, but the pesky squirrels didn't leave me enough to dry this year. 

Although I use my handy dandy dehydrator to dry my apples, I've always been interested in learning more about the way folks in Appalachia bleached (dried) apples by using a sulfur smoking method.

I once read a wonderful clear account of the tradition from John Parris's These Storied Mountains. The ladies he interviewed for the short piece lived in the Bethel area of Haywood County NC.

On the day he visited, they were having an apple-paring bee. In other words several women had gathered together to enjoy the fellowship of one another as they worked on preserving apples for the coming winter months.

Basically the bleaching or drying technique was: 

  • Apples were peeled, quartered, sliced and then placed into a basket
  • While the apples were being prepared, 2 ax heads were heating inside the wood stove 
  • A metal pan was placed in the bottom of a wooden barrel that was sitting outside
  • Once the basket was filled, one of the red hot ax heads was placed in the bottom of the barrel in the metal pan
  • One teaspoon of sulfur was poured onto the hot ax
  • A stick ran through the basket handle and then the basket was hung down inside of the barrel
  • Lastly the barrel was covered with a thick piece of cloth.

After about 30 or 40 minutes the apples were considered bleached or dried. 

As the apples finished they placed them inside a crock and covered it with cheesecloth. The ladies continued to dry apples and add them to the crock until it was filled. When the crock was completely filled, it was stored in a cool dry place until the apples were needed.

A few statements made by the ladies:

"First off, I want to tell you there is nothing better than bleached apples except ripe apples right off the tree. You can't tell the difference nine months later."

"I have bleached apples right up into May every year, and they're just as fresh and crisp and juicy as when I peeled and quartered them."

"We dried apples too back then. But when I found out about using sulfur I never dried any more. Bleaching them with sulfur is easier and better."

When I first read the apple bleaching piece from the book I thought "Well that's nice, but we've come a long way since then and I'm sure sulfur is poison and it's a wonder those folks lived so long (one lady was in her 90s)."

Soon after I dismissed the idea of using sulfur I read about the health benefits of sulfur being added to dog food. That prompted me to do some Googling around. I quickly discovered sulfur is still used in preserving/drying/bleaching fruit...only today its large companies that are using sulfur not the average home preserver.

Even though the use of sulfur in the dried food industry is FDA approved, there are folks who think it's dangerous and should be avoided.  And there are companies who dry fruit without using sulfur. 

I know there are still folks out there who use sulfur to dry their apples each fall. Someday I hope to witness the technique for myself, until then I guess I'll have to be satisfied with the account of Mr. Parris. 

Tipper

p.s. Chitter is having a great sale over in her Stamey Creek Creations Etsy Shop. 25% off everything in the shop, no minimums and it even counts on the existing sale section as well! Go check it out! Christmas is just around the corner 🌲  

p.s.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA. 

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Corncob Jelly

Corncob jelly

Corncob Jelly - Mountain Cooking by John Parris 1978

Highlands

Elizabeth Edwards, who operates a business with a strictly mountain flavor, has discovered a delectable use for the lowly corncob. She's come up with corncob jelly.

"I got the idea from a story I ran across last fall," Mrs. Edwards explained one day last week. "It was about a man remembering a visit to an old-time country fair. He mentioned that he had tasted corncob jelly. I decided I would give it a try."

She had to start with only the idea. She didn't have a recipe. But being a master hand at the art of canning and preserving, she set out to do a bit of experimenting in her kitchen.

"I had my husband get me a bushel of fresh corncobs," she said. "They were white corncobs. I boiled them, poured off the juice. Then I worked the juice up into a jelly. It was clear, almost pure white, but tasty. I figured it ought to have some color, so next I tried it with red corncobs. They worked out best."

She tried it on some of her friends without telling them what it was, and they went wild about it.

"It has a taste similar to apple jelly," Mrs. Edwards explained. "But a little more delicate. Those who tasted it wanted to know what kind of apples I used. When I told them it was made out of corncobs they wouldn't believe me."

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I've never even tasted corncob jelly. I've seen it at few fairs and festivals. And a quick google will turn up all kinds of recipes for corncob jelly. It doesn't sound all that appealing to me, but as I said I've seen it around and about enough to know there must be quite a few folks who like it. 

Tipper

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How To Make Grape Jelly

Our grape vines did very well this summer and its a good thing since there was no blackberries to make jelly with! A friend of Miss Cindy's gifted us with the grapevines several years ago. They've only become real producers for us over the last two summers. 

Grapes are so much easier to pick than blackberries and they're even easier to turn into jelly, but I'll sure be missing my blackberry jelly this winter. Even with the extra work blackberry is my favorite.

Picking Grapes in Appalachia
The first step in making grape jelly is to pick the grapes. If you're as lucky as I am you might have a pretty young lady to do that part for you.

When I'm picking grapes I always look around under the vines on the ground. You can often find freshly fallen grapes that only need to be picked up. 

How to make grape jelly with fresh grapes

Next up is washing the grapes and de-stemming any that need it.

Once those steps are completed I wash the grapes a few times in cold water to make sure all the bugs, leaves, and grit are gone. Next I place the grapes in a large pot and add enough water to keep the grapes from scorching. I usually add water until I just begin to see it coming up between the grapes around the bottom edges. 

I simmer my grapes for about 20 minutes to soften the skins.

I use my ricer to get the juice and pulp out of the grapes and then discard the skins and seeds. Grape seeds are so large that a simple colander or sieve works good for this step too. 

You need 5 cups of grape juice to make one run of jelly. If you don't have enough you could make a half a run, pop the juice into the freezer until you get more or add a little water or store bought grape fruit juice to make up the difference. 

Easy wayj to make grape jell

Grape Jelly

  • 5 cups grape juice
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 box pectin

Pour juice into a large sauce pot and stir in pectin. Cook over medium high heat and bring mixture to full rolling boil. Add sugar all at once and stir. When juice returns to a full rolling boil, boil for one minute. 

Immediately ladle hot jelly into sterilized hot jars and seal. I turn my filled and tightly sealed jars upside down for about 5 minutes and then set them upright and cover them with a towel until they cool. Make sure each jar has sealed, then store until you're ready to use. If a jar doesn't seal, put it in the frig and eat it first.

What I just described is the open kettle method of canning jelly. If you read any cookbook or the instructions that come with pectin they will advise water-bathing the jelly for 5 minutes. Please do this if you'd feel more comfortable. I grew up with the open kettle method of canning and have been doing it myself for the last 20 years so I feel safe in processesing mine in the old time way.  

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing on Saturday September 2 at 1:00 p.m. at the Andrews Brewing Company's Bluegrass Festival in Andrews NC and Sunday September 3 at 12:00 p.m. at the Heritage Festival in Blairsville GA.

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What To Do With Leftover Cornbread

Cornbread salad

We eat a lot of cornbread around the Blind Pig house, but sometimes we don't eat the entire cake of cornbread before it gets a little stale. When that happens I either feed it to my chickens or make cornbread salad with it.

Recipe for cornbread salad

The recipe for cornbread salad couldn't be easier. The ingredients can be changed up according to what you have on hand or what you prefer. The amounts can be adjusted to fit the amount of cornbread you have as well.

First-crumble up some cornbread in a bowl. Some folks layer all the ingredients so you can see the different items,but I think it tastes a whole lot better if you mix them all together. 

Cornbread salad recipe

Chop up onion and tomato and add that to the bowl. Add a can (or partial can) of beans. I've used pinto beans as well as kidney beans and both work great.

Best cornbread salad

Add a handful or so of shredded cheese. We like sharp cheddar.

Cornbread salad in nc

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dress the salad with Ranch dressing.

Some recipes call for an entire bottle of dressing, but I've found it easier to add a good amount and then taste to see if it needs more.

Cornbread salad in appalachia

Stir all the ingredients up and that's it! The salad is better after it 'marries' in the frig for a while or even overnight. Sometimes I add peppers if I have plenty on hand and I'm sure you could add in other items as well.

The salad is really quiet tasty and makes a perfect lunch for The Deer Hunter to take to work. It goes pretty good with a hamburger too.

Ever had cornbread salad?

Tipper

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in July of 2013

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Best chocolate zucchini cake

I'm up to my ears in zucchini-but I'm not complaining one bit! I love it about any way you can cook it and I swear raw zucchini isn't bad either.

I shared this chocolate zucchini cake recipe with you a few years ago-but I think it's good enough to share again. It's so easy to make-you don't even need to drag your mixer out-and the taste will make you wish you were up to your ears in zucchini too!

Chocolate Honey Zucchini Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups finely shredded zucchini (drained)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cup plain flour (all purpose)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Zucchini cake with honey

First-mix eggs, honey, sugar, vanilla, and oil in bowl until smooth. Next stir in zucchini.

Zucchini chocolate cake

In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients.

Recipe for chocolate zucchini cake

Add dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture and stir till combined. Pour batter into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes-or till done.

Honey chocolate zucchini recipe

You could ice the cake with your favorite icing-but a glass of cold milk goes perfectly with it.

Ever had chocolate zucchini cake before?

Tipper

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Leather Britches

Shucky beans

leather britches, leather britches beans noun
Green beans put on a thread or string (as at a bean stringing), dried in the pod by hanging on the porch or by the fireplace or by laying in trays or on scaffolds in the sun, and preserved for later boiling in water and winter consumption. 
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 292 Beans dried in the pod then boiled, "hull and all," are called leather -breeches. 1939 Hall Coll. Hazel Creek NC They'd dry their beans, yes. They'd dry leather britches beans they called it. I dry mine in the sun. My grandmother dried hers on a string, hung them up in the porch or around the fireplace and dried 'em. I still dry those leather britches beans. That's what they called 'em then. (Clara Crisp) 1957 Parris My Mts 212 It's a flour sack filled with dried beans-in-the-hull which mountain folks call "leather-britches." 1975 Jackson Unusual Words 155 Dried beans had numerous names-leather-britches, fodder beans, shuck beans, and dry hulls. 1977 Shields Cades Cove 36 These were known as "leather britches" beans, and when rehydrated, cooked, and properly seasoned, they were delicious. 1978 Montgomery White Pine Coll. III-2 Our beans we would dry them. They called them leather britches, and you'd string them on your string till you got something like a yard long, then you'd hang them in the smokehouse or somewhere when it was warm weather and they'd dry out. Then all you'd have to do in the winter if you took a notion for green beans why you could go get your leather britches and put them in the water and soak them overnight and you'd just have a  livelier spell of green beans than you ever had when they come out of the garden. 1982 Smokies Heritage 66 = long string beans strung together by needle and thread then hung upon the cabin or smokehouse wall to dry. 1986 Ogle Lucinda 50 So they would dry fruit and berries of all kinds also string green beans with a needle and thread and hang to dry. These were called fodder or leather britches. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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It's been a few years since we've strung up any leather britches, but we've got them on our to do list for this summer. If you've never had leather britches they are very good, but have a completely different taste than fresh green beans or ones that have been canned. 

Tipper

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