Notes on More Than Moonshine By Sidney Farr

(Farr, Sidney S. More Than Moonshine. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1983)

  • Shall We Gather in the Kitchen
    • Kitchens were a central family gathering place (3)
    • Families ate what they grew and found (4)
    • Until timer and coal plants stripped the hills there were tons of berries growing on them (4)
    • “Mountain food and how it is cooked is very much a part of this sense of place” (7)
    • “Each person has different memories and different things from childhood he or she loves; feelings about food are part of these memories.” (9)
    • Adults drank boiled coffee, kids drank milk (11)
    • Other common beverages are iced tea, sassafras tea, hot chocolate, {eggnog, apple cider, and fruit drinks} (11)
    • Spicewood tea is used to treat chickenpox and measles (14)
    • More money was made selling moonshine than the corn itself (21)
  • Biscuits, Cornpone, and Cracklin’ Bread
    • Bread three times a day (25)
    • Breads were made from cornmeal and flour (26)
    • Beaten biscuits, traditional bread in the South (26)
    • An important skill was biscuit making, could be either baking-powder biscuits, buttermilk or cream biscuits, soda or stir and drop biscuits (27)
    • Hog lard added to cornbread was called cracklin’ bread (32)
    • Gritted cornbread is made from corn that is in between soft and hard (33)
    • Noon bread was cooked in the fields (36)
    • When short on flour the cornbread was made with boiling water and was called spoon bread (38)
    • Dumplings, breadcrumb batter cakes, and cornbread dressing were other uses of flour and cornmeal (40)
    • Loved fried food used fritter batter to fry fruits and vegetables (41)
    • Lightbread- potato yeasted flour bread (42)
  • Churned Butter and Cottage Cheese
    • People in the depths of poverty were described as “ate cornbread and Blue John gravy or breakfast.” (45)
    • Blue John- sour skim milk (45)
    • Well off folks had sweet rich cream and it was used in coffee, whipped cream, and cream gravy (46)
  • Cooked Grain Cereal
    • Common breakfast was eggs, bacon, ham, biscuits, cream gravy, jelly, and preserves, sometimes oatmeal or boiled sweetened rice (50)
    • Cornmeal mush- breakfast food (51)
    • Pineapple and rice to make a dessert (53)
  • Eggs: The Almost Perfect Food
    • Eggs every day (54)
    • Chicken wandered and ate a variety of grasses and bugs creating amazing eggs (54)
    • The chicken laid eggs in hidden nests that were found by noting the cackling of hens (55)
    • There was no time for fancy dishes (57)
    • Egg pie was popular in the author’s family (58)
    • Boiled egg custard chilled in snow (59)
  • Meats: Game and Tame
    • Spring, summer and fall hunting season led to lots of fresh meat (61)
    • Rabbits, squirrel, quail, duck, geese, groundhog, and coon (61)
    • Mainly pork and chicken for domesticated meats  (61)
    • Hogs shot between the eyes and the throats slit so they could bleed, body covering hot water, scraped clean with sharp knives (61)
    • Meat was shared with neighbors (62)
    • Country ham was a specialty of the South and Appalachia (62)
    • The smokehouse was important food curing meats (62)
    • Hams are sliced, fried, or baked (63)
    • Hog bladder were turned into balloons (66)
    • Souse = head cheese (67)
    • Chickens had their necks wrung and were thrown down, then scalded in hot water to loosen the feathers, pin feathers were singed over fire, plucked feathers were dried for pillows (68)
    • Chicken commonly used for chicken and dumplings and broth (68-69)
    • Wild game was served up in creative ways, such as groundhog and sweet potato (71)
    • Possum meat was strong and gamey so it had to be well prepared to taste good (72)
    • Men and women fished, freshly caught fish was boiled alive to kill it (74-75)
    • Catfish was well liked especially fried up (75)
    • Fried frog legs were eaten occasionally (76)
  • Red-Eye Gravy and Bluegrass Sauce 
    • Sauces and gravies enhance certain foods (77)
    • Affluent families used rich sauces, while people in poorer communities used milk and cream gravies (77)
    • Cream gravy was made with various animal drippings (78)
    • Red-Eye Gravy- made from ham drippings and coffee (78)
    • Cocoa Gravy at breakfast in western Kentucky (79)
  • Sallet Greens for the Picking
    • Sallet greens = salad greens (84)
    • Early spring foraging for greens (84)
    • Watercress by streams, poke by fences, sunny areas for lamb’s quarters and dock, also got dandelion and sheep sorrel (84)
    • Young greens to purify the blood (85)
    • Lamb’s quarters- iron and potassium (85)
    • Watercress-iron, vit A B and C (85)
    • Lettuce and green onions in the garden (85)
    • Brush burned before lettuce planted (87)
    • Also planted mustard greens (88)
    • Turnip planted in 2 rounds, april for greens and august for winter (89)
  • Vegetables All in a Row
    • Common vegetables were green beans, corn, potatoes, pumpkins cucumbers, cabbage, and tomatoes (91)
    • Vegetables were important to the diet of mountain people (91)
    • Hickory chickens in spring, hickory chickens are morels, taste like chicken and were served fried  (91)
    • field beans were commonly stored dried- called “shucky beans”, “shuck beans” or “leather britches” (94)
    • authors mother made kraut out of cabbage (94)
    • corn with a bit of flour milk and sugar- fried, flour and milk make a sauce and sugar enhances corns sweetness (97)
    • 1960s- war on poverty (97)

     -poverty workers brought eastern and midwestern culture to appalachia’s food (98)

  • white potatoes were common staple (100)
  • people sought to make their potato salad recipe differently and better leading to many variations (100-101)
  • people in large communities and small towns planted salsify aka oyster plant (101)
  • authors family planted pumpkins in the cornfield so the vines had room (102)
  • dumpling commonly made to accompany dishes (103)
  • pickles, relishes and other condiments are popular (107)
  • cucumber pickles most common (107)
  • community favorites were pickled corn and pickled beans (111)
  • common dish mixes pickled corn and beans (112)
  • beet juice added to pickling eggs turned them a rose color (113)
  • chow chow- relish containing pickled cucumbers, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, corn, cauliflower, and peppers (115)
  • old fashioned kraut was made from cabbage and salt pressed into a stone jar because glass was not as available (119)
  • honey bees were made to create their combs in hollowed out black gum trees (120)
  • combs from homemade gums were harder to remove and keep clean (120-121)
  • to attract bees a piece of corn on soaked in honey was placed in the wood (121)
  • bee gums were placed next to a tree with bees (121)
  • then the bees were smoked out of the tree (121)
  • the tree was split to find a queen and the queen was placed in a bee gun (122)
  • white honey- white clover, some fruit tree blossoms

yellow- sourwood tree blossoms, light, delicate

amber- tulip or yellow poplar, rich, strong (123)

  • pussy willow honey is thick and mealy, soybean or clover blossom honey is dark and strong (124)
  • honey can replace sugar cup for cup but reduce liquid by 1/4 cup and cook at a lower temperature (124)
  • honey mixed with butter on biscuits “best possible way to eat honey” according to the author (124)
  • honeycomb was softened and the strained (125)
  • molasses was considered a poor substitute for sugar (128)
  • early settlers used molasses (128)
  • molasses intense flavor paired well with heavy spices and whole grains (128)
  • molasses was used heavily because it could be made at home relatively cheaply (129)
  • cane presses were shared in the community (129)
  • molasses making was a celebrated (130)
  • molasses used in ginger biscuits and gingerbread men and molasses cakes and molasses cookies (131-132)
  • molasses was also added to cornpone and indian pudding (135)
  • molasses also used in shoo fly pie named because it rich odor would attract a fly (136)
  • egg butter- molasses sauce served over cornbread or biscuits (137)
  • post WWII mining and lumber co.s cut timber and covered the forests in debris, blocking creeks, causing mudslides (137-138)
  • autumn- molasses season (138)
  • first apples in June were fried and served with biscuits, butter, and milk, or made into apple sauce (140)
  • apples com late summer/fall (141)
  • apples canned, made into apple butter, and sauce, or dried, late apples last the winter in baskets (141)
  • apple pies, cobblers and fritters (141-142)
  • sulfured apples- apples smoked with sulfur (146)
  • they looked for wild grapes(fall and possum varieties)in the late fall (147)
  • grapes were less common than apples and berries (147)
  • pears made into preserves (149)
  • peaches did not grow well in Appalachia, so they were bought from farmers in SC and GA (150)
  • Early settlers of Appalachia had to rely on wild fruits, berries and game to supplement the provisions they had brought with them (154-155)
  • Early settlers had to adapt and improvise to feed their families (155)
  • Dried berries- sweetened and cooked then dried over cloth and the juice poured over until a crust formed (155)
  • Vegetables were grown in gardens, and foods canned and dried and supplemented by wild game (156)
  • 1960’s forests were destroyed by logging co.’s, debris from tree cutting choked streams, less land for farming, law passed so livestock cold no longer roam (156)
  • Men tilled the land, cut firewood, and cared for the livestock, while most of the women milked cows, tended gardens and children, cooked and cleaned (156-157)
  • Women picked wild berries in the forest (157-158)
  • Huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries, and rhubarb, some of the fruits turned into jams, pies, cobbles, or served with dumplings
  • Desserts will fill 1-2 tables at social functions (167)
  • Ice cream or snow cream during the winter because of the abundance of ice (168)
  • Most desserts featured a fruit of some sort (168)
  • Oatmeal cake, burnt sugar cake, buttermilk cake, hickory nut cake, moonshine cake, sweet potato cake, red devil’s food cake, orange slice cake, fruitcake, prune cake
  • Black walnut pie, butterscotch pie, chess pie, kentucky pie, oatmeal pie, pumpkin pie, rhubarb pie, sweet potato pie, vinegar pie
  • Banana pudding was very common (183)
  • Cream pies with meringue (179)
  • Snacks eaten in the afternoon and before bed (188)
  • Walnuts, hickory nuts, beechnuts, and hazelnuts in the winter (188)
  • Early june birch sapping (189)
  • Fall snacks of paw-paw (190)
  • Parched or popped corn and roast potatoes snacked on in the winter (191)
  • Birch candy and molasses taffy (tough jack), cream pull candy, and peanut butter fudge (193-195)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s