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I am a simple country girl who loves life and lives it to the fullest. I cook for one of the greatest families ever. Cooking is my passion and I consider it as well to be my gift.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010


These precious memories of where I was raised in the mountains of North Carolina is the glue that holds this ol' country girl together....

Insert taken from 'The Avery Post'; May 8th, 2002, by Adele Forbes

It's no wonder I am obsessed by food.
I grew up in Mama Joe's kitchen listening to all matters of talk about food, while at the same time observing its careful preparation. It seemed that every meal was a celebration.
I loved more than anything the way her kitchen smelled.
Whether it was the pungent odor of pickled beans during canning season, or the tangy sweetness of a strawberry rhubarb cobbler heralding the breath of spring, it always emitted the smells that only a true Southern Appalachian scratch cook could make possible.
Us lucky individuals who grew up in that home were raised on heartwarming food.
For breakfast you could always expect a bowl of hearty, lumpy oatmeal, which I adored, as well as a stack of buckwheat pancakes, served up with real maple syrup, or a bowl of applesauce which might have been made from an old-timey Rusty Coat apple, or the little green cooking apples from the tree which bordered Buddy's (my grandfather-Mama Joe's husband) garden on the side of the house closest to Newland. Many a day I sat up in that old tree, working up a green apple belly-ache, or simply looking out over our little corner of the world, trying to make sense of it all.
Lunch time was never a fast food hamburger or even a ham sandwich, accompanied by a bag of chips for that matter. The spread on Mama Joe's kitchen table consisted of diced potatoes fried to a golden brown crunch; a plate of sliced tomatoes and little green cucumbers fresh from the garden, along side golden ears of yellow corn dripping with homemade butter, made by Sam and Myrtle Clark of Pineola.
Chances were you would find a bowl of greasy beans, or leather britches, which had been hung from the ceiling in a frame made by Buddy's own hands.
Fresh mountain trout fried in a cornmeal batter or a pressure pot of stewed squirrels with dumplings could have been the main dish. Either of these would have been supplied by Mama Joe's brother, Thomas Wright (Uncle Thomps to us grandchildren); who was one of the greatest hunters and fishermen of his time.
Sunday lunches were amongst her greatest accomplishments and proof of this lies in the number of hungry souls who found their way to Mama Joe's kitchen.
It was a tradition. Not only the kitchen table, but the large dining room table would be surrounded by family and friends.
You could always expect platters of buttermilk fried chicken, possibly her renowned liver and onions, or a massive ham looking beautiful in its Sunday dress of pineapple rings and cherries.
Garden coleslaw loaded with fresh vegetables and chopped with an evaporated milk can, which Buddy had filed to a cutting edge as sharp as a razor, was a special treat. Besides cabbage it usually contained carrots, cucumbers, radishes and tomatoes.
Large plates of fried squash or the tangy fried green tomato was a comforting sight to us hungry eaters.
Her large, perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet (which I inherited), bubbled over with Johnny cakes, cornbread, or fluffy crusted-bottom biscuits.
Jars of dill or bread-and-butter pickles, and let's not forget the pickled beets, always graced our table.
There would be pumpkin pies and fresh peach cobblers, and always the infamous boiled custard banana pudding. There was an old-timey ice box refrigerator in the kitchen and a more modern one in the dining room. It was in this one that Saturday's banana pudding got stored until dessert time on Sunday. I'll never forget us grandchildren going and taking a peak at that beautiful pudding in a large glass bowl with the backs of the vanilla wafers displayed and saying; "Eat me! Eat me! But it was against Mama Joe's strictest law to even think about getting a taste of that heavenly concoction until Sunday afternoon rolled around. It was pure torture!
As I look back at this I cannot help but wonder, how in the world did she accomplish everything that she did? She did not have shiny new appliances, no not even a microwave oven. She would not have used it if she had it. I can rarely remember her excepting any help in the kitchen except maybe occasionally from her daughters.
What this tells me is that my Mama Joe was a true artist. She ran not only her kitchen but her entire household with an exuberance that was driven by her generosity to fill all of our needs.
She was admired, respected and loved by all of us who were lucky enough to have slid our feet up under her table.
Though I can no longer journey to that table in body, my mind often takes me there.

Precious Memories How They Linger." Precious memories indeed.


  1. I love this tribute to your Mamma Joe! I love to reminisce about my Granny Carpenter's cooking, and my Dad made the best squirrel dumplings ever! We are blessed to have such memories. Jo

  2. There is never a day in my life Jo that my mind does not take me to my Mama Joe's kitchen...

  3. You took me right back to her home and kitchen. I can still see it all so clearly. Beautifully written love.