Appalachian Food

Bread in Appalachia

Cornbread dressing

Biscuits, Cornpone, and Cracklin’ Bread – More Than Moonshine – Sydney Saylor Farr

“People in almost any country in the world bake and eat some form of bread every day. People in Appalachia are used to having bread at least three times a day. It has been said that bread is the staff of life, and we certainly believed that. Even if we only had soup beans, fried potatoes and cooked greens to eat, as long as we had a pan of hot cornbread it was a fine meal. We all have positive reactions and emotions when we smell freshly baked bread. Other things enter in, of course, to make up the sum total of our memories and emotional makeup, but a good part of it is what happened to us in childhood, what kind of home life we had and the food we ate. Sometimes we can almost smell and taste those foods again. I have always loved the smell of smoke: the fireplace, the wood-burning stove in the kitchen, leaves and brush burning in late fall or early spring. I liked to be outdoors and see blue smoke curling up above the rooftop and smell cornbread baking in the oven, both calling me in and other family members home to supper.”

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I’m a bread lover. The Deer Hunter enjoys bread too, but doesn’t have to have it for every meal. If I don’t have bread I don’t think it’s a real meal. When I was growing up Granny made biscuits or cornbread every day. Often she made both. In those days I was a biscuit girl and was always happy when that was the bread set on the table for our meals. These days I like cornbread just as much. And like Farr if I have a hot pan of biscuits or cake of cornbread I don’t need much else to make a fine meal.

Tipper

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Auther Ray
    May 12, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    My Mother always fried cornbread in a skillet on top of the stove, I didn’t know it could be baked in an oven. I like it better fried in a skillet on top, seems moister.

  • Reply
    James Tipton
    May 11, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    My Momma would fry “scalded bread”, corn meal scalded with boiling water plus salt and pepper. Absolutely fantastic!

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    April 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    tipper I too love bread..especially yeast bread. nothing like the aroma filling the house..cornbread too…mmmm
    I love your memories, and it puts me to mind of our family together..with 7 children and parents around the table, talking about our days and just enjoying the meal and each other…the simple things in life are more precious to me..
    sending love and ladybug hugs
    lynn

  • Reply
    jumpoffa
    April 2, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Whats better than cornbread? Hush puppies!

  • Reply
    Ruth Binder
    April 2, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Another big thank you to Van Helms for his Blue Ridge Impressions. Just loved watching the skiing. More than that, it was a true pleasure to see all the blooming redbuds, cherry trees, forsythia and Jay magnolias. We, in Ohio, had another light snow covering when we awoke this morning in the Cleveland area! My aunt use to live in Black Mountain so I was particularly interested in the ‘Cheshire Village’. You, Van, are a great photographer and I look forward to anything you post on Blind Pig.

  • Reply
    Papaw
    April 2, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I am a crust man. It don’t matter much what kind of bread it is I will probably like the crust off it. I can even eat canned or frozen biscuits. I rip all the doughy stuff out of the middle, put in a slice of onion, mater or a spoonful of jelly or apple butter, close my eyes and enjoy a sneak preview of heaven. My salivary glands just kicked into overdrive!!

    My mother used to make corn bread that sometimes you could tear off the bottom crust in a sheet. After everbody got all they wanted I would take off the rest of crust, smear it with yellow mustard or catsup, roll it up and chow down. It looked kinda like taquito but tasted better.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    April 2, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    On “A Chef’s Life” last week, Vivian was making corn bread. I think in all there were 3 or 4 different recipes. It made me want to get up and make a pan.

    You’ve got to add larrupin to your Appalachian words unless it is one I missed. I had to Google it.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    April 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Cornbread, biscuits and potatoes. A fellow can live on that.

    • Reply
      jumpoffa
      April 2, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      Don’t forget the butter for all three.

  • Reply
    Carol
    April 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Give me a big glass of milk with baked no sugar corn bread crumbled in it.

  • Reply
    quinn
    April 2, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Every time you write about cornbread, Tipper, I get such a craving! And the only way to have it is to make it myself, because around here anything called “cornbread” tastes more like a muffin with lots of sugar in the batter. No, I’ll just have to make a pan myself 🙂

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    If you have a real easy way of seeing which of your posts got 20 or more comments – it would be interesting to see the list. This one did. Though generally about “Bread”, I see ‘cornbread’ is a big part of it.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 2, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    I love bread. My favorite is cornbread, and I could really smell it as I was reading this post! When I was a kid, my grandmother in Sylva, NC would make biscuits for breakfast every day and yeast rolls for dinner (noon meal, evening meal was supper), which was the big meal of the day on the farm. After that meal, I would stuff my pants pockets as full as I could get them with leftover rolls and snack on them all afternoon!

  • Reply
    Susan Jones
    April 2, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Yesterday, we had a pone of cornbread with Easter dinner. I couldn’t help wondering how many other families were having that type of bread at Easter. My husband made it and it was larrupin.
    If you want to check out a fun, cornbread event, take a look at the link below for the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN. Looks like a way to enjoy a lot of cornbread AND pick up a few new recipes.
    https://www.tennesseerivervalleygeotourism.org/content/national-cornbread-festival/ten4c37030ba2478e5c2

  • Reply
    Ken
    April 2, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Tipper,
    I’m like you and Farr, I got to have bread or it ain’t a meal. I remember Mama baking biscuits and cornbread in our ole wood cookstove oven. The kitchen smelled of Biscuits, she’d have to fix about 20 at a time for our Family. Me, Harold, and John sat at the back side on a bench at the table, every one else had chairs, but that was OK with us cause we could lean back against a wall if we wanted to. I could make a meal out of crumbled biscuits and milk gravy. To tell the truth, I don’t know if it was the Biscuits or the Coffee that was the loudest. I’m a coffee nut since I was a child. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ann Appplegarth
    April 2, 2018 at 11:23 am

    …and homemade hot rolls, muffins, popovers, and soda bread. Mmmmmm!

  • Reply
    Jerry
    April 2, 2018 at 10:45 am

    This brings back such pleasant memories of my mom baking bread in our wood burning kitchen stove. She didn’t bake bread very often because she was busy with other housework and caring for 8 children. She usually did the bread baking on the weekend when she had more time. Even today I can recall the pleasant odor of fresh baked bread whenever I entered the kitchen after playing outside or finishing chores such as hoeing weeds in the garden. My mom had to fire up the kitchen stove for all of our meals even during the summer months. That’s just the way it was back then.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    April 2, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I have watched carbs lately, so have quit living on bread like I once did. I do eat it, however, because it is my favorite go to food. We always had homemade bread with each meal growing up, and it did not take much else to have the perfect meal. One of my favorites was a huge pan of corn bread with fresh butter.
    Back in the day many people had cows, and they sold the milk and butter. We had one for a few short years. Mom only bought from those she knew, and I don’t know why so many alarm buttons on raw milk nowadays. Back then nobody ever got sick from milk or butter that I ever remember. You had relatives and friends who sold it instead of processors off in some building waiting for “getting off” time. Many are dedicated workers for sure, but is less connected to the purchaser.

    I am not sure why, but my Mom did a lot of cooking bread by frying on top of stove. and was called fry bread, batter bread, or fried corn bread. It was unbelievably crisp and tasty. I still do that today, but with much smaller cast iron skillet and spray olive oil 🙂 It can never match Mom’s, but I have gotten used to it.

  • Reply
    Paul D. Certo
    April 2, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I had my first taste of cornbread in Army boot camp, it was OK , but never did become special to me. Ma baked homemade Italian bread from the time she was 9 or 10 years old, and the yeasty smell of bread in the oven still says “Home” to me. She made biscuits once in a while, and those are a treat, but Italian bread is still my favorite. We could smell it as we got close, walking home from school.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    April 2, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Here in the midwest, seems everyone is prone to putting sugar in their cornbread. I’m sorry, but to my way of thinking, that’s corn CAKE. Give me a hot slice of real cornbread, about a pound of butter and a big glass of cold buttermilk, and that’s all I need to make me a very happy gal.

  • Reply
    Nancy Wigmore
    April 2, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Oh my the memories this brings back to me…oysters roasted outside and mama’s cracklin cornbread and good ole lard made biscuits…or take me down the road to Aunt Daisy’s where she had some fried cornbread and a pot of collards cooked with cornmeal dumplings soaking up that pot likker. some mighty fine eating it was.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    April 2, 2018 at 9:17 am

    My boss and I were dieting at the same time a few years ago. She told me she could lose weight if she could stay away from the bread. I soon found out why her favorite bread would be fattening. She came back from our cafeteria with a big piece of cornbread that was about four inches thick and had a good half pound of sugar in it. Ewee! Bread has never been my reason for gaining weight. As a matter of fact, I can only recall two times when I had bread with my meal this year. One time was yesterday with Easter dinner and another time was when I ate a roll while dining out for my birthday. Eating an entire meal without bread it not unusual for me. I could not have skipped the bread when I was growing up. Gravy would have been hard to eat without biscuits and soupbeans without cornbread would have been impossible.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 2, 2018 at 8:26 am

    You started me thinking. I don’t know if I have ever had cornbread from fresh cornmeal. If I have it was when I was a kid. And I wonder if our ancestors had particular favorites among corn varieties as bread corn. I’ll bet they did, though I’ve never heard that. I wonder if the folks at the various mills around; Mingus, Cable and others, would know. Or maybe Jim Casada?

    Incidentally, down on Jekyll Island, GA they use grits from Logan’s Mill in Blairsville. It is located along Hwy 129 and the Hiawasse River south of town. Though I have passed it many a time I have never stopped. I just may have to now. The trouble with having the best though is it may spoil me ever after…….

  • Reply
    Annette Hensley
    April 2, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Oh, how I yearn for the cornbread of my youth. I still love it with the regular store bought meal but that can’t compare to the stone ground meal of yesteryears. One of my favorite sandwiches was cornbread with streaked meat (usually called “salt pork” today).

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    April 2, 2018 at 8:21 am

    When I was in graduate school I lived on soup and corn bread or drop biscuits. I still love corn bread and think it goes fine with any meal.

    I just bought a cast iron skillet to do it right. I have to set a good example for the kids!

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    April 2, 2018 at 7:37 am

    I saved the “Jolly Time” popcorn can that Mama used to cut all her biscuits. It’s a family heirloom. She would rise every morning and make those biscuits from scratch. Any leftover biscuits were cut in half, covered with margarine, and toasted in the oven as a treat later. Her cornbread always had cracklins, and Daddy would break it up in a glass of buttermilk. Canned biscuits were only for emergencies. On weekends, she made Hot Cakes instead, with real maple syrup. We didn’t know what waffles were. Ahh, the memories… http://www.blueridgeimpressions.org

  • Reply
    Robert Barlow
    April 2, 2018 at 7:33 am

    I have eaten “corn pone” all my life and when you can throw in about a cup of cracklings in the mix, then you are eating “high on the hog”! I can make a meal out of beans and corn bread.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 2, 2018 at 7:28 am

    At my grandmothers house there was always bread on the table at every meal, usually both biscuits and cornbread. One was fresh baked and the other baked for the previous meal. There was always molasses on the table and it was eaten at the end of every meal with either the biscuits or the cornbread. That’s just the way it was without any variance. That was life in the country.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    April 2, 2018 at 7:26 am

    While I love cornbread, it wasn’t served much in my house growing up. We didn’t eat bread at every meal. Sometimes a sandwich or toast for breakfast. We were more likely to have hpme fries or mashed potatoes. Strange now that I think of it.

  • Reply
    Betty "JO" Eason Benedict
    April 2, 2018 at 7:02 am

    I grew up on cornbread and like you could make a meal out of it, hot , buttered and sometimes some sweet onion to nibble on the side! My husband grew up with a preference for biscuits and no wonder his Mom could make the best in the world! I can still see her with a bowl under the sifter, bin in the old Hoosier Cabinet……..mix in a big spoonful of real lard……..yes ma’am that was the secret to heavenly bliss…….REAL LARD!!!

  • Reply
    Tmc
    April 2, 2018 at 5:52 am

    I’ve told my Wife that I believe I could live on just bread. My Mother cooked bread every meal whether it was biscuits or cornbread, we don’t eat bread every meal. My Papaw had to have fresh ground cornmeal for his cornbread he didn’t like store bought meal, he’d make a trip up to Tennessee somewhere and buy it, no one around locally ground meal at the time, now that’s someone who likes cornbread, wander what that cost a pound by the time you paid the gas back and forth.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    April 2, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Biscuits and cornbread were everyday staples. We used to have light bread too, homemade white flour yeast bread. Then at times we had white “store bread.” I used to bake a lot of bread, bread fresh from the oven is irresistible t my hubs and me.

    Toasted white store bread with hot milk and sugar makes a fine breakfast.

    Nowadays I buy Amish-made light bread or an expensive 100% whole wheat store bread. I could eat it every meal, especially with real butter. Cutting carbs is important now so I eat less bread. I admit I yearn for the food of long ago.

    I do sometimes make biscuits starting with fresh ingredients. I make corn bread more often, half a recipe. I “bake” i
    t in a sandwich maker,it comes out crispy on all sides and is good eatin’.

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