Appalachian Food

Cooking for Christmas

Christmas decorations with trees and santa

“Aunt Mo. Norton: We always dressed up for Christmas dinner in the new clothes that we got. Our whole family would get together and eat lunch. Sometimes we’d invite other families from the community to come eat with us.

I first started helping my mother cook the Christmas meal when I was about eight or nine years old. The men didn’t usually help cook. They would sit on the porch, or sit in the living room when it was too cold to sit out.

We always had plenty Christmas dinner. We had our own hogs and chickens that we raised to kill and eat. We usually had ribs, fried ham, or fried chicken for Christmas dinner. We had vegetables that we’d can and put up in the summertime. We’d have beans and corn and peas. We usually had sweet potatoes because we grew our own sweet potatoes. We also grew our own Irish potatoes.

For dessert, they’d make apple pies or walnut cakes. You would just make the walnut cake like you were making any cake. Then just flour your walnuts so they won’t sink to the bottom of the cake.

I still have Christmas dinner today. I have on daughter and she’s got three children. They’re usually here at Christmas, but if they don’t come, I still have my Christmas dinner. ”

—”A Foxfire Christmas”


I know November is over, but I have a few more giveaways up my sleeve 🙂 For a chance to win a copy of “A Foxfire Christmas” leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Friday December 6, 2019. You can jump over to the Foxfire website to pick up your own copy of the book.

If you’re looking for something to jump start your Christmas merry making I have just the thing. I might be a little bit prejudice, but I highly recommend Pap and Paul’s cd “Songs of Christmas.” You can pick it up here.


p.s. The winner of the “Foxfire 2” book is Michelina McCann who said: “Black sheep are on my bucket list as my BBF spins and might just whip up a pair for ny black sheep – my hard working hobby farmer hubby for our cold NE winters! I’m sure there’s a project or two in Foxfire two for him to work on this winter! Thanks!”

Michelina send your  mailing address to me at [email protected] and I’ll send you the book!

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  • Reply
    William J. Boone
    January 26, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    I have already described the table of treats we had Christmas afternoon. Let me now describe Christmas dinner served promptly at noon. Roasted turkey and ham sliced on big platters, the two legs whole for those who preferred dark meat and liked to gnaw on the leg bone, bread dressing, baked in pans as stuffing would never have been enough to go around, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, raw slices cooked in margarine, brown sugar and King syrup, sweet corn put up by Mom-Mom, lima beans, gravy, homemade noodles topped with bread crumbs browned in margarine, jellied and whole berry cranberry sauce, celery stalks chilled in a celery vase, pickled beets, white bread slices, a dish of sweet, bread and butter, and whole green tomato pickles put up from the garden; and kosher dill spears (store bought), and, for the only day of the year, un-pitted green olives. Coffee, iced tea and home made root beer to drink. After we ate, every dish, pot, serving utensil and piece of flatware was washed, dried and put away. Then, and only then, were presents unwrapped. We didn’t have much money, but Christmas day made up for the 364 other days of the year we scrimped and made do.

  • Reply
    Quinn Piper
    December 4, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    All these happy memories of families sitting around a table! I’d love to know more about that “float.”
    I can’t eat much at one meal anymore – you’d think I’d be getting thinner, but I’m not! – so I don’t plan a big dinner unless I also have room for a lot of leftovers in the freezer. But I have a turkey in the freezer right now – was supposed to be for Thanksgiving but the farmer kept saying she would deliver it “tomorrow, for sure” and by the time I got it by going after it myself, it was too late to thaw it and cook it for Thanksgiving. So I’ll be cooking that turkey in December “for sure”!

  • Reply
    Joshua Dykes
    December 4, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    We would always have cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and for supper, we would usually have ham. I always look forward to my aunt’s Christmas fudge. She makes two different kinds of fudge: one with nuts, and one without for those with nut allergies.

  • Reply
    Cindy S.
    December 3, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I would love to win a copy of “A Foxfire Christmas”. I love reading in general but especially of past generations and the traditions they had.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 3, 2019 at 12:14 am

    I love Black Walnut cakes, our farm at Needmore had several Black Walnut trees so we would always have a supply that I cracked on a Flat Iron held upside down between my knees and a hammer. My Mom was one of the greatest cooks with her recipes in her mind. We could often talk her into making a Walnut Cake which seldom lasted very long. Thanks for the “Lamp Lighting” cd, I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    I have 0ne sister that makes several flavors of fudge, three or four different cakes and two or three different pies. There’s just her and one daughter there so I try to visit as much as possible in December. LOL

  • Reply
    Ethelene D. Jones
    December 2, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Reading all the goodies of Christmas meals renews wonderful memories and makes me want to get busy preparing ahead for Christmas eating. Christmas has depth of meaning, spiritually, but also families, close and loving, and enjoying our bounty. Thanks for Blind Pig and the Acorn. You always make us happy to read what you share with us and remind us of blessings we have.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    First Tipper, I want to thank tou so much for the book I received. I love it. More than Moonshine. It will always remind me of my dad , because he made moonshine for a living. Thanks again Tipper. We as kids , for Christmas didnt get , maybe 1 toy. I remember thr long peppermint stick ,an orange and apple. We did have pork ham and banana pudding, Momma ‘s good ole Biscuits.

  • Reply
    Mary Johnson
    December 2, 2019 at 11:17 am

    I would so enjoy A Foxfire Christmasand the I would send it to my sister in law im Hawaii soi she could enjoy it too.Merry Christmas. God’s grace be with you.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    December 2, 2019 at 11:16 am

    It’s just my husband and me for holidays now. My brother’s family is in Alabama, my sister’s family in Georgia, and my mom is in Florida. Still I have to make some of the wonderful treats that my Mummo used to make for Christmas, or it won’t be Christmas for me. Guess I can always talk coworkers into eating brownies and cookies.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 11:15 am

    The food mentioned by Aunt Mo Norton was always spread out on Christmas for my parents growing up years. Since there were 11 children in my Mother’s family I don’t think they got new clothes for Christmas but they delighted in getting an orange, apple and a few pieces of candy. Same with my Father’s family of 5 children but they had the best food grown by their parents. From the time I was 6 months old til about 15 years old, my parents would load us up and head for MS to be with my grandparents for Christmas. This would be our vacation for the year, as we never went anywhere else. No beach, no Disney World, no big amusement park vacation and it may be hard for you to believe but we would not have traded our trip back to our Grandparents for any other type of vacation. I know they had good food but what I absolutely loved was getting to be with my cousins down South and my grandparents and aunts and uncles. To just sit and listen to the stories, how I would love to see them again and I will some day. My grandfather made a wooden sled for us kids and I wondered how in the world we could use that sled cause they didn’t have any snow. Well, I found out to my delight, that you can go just as fast down a hill covered in pine straw as you can on a snow covered hill. Our grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents, made some WONDERFUL memories that come to mind on the special holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas and do tug at my heart. Family time is the best!

    • Reply
      Patsy Allen
      December 2, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      That sounds a lot like our Christmas time at Home growing up in Burnsville , NC Sure brings back good memories I miss my Family
      So many are gone and I don’t see the others very often Love my Family
      I’ll would Love the Book and I could share with my Family when I do see them

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 2, 2019 at 10:30 am

    I learned something today! “just flour your walnuts so they won’t sink to the bottom of the cake”

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had 20 all over the house! Our daughters made about all the fix’ns this year & a cheeseball turkey made with pretzels…so cute we hated to cut it but it was so delicious too. Please put my name in the hat for Foxfire Christmas.

    • Reply
      Mary Lou McKillip
      December 3, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Tipper this wonderful post brought back memories of some good food miss Julie baked. One day Mama sent me and Dad to the barn where the Black walnuts was stored to crack her enough for her walnut cake. We were gone to much to suit Miss Julie so she came to hurry the project. Dad spoke first said we just have about enough for your cake Miss Julie said I don’t want enough to bake all of Marble a cake. We ate a lot ha ha

  • Reply
    Jeanette Queen
    December 2, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Oh, Tipper…..what wonderful memories you always make me remember, family Christmas, so many wonderful homebaked goodies, as a child I could hardly wait. We had family that gathered from far & wide, oh the music that filled the air all day, before and after the meal. The women folk would always sit in the kitchen after dinner and talk,
    all the others gathered in the old mountain living room, and the music we had. What wonderful memories !

  • Reply
    Dee Dee Parker
    December 2, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Mother made the most wonderful walnut cakes for Christmas,and this year I’ve decided to try her recipe. I love looking at pictures of past Christmases and revisiting the happy faces and being amazed at all the wonderful food we had for the holidays. Merry Christmas!

    • Reply
      December 2, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      The foods i remember most for Christmas are egg nog (non alcohol) & my mother’s indescribable non-baked fruit cake. A lady in our Sunday school class makes them just like she did. Sometimes she gives me a small one for

  • Reply
    Yvette Ridenour
    December 2, 2019 at 9:06 am

    We’ll be having my Granny’s recipe for float! That’s what we always had for dessert for Christmas when I was growing up. She was born in 1911 in KY and her mother made it before her, and her mother before her. Now I make it, and I’m teaching my daughter to make it, too. It’s served cold over pound cake. Wouldn’t be Christmas without it!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 8:44 am

    After everybody married Christmas got a bit more complicated with in law-dinners to work around. However, we always met at Mom and Dad’s on Christmas eve for many years. After I took over the celebration and cooking it became a little easier for everybody. Mom cooked ham back then, and we brought side dishes from home.
    My favorite memories as I look back now were not the dinner nor the gift opening. I cannot remember even what I received. The trek up to their mountain home was sometimes an experience many who live in the lowlands will never enjoy. We would form a caravan and head up the winding mountain road. Often we traveled in blowing snowy weather with roads not yet scraped. West Virginia has some rough Winters at times. One Christmas eve our car slid into a deep ditch. There was a lot of laughing, pushing and falling in the ditch, but we managed to dig out and arrive snow covered but safe. I was never afraid, but to slide could sometimes take you over and down a mountain. I never had any fear of those steep mountains, but can’t look out the window in a tall building. Go figure. Regardless, Christmas was so special because of dear family and the prospect of great adventure just arriving there and returning back home safely. Each year those former Christmases create a tug at my heart, but no wonder. We had it all back then.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 2, 2019 at 8:40 am

    I like to cook, I’ve always liked cooking so holidays are just an excuse to cook. Your family, Tipper has always embraced me as one of their own and I really appreciate that since I have very little family besides the Deer Hunter. You and the Deer Hunter are both excellent cooks, so the Holidays are play time for us with the fun of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 2, 2019 at 8:37 am

    The foods mentioned here are pretty much those from my childhood. Then, where we lived at least, most folks had their own gardens or had family who did. And keeping chickens and/or a cow was still fairly common. But things have changed a lot since then. Now it seems holiday meals are more and more non-traditional; eating out, picking up take out, ethnic food and so on. As a guy, I don’t complain about what the ladies choose to do. But as usual what is gain in some ways is loss in others.

    I have a Foxfire Christmas book my sister gave me years ago so I’ll pass with thanks for the offer.

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    December 2, 2019 at 8:34 am

    We always had stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and brussel sprouts, corn and olives, celery sticks and carrot sticks and cranberry sauce on the Christmas and Thanksgiving table. Mom made the best apple, cherry and pumpkin pies. Thru the year she made black walnut cakes, all kinds of cookies and of course jello with fruit cocktail and real whipped cream, gingerbread and whipped cream and all sorts of goodies for our table. Our holiday table had relatives around it and it groaned with the weight of all the food. Good times.

  • Reply
    Sherri Moore
    December 2, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Reading your blog today reminds me of the fruit cake recipe you shared. The one with the orange candy slices.
    I’ve never been a fan of fruit cake but I made this recipe last year, for Christmas, everyone enjoyed it including me. I’ll be making it again this year. I enjoy reading your blog every day and wish you and your family a blessed Christmas.

  • Reply
    sheryl paul
    December 2, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Our Christmas dinner and Thanksgiving dinner are almost the same. Turkey and ham, the must have corn, broccoli, sweet potato,and gren beab casseole. And lots of family.i don’t remember thecasseroles other than the sweet potato from childhood though. I tjink we only had the veggies cooked or raw. Lots of pie for then and now

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 7:05 am

    A walnut cake! You’ve given me an idea for this Christmas! What’s one more feast-item to set the table groaning?

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 6:46 am

    The foods i remember most for Christmas are egg nog (non alcohol) & my mother’s indescribable non-baked fruit cake. A lady in our Sunday school class makes them just like she did. Sometimes she gives me a small one for

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 6:21 am

    i hope you had a great thanksgiving! now it’s time for christmas!

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