Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Appalachian Food

Dinner Time in Appalachia

dinner in Appalachia

“Yep, dinner at noon and supper late in the day.

My Grandma W. Cooked dinner everyday on the wood-burning cook stove. In summer she cooked by burning corncobs left from shelling corn for the livestock. Corncobs make a quick heat and burn out fast, letting the kitchen cool down a bit after cooking.

The meal is much as you described, the pork was grown, processed, and cured right on the farm. Much of what we ate was called side meat. It was greasy and it was quite tasty. The grease was saved to make lye soap.

Leftovers were sometimes put in a hollowed out piece of stone called the spring house. It was outside the smokehouse, about the size of a bathtub. No spring ran through it. We pumped cold well water to put in it. There was no electricity until well into the 1950s, then a refrigerator called a Crosley Shelvedoor assumed leftover duties.

Some leftovers stayed on the table til supper. After dinner everything was covered with a square white cloth, nothing fancy. I am guessing it was made from flour sacks, there were always seams in it.

In summer sliced tomatoes and fried corn were delicious additions to dinner.”

June 2016 ~Eldonna Ashley 




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  • Reply
    June 20, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    I remember that my grandmother used a cook stove until 1972 when she moved from her house to a newer house down the road. The newer house had indoor plumbing as well. I never thought much of it because I was six years old when she moved, but she also had an outhouse that was used until that time. I missed that house mainly because of the wonderful swing hung in the huge tree in the side yard. I thought I might be over to swing over the house, it I could just get high enough. Sadly, there was only a porch swing at the new house and she wouldn’t allow me to swing very high in it.

  • Reply
    Herbert Santee
    August 1, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    We also had a kitchen wood stove here in Pa. when I was a kid. My great grand mother used to put orange peels on the lids as a room deodorant. Also we would slice potatoes and put them on the hot lids after cleaning the lids with wax paper. My job as I got older was to bring in the wood and take out the ashes.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Lunch was something we carried in a sack, poke or bucket to eat at school or someplace away from the house. Meals eaten at home were breakfast, dinner and supper.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    July 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Tipper: I have been reading all your posts while Jim was fixen breakfast -oops- brunch for us! Our lives have changed from ELEVEN KIDS AT OUR TABLE IN THE COVE and SEVEN WILD WIKE BOYS to a quiet couple – just making a gravy and bacon breakfast WAY UP IN THE DAY!
    Thanks for all the sweet memories!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    July 16, 2017 at 7:04 am

    It always was breakfast, dinner, then supper when I was growing up, most young folks don’t use those terms anymore it’s lunch mid-day now then supper, I remember hearing the word ” brunch” when we got marrried and moved to town. I remember thinking “Brunch” what the heck is ” Brunch”, then my wife explained it. My definition is , It’s for folks who sleep late and missed breakfast. It wouldn’t happen when I was growing up, unless you were sick.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    July 15, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    I too had two stoves in my kitchen for quite a while–a wood cookstove and a gas range, later an electric, then back to gas. I didn’t cook on the cookstove in summer, though. Too hot! It had a water reservoir and a warming oven. I finally sold it two years ago after not using for some time–when I started working full time there was just not enough time for it. Cookstoves take time; getting them going, and then keeping them going til mid-day, and they needed a lot of small wood of various sizes and dryness. Mine was a cast iron stove, so it held the heat well.
    I did not grow up with dinner mid-day and supper later, as we lived in town and Dad worked all day. So dinner was in the evening. Now that I am retired, we have gone to having our main meal in the middle of the day though, and I like that arrangement. The cloth over the food has explained something I’ve wondered about. When buying vintage linens I often come upon small square cloths that look like tablecloths but are really too small, usually about 36-40″ square. I wondered what they were used for, and now I know!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    During the week, we had breakfast, lunch and supper.
    On Saturday, we all caught as catch can for ourselves and maybe others if they wanted to eat what we were making; otherwise they made their own.
    On Sundays (and holidays) though, we had breakfast, dinner and supper. Dinner was a large affair generally of Dad’s making that we ate at around 2pm. Then whatever supper we had on Sundays was made from the leftovers of dinner.
    I always liked having dinner in the middle of the day, because then it left the entire afternoon and early evening for special things like going to the movies or activities outside which we couldn’t have done had we had a Supper at the same suppertime we had during the week which then led to bed soon after the dishes were done.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Way up on Wiggins Creek the kitchen stove was called the cook stove as opposed to the heater which was also called the wood stove. We called wood for the kitchen stove “stovewood.” Wood for the heater was called “heaterwood.”
    The cook stove was a Rome Eagle Lassie with six eyes, warming shelf and a water reservoir. It had a thermometer on the oven door but I don’t ever remember it ever working. It was made in the Appalachian foothills in Rome, Georgia.
    Our cook stove was also plumbed to heat water. A 40 gallon tank sat beside it but never got hot more than a third of the way down. A five minute shower at best then wait 30 minutes for the water to reheat. With a family of 8 that takes a while. And a lot of stovewood.
    Dinner is and was always the midday meal. Sometimes we substituted lunch when conversing with outlanders (bless their hearts, they don’t know no better). Supper is the final meal of the day. No question, no argument. That’s what it was and that’s what it is.
    Brunch is a completely alien concept. My mother probably never heard of it. I fully expect her reply, if you tried to explain it, would be “If you can’t get up early enough for breakfast then you’ll go hungry til dinner!”

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    July 15, 2017 at 11:44 am

    We had a wood cook stove, and oh, how good everything tasted. We covered the food from dinner to supper with a red and white checkered tablecloth, and the food tasted even better sitting, I think. The corn is good this year. I love your pictures. Whoever taught you photography did a great job. I feel like I am right there with you, and I like that feeling. Keep up the great work.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 15, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Sounds like my grandmother’s house! She died in 1957 and was still cooking on a woodstove.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2017 at 11:03 am

    That Silver Queen corn looks delicious. I love that stuff cut-off and fried, or boiled about 4 minutes for roast nears. But my favorite corn is Hickory Cane cut-off and fried and several hot biscuits to start on. We use to have Hickory Cane as Roast Nears, way before this Silver Queen or Silver King was invented, along with the yellow Candy Corn. We looked forward to having old timey corn, it was the only thing available, along with a nice Watermelon from the Spring. …Ken

  • Reply
    jim keller
    July 15, 2017 at 10:47 am

    My grandmother had a wood stove she cooked on every day until her death in 1971. You could always count on biscuits or cornbread in the warmer trays on the top shelf of the stove. When did dinner change from noon to late in the day, don’t here many people refer to supper anymore ?

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 15, 2017 at 10:35 am

    All sounds familiar except the corncobs! What perfect summer fuel! My Aunt Jay had a plain white
    tablecloth that she used to cover the dinner leftovers. After dinner she set the table for supper, so that all we had to do at suppertime was remove the cloth, get the leftover meat out of the icebox (which used ice from my grandfather’s ice plant!), get glasses of milk or water, sit down, and say the blessing.
    Aunt Jay’s house had the most wonderful smell! How I miss her!

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    July 15, 2017 at 10:29 am

    I often wonder how women endured the heat of a wood fire to cook on in summertime. Dinner is in the middle of the day but nowadays many refer to the nighttime meal as dinner.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2017 at 9:30 am

    We had an electric stove, but in the 50’s we also had a small coal/wood stove to heat water. There was a coil of piping inside the stove, and the heated water was collected in a tank located in a small closet behind the stove. ..Dinner was at midday, and it was a large meal.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 15, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Sounds familiar. Growing up, we had a wood cook stove. Mine and my brothers job was to chop the sawmill edging strips to length and keep wood in the house. It was not too bad a chore except in canning time. Then we had to bring in wood several times a day. We had to stay within hearing of Mom calling, “Boys, I need more wood.” We got back outside as soon as we could because it was hot as blazes in there.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 15, 2017 at 7:53 am

    What a great view of meal times not so very long ago

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 15, 2017 at 7:42 am

    By the time I was old enough to remember my grandmother had both a wood stove and an electric stove in the kitchen. She used both but liked the wood stove best. I remember the biscuits and cornbread cooked in that wood stove were much better than the ones cooked in the electric stove. They were crispier.
    That’s a pretty picture you got there! It’s about time for the corn to be coming in. Looks like Silver Queen corn, that is my favorite!

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