Appalachian Food

Mountain Makin’s in the Smokies

collage of photos of a family

“The early settlers in the Great Smokies were, of necessity, a self-sufficient folk. Isolated as they were, they had to grow their own food. Those were the days before super-markets. Cornmeal was a staple item. Molasses was used in cooking and honey for table “sweet’n in’.” Each little farm had its corn field, its sorghum patch, and its bee “gums.” Somewhere along the creek was a small mill where corn was ground into cornmeal.

In this booklet we have brought together some of the “old-timey,” as well as some of the present-day, ways of using these staples–cornmeal, molasses, and honey. In addition, a few other recipes are included. All have been used by the donors; many have been handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter.

It is the hope of the editors that you try out these recipes and have fun–and good eating–while doing so.”

—Copyright 1957 by The Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association


Today’s Thankful November giveaway is a copy of the booklet described above: “Mountain Makin’s in the Smokies.” *Giveaway ends Friday November 8, 2019.


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  • Reply
    January 1, 2020 at 10:54 am

    I read your articles all the time and miss the good life of Georgia. I now live in Washington State and no one knows of greens or cornbread or the good life. How can I get one of the cook books you mentioned?

  • Reply
    Marla Jones
    December 1, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I got some sorghum seed that was bred to be the most cold-hardy, going to give it a try to grow.
    One side of my family left KY in the Depression (great grandpa had his education from Berea and never wanted for work), but there are several towns there named after families I come from (surnames + “ville”) and it’s the only north American regional community that shows up in my DNA from testing with (eastern KY and southwestern VA settlers).

  • Reply
    November 7, 2019 at 9:54 am

    I sure can relate to that. When i was a child, we lived back in a hollow and it was 3 miles to the store. The only thing we got at the store was daddy coffee and his tobacco a d suger. Everything thing else , we raised, hunted and trapped. I do love and miss those days. Thanks Tipper.

  • Reply
    Lathan Roddey
    November 5, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Living off of and loving the land is as old as the native Americans that did it for hundreds of years before we came here ,, we just perfected it !

  • Reply
    November 5, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Would love to read this “old-timey,” book. Will cross my fingers.

  • Reply
    Barbara Trent
    November 4, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    I get lonesome for my growin’ Up days. Your postings warm my heart

  • Reply
    November 4, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    My mother loved looking at cookbooks – old with dog-ears, new and crisp, didn’t matter – even after she lost the strength to actually cook (heavy skillets and such). I’m blessed to have her collection of hand-written recipes. Both of my folks, who grew up on farms, said that during the Depression, they always had plenty to eat and plenty of food to share. But Dad once said that, after pondering what his family lacked most during those times, the only real need was cold hard cash. T’was never enough of that.

  • Reply
    Jim Kenninton
    November 4, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    I learned to cook ’cause my Momma thought all three of us boys should learn how to feed ourselves. She had grown up in the NC mountains in a farming family with a passel of siblings (16 of ’em). She had tales of her father deer hunting with friends each year. Hope I win this one because it’s really caught my interest.

    • Reply
      Terry L Stites
      November 5, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      Thank you Tipper, for everything. I enjoy your writings so much. You make my day every day. Happiest of Holidays

  • Reply
    November 4, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    For a time we bought sugar and coffee from the rolling store. Everything else we grew, trapped or gathered in the woods.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 4, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    and Don Byers,
    I had Mrs. Lillian Freel as my teacher one time at Andrews. I remember sitting in one of the other classes, and if the door was cracked open just a bit, all the boys would stop what ever they was doing, just to get a look at Mrs. Freel as she walked by. She was quite a looker, and had a walk like nobody’s business. Her husband taught me part of my Masonry, and he later owned the Builder’s Supply Co. in Andrews. My 2nd. older brother went to school with him. Joel said they were both real smart folks. …Ken

  • Reply
    Frances Fowler
    November 4, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    It sounds lovely, where do I sign up for a giveaway?

    • Reply
      November 4, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Frances-all you need to do is leave a comment-so you’re entered 🙂

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 4, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I’ve been with Daddy to have our corn-meal ground at Raleigh Gregory’s. He had a Corn-Meal grinder set-up about 3 or 4 miles from our house in Nantahala as you go into the Gorge. One time, I was with Daddy when Raleigh and his wife were just getting over the Flu. Anyway, Daddy carried the shelled Corn out of the car to Raliegh’s corn Mill. There was 2 or 3 Bushel of corn that daddy carried and it was too heavy for me, besides Daddy was afraid I’d spill it. I don’t know much about the mill itself, but it had 2 or 3 large stones that ground the corn and bagged it when it came out the other end. Daddy knew Raleigh and his wife well and he never charged Daddy any money, just kept a portion for his use. There’s trout in that Creek that fed Raleigh’s Mill but I can’t think of it right now, but it flows right beyond the Rollin’s Creek Baptist Church. Where I fished it when I was a boy, and caught several, was where the river goes under the road, and Ledbetter Creek runs into it just below there. ( I’ve caught more trout than you can count up Ledbetter Creek. ) They’re small, most of them Specks, but they’er so Good, kinda like them on Piercy Creek. …Ken

  • Reply
    November 4, 2019 at 10:25 am

    My eight year old grandson was visiting us in Northeast Tennessee from Las Vegas. I had taught him the Vols cheer song “Rocky Top”. We went on a Ranger led hike in GSMNP where he explained that many mountain folk could not raise their own corn because of the hilly, rocky terrain, but they certainly needed it to survive. He paused, then asked, “So where did they get their corn”? My grandson proudly shouted, “From a jar”!

    • Reply
      December 1, 2019 at 11:11 am

      LOL hilarious!!

  • Reply
    harry adams
    November 4, 2019 at 10:12 am

    While we are not self sufficient, I have learned to to grind corn into meal and grits, made hominy, grow and can most of our veggies. On Saturday, we went to a friends for a bonfire and one of my envious friends commented on how lucky we were to be able to provide food without a grocery store. This is the second time in a month someone has said this.

    On the property is a gas well that doesn’t provide income, but does provide heat . If we really became desperate there are so many deer here that we could provide meat. My son-in-law takes 3 every year for their main meat. A local honey farmer has 9 hives on the property which supplies us free honey without the stings.
    I have been amazed at the real problem in the past for being self sufficient was to come up with the hard cash to pay the taxes. I heard this from more than one person that lived during the depression. This would be the same today.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 4, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Those items are staples here at our house. We were fortunate to get gifted some honey made right next door and I’ve found some local honey available for a pretty good price so I’ll be getting some of it. It was much darker than what we’ve had before & I am wondering how it will taste.

    I would love to have this this booklet!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2019 at 8:58 am

    It is amazing what all they could cook with limited ingredients in their pantry. The book sounds like one I would definitely use.

  • Reply
    Colleen Holmes
    November 4, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Those were the quiet times. A place for your soul to hibernate. Now it’s busy, busy, business away from home and family.

  • Reply
    Wade Rider
    November 4, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Great post on Nov. 4 I love old recipes and how they cook things. Be looking forward to see more of your posts

  • Reply
    Kay Paul
    November 4, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I collect “antique” recipes so I would love to have a copy of the book!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2019 at 8:14 am

    My uncle told me that when he was a boy, eleven years old, his daddy died, and they fell on hard times, and all they had to eat was molasses and cornbread. They ate that three meals a day for a long time, and he said he swore to himself that when he got grown and on his own, he would never eat another bite of cornbread or molasses as long as he lived. He grew up to be quite prosperous, And could eat whatever he wanted, and lived a long life, but cornbread and molasses he never ate again.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      November 4, 2019 at 8:37 pm

      Molasses and cornbread got him through the hard times and made him into a prosperous man! Looks to me like he would have revered it. I was raised on cornbread and buttermilk and still love it. I have it at least weekly. If cornbread and molasses had killed his daddy I could understand him hating it maybe. I guess some people have a different way of looking at things.

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    November 4, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Please include me in the give away.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 4, 2019 at 7:47 am

    My Wife is a cookbook collector. She buys them at flea markets and estate sales. We have cookbooks running over top one another, but she doesn’t have that one. That one would make a great addition.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    November 4, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Tonight for our supper, Alex and I are having chili soup and cornbread. Cornbread goes with about anything.

    We really need to go see the Girls play. We’re hoping to make a trip this summer.

  • Reply
    Deborah Maxey
    November 4, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Some of my fondest memories of childhood is going with my grandfather to the mill where his corn was ground. I got to pick out the feedsacks that would become our dresses, aprons, curtains and the like. All of the old recipes are still my recipes and when we go to church dinners (with an elderly congregation), my dishes are among the favorites because they bring back old memories. Thanks for the post. As always, it’s excellent.

  • Reply
    William P Dotson
    November 4, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Thanks Tipper for the chance of maybe winning this book.

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    November 4, 2019 at 7:11 am

    This book sounds like one that I would enjoy. I like old timey cook books.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 4, 2019 at 7:07 am

    I love the old recipes. I still use my Mother’s hand written recipes handed down from my Grandmother and friends. Some of them are a bit bland but a good start to add a few spices of my own.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    November 4, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Good history! I am re-reading my “Green Book”. Margaret Freel’s “Our Heritage” of Cherokee, Clay & Graham Counties. First published about 1956. I believe it is the most interesting book of our area in in existence. And she had no internet!!!No, no Findagrave! Lots of work went into that book. My Uncle Ed Mauney contributed the Mauney and some other parts. His wife was the former Blanche Henson from the Bell View/Martin’s Creek area. I believe Blanche and her sister attended the folk school in the early days. Blanche was related to the Hatchetts and other families of that area. Uncle Ed was the appointed historian of Union County, GA. He was a wealth of information for other history buffs but didn’t write much down…the Freel book also has some great Moore family history…W.T. Moore built schools(Elf, Martin’s Creek, Robbinsville and others) hotels, bridges, was subcontractor on the Snow Bird Lodge. Most of his work is still standing. He did a lot of stonework. And you do a lot of good work, Tipper!!!!Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 4, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Tip, we go to the grocery store today and see a world of choices including all manner of cookies and other sweets, we see a huge variety of fresh vegetables…year round. The early people here had cornmeal, molasses, and honey plus wild meat and domestic pigs and not a whole lot more, milk if they had a cow.
    I’m sure this book will be interesting!

  • Reply
    Wesley P Bossman
    November 4, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Well these are a few of my favorite things! That information is something I would use so please put me in the running! Thanks for the Thankful November opportunities!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2019 at 6:13 am

    this sounds so interesting!

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