April 23, 2014

Doug’s Café – the “neatest” little restaurant serving the best BBQ in Andrews, NC

Doug's BBQ_tn

by Ronda Birtha And not, “neat” as in tidy – although it certainly is the cleanest “grease” truck I’ve ever seen (co-owner Doug Lawhon boasts about the café’s 99.5 sanitation rating). But “neat” as in “good food, and trendy,” as in, “the BEST barbecue I have ever had,” according to my friend Alice who asked if I heard about the new “hot dog truck” in town. We called them grease trucks back home. On any given … [Read more...]

My First Rooster Kill

Janet prepares my mind with the following perspective: “While he’s in the pen, he’s chicken. Outside the pen, he’s a carcass.”

by Ronda Birtha I’m going to guess that for many people reading this post, killing a rooster is not a big deal. So I’m just going to ask all of you to whom this is old hat … please indulge this city girl. I’ve known Bill and Janet Silver from Murphy, NC for about 9 years, and they have been to me among the most hospitable, kind-hearted people I have known. I don’t know when I started calling them Papa and Mama … [Read more...]

Priddy’s General Store

Priddy's General Store Photo credit: Malinda Dunlap Fillingim

by Malinda Fillingim Sometimes a girl just wants a simple sandwich with nothing fancy on it, just bites of goodness. That’s what I wanted one summer day after hiking at Hanging Rock. My old legs were telling me to rest and my stomach was telling me to eat. I listened to both and headed to nearby Priddy’s General Store, a landmark of Stokes County, to eat my favorite after hiking meal:  a hoop cheese and bologna … [Read more...]

Downtown Bakery, Murphy, NC

Harold and Cindy Malovany enjoying a light lunch Monday afternoon at the Downtown Bakery in Murphy, NC

by Ronda L. Birtha When Margie Freel Carpenter said that she is the kind of person who looks for a bakery as she travels about, I knew exactly what she meant and why she meant it. A good hometown bakery is to a neighborhood what your favorite room is to your home: the place where you find comfort and a measure of peace. Years ago, I remember asking friends where they went for a good donut, a good cup of coffee. … [Read more...]

Coke Is It: A Love Story


by Sarah Bryan It’s a moment that a lot of Southerners have had: when folks from somewhere else single out a characteristic of our speech or behavior that is evidently outlandish to the rest of the world, but that, until that moment, we hadn’t realized was at all weird. “You carried your grandmother to the store? Like, in your arms? On your back?” “What do you mean the collards aren’t done? They’ve been boiling for … [Read more...]

For The Love of Cream Corn

The fruit of Alice Blanton's labor is a perfectly delicious bowl of cream style corn made with love.

by Ronda Birtha For people who love corn, that love is almost a religious experience. From as far back as I can remember, I have loved corn in almost all its incarnations: on the cob, off the cob, in chowder, in breads, and popped on the stove, and even occasionally in the microwave. But there is one type of corn that I never liked: cream. For whatever reason, my mother, a grits (girl raised in the south) and … [Read more...]

Apple Stack Cake

The Appalachian stack cake tradition continues with this 2004 wedding cake made for Joy Salyers by her mother.

by Frances Dowell I  recently finished writing a novel set in the fictional mountain town of Stone Gap, North Carolina.  In one chapter, twelve-year-old Arie Mae Sparks is invited to a picnic by her so-called betters, and her mother insists she bring an apple stack cake as an offering. Arie Mae is torn. On the one hand, she really doesn’t want to go to this picnic. On the other hand, who can resist apple stack cake? … [Read more...]

New Farmers in North Carolina: Karen Refugees

Before being placed in the ground, plants are nurtured in the greenhouse by Karen farmers

by Ray Linville More than 14,000 refugees have been resettled in North Carolina in the past decade, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. As these refugee communities grow, they are beginning to transform food traditions of our state and expand the agricultural offerings at farmers’ markets and farm-to-home deliveries provided through community-supported agriculture. Just last year more than 2,000 … [Read more...]

“Farm to Fork”ing it Every Tuesday at Blue Mountain Grill & Coffee


When I Google “Farm to Fork” I get “About 13,700,000 results (0.24 seconds).” Thanks to Google’s new search algorithm, these top-ranking hits reflect my general location so I get an idea of how popular this trend is in my neck of the woods. Give it a try and see what your results look like where you are. This article isn’t about Google search and algorithms though, but Farm to "Fork”ing” itself,  especially as Mary … [Read more...]

Apples and a Pioneer Cabin in Cedar Mountain


There is a front porch, rocking chairs, and a wood-burning cookstove. But look closely and you will see there are also blowtorches, an electric food processor, and plastic mixing bowls. It is the Pioneer Cabin at the Green River Preserve, a summer camp for the bright, curious, and creative in Cedar Mountain, North Carolina. Campers carve wooden spoons and shape soap-stone pendants here. They craft gourd bowls and … [Read more...]