Appalachia: Recipe for Fall Apple Cake

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Hi everyone! This is a very old Appalachian recipe, handed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother and finally to my precious Aunt Red, the lady I wrote about in the blog post,  The Most Elegant Lady. It is so old that the writing is extremely faded on the paper I have. I have to get it typed up before it completely fades away! Since it is fall apple season, I thought it was time to share this with all of you!

Fall Apple Cake

*This cake was originally supposed to be made with Winesap apples. Winesap apples are very hard to find now. Granny Smith apples are the best substitute.

2 cups sugar

2 cups vegetable oil – Wesson oil or other oil

Mix sugar into vegetable oil

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsps cloves

1/2 tsps cinnamon

1 tsps salt

1 tsps baking soda

3 cups finely chopped apples (Winesap or Granny Smith)

Optional: 1 cup finely chopped nuts or 1 cup raisins

Mix everything together

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour

Let cool on a baking rack before cutting it

ENJOY!!

 

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Recipes for my Appalachian Readers: A Dilemma

I want to post a good recipe for all my Appalachian readers today. But, I have a dilemma and I guess I’m going to have to write a heartfelt blog post and make a confession before I can do anything. It’s hard for me to post the recipes handed down from my family from Appalachia right now..and probably in the future. Why? Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I know many of you feel my pain as you are also diabetic. The prevalence of this disease is high, particularly in Appalachia. Don’t let anyone tell you it is just a function of your weight. I weighed 110 pounds. It is also a function of heredity. The Appalachia side of my family was riddled with it.

I am an insulin-dependent diabetic and have fought this disease one way or another for 20 years but until recently, I never fought it the right way. After my diagnosis and after beginning to take insulin, I gradually started to gain weight. I never gained an excessive amount of weight but it was excessive to me and it certainly did not help diabetes. The more weight I gained, the higher my blood sugar went and the higher my insulin requirements climbed. The higher my insulin requirements climbed, the hungrier I got.

In February of this year, I decided the madness had to stop. I had studied food and nutrition for diabetics. I essentially designed my own diet because the diets given to me by dietitians associated with my diabetes doctor were not working. On March 1, I started the diet I designed. I’m not going to discuss the details of the diet because each person is different and it might not work for you.

The diet did, however, work for me. I’ve lost almost 30 pounds and that is almost as much as I needed to lose. I no longer have to take any daytime insulin and my nighttime insulin has been cut by more than half. I don’t even crave the foods I used to eat.

Why am I telling you all this? Because most of the recipes from the old folks that I would post for you are terribly unhealthy. Delicious but not so healthy. I would like to help the people of Appalachia, not hurt them. So, I want to make a deal with you. Around the holidays, I will post the old recipes. Otherwise, I’m going to post a “lightened up” version of some of the old recipes that you may like just as well. If you are diabetic yourself, they are a lot more diabetes friendly. Deal?

My first “lightened up” recipe will be for cole slaw. #amwriting #blogging #diabetes #Appalachia

 

Recipe for Cole Slaw

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Here is a lightened up version of a old-fashioned recipe for cole slaw. It’s very easy and can be used just for supper at night or for big family dinners:

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded green cabbage (easy way is to shred in food processor)

1/2 cup both thinly sliced red bell pepper and red onion

2 tbsp both seasoned rice vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsps salt

1/8 tsps freshly ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together, cover, and refrigerator for at least an hour. You can double or triple this recipe for bigger gatherings. #amwriting #blogging #diabetes #healthyeating

 

#weekendcoffeeshare 6/25/2016

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If you stopped by for coffee, I would tell you about the apple orchard that is near my home. “Oh, hello Jenn.There you are. I didn’t know if you were stopping by today or not,” I said. My friend, Jenn, just came through my side door. “I’m sorry I’m late, Rosemary. It’s been a crazy, busy week and I’m running behind.” “No problem,” I said. “Would you like a cup of coffee? You can grab the pot off the counter.”

Jenn grabbed the coffee pot and we took our drinks out to the front porch. It was gearing up to be a hot day. “Jenn,” I said, “Do you ever can or freeze food?” “Yes, I do,” Jenn replied. “What have you got in mind?”

So I told Jenn about the apple orchard near my house. I can remember my grandmother and my aunt freezing a little yellow apple that they called June apples. They were a little tart and required some sugar to bring out their flavor. Here, on the fringes of Appalachia, you can still find them if you look really hard. Some farmer’s markets have them, but only for a short period of time. They are ready to pick in late June and early July; thus, their name of June apples. June apples are also delicious when you use them to make fried apples which people in this part of the world love, especially for breakfast.

I went ahead to tell Jenn that the apple orchard near me was a June apple orchard and you could go there and pick all you want. I’m going to do that on Monday. Jenn decided she wanted to go with me and then we will freeze a batch of apples for the winter. June apples are easy to freeze. Here is how you do it:

Freezing June Apples

1. Wash the apples under cold, running water.

2. Peel and core apples. Some people find it easiest to use an apple peeler.

3. Cut the apples into slices. You have to decide what size slice suits your purpose.

4. Get out a cookie sheet and cover it in parchment paper.

5. Brush each apple slice with lemon juice to prevent browning. You can use reconstituted lemon juice or diluted juice from lemons.

6. Place the apple slices on the cookie sheet. Be sure they don’t touch each other so each slice freezes individually.

7. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Do this for all the apple slices you have.

8. After all the apple slices are frozen individually, remove them from the cookie sheet and place them in separate freezer containers. I recommend freezer-safe plastic bags. Just press all the air out of the bags. This way, you can remove any amount of apple slices you want  to use in a variety of dishes. Fried apples, apple pies, and more.

9. Now you have a supply of apples to last you all winter! Wasn’t that easy?

Jenn was thrilled with her new recipe and now we have plans to visit the apple orchard on Monday. We have really enjoyed our #weekendcoffeeshare this week!

*weekendcoffeeshare is sponsored by parttimemonsterblog.com

 

 

Appalachia and Food: Potato Pancakes

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Friday Fare to Appalachia

The Appalachian culture is all about food. Appalachian farmers and truck gardeners worked the land to grow the basics for their family. They had a hard-scrabble existence. Some of the basics among the vegetables were corn, squash, and potatoes. Not much rice was eaten in Central Appalachia even though rice was a daily dish in the south. In the mountain territory, the land was not suitable to grow rice. The people substituted potatoes for rice.

A dish I learned to fix from my mother, and one that everyone loved, is the potato dish featured today. We called them Potato Cakes. Some called them Potato Pancakes. My mother sometimes fixed them for breakfast, sometimes for dinner. They were a favorite. Very filling and somewhat nutritious for people working hard physical labor later in the day. This is a very plain dish enjoyed by plain people. One thing you will notice about many of the Appalachian recipes is that measurements are often either non-existent or approximate. You have to experiment until it tastes the way you want. It isn’t hard, I promise!

Potato Cakes

Leftover Mashed Potatoes – as many as you have!

1 -2 eggs depending on how many potatoes you are using

Skim milk – enough to just wet the potatoes and allow you to stir them

Stir together the first three ingredients. Make sure the consistency is medium thick but stirable.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Regular Flour – Add enough regular flour, a tbsp at a time, to make the potato mixture stick together and to enable you to pat it into cakes.

Pat the mixture into pancake-size cakes.

Prepare a skillet by melting several tbsps of butter (or margarine) in it. Melt it slowly and don’t let it burn.

When the butter/margarine is melted, add as many potato cakes as the skillet will hold. Fry them until they bubble on top. Then turn them with a spatula. Cook until both sides are golden brown.

Remove and place on paper towel-covered plate.

Serve and enjoy!

Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2016

Image by sylvar Flickr 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe for Memorial Day: Corn Pudding

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Just for fun, I want to share with you an old-fashioned Eastern Kentucky recipe that you might enjoy for your Decoration Day celebration. It came to me from my aunt, Sylvia Prater, who was born and raised in Appalachia. She was my mother’s sister, a wonderful cook, and our whole family enjoyed her big meals often as I was growing up and even after I became an adult. Here is her recipe:

Corn Pudding

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the following ingredients in a 13″ by 9″ baking dish:

2 cups frozen corn

4 beaten eggs (I recommend a cage-free brand)

2 cups milk  (I recommend skim milk)

2 tbsp butter (i recommend real butter like Kerry Gold)

1/4 cup sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Grease your baking dish with a dab of the butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Stir before it sets. Enjoy for your holiday dinner! #am writing #writing #blogging #appalachia #recipes

*Image courtesy of ji1991 https://freedigitalphotos.net

 

Eating Disorders: Orthorexia

Eating disorders. This isn’t really about eating disorders but everything you read about something called “orthorexia” will make you think you are reading about an eating disorder. As I was doing some research for this article, I originally thought I really had a bone to pick with this guy by the name of Steven Bratman. OK, Dr. Steven Bratman, which doesn’t impress me all that much given that he coined the term orthorexia. I did more research, I decided that his original article had been taken completely out of context in most everything that has been written about orthorexia since so maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

After all, even though he is an American Medical Association (AMA) qualified physician, he practices some forms of alternative medicine and he lived in a commune in the 1970s. He can’t be all bad, can he?

Back to orthorexia. We have the legitimate eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia and a handful of other full-fledged eating disorders. If our society keeps putting pressure on our young women, there surely may be new varieties of eating disorders spring up. Orthorexia, as defined by Dr. Bratman, refers to a fixation on eating the proper food. (I can envision all my friends standing up, pointing their fingers at me, but they have surely forgotten about my love for tequila.) To continue, Bratman actually called it orthorexia nervosa, similar to anorexia nervous.

Anorexia and bulimia both focus on the quantity of food a person eats. Orthorexia focuses on the quality of the food. Bratman originally defined this eating disorder as one where a person may avoid all preservatives, fat, meat, and processed food. Orthorexics are vegetarians in that they do not eat dairy, eggs, or even fish. When Bratman considered himself to be orthorexic, he said he looked down on all his friends in the commune who didn’t eat exactly as he did and felt they were lesser human beings for their sins of eating foods such as meat or dairy or foods that were processed. Perhaps the most disturbing thing is this. Part of Bratman’s diet was to never fill his stomach more than half full when he ate a meal. He was never satisfied after eating.

No wonder he decided this was an eating disorder. The way Bratman handled so-called “healthy eating” wasn’t very healthy.

To say Bratman went overboard with his so-called healthy eating is an understatement. It was definitely not healthy mentally for him and it probably was not healthy physically. There was no mention of Bratman’s weight in his article so we don’t know if his eating habits caused him to lose an excessive amount of weight.

Bratman believed in using food as medicine when he started out on his health food journey. Unfortunately, he took it too far. In the years since he wrote his article in 1997, the medical community has learned that there are illnesses that do respond to changes in the diet. The term “health food” is not really used anymore. It has probably been replaced by organic food along with just the knowledge that items like processed food and too much red meat are not particularly good for us.

AMA-qualified doctors seldom address nutrition with their patients unless it is in the context of illnesses like lowering cholesterol. Then, they might tell you to lower your consumption of red meat. If you have high triglycerides, they will tell you to lower your consumption of sweets or carbohydrates. For a disease like diabetes, diet is definitely addressed. For a normal, healthy adult, however, nutrition is not something you usually are lucky enough to discuss with your family doctor. You have to seek out a dietician or even a doctor who specializes in alternative medicine, perhaps a nutritionist.

I have read other articles that mention orthorexia. The examples they give of individuals that have this particular eating disorder are usually also suffering from some form of obsessive-compulsive behavior or other Risk factors. There is nothing wrong with healthy eating. But, there is something wrong with anything you do if you do it in excess. A wise saying that all of us has heard. Everything in moderation.

Bratman, Steven. Health Food Junkie. Yoga Journal 1997; September/October:42-50.

 

 

 

Appalachia and Food: Green Beans and Corn Bread

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Green beans and corn bread. The staples of life in Appalachia and Eastern Kentucky for the mountain people as they settled the area.  Fresh green beans out of the garden. Even in the winter, green beans and corn bread were one of the most common meals because many women in Appalachia have always used the canning and freezing techniques to preserve food. Green beans have been one of the crops most commonly preserved.

The family garden is not as common in Appalachia today as it was in the past, but they still can be found. They are located in the creek bottoms between the mountains. During the past three centuries, family farms growing this and other crops in those creek bottoms were common.

Today, we buy our green beans in grocery stores and never think about what variety they are. Not so in Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia both in the pioneer days and even today. Green beans were bought from family farmers and the variety was very important. Maybe the most popular variety was “white half-runners.” This is a whitish climber bean with an excellent taste. Another variety is the pole bean which is also a climber, but a much bigger bean than the half runner. Others are tenderette beans, greasy beans, Kentucky wonder beans, and different varieties of heirloom beans. One variety of heirloom bean is this writer’s favorite bean – the old-fashioned cornfield bean. These were all grown in the past in Eastern Kentucky and some are grown today. Many have become “heirloom beans.”

Heirloom seeds of any kind are seeds that are not found in the general marketplace in modern times. They are kept by farmers and seed-saving organizations and passed down from generation to generation. They are closely guarded, but this is a topic for another post.

The cooking technique for green beans was quite different than it is today for people who do not reside in the area. Green beans were cooked until they are very tender and with some sort of seasoning, usually in the form of fatty meat such as ham hock, salt pork, or something similar. Unless you were very careful, they could be quite greasy, but the Appalachian people liked fatty food. My grandmother lived on fatty pork feet and lived to be 97. She also worked hard, hard physical work, all of her life!

You could not have green beans on your table for a meal without corn bread. Corn bread was a little different than it was, for example, in the desert southwest. It was usually made with white cornmeal, though some used yellow corn meal. Buttermilk instead of regular milk was used. It was cooked in an iron skillet seasoned with lard. Many of the early Appalachian people existed on beans and cornbread. My own mother liked to have cornbread and milk for dinner.

Would you like the old recipes for green beans and cornbread from Eastern Kentucky? These were my grandmother’s, handed down to her by generations of women who came before her:

Green Beans

A pot full of green beans, broken into small pieces and washed three times

A piece of fatty meat, such as ham hock

Salt, to taste

Cover with water and boil the water down, then turn down the heat

Put a lid on the beans and cook slowly for 1-2 hours until the beans are very tender and the water is mostly gone.

Serve!

Cornbread

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

One cup of white or yellow corn meal, your choice – do not use self-rising

One cup of white flour…..do not use self-rising

Pinch of salt

4 tsps baking powder

Buttermilk…..enough to make the mixture smooth and stirable but not runny

While you are putting together the cornbread, have your iron skillet getting warm on the stove top with a couple of heaping tbsp of lard in it. Be sure the lard is melted.

Pour the cornbread mixture into the hot skillet. Careful! This will be hot.

Carefully place the skillet full of the cornbread mixture into the oven.

Bake 15 minutes or until the cornbread is brown on top. Remove from oven.

In the next step, CAUTION. Be careful and don’t burn yourself!

Have a plate ready. Turn the skillet upside down and dump the cornbread onto the plate. With another plate on the back of the cornbread, flip it over. Put a knife under the cornbread so it won’t sweat.

Sit it on your counter to cool. Done!

Delicious, but not so healthy in modern times. In another blog post, I will give you my own personal version of these recipes that I have made a little healthier!

These recipes helped keep the pioneers’ stomachs full as they lived their very hard lives in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. They needed more fat in their diet than we do in 2016 as they did hard physical labor all day and their bodies required the extra calories and extra fat. #writers #amwriting #blogger #bloggerswanted #culture #history #Appalachia #EasternKentucky

The Smokehouse – Preserving Meat in Eastern Kentucky

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The smokehouse is a tradition in Appalachia and Eastern Kentucky. Long before the days of refrigeration, meat, mostly pork in Appalachia, was cured and preserved on family farms in buildings called smokehouses. Hams and bacon were the primary cuts of pork you would find hanging in these smokehouses. The buildings were sometimes log, concrete block, or other material. My grandfather’s smokehouse was a building made of lumber, coupled with a root cellar, and it had a sleeping loft as a second floor.

Smokehouses are windowless buildings with one door, a vent, and a smokestack. Of course, there is a stove for the smoking. Most have racks to hang the meat after curing and smoking. You will usually find a padlock on the door because the meat is a valuable commodity. It literally insured the family’s survival for the winter.

Pork was a staple in the diet of the Eastern Kentucky people. Although they raised some dairy cattle, they raised few beef cattle because there was not enough flat land for grazing. Pork and chicken were the primary meats on my grandparent’s table. One of my guilty food pleasures, to this day, is an old-fashioned country ham, just like my grandfather used to smoke. Smokehouses still exist on farms all across Kentucky and Kentucky-smoked hams are expensive treasures that are often part of the feasts at the holidays. For the early settlers of Appalachia and Eastern Kentucky right up into the early 20th century, smokehouses were necessary parts of the family farm. Without them, the population would have not had meat to live.

The process of curing and preserving meat is not complicated but it has to be done properly in order for the meat to be safely preserved. Usually, the meat is rubbed with a coarse salt and then you rest it. You repeat this rub and rest process several times. This is what is called salt-curing and it is done to pull the moisture out of the meat.

After the curing process is complete, you can begin the smoking process. You have to find the right kind of wood to burn to smoke the meat. The first rule is never to use soft wood such as pine. Such wood has resin in it. Always use hardwood and many like to use wood from fruit trees. Hickory is another wood of choice. The fire is lit and the fire burns very slowly. The goal is to kill any bugs or bacteria in the meat by bringing the meat up to a certain temperature for a long period of time, usually a period of months. Then, the meat is wrapped in cheesecloth and hung on racks to dry and cure. Some cure their meat for as long as a year or more, particularly pork. Other meats may not take as long to cure.

My grandfather, in Magoffin County, KY, raised a lot of pigs. I used to love to help him “slop the hogs.” They never let me around when it was time to slaughter them. But, I remember the smokehouse and the smoking meat vividly…..which made for delicious family dinners. Many years later, one of my aunts used to send, for Christmas, a country ham to my Uncle Tincy, who was stationed at one Air Force base or another, some overseas. We all grew up loving those smoked hams.

The largest concentration of smokehouses can be found in Virginia, with many associated with Colonial Williamsburg. Smokehouses are a valuable part of the history and culture of Eastern KY and Appalachia in general. #EasternKentucky #Appalachia #culture #history #amwriting #writers #blogger #bloggerswanted

Healthy Eating…..Eating to Live

Eating to live, not living to eat. That’s a tough one for the American people. We have access to so much good-tasting food. Good-tasting food that, for some, may be killing us. Before I start this article, let me say that I live in a glass house. I am as guilty of enjoying all that good tasting, but unhealthy, food as the next person. So I am not throwing stones. For health reasons, I have had to try to mend my ways. I have been partially, only partially, successful. But, I am learning a lot on this journey toward improved health that I would like to share with you.

I am what is called a flexitarian. Never heard of it? Neither had I. I eat vegetables, and lots of them, and fish. Mostly seafood but some fresh water fish. I occasionally eat a chicken breast and I am done with red meat entirely. I do eat eggs. This all apparently makes me…..well…..a flexitarian which is similar to a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. But who cares about the designation?

I eat to live and wish I could take a pill instead of eating food. It would be a whole lot easier. In order to remain healthy and see those good blood work results, I eat virtually no bread products. You know how whole grain is supposed to be so good for you? Ha! Not for me. Now, as for you, your mileage may vary. Remember that bread products include potato chips (how I love salt and vinegar chips, but I have to forget them!), crackers, croissants, and so many wonderful goodies. But, we aren’t hunter-gathers anymore, people. We don’t need all the bread.

Staying with the carbohydrate theme, I eat no potato products except a baked sweet potato about every three weeks. It is really GOOD when I eat one, but it is a rare treat. I think you see what I am getting at. No white carbs. None. That includes pasta. I don’t even eat whole grain pasta and, like the rest of the world, I think a good pasta salad is to die for.

All of my carbs come in the form of vegetables, mostly salad vegetables. I do eat fruit occasionally but only low-glycemic fruit — an apple, blueberries, melon, kiwi. That is pretty much the complete list. Beans are good for you with black beans being at the top of the list. They have too many carbs for me so they aren’t on my list.

As far as my very limited meat consumption is concerned, I eat lots of fish. Salmon, tuna, shrimp, just about all seafood. A chicken breast. Small servings. I try to eat meat full of Omega-3’s.

That pretty much sums up my diet. I feel very well, better than I have felt in years. I have lost weight. I’m starting to look like “me” again and feel like me. One thing I have learned is that heavy carbohydrates in my diet, white carbs, weigh me down and make me sluggish. They also make my doctor crazy as they make my blood tests crazy. You can keep some fat in your diet if you cut the carbs.

One thing I do is take vitamins and a whole host of supplements. But, that is fodder for another blog post. I have a friend who calls all the strange little supplements her “dirt” vitamins. They work.

Your mileage may vary depending on your health challenges. Check with your doctor before starting any diet. My doctor is extremely supportive and believes that we all eat far too many carbs, herself included.

This is a weight-loss diet. Extremely low carbohydrate and 1200 calories per day. When I reach my goal weight, I will add back in some foods but I will never be able to eat a diet high in carbohydrates again. On a maintenance diet, I can increase my calories a bit. I can’t wait until I can eat a bowl of spaghetti!

Is eating this type of diet boring? You bet it is. But maybe I will live long and prosper!