Foy Allen Edelman has assembled quite a collection of stories and recipes in "Sweet Carolina: Favorite Desserts and Candies from the Old North State" from the University of North Carolina Press.
For more than six years, Edelman traveled across the state collecting recipes for cakes and pies and all sorts of goodies. Along with the recipes, she also recorded stories not only about the recipes but about a way of life generations back.
Edelman calls her cookbook adventure a treasure hunt. "I've been seeking out local cooks and recording their recipes, cooking experiences and stories."
She tells about a man who mixed cakes with his hands until he bought a mixer, about celebrations that wouldn't be special without a glorious cake, about families who used fruits and nuts from their yard to make cakes and pies, about mothers who made collections of their recipes to pass on to the next generations.
Edelman talked to 104-year-old Nollie Ridenhour Zimmerman of Rowan County about her recipe for Chest Pie. Zimmerman got the recipe while listening in on a conversation on a telephone party line. Edelman also explains that chest pies are named for pies that were kept in a pie chest.
Lu Ann Thompson of Granville County shares her recipe for Grandma's Pie. "The recipe was given to me as a wedding gift. When she gave me several pie recipes she prefaced them by giving me a quote that said, 'Love is eternal. Let's keep it that way.'"
"She loved to cook. When she made pies, she might make ten. It was quite a day's ordeal in that she would make the crusts," Thompson continued. "After she would bake them, she would put them on cooling racks, and they would stack up four, five, six high. There was always pie on the stove for anyone to eat, because it was a home that people were in and out of a lot -- neighbors, family, whatever..."
If you enjoy the traditional recipes of your mother or grandmother, you would enjoy reading the little stories that accompany these recipes. And if you cook, you can recreate some of Granny's favorites, including Blackberry Cobbler, Scuppernong Grape Pie, Fried Apple Pies, Black Walnut Pound Cake, Lena Belle's Seven-Layer Chocolate Cake and Icing or maybe Pecan Divinity or Grandma Davis' Blueberry Biscuits.
Edelman plans to put together more collections of main dishes, vegetables "and everything else good that lands on a North Carolina table."
Brown Sugar Pie
“This was one of Grandmama’s (Kate Capehart Bell’s) recipes, but I believe the handwriting to be that of her dear friend Louise Sandridge of Windsor. I’m sure Grandmama tried the pie and asked Louise for the recipe. It tastes somewhat like a pecan pie and was probably carried to many after-church lunches and covered dish suppers.”
- 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans
Beat the eggs well. Blend in the brown sugar, butter and vanilla extract until the filling is smooth. Fold in the pecans. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 35 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and set.
Serves 6 to 8.
Mary Charles Pawlikowski