Updated: May 15
When Dinner Wasn’t So Quick and Easy! Appalachian foods that defined the families of rural Western North Carolina like Cashiers included home grown vegetables that were canned, biscuits and gravy, stews, rabbit, chicken and dumplings and apple desserts- and of course, corn bread!!!! There are many recipes for this southern favorite. CHS asked Jeanne Pell Wright if she remembered her mother Adelaide Ammadele Bradburn fixing corn bread for the family’s meals. She said of course, but when asked about a recipe, that was another story. Mrs. Wright remembered that despite having a recipe, her mother would most likely prepare the family’s corn bread from memory. So, from memory Ms. Jeanne wrote down her mother’s recipe.
Adelaide's Corn Bread Mix
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 Cup Butter Milk (Always Butter Milk!)
(Add a pinch) 1/4 tsp baking soda to the milk
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup flour plain, or. self rising
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt.
1 Cup yellow or white corn meal. We preferred yellow and it usually was from our own corn, grounded at a mill. We gave 1/2 of the ground meal to owner of the mill to pay for the gridding the corn.
1 or 2 well beaten eggs
3 level tablespoons of bacon fat & 3 table spoons of shortening melt in iron skillet
add egg to milk and soda. Add dry ingredients to this and pour into the iron skillet. Spread the batter in the pan. Bake 15-20 min at 400 degrees, and brown according to taste.
I like a lot of brown crust, butter top if you want, I like to cut it into pieces, slice a piece in half and butter each.
Family History Through Old Recipes Her mother and father Hampton A. Pell, Sr. met at the old Fairfield Hotel. The couple married in 1907 at the Smith House in Highlands were Adelaide was working in the dining room. Since Mr. Pell had a home in Cashiers the couple moved to the house and it became home to the family. And as Ms. Jeanne said she grew up with her mother “making many years of corn bread and a whole lot of foods of all kinds.” And she ended by saying her mother “was an excellent cook and a wonderful mother.”
Elvira’s Kitchen Another mother that cooked for family and in addition boarders staying in the family home was Elvira Zachary. Preparing meals was not just a matter of starting a fire for cooking. For a housewife like Elvira cooking dominated her day. She probably had an iron stove since they replaced hearth or fireplace cooking in the 1860’s, but there was no running water, and one of the children would have to get the water from the Zachary Spring, no electricity and certainly no nearby Ingles. From census records we know that Mordecai had a large homestead so the family most certainly had a huge garden, apple orchard and raised chickens and cows. Like the families of the time they ate what they grew and perhaps barter any extra crops or eggs. There was nothing that qualified as fast food.
In Elvira’s Kitchen and Maybe Even Yours
This is a Turks Head Muffin Pan. From the casting marks on the bottom It was manufactured before 1890. The cut outs around the cups were to let heat circulate for more even baking. This pan would probably bring between $50.00 and $100.00 when cleaned an reseaasoned. In its current condition not more than $20.00 to $25.00.
Although cast-iron cookware, like the Turks Head muffin pan was invented many centuries ago, it has become the preferred choice for many cooks today. Reasons for the resurgence of popularity include many, but one is the interest of many cooks to returning to old cooking methods. Other reasons for the popularity are: *Many of today’s cookware involves health concerns. For example, some non-stick coated pans are known to emit toxic fumes. *Cast-iron cookware lasts forever. *Cast-iron is visually appealing and many like to incorporate a mix of cookware. You can make great sizzling fajitas or giant skillet cookies which can add a rustic feel to the presentation or serving. *A cast-iron skillet stays warm longer and can help retain heat better than other cookware. *A well-seasoned cast-iron may also helps keep bacteria away, according to a 2018 study from the University of Toronto.
And finally, DID YOU KNOW -During the cooking process iron is transferred from the pan to the food. Why is that important????- having a healthy level of iron ensures that your body functions properly and can help protect against potentially dangerous conditions such as anemia.
So, if maybe you have a cast-iron skillet or other cookware hidden away, dust it off, grab your favorite recipe or use Ms. Adelaide’s corn bread recipe and ENJOY!!!!
Below you will find a link to a section from our Zach-tivity Book, a children's activity book to learn more about life for people who settled the Cashiers area. Read along and learn to make your own buttermilk!