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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.


XTRA: Carter Family Fold Recipes

When SFA oral historian Amy C. Evans conducted interviews with the members and friends of the Carter family that are collected here, she was showered with recipes. We hope you enjoy this sampling of foodways from the Mountain South, most of them regular treats served from the concession stand at the Carter Family Fold every Saturday night. For more Carter family recipes, pick up a copy of Recipes from Carter Country, a wonderful assortment of dishes collected from members of the Carter family, as well as friends and regulars who have been a part of the Fold over the years. Contact the Carter Family Fold for more information.

All recipes are published here with permission.


Rita Forrester

Sort 8 pounds of dried pinto beans to remove any bad beans or rocks. Place dried beans in a large pressure cooker and cover with hot water 4 to 6 inches above the top of the beans. Allow beans to soak from 12 to as much as 24 hours. Draining the water and repeating the addition of hot water is a good idea, as the water cools quickly.

Before cooking, drain beans and fill canner with cold water 4 to 6 inches above the beans. Add:

3 cups Wesson oil
4 tbsp. salt

Country cooks use a hunk of streaked pork (or middlin’ meat) instead of Wesson oil.

Stir well and lock canner top in place; put canning jiggler in place. Cook on high heat until canner pressure gauge reaches 10 pounds of pressure. Cook at 10 pounds pressure for 45 minutes. Check pressure gauge frequently throughout the 45 minutes of cooking time to be sure pressure doesn’t drop or increase too much. Refrigerating the beans before reheating them to serve gives them a nice, thick texture.

Serve with diced onions or chow-chow and hot cornbread.

Rita Forrester

2 cups Three Rivers self-rising white cornmeal
2 eggs
1/4  cup Wesson oil
2 tbsp. sugar*
1-1/4 cups buttermilk

Mix ingredients together. Coat large muffin pans with oil. Pour in batter. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

Makes six large muffins.

*This recipe is based on a family recipe, but the sugar is Rita’s addition.


8 c. cooked chicken breasts, shredded
3 cups white grapes, sliced
3 cups red grapes, sliced
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. poppy seeds
4 tbsp. honey

Mix and serve cold.

Rita Forrester

Brown 10 to 12 pounds of ground chuck in a large stock pot. Place in strainer to drain grease. Return to stock pot and add:

1-2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. onion salt
1-2 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2-3 tsp. paprika
4 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce
5-1/2 cups Ketchup or 44 oz. bottle
1 cup water
46 oz. tomato juice
1 cup brown sugar

Spices can be adjusted to taste. After these ingredients have blended and simmered 15 minutes, add:

2-3 cups Quaker Quick Oatmeal

Serve on hot dogs. This recipe freezes well.

Peggy Hensley

1 large cabbage head
1 large pepper
1 large onion
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. celery seed

Chop cabbage, pepper and onion. Mix with sugar, salt and celery seed. Set aside.

In a saucepan mix:

3/4 cup Wesson oil
1 c. vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard

Bring to a boil and pour over cabbage mixture. Chill.

Vicki Virts

1 gallon apple juice or cider
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice

Add brown sugar and spices to apple juice. Heat until brown sugar is dissolved. Simmer but do not boil.

Flo Wolfe

1 head of cabbage cut up, boiled and drained
1 can cream of celery soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup grated American cheese
1 cup crushed crackers or breadcrumbs
1/2 cup melted butter

Boil cabbage 10 minutes and drain. Place in baking dish. Mix celery soup, milk, and cheese together. Heat until cheese melts. Pour over cabbage, top with crackers or breadcrumbs. Pour melted butter over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Flo Wolfe

3 oz. package lime Jell-O
3 oz. package lemon Jell-O
3 oz. package cherry Jell-O
5 cups hot water
5 cups cold water
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup pineapple juice (from canned pineapples)
8 oz. package cream cheese
1 lb. 4 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup heavy cream, whipped (Dream Whip will do)

Dissolve lime Jell-O in 2 cups of hot water. Add 2 cups cold water. Pour into 14 x 10 x 2 inch pan. Chill until partly set.

Dissolve lemon Jell-O in 1 cup hot water in top of double oiler. Add marshmallows and stir to melt. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup drained pineapple juice and cream cheese. Beat well until blended and stir in pineapple. Cool slightly. Fold in whipped cream. Chill until thickened. Pour in layer over lime Jell-O. Chill until almost set.

Dissolve cherry Jell-O in 2 cups of hot water Add 2 cups of  cold water. Chill until syrupy. Pour over pineapple layer. Chill until firm.

Makes 24 servings.

Other Project Interviews



The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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