The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Wythe County Bicentennial Cookbook

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1990

Issue: February, 1990

This month's recipes were taken from the new Bicentennial Cookbook of Wythe County, Virginia. The recipes were donated from listeners of WYVE Radio station (which is just "catty-cornered" across the street from The Mountain Laurel).

The book is ring-bound, 151 pages, and also contains old time helpful household hints and medical remedies. I learned some interesting things from this book. What is gruel? I have read of it often in books such as those by Charles Dickens, but never quite knew what it consisted of, except that it was some sort of a hot cereal. This book tells you the recipe - 2 spoons of oatmeal and a pint of water. Another thing I learned from this book refers to a common complaint among old timers - Mustard Plasters. I have been told that they would take the skin off. This book says to prevent a mustard plaster from blistering, apply lard to the chest first. It also gives the recipe for mustard plasters.

There are old time recipes, canning and freezing recipes, modern recipes and an interesting recipe called, "Very Merry Berries for the Holidays." It is a candy recipe from Anne B. Stark, the Mayor of Wytheville's wife. You follow the directions by singing a new version of "Deck the Halls" while mixing the candy. It sounds great to make with children.

The book may be ordered by sending $10.45 (this includes tax) plus $2.50 - 1st class postage and handling to The Wythe County Bicentennial Committee, 272 West Main Street, Wytheville, Virginia 24382. They also still have copies of the 1990 Bicentennial Calendar ($8.31, includes tax, plus $1.25 - 1st class postage and handling). The calendar is printed on a tan, heavy paper and has pen and ink line drawings of Wythe County landmarks that are suitable for framing and are by artist, Dennis Houseman, of Graphic Design.

Mam Maw's Old Fashioned Sweet Cakes
Submitted by Clara Kincer

2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup lard
1 cup sour milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
8 cups flour

Sift flour in a large bowl as if you were going to make bread. Make a well in flour and add the above, mix by hand. Knead and roll out thin. Cut with biscuit cutter. Sprinkle sugar on top of cookies. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Vinegar Cobbler
Belle Nixon of Austinville, Virginia

1/2 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups water
Butter the size of a small egg
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook on stove until it comes to a boil and let boil until it begins to get thick. Make up enough dough for a long cake pan. Pour mixture in pan and cover with dough. Bake in 350 degree until brown.

Ginny's Easy Macaroons
Submitted by Barbara Bird, wife of Senator Danny Bird

1 - 8 ounce package shredded coconut
1 - 15 ounce can (1 1/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix ingredients. Drop from teaspoon onto well greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool slightly, remove to rack. Makes 4 1/2 to 5 dozen cookies. Note: This is Ginny's favorite cookie recipe perhaps because it was her first recipe she tried when she was a little girl.

"Mommie" Sharitz's Peaches 'n Gravy (White Sauce)
Submitted by Mrs. Willard (Leona) Sharitz

6 ripe peaches
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar or sweetener equivalent
1 1/2 cup milk

Peel and slice peaches. Add 1 cup water and cook until tender. Set off heat. Add butter and sugar. Make thickening with flour and a little milk. In a bowl add thickening to milk and mix until smooth. Stir peaches constantly while adding milk mixture and immediately cook again until thickened.

Note: My husband, Willard, remembers when as a boy age 7 in 1914, his mother would send them out to shake the peach tree, and she would make Peaches 'n Gravy for breakfast. I hadn't heard of this dish until we were married in 1947. But I like it too.