Author of ‘Sweet Carolina’ to visit Salisbury
“Sweet Carolina: Favorite Desserts and Candies from the Old North State,” by Foy Allen Edelan. The University of North Carolina Press. 2009. 304 pp. $25.
By Brenda Zimmerman
For the Salisbury Post
The first time I met Foy Edelman, her enthusiasm and energy was bubbling over. Now four years after that initial meeting, she still bubbles with excitement over her collection of North Carolina recipes and stories.
“Sweet Carolina” is the first book to stem from an original goal. Foy dreamed of producing a cookbook that had recipes from each of the 100 counties in North Carolina. Developing that dream took her 150,000 miles on highways, byways and back roads in her bright blue Volkswagen Beetle.
Realizing what we cook and how we pass our recipes on to future generations, preserving the stories and heritage of the recipes was also a goal.
Her statewide project was Come to the Table. The original plan included audio of original interviews.
The only dilemma she faced was that the multitude of recipes and stories would never fit in just one book. She came to an agreement with University of North Carolina Press to do a series of books that used not only all 100 counties, but divided the recipes into smaller categories.
Sweets and desserts seemed to be a natural place to start, since over half of the recipes she had gathered fit that category. Future plans include companion books focused on entrees, food preservation, soups, breads and vegetables.
Every recipe is straight from the home of a North Carolina cook. Traditional things like sugar cookies and apple pies are complimented by lesser know regional dishes such as Chocolate Gravy and Smithfield Duffy Cakes. Recipes often have someone’s name attached to them: Paul’s Feathery Coconut Cake and Filling, Lena Belle’s Seven Layer Chocolate Cake and Icing, Berma’s Cherry Pie, Aunt Martha’s Burnt Sugar Caramel Candy.
The adjectives in the names are enticing: Old Fashioned Butter Mints, Never Fail Candy, Melt-In-Your Mouth Shortbread Cookies, The Amazing Cheesecake. Reading the book makes you want to try every single recipe it holds.
Foy was referred to me to help find some local cooks to get her Rowan County section completed. One of the first that came to mind was 104-year-old Nolie Ridenhour Zimmerman. My daughter’s great-grandmother, Mammaw Zim was a perfect candidate for the goals Foy had set: she raised her family on home cooking and had more history to tell than the average person.
In addition to family names and mouthwatering adjectives, Foy’s gift includes the storytelling that goes along with each recipe.
Of the several cooking related tales Mammaw Zim shared, perhaps the best was talking about how she came to have her chest pie recipe. It was a plain pie, “jest” pie … no apples or cherries…..just pie. Sitting high in her husband’s old barber chair on her back porch, with family gathered around, she explained how old party phone lines worked. One day when she picked up to see if she could make a call, a neighbor was on the line giving her prize-winning recipe to her recently married daughter. “Well I did want to hear it … and I baked me a chest pie. That was so good! I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”
To hear some of the original recordings of the recipes go to Foy’s Web site www.talkingcookbook.com.
If you want to try a new dish such as Lazy Day Zonker, or Cherokee Kanuchi or if you want a tried and true Sweet Potato Pudding or The Best Egg Custard, this book is a must for your shelf. If the hows and whys of your heritage and how culinary skills from the past stretch across the generations to preserve your history is an interest, this is a great read.
Congratulations to Foy Edelman for helping to bring North Carolina to the table. We have had our dessert first, and are looking forward to the rest of the meal.
Here is Mawmaw Zim’s recipe:
2 unbaked 9-inch piecrusts
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the filling ingredients and blend well. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared crusts. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake for 20 to 24 minutes more, or until done.
Makes 2 pies, 6 to 8 servings each.
Literary Bookpost will host a book signing with the author and prepare some of the recipes from the book on Friday from 3-5 p.m.