Life and Food in the Appalacian Mountains with Recipes

After having spent the past couple of weeks in the Appalacian Mountains (misspelled on purpose), I realize this is where my heart belongs. The beauty of these mountains is like none other. In a few more weeks the beauty will be magnified, if that is possible, with the changing of color of the leaves. There is so much to see and do in this area that I will touch on the highlights of the trip. I will go into more details in the future.

The Appalacian Mountains is the setting for one of my favorite movie series. Christy is based on the book. It is a true story about a teacher in 1912 who goes to Cutters Gap (in reality Morgans Gap) from Ashville North Carolina to educate the children of the cove. The nearest town is Alpino (in reality it is Del Rio Tennessee). It is a great story and I have probably watched it ten times or more. Among other things, it shows how the people foraged for food and produced honey and other items of food to make a little money.

My friend Bonnie lives in this general area. You may recall me telling you that she is from my home town and also spent many years here in Florida. After retiring, she began to realize the high cost of living and high taxes in this state. She set out to find the best place in the country for cheap living. After over two hundred hours of research, Bonnie concluded that Northeast Tennessee, the Appalacian Mountains, was the best place to live so she packed up and moved. When I am in this area, I usually take advantage of her very warm hospitality and stay with her. This time I had to be farther away, but we did manage to meet a few times.

Another point about my friend is that she is a very good cook and I am always trying to get recipes from her. As soon as she mentioned a pumpkin pie cake, I knew we all would like this dessert recipe. Pumpkin recipes are always a highlight at this time of the year and when we are looking for good Thanksgiving recipes. Bonnie’s recipe is a good easy substitute for a pumpkin pie recipe and would be delicious served during the holiday season.

PUMPKIN PIE CAKE RECIPE from the Appalacian mountains

Pumpkin Pie Cake RecipePumpkin Pie Cake Recipe
  • 28 Ounce canned pumpkin
  • 12 Ounce canned evaporate milk
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar
  • 4 Beaten eggs
  • ¼ Teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ Teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ Teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Box spice cake mix
  • 1 Cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan.

Combine the pumpkin, milk, eggs, white sugar, brown sugar and spices; mix until well blended. Pour batter into greased pan.

Spread the dry cake mix over the top of the pumpkin mixture. Top this with as many nuts as you like. (I used 3 cups broken pecans). Drizzle the melted butter over the top. Bake for 1 hour.

Pumpkin Pie Cake RecipePumpkin Pie Cake Recipe

fishing in appalacian

I know I have mentioned Bonnie’s grandson, BJ, to you before but I want to update you on what he is doing. He is still in college and carrying a high grade point average, I must say! He is a great fisherman and is working on becoming a Master Angler for the State of Tennessee. BJ is such a delight to visit with and some day he is going to teach me to fish.

During my visit to the Appalacian Mountains, I witnessed the opening day to hunting season. It was interesting to listen to the chatter about deer hunting between all the men the day prior to the opening. This is an area where almost everyone is involved in hunting. I talked to many about their favorite venison recipes or favorite ways to cook their wild game. Hopefully, some like David and Richard will offer their tips to us on the website.

BJ's deer he shot

hunting in appalachian

There are many Mom and Pop restaurants throughout the Appalacian Mountains serving good home cooked food at very low prices. One is actually called “Mas and Pas” and is known for a very good breakfast. It is also a good place to enjoy a cup of coffee and a piece of good homemade pie. I can assure you of that! They serve a delicious coconut meringue pie. All the pie recipes are still being baked by the grandmother who is 85 years old. Can you believe it? I will have more on that another time.

One day we spent visiting Hot Springs, a small town in the Appalacian Mountains across the border into North Carolina. The mountains around here are full of edible plants. Here we met people who are serious about foraging for food. They offered great tips on identifying wild plants and edible mushrooms. Charlene and Sonny told of hunting mushrooms and getting as many as seventy mushroom types. Many are not edible but it teaches them how to distinguish between the edible and poisonous ones. Classes are available to teach their knowledge and I cannot wait for a chance to get involved in learning.

A little deeper into North Carolina at Marshall NC, a small river town, we stopped for coffee. It was on Sunday and most of the other places were closed. After only a few minutes of conversation with Terri, the young lady waiting on us, we realized that we were all from Florida and the same area. Even more than that, we knew so many of the same people. In a few months Terri will be opening her own restaurant in the town. I promised to stop by after the opening and then I will tell you all about it.

You cannot read much about the Appalacian Mountains without running into the part of history about the moon pies. Around the time of the Great Depression in the 1900’s came the origination of the marshmallow cream.

A bakery in Chattanooga Tennessee started asking miners what they would like as a snack. The requirements were something solid and filling; something as large as a man’s hand framing a full moon in the sky. After several trials the moon pie was created with chocolate covered graham crackers stuffed with creamy marshmallow filling.
The whoopee pie recipe is a closely related snack to the moon pie. This is also very popular throughout the Appalacian Mountains and like the Moon Pies have a creamy marshmallow like filling.


  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 2 Beaten egg yolks
  • ½ Cup solid shortening
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Teaspoon salt


  • 2 Egg whites
  • 2 Cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 Cup shortening
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla

To make cookies: Combine first five ingredients and beat well.
Sift dry ingredients together; blend in with creamed mixture.
Drop spoonfuls on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake in preheated oven at 350F degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Cool completely; spread filling between two cookies.
To make filling: Beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.
Cream sugar and shortening until smooth; beat in vanilla.
Blend beaten egg whites into shortening mixture until smooth.


Anyone familiar with the Appalacian Mountains is also familiar with the term “moonshine” or “white lightening”. These terms were placed on the illegally produced alcohol throughout the mountain area. Although the following recipe does not actually have moonshine in it the recipe does get its name from this area.


  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 ¼ Cups sugar (granulated or brown)
  • 1 Cup milk
  • Butter the size of an egg
  • 3 Egg whites
  • 1 Teaspoon flavoring (your choice)
  • 1 Baked pie shell

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Combine and mix in top of double boiler flour and sugar; add milk and butter.
Cook over hot water until thick while stirring; set off heat.
Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into hot mixture and pour into baked pie shell.
Sprinkle top with coconut; place in hot oven to brown top.
Cool completely before cutting.

› Appalachian Desserts

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