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Archive for the 'Food' Category

Bryson City’s Nostalgic Ice Cream Shop

Mmmm, frozen summer treats from a local Ice Cream parlor.

At Soda Pops, owner and chief soda jerk Paul Crawley still serves the same timeless favorites your grandparents enjoyed — chocolate malts, floats, sundaes, banana splits and sugar cones crowned with freshly-scooped ice cream — choices that are perfectly in keeping with the shop’s nostalgic decor. It’s the  perfect ending to a day of fun in the Smokies.

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Shelton Family Farms’ CSA – “Garden in a Box”

Last Friday was the first weekly distribution of Shelton Family Farms’ 2012 Community Supported Agriculture program. Now in its fourth year, the Shelton’s CSA provides members with 25 weeks of fresh produce neatly packaged in a take-home box. Above, Rita and Rogers Shelton pack this week’s box with kale, spring onions, lettuce, radishes, basil and strawberries. The selections will change from week to week throughout the season as each vegetable reaches harvest maturity.

Located in Whittier on what was once the William Holland Thomas farm, the land has been farmed by the Sheltons since Rogers’ grandfather bought the property in 1922. Today, the fourth generation of owners includes William and Sabrina Shelton, along with sons Wil, Sam, Cal, and Tom.

The Sheltons will continue to accept memberships in their CSA throughout the season with fees prorated. You can find more information on their website, SheltonFamilyFarm.com.

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Hi Na-Ber, How Can I Help You?

Na-Bers Drive-in on East Main Street is a Bryson City landmark — a classic 1950s-era drive-in restaurant that really hasn’t changed much in more than a half-century of serving townsfolk and visitors. Thankfully.

A love of nostalgia prompts a lot of tourists to give Na-Bers a try. And they’re not disappointed with the extensive menu, attractive prices, and the friendly service they receive from employees like 76 year-old carhop Dixie Hughes (above). When asked why she continues to work well beyond retirement age, Dixie says she just loves the job and the people. She’s quick to add “I’ll stay here as long as they let me.”

Dixie is as much a Na-Bers fixture as the drive-in’s vintage curbside speakers, where you can still order such long-time favorites as a chili dog, cherry or pineapple milkshake, barbecue and fried chicken. One regular customer proclaims “the Cherry Lemon Mountain Dew is the nectar of the God’s! Get a large one and enjoy the greatest non-alcoholic beverage in the universe!” And Congressman Heath Shuler has even been quoted in the national media in praise of Na-Bers’ signature cheeseburger topped with coleslaw. “One of my favorite vices,” he said.

Na-bers dates back to the early 50s when local drive-ins were soaring in popularity nationally. The original location, next to the Governors Island bridge on Hwy 19, burned in 1964 and was rebuilt on the current riverside site a little closer to town. According to owner Ronnie Henderson, the name ‘Na-bers’ was inspired by the original owner’s greeting to his very first customer — “Hi Neighbor, how can I help you?”. It stuck.

Na-Bers Drive-In, at 1245 Main Street, is open Monday thru Saturday, 9 am to 8 pm. Eat inside or in your car.

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5th Annual Chocolate Cook-off is February 11

One of the most popular Winter events in Bryson City is the annual Chocolate Cook-off. Now in its 5th year, the February event usually attracts more than a dozen competitors… plus the throng of chocolate lovers who pay up to $6 to sample the entries following the judging. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Marianna Black Library.

Entries are judged on taste, texture, aroma, creativity and aesthetics. Each competitor is required to make at least 150 samples of their creations for the the judges and the public. Cash prizes and trophies are awarded.

5th Annual Chocolate Cook-off 
Saturday, February 11, 2012
2 to 4 pm
Bryson City Presbyterian Church, Everett St.
$6 admission
$1 off for Friends of the Marianna Black Library members.
Kids under 6 are free.
Contact the library for more information at 828-488-3030.

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Want fresh? Buy your fruits and veggies from a local farmer.

Farmers markets, tailgate markets and roadside stands are a long-standing tradition in the mountains — providing a practical way for rural farmers to sell their products to the general public. And today that tradition is very much alive in Bryson City. Every Friday morning through October, area farmers bring their fresh garden bounty to the Swain County Farmers Market in the Main Street parking lot next to the Old Courthouse.

Above, Murphy Hunting learns all about Mike Glover’s farm fresh brown eggs and organically-grown produce from his Sleepy Hollow Farm. Other stands included honey from Balltown Bee Farm, fresh trout from Tumbling Waters Trout Pond, and handmade jewelry by Jane Spottedbird, as well as native plants, crafts, herbal products and more vegetables.

Swain County Farmers Market
May thru October
9:00 – 1:00
Main Street, parking lot by the old courthouse, across from the Chamber of Commerce

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Making candy the old fashioned way. In a copper pot.

If you’re not sure of the location (it’s 134 Everett Street) just trust your nose. The aroma of fresh fudge will lead you straight to The Chocolate Shoppe where you can watch candies being made the old fashioned way. Above, Donna Rector keeps an eye on the temperature while Kristina Wurdinger stirs a heated mixture that will soon become pralines.

Co-owners Sherry White and Donna make their candies from family recipes, including hand-dipped chocolates, pralines and peanut brittle. They also make more than a dozen varieties of fudge, made 20 pounds at a time and poured on a marble slab to cool. Hours are 10am – 5:30 Monday thru Friday, a little later on weekends.

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Autumn Color — Take Some Home With You

Every October, people come to the Smoky Mountains to view the brilliant colors of autumn. And many of them take a little of that color back home with them — in the form of a bright, golden pumpkin from a local farm. Above, Allene Jenkins of Bryson City checks out the fall display of pumpkins and squash for sale at Darnell Farms, a family run business just east of Bryson City on Highway 19 at the Tuckaseigee River bridge.

Besides fall favorites — pumpkins, potatoes and apples — the farm has delicious strawberries every May and fresh produce throughout the summer. You’ll also find locally made jams, preserves, honey, salsas and boiled peanuts. There’s a river walk along side the Tuckaseigee and in the Fall hayrides for the kids. You might even catch some musicians jamming on the weekends. Darnell Farms is open every day. Call 828-488-2376.

When you return home with your pumpkins, try this recipe from the Hemlock Inn, a Bryson City Country Inn —

Myrtle’s Pumpkin Bread
2-1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together. Grease and flour two one-pound coffee cans. Pour batter into cans and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for one hour. Turn off oven and leave in oven for 15 minutes. Turn out of coffee cans on cloth when cool. Serves 16.

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A Different Kind of ‘Bank Rescue’ For Bryson City

One of Bryson City’s oldest landmarks has been rescued from near obscurity to become the town’s newest showplace — the Bryson City Cork & Bean Wine Bar and Coffee House.

Owner Ron LaRocque, shown above with Rollon and Sherry Smith, completely renovated the historic Bryson City Bank, restoring many of its original architectural features. Even the original walk-in bank vault was converted into a wine vault where customers can peruse the restaurant’s selections.

Located at 16 Everett Street next to the old Courthouse, the structure was built in 1904 to house Swain County’s first bank. It was established by Stanley Black with just $5000 and was notable for having survived the Great Depression. Once it outgrew the space, the bank moved in the ’60s. Most recently, the building housed the Swain County Chamber of Commerce from 1987 to 2008.

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The Flight of Honey Bees Means Spring Has Arrived in the Smokies

While honey bees don’t hibernate, they do remain in their hives throughout the Winter months, living off honey they made and stored last year. And now, with warmer days and budding trees, the bees at Balltown Bee Farm are finally emerging from their hives — officially confirming the arrival of Spring in the Smokies. In another rite of Spring, Balltown’s beekeeper Kelley Penn (above) carefully inspects each hive to see how the bees fared over the Winter. “Quite well,” she said.

More than just bees, Balltown Bee Farm is a small, sustainable farm producing mixed vegetables, spring transplants and shiitake mushrooms, all raised chemical-free. You can find their products at the farmers markets in Bryson City, Sylva and Cashiers (in season).

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Next Sunday, Try This Sundae Breakfast at Home

One of the most-requested breakfasts at the Folkestone Inn Bed and Breakfast is their French Toast Sundae. And innkeepers Steve and Eva Clayton are graciously sharing their recipe with Postcards From The Smokies readers.

French Toast Sundae

Serves 6

5    eggs
2    cups Half n Half
1    Tbsp. vanilla extract
1    Tbsp. cinnamon
1    Tbsp. sugar
1/8    tsp. nutmeg
12    slices French bread, sliced 1-inch thick
Crushed cornflakes, enough to coat one side of bread
Fresh sliced fruits, in season
Whipped cream

Preheat griddle to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and Half n Half until well combined. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Dip bread into mixture but do not soak. Dip one side of the bread into cornflakes.  Repeat with all slices.

Add butter to griddle and cook bread with cornflakes side down first. Flip when golden brown. Turn and cook other side. Place two slices on plate and top with fresh fruit. Add dollop of whipped cream. Serve with maple syrup.

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Life is Just a Room Full of Chocolates

On Saturday, the Bryson City Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship Hall became the Calorie Capitol of the Smoky Mountains as twenty area chocolatiers competed in the Third Annual Chocolate Cookoff. The event is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Marianna Black Library.

This year’s judges (above l-r) were Bryson City Mayor Pro-Tem Kate Welch, owner/chef Richard E. Long of Caffe Rel in Franklin, NC and Asheville TV news anchor Victoria Dunkle of WLOS Channel 13.

(left) Chef Long admires the delicate detail of Fran Brooks and Becca Wiggins’ miniature Chocolate Cones, which won both the judges’ first place and the People’s Choice awards. Second place went to Robin Hamilton for her Killer Kahlua Chocolate Mousse Cake, and Diane Cutler’s Chocolate Orange Brownies came in third.

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October’s Fruit of the Month — the Pumpkin


Nothing says “October” quite like the pumpkin. And yes, it is technically a fruit because it has seeds. And even if you carve your pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern, you can still enjoy those seeds as a tasty and nutritious snack. The shells are edible and a good source of fiber. Recipe below.

Locally-grown pumpkins are available at markets and fruit stands throughout the Smokies. But for children, there’s an exciting way to get a pumpkin in the Smokies. They can ride a train, visit a pumpkin patch, meet Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy and bring home their own pumpkin on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s annual Halloween-themed excursion. “Peanuts — The Great Pumpkin Patch Express” continues weekends through October 25. Trains depart the Bryson City depot.

Oven-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds
Cooking spray, olive oil, or butter
Optional: Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, or other seasoning of choice

Rinse pumpkin seeds. Use your fingers to remove all the pulp. Drain pumpkin seeds and discard pulp. Spread out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil.

Toss pumpkin seeds in olive oil, butter, or spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, or your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat.

Bake about 1 hour, tossing every 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool pumpkin seeds before eating. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to three months or refrigerate up to a year.

If you like your toasted pumpkin seeds extra-salty, soak overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup salt to 2 cups of water. Dry an additional day, then proceed as above.

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Even If You Hate Onions, You’ll Love This Vidalia Onion Pie


Each evening, Monday thru Saturday, Mort and Lainey White’s Hemlock Inn serves a tasty smorgasbord of down home southern cooking served family style at large round tables with lazy Susans. Of the dozens of dishes they serve, one of the most requested is the sweet and savory casserole shown above — the Bryson City Inn’s signature Vidalia Onion Pie.

Vidalia Onion Pie
10-12 soda crackers
1 pound Vidalia onions
1/3 stick margarine
1 cup white sauce
1/4 pound sharp cheese

Melt margarine and pour half into the crushed crackers. Blend well. Save enough cracker crumbs to sprinkle over top. Press cracker crumbs into pie pan.

Slice the onions thin and saute in remaining margarine until tender but not brown. Put onions on the pie crust and pour over white sauce to which the sharp cheese has been added and melted. Sprinkle a few cracker crumbs over top and bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Serves 8.

Favorite White Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
pinch of salt
1 cup milk

In heavy saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, and slowly add milk. Stir constantly with whisk until thick. Yield: 1 cup.

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May Is The Month For Strawberry-Lovers


With supermarket strawberries available year ’round, it’s easy to forget the taste of fresh-picked, locally-grown berries. But May is the time to enjoy the real thing.

In the Bryson City area, two local growers have fields where you can pick your own or purchase containers of freshly-picked berries. Above, Brynnae Rhinehart of Bryson City samples a berry at Darnell Farms, just east of Bryson City on Highway 19. The other is Shelton Family Farm on Thomas Valley Road in Whittier.

Products made from locally-grown berries are also appearing on Bryson City’s retail shelves. Molly Shaw is an elementary school teacher whose award-winning strawberry jam is available at the Cottage Craftsman and the Fryemont Inn. And an area winery, Calaboose Cellers, uses local berries in their “Up The River” strawberry-rhubarb wine, which is served onboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad excursions, and is available at the Cottage Craftsman.

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The Blueberry Hills Are Ripe For Pickin’

Pick your own blueberrry farm in Whittier, NC

It’s blueberry time in the Smokies. And several “You Pick’em” berry farms — like the one above in the Whittier community — should have plump, sweet berries from now through late summer.

Want to make something special with your berries? Try this Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake recipe provided by the Folkestone Inn Bed & Breakfast.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes twelve 1/4 cup pancakes, four servings

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

1 egg, beaten
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Sift together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and oil. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible (only until combined). Stir in 1 cup blueberries.

Heat griddle to 375 degrees F. Brush with oil or melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup of batter to make each pancake. Cook until edge of each pancake loses its gloss, then flip. Uncooked batter can be placed in the refrigerator for the next day. (Recipe can be doubled)

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Lemon Chess Pie – A True Southern Favorite

The Fryemont Inn\'s Lemon Chess Pie

Visitors to Bryson City and the Smokies often want to experience some authentic Southern Cookin’ …like the Fryemont Inn’s Lemon Chess Pie. The Fryemont’s Sue Brown graciously shares the recipe —

Lemon Chess Pie
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp. each, flour and corn meal
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. grated lemon rind
1 unbaked pastry pie crust

Combine the sugar and eggs and beat well. Toss together the flour and corn meal and add to the egg mixture. Gradually add the milk, butter, lemon juice and rind. Pour into the crust. Bake in the center of a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the filling is set and the top is lightly browned. Photo provided by the Fryemont Inn.

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A Chocolate Malt with Dairy Topping, a Cherry…and Two Straws

Bryson City ice cream shop serves the old favorites

A visit to Bryson City will take you back to simpler, less complicated times… especially when you step into Soda Pops, the old fashioned ice cream emporium on Everett Street. Owner and chief soda jerk Paul Crawley serves all the old favorites, including floats, shakes, and banana splits. Visitors Paul and Mary Dameron dropped in to share a chocolate malt …just like the good old days.

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