Monday, December 31, 2012


 On this final day of 2012, I decided to busy myself with an activity that brings back floods of memories. I baked homemade bread. Aunt Rhoda (wife of my mother's oldest brother, Paul Jones) was affectionately called the Betty Crocker of Cedar Mountain. She baked bread, rolls and first for the Cedar Mountain Curb Market every Friday during the summers and later, year-round as an extra income. Norma & I spent almost every weekend during our college years at Western Carolina University at Aunt Rhoda & Uncle Paul's house. Uncle Paul was a real mountain man...hunting, fishing and making a little moonshine. He looked out for the "widow ladies" in the community, supplying them with firewood and digging them out of the snow during the long winters and helping them with household repairs during the rest of the year, because that is what the Bible said to do. He had an infectious laugh, a dry wit, and a warm smile. During my family's summer visits to the 3 Bears' House, he would walk out to our cabin around 5 o'clock every afternoon with his soap in one hand and his towel over his arm to take a cold shower, because his house was only equipped with a tub. He winterized our cabin when we left at the end of the summer and opened it up before we arrived each summer. Aunt Rhoda was a of the well-known families of Cedar Mountain...and was not only a fabulous baker, but a great cook. Her fried chicken on Sunday was to die for! She suffered from crippling arthritis, but that didn't stop her from baking and canning or anything else she wanted to do. She would go to Brevard every Friday (Uncle Paul called it "Push Cart Day" because most of the ladies of the county went to town and pushed a grocery cart around the stores) to re-supply her pantry for the week's baking. The recipe that I use for my bread is her recipe. It was never written down. Years of baking had seared it into her memory. In fact, when she gave it to me, I had to follow her around the kitchen, measuring each ingredient as she put in in the bowl. My written version actually calls for two handfuls of salt, around 4 tablespoons of yeast and 2/3 of a five pound bag of all-purpose flour! As the aroma of the baking bread filled my house, I closed my eyes and was swept back to those wonderful years of growing up in Cedar Mountain, North Carolina, and the happy days spent at Aunt Rhoda & Uncle Paul's house...playing Set Back after supper, helping Aunt Rhoda clean and hiking the woods with Uncle Paul in search of Blacksnake root or Ginseng. The person I am today is a direct result of the influence of those strong pioneers of Transylvania County. How grateful I am to have known them!

 Gather your ingredients: eggs, yeast, sugar, salt & oil.
Mix in scalded milk.

After rising & kneading, shape into loaves & place in pans to rise a second time.

After baking, remove from pans and cool on racks. This is the hardest step, because it smells sooooo good that it is hard to let it cool before slicing and eating!
Rhoda & Paul Jones on the occasion of their 50th Wedding anniversary in 1972.


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