A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

When my family and I traveled to Salisbury to see my cousins, I knew that I’d leave full. I always looked forward to these family gatherings, often hosted at one

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

When my family and I traveled to Salisbury to see my cousins, I knew that I’d leave full. I always looked forward to these family gatherings, often hosted at one

4 Family Reunion Recipes

Vinegar pie, squash casserole, and cucumber-stuffed pitas.

When my family and I traveled to Salisbury to see my cousins, I knew that I’d leave full. I always looked forward to these family gatherings, often hosted at one of the City Park picnic shelters. Hugs from aunts and uncles were always warm, the paddle boats rocked with the gentle waves on the lake, and the ducks left the water as we ran down the hill to feed them stale hot dog buns that we’d brought from home.

It didn’t take long to cover the tables with bottles of Cheerwine, chopped barbecue from Wink’s, buckets of fried chicken, honey baked ham, yeast rolls, macaroni salad, baked beans, pea salad, squash casserole, and too many pies and cakes to count. There was so much food that we only brought the larger oval “heavy duty” paper plates — the standard size wouldn’t cut it for this feast.

After everyone had their chance at seconds, everything but the desserts got wrapped up and placed in the cooler so we could continue to nibble on the sweets. Some of the adults sat around talking about how full they were. A few were so full that they napped in their lawn chairs. Some of the cousins played hide-and-seek, while others gave leftovers to the ducks, who were probably full, too. I’d go find a shady spot where I could lie on my belly while I watched the ants carry stray crumbs to wherever ants go. At the park, everyone — the ants, the ducks, the cousins — was well fed.

Cheerwine coleslaw

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Cheerwine Coleslaw

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Cheerwine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 head green cabbage, finely shredded (about 4 cups)
½ head purple cabbage, finely shredded (about 2 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
3 green onions, sliced

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and Cheerwine. Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper.

In a separate bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots, and onions. Pour mayonnaise mixture over cabbage. Toss until all ingredients are well incorporated. Refrigerate slaw for an hour before serving.

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Squash casserole in a yellow baking dish

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Aunt Addie’s Squash Casserole

Yield: 8 servings.

1¼ cups unsalted butter, divided
6 to 8 summer squashes, sliced (about 4 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimientos, drained
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (12-ounce) bag herb-seasoned cornbread stuffing

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add squash and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix squash, carrots, onion, pimientos, soup, and sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate bowl, melt remaining butter; add cornbread stuffing and mix together.

Spread half of cornbread mixture in baking dish. Add squash mixture and spread evenly to all corners. Top with remaining cornbread mixture.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are bubbly and cornbread mixture is golden brown.

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Cucumber salad-stuffed pitas

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Cucumber Salad Pitas

Yield: 6 servings.

For the dressing:
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt

For the salad:
2 English cucumbers, cut lengthwise then sliced ½-inch thick
3 green onions, sliced
1 sweet red bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 ounces feta, crumbled
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 small pitas, warmed
6 lettuce leaves, chopped

For the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the salad: To a large bowl, add cucumbers, onions, red bell pepper, tomatoes, feta, salt, and pepper. Toss gently. Pour dressing over the salad and toss.

Cut an opening at the top of the pitas and fill each with the dressed salad. Add lettuce and prop pitas on a platter when ready to serve.

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Slice of vinegar pie

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Mom’s Vinegar Pie

Yield: 8 servings.

4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 regular pie shell (not deep dish), unbaked

Preheat oven to 350°.

Using an electric mixer, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and salt until well combined. Add vanilla and butter; mix well. Whisk in apple cider vinegar until well incorporated.

Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. The filling will rise and be slightly loose. Remove pie from oven and allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.

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This story was published on Apr 16, 2024

Lynn Wells

Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.