A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

  [caption id="attachment_180423" align="alignright" width="300"] Credit Enabled[/caption]   When I was growing up, there was something special about being at a house other than my own. At home, going to

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

  [caption id="attachment_180423" align="alignright" width="300"] Credit Enabled[/caption]   When I was growing up, there was something special about being at a house other than my own. At home, going to

How Playdates Shape Our Palates

Chicken salad sandwiches, pancakes, and pot roast


Stack of blueberry pancakes

photograph by Matt Hulsman


When I was growing up, there was something special about being at a house other than my own. At home, going to bed was mundane, but at a friend’s house, it was a sleepover that ended with pancakes. In my yard, a sprinkler was only there to water the grass, but next door, it was our own personal water park that preceded a homemade chicken salad sandwich. Sunday afternoons spent with friends after church were marked with the scent of pot roast in their mom’s slow cooker. At other people’s homes, I wasn’t asked to unload the dishwasher, and I got to experience new home-cooked meals.

On summer weeknights and Saturday afternoons, I could often be found at the Becknells’ house down the street. Bob and Adeline Becknell had five kids — three boys and two girls. Their yard could hold upward of 15 children, plus two to four adults smoking cigarettes and catching up on whatever it was that adults talked about.

At some point during each gathering, Adeline — “Mrs. Becknell” to us kids — would appear with her jet-black bob haircut, Peter Pan-collared shirt, and pressed cotton capris, carrying a tray of cups and a pitcher of the best sweet tea I’d ever tasted. Crafting her sweet tea must’ve been an art. I’ve long debated which brand of tea bags she used. How long would she steep the tea? How much sugar did she add and when? Her secret could have had something to do with the gallon Tupperware pitcher that she used, with its tannin-stained interior and vacuum-sealed top.

I recently visited Adeline, and, after hours of reminiscing, I asked about her sweet tea recipe. “All I know is I went through a lot of sugar over the years!” she recalled. Maybe that’s why my childhood memories of running from house to house in Greensboro are so sweet.

Pouring syrup over blueberry buckwheat pancakes

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

1⅓ cups buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
⅔ cup whole buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Maple syrup, for serving
Butter pats, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and sour cream.

Gradually fold flour mixture into wet ingredients until well incorporated. Batter should be thick but pourable; if batter is too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Gently fold in blueberries until well incorporated.

Heat butter and oil in a nonstick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Once pan is hot, add about ½ cup of batter for each pancake.

Cook pancakes for 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface of the batter, then flip and cook for 2 minutes more.

Repeat with remaining batter until all pancakes are cooked. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

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Chicken salad sandwiches

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chicken Salad Party Sandwiches

Yield: 10 sandwiches.

2 roasted chickens, skin and bones removed
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon celery salt
2 tablespoons celery seed
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
1 small red onion, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
Black pepper to taste
20 slices white bread, thinly sliced
Potato chips, for serving
Bread-and-butter pickles, for serving

Add chicken to a food processor and pulse 10 to 15 times until finely chopped.

In a large mixing bowl, add chicken, mayonnaise, celery salt, celery seed, relish, onion, and dill. Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add black pepper to taste. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.

When ready to serve, spread chicken salad evenly on 10 slices of bread and top each with the remaining bread. Cut each sandwich on the diagonal and serve with potato chips and bread-and-butter pickles.

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Glasses of iced tea

photograph by bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Adeline’s Sweet Tea

Yield: 1 gallon.

4 cups tap water
2 family-size tea bags
1½ cups granulated sugar
Cold water
Fresh lemon slices (optional)

In a large saucepan, bring water to a rolling boil. Remove pot from heat and add tea bags; let steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour tea into a gallon pitcher and add cold water to reach top of pitcher. Stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.

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Bowl of slow cooker pot roast

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Sunday Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

4 pounds chuck roast
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dried minced onions
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 cup water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large yellow onion, quartered
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 bay leaves

Season chuck roast liberally, rubbing salt and pepper into meat with hands. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat; sear roast, about 4 minutes per side.

Place roast in slow cooker and add dried onions and garlic powder. Add water and Worcestershire, and spread vegetables evenly. Add bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Remove bay leaves and serve.

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This story was published on Mar 13, 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.