From The Smith House to The Whann House, For Easter
The Smith House History Cookbook
(Only in the south do you find teaspoons. Especially in silverware sets.)
Me, my little brother Johnny and my mother, Mary Keith in our front yard in Dahlonega, Georgia.
(Although my mother does look like an airline stewardess here.)
Me, and Baby Johnny in our Front Yard in Dahlonega on our way to Church.
We lived in Dahlonega, Georgia for about 3 years when I was a girl. I was 7 when we moved there and 10 when we left to move to Roanoke, Virginia. This was in the late 60’s- early 70’s. My step-father was the only doctor in the small town, he even made house calls. Something unheard of in our ‘for profit’ healthcare system we have now. He liked being a big fish in a small pond. My brother Johnny was born there when I was 8. I was happy there. I think we all were.
One special memory I have of Dahlonega was this restaurant called, The Smith House. It was unlike other restaurants at the time. There was no menu for you to order off of. You would enter the restaurant while being greeted with what was quite a nice tradition at the time called ‘Southern Hospitality.’ Things are a bit different in the south now but I did get to live through a time when the south was hospitable. They would sit you down next to another family that you didn’t know. If you had a large group then you got a table to yourselves, but if you were a family of 2, or 3, or 4, then you would get seated next to another small group of people. We would introduce ourselves to our fellow diner’s and the polite conversation would ensue while we waited for our food to arrive.
Family Style Dining
(I do love that the bread basket in the photo at right is empty.
Looks like I’m not the only one that loved those dinner rolls.)
The food is cooked fresh everyday in the kitchen and placed into bowls and platters and set on the table in front of you. You had no say on what they placed in front of you. At least that is how I remember it at the time. You would then serve yourself and pass the bowls around to the other people at your table. When you ran out of mashed potatoes you would motion to the waitress and she would disappear into the kitchen and return with a heaping bowl full to place in front of you for you to enjoy. It was all southern cooking. Probably very plain in taste by today’s restaurant standards but the food was delicious because you were tasting the food. Not tons of spices or sauces.
Salt and pepper, butter,
bacon grease, lard, and gravy
were all you really needed to season your food.
At least that’s how we liked it in the south.
There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!
I can’t talk about Dahlonega without mentioning it’s gold mining past. It was during The Great Gold Rush to California that gold was discovered in Dahlonega. To prevent the residents of Lumpkin County from leaving, the mayor of Dahlonega said to his residents not to leave because, “There’s gold in them thar hills!”
Most people have heard that quote before but hardly anyone knows who said it.
My family and I used to go spelunking and panning for gold when we lived in Dahlonega. I never found a nugget just lots of gold flakes that were put into a vial of water and worn as a necklace. But we have certainly prowled our way through many caves in our spelunking adventures. My mother has all those photos.
I can also remember us driving up through the mountains and pulling over to the side of the road where I was handed a paper cup by my mother telling me to pick up those Garnet Nuggets because they were everywhere. So, we climbed steep embankments and started looking through the dirt finding them. I don’t remember how they knew they were all over that embankment but we got quite a haul that day. And I believe for my following birthday I was given a rock cleaning and polishing kit. It was a machine and was very loud so we set it out in the garage, but the rocks came out all smooth and shiny. I even have a few of those stones that we had placed into jewelry. They are somewhere in my house.
Spelunking, Panning for Gold, those were the days!
Mary Keith, my mother, and Me
When you drive through Atlanta you will see the Georgia State Capital building and it’s gold dome with gold from Dahlonega.
Georgia State Capital Dome
My one food memory that I have from Dahlonega, and The Smith House were their Dinner Rolls. Rolls were my food! As my Grandfather used to say, ‘All Julie cares about eating are rolls, rolls, and rolls.
The Smith House made the best rolls I have ever eaten in my life and it occurred to me to look online and see if the recipe was out there for me to make them myself. That is when I spotted their book online and of course, I purchased it.
The Smith House History Cookbook
Of course I am enjoying reading a bit about the history. Some things I knew and other’s I didn’t.
But what I am enjoying the most are the recipes listed throughout the book.
There are many and I am not going to post them all but the one that I was THE most excited to find…..
Smith House Yeast Rolls!!
YES! YES! YES!!!
This entire Easter Dinner is based on these.
Smith House Recipe Yeast Dough
(Waiting for the dough to rise.)
Made by Brodie and Mackenzie
The Smell is Amazing!
I made sure the basket was sitting right next to me on our Easter table. 🙂
The rolls were delicious! They tasted a bit like I remember and Brodie and Mackenzie had never baked bread before so taking all that into consideration they did a wonderful job, but the rolls that I remember had probably been made hundreds of times by the same women in that Smith House kitchen. They had perfected a technique that they probably had no idea that they had. Just handing out a recipe doesn’t mean that we will be able to recreate it exactly as they did. But I was given a delicious taste of a happy childhood food memory that I have carried with me from the age of 7 and I do appreciate that.
(The photo above is a post card that my Grandmother sent to us from Las Vegas in 1992. It depicts Indian symbols and their meanings. There is a section in the Smith House History Cookbook that speaks of Sequoya (Sikwayi) and his Alphabet.)
The Indian Tribe that we most know of in the state of Georgia is the Cherokee Nation. Sequoya’s mother was Cherokee and his father was white. Sequoya was most impressed that the white man could “put talk on paper.” The Cherokee Alphabet was invented in 1821. Sequoya created an alphabet of 86 characters. The English Alphabet only has 26 letters. The Cherokee Nation embraced Sequoya’s Alphabet.
I grew up in a family that loved our Native American’s and we were taught quite a bit about them. My parents admired them for the great people that they were and are, and they passed that down to me and all 3 of my brother’s. We have spent many a family vacation visiting Indian Reservations throughout our country, in the south as well as out west.
Sadly, the Trail of Tears started in my hometown of Rome, Georgia. But, I was happy to see Sequoya included in this Smith House History Cookbook.
I wanted to add that this Easter Dinner wasn’t just about remembering The Smith House, it was also about remembering all my childhood Easter’s with my Grandparents and Great-Grandparent’s. Adding the table extensions to the dining room table in order to seat 8-10 instead of 4. The dining table pad that would be placed on top of the table. The white linen tablecloths ironed to perfection, same with cloth napkins. The beautiful China bowls and platters set on the table filled with delicious southern, and northern cooking. (I had Yankee relatives too.) Shhh…. 🙂
Remember the crystal goblets, and let’s not forget the silver that would be polished a week or so in advance so that everything gleamed and sparkled on our Easter table.
That is why this year I wanted for us to eat all those delicious southern foods that I grew up with. Some cooked their way, and some cooked our way. I did use the Smith House cookbook as a template for the foods I wanted on our table although the only recipe we followed from the book was for the yeast rolls. At least, so far. Rediscovering traditional southern cooking has been something I have been doing for the last few years. It is fun to try the newest cooking trend but that is all they ever seem to be. Trends. I guess where food is concerned lately I’ve been more interested in going home.
Me, playing on my tire swing in our backyard in Dahlonega.
Oh, and P.S. Former President Jimmy Carter has eaten there. He was born and grew up in Plains, Georgia. His family were the only white people in that small town. He didn’t see his first white person (other than his immediate family) until he was 14.
Our Easter Table
Easter Baskets Adorn
(Along with the GOLDEN EGG. Something I never found at childhood Easter Egg Hunts.)
Our Extended Lanai
Living in Florida does give us an advantage to enjoying outdoor life throughout the year. I knew that I wanted us to eat outside and enjoy our spring weather before our hot summer arrived. I also knew that I wanted to make the best of this Easter and just enjoy our lovely holiday while in lockdown due to the Coronavirus. It was just the 4 of us, Gordon, myself, our son Brodie, and his girlfriend Mackenzie.
I knew that I wanted to use all the old linen tablecloths and napkins that belonged to my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother’s. I knew that I wanted to use my Grandmother’s silverware. I knew that I wanted our food put into some of the platters and bowls that once belonged to them as well. I knew that I wanted to set a formal table but also bring it into my tastes. I knew that I wanted to make it formal but also fun and casual all at the same time.
I knew that I wanted for us to cook the foods that I remember from my youth, but I also knew that I wanted Gordon to create something new and tasty at add to our traditional southern menu. And he did!
When in Lockdown Fake Flowers work Nicely
Brodie and Mackenzie with Sparky and Spooky
Julie and Gordon
I would like to introduce you to:
Our Easter Menu
Bone In Pork Roast
Mashed Potatoes with Carrots
Macaroni and Cheese
Green Beans with Blue Potatoes
Corn and Creamed Corn
Sea Island Red Peas and Ham
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Grandma Nell’s Squash Casserole
Julie’s Deviled Eggs
A little something for the Easter Bunny!
The Iced (melted) Tea Table
(Served two ways: Sweetened, or Unsweetened.)
I knew that I wanted to honor my past by having what every edible function I had ever been to in my life had, Sweetened, or Unsweetened Iced Tea. Usually with a little card in front of the pitchers letting you know which one was which. Something I didn’t have time to make prior to this dinner. But the two pitchers do represent the only two selections in the south. 🙂
Traditional Place Setting
I enjoyed getting out the China and Silver.
No crystal goblets though.
Gordon’s Bone In Pork Roast Cooked on the Grill
Gordon Carving our Bone In Pork Roast
Looks delicious, doesn’t it?
Our Easter Table
Of course my Deviled Eggs took center stage. Easter is all about the eggs.
I placed them over a pretty spring wreath that I had.
Another thing I love about Easter is that even the foods are very colorful with all the colors of spring.
As if the Easter Bunny had painted them himself.
Mackenzie and Brodie Digging In
Gordon and Julie Ready to Feast
My, Julie’s, Dinner Plate and Place Setting
Another Southern Reminder…….
My Honeysuckle Vines
I am just waiting for the blooms to emerge. Having grown up in the south most every property had Honeysuckle growing, whether it was crawling all over fences, gates, trellis’s, it was everywhere most of the time growing wild. It was also overlooked as being some weed and not really appreciated. Same with grape vines that grew everywhere. My friends and I would always pick the blossoms off the Honeysuckle Vines and place the sweet stem from the bottom of the blossoms in our mouth and suck out to taste the sweet nectar. I still do whenever I see the vines growing.
Easter Baskets Filled with Goodies
It wouldn’t be Easter without a Chocolate Bunny, or two.
I did manage to get my hands of two Easter Lily plants for this Easter.
Oh, and see the picnic basket in front of the table?
I made that when we were living in Hawaii. It only took me a few hours.
The Dessert Table
(We don’t have time to make everything from scratch.)
3 small pies that we bought from the grocery store and had delivered. 1 peach and 2 apple. I thought they looked plain so I opened our stash of Easter candies and doctored them up a bit.
China plate, Silverware, Magnolia Tree wreath, old Chandelier, Lacey Basket Liner, and a hand drawn in pastels picture by our daughter Veronica that I wanted to include here.
Into the Kitchen
RECIPES START HERE!
Making Southern Iced Tea
Spooky and Sparky love being in the kitchen with us when we are cooking.