October is cotton picking time in eastern North Carolina
Showing cotton fields just outside window at Big Mill B&B
Some things change, but fall is still harvest time on the farm. I woke up today and the big tractor was outside my window picking cotton.
We have words for all the farm jobs — we pick cotton, we dig peanuts and later we pick the peanuts, we pick soy beans and we prime or crop tobacco. We never pick tobacco. If you use any other expression, we know you aren’t from around here. So today– they were picking cotton. Read more about growing cotton
Recycling has many faces. Big Mill B&B saves used soap for Clean the World.
At Big Mill we just can’t waste or throw anything away that might have a second life. Recycling soap is such a good idea!
Big Mill B&B saves used soap and sends it to Clean the World; they are the world’s largest high-volume soap recyclers.
In the U.S. we throw away over a million bars of soap every day. “Each day nearly 9,000 children die from diseases that can be prevented by up to 62% through regular hand washing with bar soap,” a sad statistic from Clean the World. Read more about recycling soap
All across North Carolina there are some hidden art gems on the walls of old post office buildings.
Post office mural of First Flight in Williamston, NC
Here in eastern North Carolina, in this small town of Williamston, we have a real art jewel. The First Flight mural was painted in 1940 on the wall of the post office on Main Street, and it is still there for all of us to see.
The artist was Phillip Von Saltza. He entered a contest with 1, 475 other entrants and won the commission. He was paid $725 to paint this oil-on-canvas mural. That was a sizable sum during the Depression. Read more about WPA Post Office murals
I grow blueberries and blackberries here on the farm and I love to use them any way I can.
Easy Blueberry Bread Recipe with Cream Cheese Spread I remember picking wild blueberries when I was a child; we called them huckleberries. If you are lucky enough to find these they work great in this bread. They just seem to have more taste!
Homemade Blueberry Bread Recipe with Blackberry Cream Cheese Spread
- • 1 large egg
- • ¼ cup corn or vegetable oil
- • ¾ cup sugar
- • ½ cup fresh, mashed blueberries (about 4 ounces whole blueberries)
- • 1½ Tablespoons blueberry or seedless blackberry jam
- • ½ cup shredded, sweetened coconut plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling on top of loaves
- • 1 cup self-rising flour
- • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- • ¼ teaspoon salt
- To Make the Blueberry (or Blackberry) Cream Cheese Spread:
- • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- • 2 Tablespoons blueberry or seedless blackberry jam
- * Note: I often use half blueberries and half blackberries for this bread. If you are using frozen berries, drain off some of the liquid.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two mini bread pans using cooking spray with flour like Baker’s Secret.
- Whisk egg in large mixing bowl. Stir in oil and sugar.
- Wash blueberries and drain. Mash and chop the berries until some juice is released. Some of the blueberries will still be whole and this is just fine. You need ½ cup mashed berries. Add blueberries to the oil egg and oil.
- Stir in the jam and coconut.
- In medium-size mixing bowl stir together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Add the dry mixture to the blueberry mixture.
- Pour into loaf pans, filling about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops with the reserved coconut – the SECRET ingredient
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned or until a straw inserted into the center comes out clean. With moist breads like this Blueberry Bread, it is difficult to know when they are done. The straw or small knife inserted into the bread technique is the best way to know. You can’t just go by the time. Be careful you don’t overcook.
- Cool on wire racks for five minutes. Remove bread from pans and continue to cool until ready to slice. To store, wrap in clear wrap. This bread will keep fresh for several days. The recipe can be doubled.
- TO MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE SPREAD:
- Add the softened cream cheese and 2 Tablespoons of Blackberry Jam. Stir until totally mixed. Store in the refrigerator.
- Yield: 2 small mini loaves and ½ cup blackberry spread
Read more about Chloe’s Blueberry bread
Bodie Island Lighthouse – a Beacon for Seamen since 1848
Picture perfect Bodie Island Lighthouse, NC Outer Banks
Bodie Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1848 on North Carolina’s Outer Banks near Oregon Inlet – but it had to be abandoned in 1859 because the foundation was shifting.
And for those who don’t know – it is pronounced body, like all the bodies that wash up on the shore. That really is an old yarn, but folks still tell it. Read more about Bodie Island Lighthouse
I love old hardware and farm stores but they are fast-disappearing lost treasures
Martin Supply has been in Williamston, NC for as long as I can remember. It is one of those old-time feed stores that’s disappearing all across the U.S.A.
When you walk in the front door you know you have entered a time past. One of the first things you see is all the camouflage and hunting gear. There are rifles, shotguns, hunting bows, deer stands and things I just don’t know what they are. The ammo is behind the counter. You can still buy long underwear with the back flap that drops down. Read more about Martin Supply Old time store
Canning Jam for Dummies – Step-by-Step How To Make Strawberry Jam
How to make strawberry jam – start to finish: Of course, fresh berries are better for the jam, but you can use frozen berries.
Spring is berry pickin’ time, so get ready to make Strawberry Jam.
My father taught me how to raise a garden and how to cultivate an orchard; my mother taught me how to can this home-grown produce and to make jam. [click to continue…]
For Civil War buffs, April belongs to Plymouth, a small town on the Roanoke River in eastern North Carolina.
On April 18 & 19, you can be a part of Living History in Motion “Odyssey of an Ironclad – The Incredible Journey of the CSS Albemarle.” This 2-day trip on the Roanoke River retraces the route taken by the Ram Albemarle Ironclad Confederate warship from Scotland Neck, NC to Plymouth, NC. I have some fascinating facts to share with you too. Keep reading … [click to continue…]
Did you know that Grits are made from corn? And stone ground grits are the best.
Atkinson Milling Company in Selma, NC produces some of the best grits. I’ve tried many kinds and theirs are the best.
I was looking for local stone-ground North Carolina grits to serve at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast and I found them at Atkinson Mill in Selma, NC. Joseph Wheeler, whose grandfather owns the mill, gave us the grand tour of this fascinating and quite extensive mill. You could just tell that Joseph loves this business and he loves the mill and its history.
Wandering around in the mill there is a yellowish haze everywhere. We had corn dust all over us! [click to continue…]
Lynda Oden and her family have been running Oden’s Store since 1904
Oden’s Store and Antiques is chock full of treasures: depression glass, old tools, furniture from the turn of the last century, old doors, some junk, but all of it is interesting. It is the kind of place where you have to poke around in all the corners; if you don’t, you might miss something. If you are lucky, some of Lynda’s buddies will be there around the pot-bellied stove talking in that wonderful down-east brogue. [click to continue…]