Prater’s Mill Country Fair offers an abundance of something for everyone — young, old and everyone in between.
This year’s fair is today and Sunday. You will find artists, authors, crafters, jewelers, metal works, musical instruments, photography, medicinal plants, pottery, glass works, weaving and crochet, wood crafts, yard art, grist mill, animals plus more, with music, entertainment and lots of family fun.
There will be some new offerings this year. For instance, Valeria Silva will present her locally grown chestnuts and chestnut meal. Leo Whaley will showcase his jam and jellies plus salsa and pepper relish. Rita Waters will show her culinary skills with baked sweet potatoes and fried green tomatoes, and the old mill will grind organic corn for grits, meal and corn flour.
Besides checking out the many areas of things to see and do, there is a section that quickly catches one’s attention — and that is food. Who doesn’t like great food? So attendees, get your taste buds all set for some home grown, home made southern classics — downright authentic, heirloom, organic and delicious food. Food you can eat while you are there, food you can learn to make from recipes using items available, plus food you can take home with you for another and later taste sensation.
Take pleasure in the enticing southern cuisine. Visit the cooks who show and share their cookery skills — down to earth, stick to your ribs, homesick curing, soul nurturing and bone strengthening good food. Go nuts with boiled and roasted peanuts. There will be barbecue for every taste — chicken, pork and ribs; fried foods — fish, green tomatoes, pickles, blooming onions, pork rinds and pies; baked sweet potatoes, kettle korn and roasted corn. Try the apple dumplings, caramel apples, cookies and cotton candy. Shake it up with smoothies and try the delicious ice cream made with a recipe from the good ole days and so much more. So much food … such little time!
Take these taste-tempting sensations home with you. Salsa, to eat with chips or with other food such as steak, pinto beans, tacos, tostadas, etc. Pepper relish, a welcome accompaniment to any type of greens (turnip greens, mustard greens, etc.) and with other food. Jams and jelly — blackberry, muscadine, scuppernong, grape and fig — not only delicious on hot buttered biscuits but also great to use with pies, cakes, jellyrolls and other home made goodies.
No matter your taste preferences, Prater’s Mill Country Fair has something for everyone. Following are recipes to enjoy with friends and family.
• Roger Rollins is a volunteer with Prater’s Mill and he operates the Meadows Mill. The Meadows Mill was purchased from Henry Ridley in the late ‘30s by Sam Whisenant for $40. Farmers throughout the Dawnville and Cohutta communities would go to the Whisenant farm to have their corn ground. They would ring a bell at the barn and Mr. Whisenant or one of his sons would come to do the grinding. Payment for the service would be a portion of the ground corn. Still standing today, the Whisenant Farm with house and 80 acres was purchased in 1934 from Scab Wilson for $750. The farm is off Prospect Road N.E. in Whitfield County. Mr. Rollins will be milling during the fair.
Corn flour: Perfect for breading and dredging okra, shrimp, fish and chicken.
This healthy and wholesome corn meal, grits and corn flour is made naturally and organically grown. Oak Bluff Farm, owned by Mr. Rollins, raises old-fashioned, open-pollinated, heirloom-variety corn, naturally and organically, all without synthetic chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. The corn is harvested, shucked and shelled by hand and then carefully stone ground on a century-old grist mill.
Below are a few recipes using the corn flour plus a southern grits recipe.
• Sorghum Corn Flour Chess Pie
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/4 cup sorghum syrup
1/2 cup corn flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light and lemon colored. Beat in corn flour, syrup and remaining ingredients. Pour into 9-inch pie shell, and bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.
• Corn Flour Apple Muffins
3/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
Nuts, raisins, blueberries, chopped apples, etc.
Preheat oven to 375. Mix dry and wet ingredients separately, and combine. Pour into greased tins and bake until toothpick comes out clean. Glaze if desired.
• Southern Style Creamy Grits
The ratio of water to grits is either 3-to-1, 4-to-1, or somewhere in between, depending on how coarse the grind is and how much of the bran is left in. Start with 4-to-1, and adjust to suit yourself; 4-to-1 works perfectly for me.
2 cups water
1/2 cup grits
1/2-1 tsp salt, to taste
2 tbsp butter
Bring water, salt and butter to a full boil. Sprinkle grits into boiling water, stirring briskly with a whisk. Reduce temperature to low and continue to stir frequently. Too little stirring and your grits will stick and/or get clumpy. Adding the butter initially and plenty of stirring will give you creamy grits every time. Our grits will thicken up in about 5-10 minutes. (More coarsely ground grits take longer to cook.) Add cheese, more butter and any additional seasoning you like. Good eatin’!
• Spoon Bread (by Helen Johnson, Camak, Ga.) Taken from the book “The Gristmill Stories” available at Prater’s Mill for $7. It is a book about memories with stories and recipes.
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon lard
1 cup sour or buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 tablespoon salt
Pour boiling water over corn meal and let cool. Beat in egg, milk, soda and salt. Pour batter into hot greased 7-inch baking dish. Bake in moderate oven for 15 to 40 minutes. Add a few tablespoons milk from time to time if you wish to keep bread soft, using all (cup sour or sweet milk). This will call for longer making, about 45 minutes.
• Valeria Silva shares how she makes chestnut flour and her recipe for Chestnut Cake.
Crack chestnuts with a hammer and get the nut out. Discard any wormy or rotten ones. Grind nuts in a food processor as fine as you can get them. Spread mixture out on a baking sheet and place in oven on 170. Leave overnight, or at least for several hours, until the mixture is well dried.
When you are sure that the nuts are completely dry, run through a coffee grinder. (Ms. Silva uses a Mr. Coffee grinder from Walmart that has a burr mill on it.)
Chestnut Cake (or muffins, or a loaf of bread, etc.)
1 stick melted butter,
1+ cup sugar (white and/or brown)
1+ cup milk and/or buttermilk
Vanilla extract, orange extract and/or orange zest
2-3 cups of chestnut flour
Ground cardamom (optional, but adds a really interesting flavor)
Mix all the ingredients together until there is a batter-like consistency. Pour into a greased pan (or muffin tins) and sprinkle crumbled brown sugar on top. Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For more information, interested persons may call the Prater’s Mill Foundation at (706) 694-6455 or email info@PratersMill.org.
Prater’s Mill Country Fair
Today, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $7 and children 12 and under free. Attendees are advised to dress casually and wear comfortable shoes. Parking is free.