Dinner on the Grounds

Singers gather for the feast at
Antioch Baptist Church, Ider, Alabama.
Photo by Jim Carnes

A favorite activity at Sacred Harp singings is the sharing of a sumptuous Dinner on the Grounds, where local singers and community members spread a feast of home-made dishes to fortify and delight visiting singers. For a sample of the rich fare, you can try a few local delights below, view more recipes from Doug Allison, or sample the Sacred Harp cookbook, Blessings at Noon.

  • sweet potato casserole
  • red velvet cake
  • persimmon pudding

  • apple fried pies

  • sweet potato custard
  • buttermilk pie
  • chicken and dumplings
  • skillet cornbread

  • oven fried chicken
  • Italian sausage casserole
  • green tomato casserole
  • blackberry cake
  • old fashioned coconut cake
  • cocoa pie

  • baked ham
  • biscuits
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Crust

    Adapted from A Mississippi Cookbook
      3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato
      half cup sugar
      half teaspoon salt
      2 beaten eggs
      half stick butter
      half cup milk
      half teaspoon vanilla
    Mix in order, in a two quart casserole.
      one cup brown sugar
      one-third cup flour
      one stick butter (not oleo)
      one cup shelled pecans, chopped coarse
    Mix first three ingredients, then add nuts, 
    spread over casserole and bake 35 minutes at 350 F.

    Red Velvet Cake

    from Josie (Harper) Hyde, Haleyville, Alabama.
      1 cup oil
      1 and a half cups sugar
      2 beaten eggs
      2 ounces red food coloring
      2 tablespoons cocoa
      2 cups plain flour
      1 teaspoon vanilla
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon vinegar
      1 cup buttermilk
    Cream oil, sugar, and eggs.  Make a paste with food coloring 
    and cocoa and add to mixture.  Add flour with buttermilk, 
    vinegar, and vanilla, alternately add soda, and blend lightly.  
    Bake in two greased and floured 8-inch pans for 30 minutes at 
    350 F.  (Layers may be split to make four layers.)
      8 ounce block cream cheese
      one-half stick butter or oleo
      1 teaspoon vanilla
      one box confectioner's sugar
    Blend first three ingredients, then add sugar gradually.
    Spread over cooled cake and top with nuts, cherries, dried 
    fruit, or coconut if desired.

    Ruthel's Persimmon Pudding

    Cleo Hawkins, in The Calhoun County (Miss.) Journal
      one cup sugar
      one cup persimmon pulp
      2 cups self-rising flour
      2 eggs
      one cup raw shredded sweet potato
      2 cups milk
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1 tablespoon melted butter
    Combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon and mix well. 
    Stir in eggs and milk, add remaining ingredients
    and mix well.  Pour into greased 13x9x2 inch pan.
    Bake 45 minutes at 320 F.

    Apple Fried Pies

    Cleo Hawkins, Bruce, Mississippi, as told to Suzanne Flandreau
      two cups chopped dried apples
      biscuit dough
      shortening (Crisco)
    Cook up about two cups of chopped up dried apples in a 
    little water, sweeten to taste, add a little cinnamon 
    if you like it.
    Make biscuit dough from your favorite recipe. Divide it 
    into one-inch balls and roll them very thin.  Cleo used
    a small liniment bottle as a rolling pin. 
    Heat Crisco in a skillet to a depth of about 1/8 inch. 
    It should be hot but not smoking. Crisco gives the authentic 
    Put about two tablespoons of the apples on a biscuit circle, 
    fold it over and pinch the edges together securely so that the 
    filling doesn't fall out during frying. Fry in the hot oil until 
    brown (but not over-brown) on both sides. Make sure the crust is 
    cooked through.  Drain on absorbent paper.
    Warren Steel (mudws@olemiss.edu)

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