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Asheville Cookbook Author Johnnie Sue Myers sets a Welcoming Table

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Cherokee Cooking Expert & Southern C0okbook Author Johnnie Sue Myers

Johnnie Sue’s cookbook has always been a hit with those who love down-home,  Southern comfort foods. It has also been well received by those outdoorsmen who enjoy cooking with the native foods and wild game found in the meadows and woodlands here in western North Carolina.

Johnnie Sue & Soney
Photo by: Christopher Shane


“I’m afraid of snakes,” says Johnnie Sue Myers, explaining why picking the wild blackberries for her cobbler is a chore carried out by her husband, Soney, or one of their five grown boys who live close to home in Cherokee [NC].”

“Soney is also an adept hunter, bringing home all manner of wild game including deer, bear, turkey, and rabbit.

[Her sons] … also pitch in to gather greens, such as sochan and poke, as well as ramps that crop up in the spring, and pull in the autumn harvest of corn, squash, okra, tomatoes, and more from the Myers’ mountainside garden.”

“This Native American matriarch is so well versed in cooking wild game and traditional Cherokee dishes with Southern Appalachian influences that she attracts more than just family to the dinner table.

Johnnie Sue with TV host Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods show, sought out Johnnie Sue in 2009 and enjoyed her prize-winning bear meat. And at the urging of family, she published a cookbook, The Gathering Place, the following year.”

“Johnnie Sue grew up in the 1940s, when many Cherokee traditions were falling by the wayside. She learned to cook quick meals from processed foods and much of what she made was typical American or Southern Appalachian cuisine.

It wasn’t until she and Soney were raising five sons that practicality called for a homesteading lifestyle, giving her the opportunity to rediscover her native culinary roots.

‘I always thought of mom’s cooking as Southern Appalachian with a big dose of Cherokee,’ says son, Charlie Myers, who works with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. His favorite dish is Johnnie Sue’s potato salad with ramps. ‘I could eat a gallon of it.’ “

Some of Johnnie Sue’s Popular Recipes

Venison Meat Loaf
(Serves 6 to 8)
1 lb. ground venison
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. seasoning salt
1 tsp. paprika
1½ cups instant oatmeal
1 8-oz. can sliced mushroom, drained (optional)
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Place meat mixture on sheet of aluminum foil sprayed with extra light virgin olive oil. Form into a loaf, then wrap edges of foil around, pinching the ends together.

Place on a sheet pan and cook for 45 minutes. Fold back foil enough to expose top of meatloaf and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before slicing.

To see another recipe: click here > DRIED BEANS WITH HAM HOCKS

If  you like these recipes and would like to order the book then click here > Cherokee & Southern Cooking by Johnnie Sue Myers


Article Source:  Melissa Reardon – Select Photos:  Christopher Shane

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