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Mountain to Table

story by Becky Junkin  •  photography by Jennie Guido and Becky Junkin



“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” — John Muir


I was not an outdoors person. I like to walk; and as a child, I played house outside but that was it. As far as yard work and gardening go, you can count me out. Don’t get me wrong; I want my yard to look nice, but I don’t want to have anything to do with getting it that way. I don’t like getting dirt on my hands, nor do I like to wear gardening gloves—it’s just not my thing.


Then about eight years ago, I discovered hiking; and I fell in love with the outdoors. I love hiking and would move to North Carolina in a heartbeat so that I could hike daily. In fact, the more difficult the hike, the better I like it. This year for vacation we went back and hiked on the Appalachian Trail again; there were times when I did question my sanity as to why on earth I, who was not an outdoors person, fell in love with such an activity where your heart beats so fast and you sweat!


There is no way to describe the peaceful feeling of hiking through nature where the flowers and foliage are absolutely breathtaking, and you can hike for miles and not see anyone.  The area where we stay is rather rural with a population of around 560, and everyone is so friendly, and the food is fresh and delicious. We bought homemade jellies, sorghum, fresh bacon, and flaky biscuits.


Several years ago, I found some recipes in the October 2012 issue of Southern Living that featured sorghum; and they have now become family favorites. They take a little longer, but they are definitely worth it. I use a lot more apple cider in my beans than they call for; in fact, I soaked and cooked them in the cider since I didn’t know what to do with the leftover. It turned out delicious. So now I am down to 2,100 miles left on the Appalachian Trail and not sure if I will complete it in this lifetime, but here’s to trying.



This recipe came from my granddaughter Ramsey who made this while on a camp-out this summer at Camp of the Rising Son. She loved it, and they have fixed it at home since. It is appropriately called “Camp Stew.”


Camp Stew

3 slices bacon

5 pounds ground chuck

3 8-ounce cans tomato sauce

3 16-ounce cans sliced potatoes

1 16-ounce can carrots

1 16-ounce can whole kernel corn

1 pound cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste (or Tony’s Seasoning)


1 pinch dirt (optional, of course)


Cook bacon in pan. Add ground chuck and brown. Drain grease well. Add tomato sauce, stirring well. Next, add all vegetables. Heat thoroughly. Finally, place cheese on top, allowing it to melt. Serve hot over Fritos.



With this one exception, I haven’t eaten meat in sixteen years. However, these ribs are fabulous and worth every bite. It is a little bit longer of a process; but, believe me, it is worth it. The recipe was found on myrecipes.com.


Beef Ribs with Sorghum Glaze

4  2½-pound racks of beef ribs—back ribs (center-cut)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup sorghum syrup

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper


Rinse and pat ribs dry. Remove thin membrane from back of ribs by slicing into it and pulling it off. Stir together sugar and next six ingredients. Massage sugar mixture into rib meat, covering all sides. Wrap ribs tightly with plastic wrap, and place in zip-top plastic freezer bags; seal and chill for twelve hours. Bring sorghum and next two ingredients to a boil in a three-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, six to seven minutes or until mixture is reduced by half. Cool completely or about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place lightly greased wire racks in two aluminum-foil-lined 15x10” jelly-roll pans. Remove plastic wrap from ribs, and place ribs on wire racks. Cover with aluminum foil to seal. Bake for two hours. Remove foil, and bake three more hours or until meat begins to pull away from bones, basting with sorghum mixture every thirty minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees, and bake ten more minutes or until ribs are browned.



These beans are delicious. I added more cider than called for and actually cooked it longer. I got this recipe from the October 2012 Southern Living that focused on sorghum recipes.


Cider Beans

3 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed and sorted

3 cups fresh apple cider

8 ounces thinly sliced salt pork

2 small yellow onions, peeled

1 tablespoon dry mustard

6 tablespoons sorghum syrup

1 teaspoon salt

Hot water


Place pinto beans in a large bowl. Cover with cold water three inches above beans; cover and let soak for twelve hours. Drain beans, and transfer to a Dutch oven. Add apple cider; bring to a boil over medium heat. Gently boil uncovered, and stir occasionally for thirty minutes. Remove from heat; drain, reserving liquid. Layer four ounces of the thinly sliced salt pork in a two-quart Dutch oven. Spoon beans over salt pork; bury onions in beans. Cook dry mustard, sorghum syrup, and salt over medium heat, stirring often, for three minutes or until mustard and salt dissolve. Pour mixture over beans; top with four more ounces of thinly sliced salt pork. Add reserved bean liquid and, if necessary, hot water to cover. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees for three hours, adding hot water as needed. Bake two more hours or until beans are tender.



This is so good and does well on any sandwich. I found this recipe in the same Southern Living as above.


Bacon Marmalade

1/2 16-ounce package thick hickory-smoked bacon slices, diced

1 cup sorghum syrup

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste


Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, about four minutes or until just dark golden brown; drain on paper towels. Wipe skillet clean; return bacon to skillet. Add sorghum; cook, stirring constantly, about one minute. Add vinegar; cook, stirring often, about eight minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add broth and bay leaf; cook for five minutes or until slightly thickened. Add seasonings. Cool for 30 minutes.



No family outing is complete without s’mores! We drop more marshmallows in the fire than actually end up on the cracker, but the kids have a wonderful time. This requires adult supervision regardless of the age, but the memories are well worth it. This particular recipe came from allrecipes.com.



1 large marshmallow

1 graham cracker

1 1.5-ounce chocolate candy bar


Heat the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown and melt. Break the graham cracker in half. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the hot marshmallow. Allow the marshmallow to cool a moment before eating.

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