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The Food Guy: West Virginians featured in food photo contest

Photo credit: Sean Hyde
This shot of a mouth-watering prime rib from Paterno’s won second runner-up in last year’s “Appalachian Appetite” photo contest.
Photo credit: Robert Maslowski
Appalachian Cough Syrup. Guaranteed to make you forget that tickle in your throat.

You may remember this time last year when I issued a call for my West Virginia readers to enter their best food shots in a new “Appalachian Appetite” photo contest. Sponsored by The Revivalist blog, the competition’s purpose was to shine a light on traditional Appalachian food and perhaps help preserve some of those recipes in the process.

Not only did you respond, but Sean Hyde’s photo of prime rib from Paterno’s was awarded second runner-up in the contest — and two other West Virginians submitted shots that generated lots of interest as well.

Robert Maslowski — husband of new Sunday Gazette-Mail food contributor Susan Maslowski and an occasional instructor of Appalachian food and culture at Marshall University — entered a photo showing a jar of Appalachian “cough syrup” made with Jack Daniel’s Whiskey and Florida lemons imported by Forks of Cheat Winery in Morgantown.

“They were the largest, juiciest lemons I ever had, so I used them in a cough remedy I have made for years,” Robert told me, adding that he liked the photo because he thought it was a great representation of Appalachian culture. He shares his recipe with us this week.

“You can make this now and take it when the first symptoms appear,” he advised. “With the honey and alcohol, it will only improve with age.”

Mike Costello submitted a photo of food on a slate platter that was served at a pop-up dinner he and his partner, Amy Dawson, hosted at Lost Creek Farm in Harrison County last year.

“We’re renovating a historic farm and have de-constructed several fallen buildings that had slate tile roofs,” he explained.

“We’ve salvaged as much as we can from the farm’s original structures, and have been known to plate food on these tiles. The ‘Lost Creek Farm Slate Platter Special’ is our own twist on the standard ‘Blue Plate Special’ you might have traditionally found at a diner.”

Meals served on those slates are often inspired by ethnic flavors because he thinks it’s important to showcase the state’s diverse culinary influences.

“Spanish cooking is just one of the many regional influences I draw from. As the regional and national conversation about Appalachian food intensifies — and as food traditions from our area make their way into trendy restaurants across America — I think it’s especially important that we challenge the stereotypical idea of Appalachia being a region defined by homogeneity, and portray the diversity of the communities that have made great contributions to our mountain culture,” he added.

“For the local Italian, Greek, Spanish, Lebanese and many other ethnic communities that still exist in West Virginia, food is one part of the culture that is still very much alive, and that diversity of our foodways must be part of the Appalachian story we tell the rest of the world.”

Hear, hear!

The “Appalachian Appetite” photo contest is back again, this time celebrating family recipes — dishes that have been passed down through generations, maybe your grandmother’s chow-chow recipe or those hand pies still made on the family farm.

“These dishes help define who we are,” said Mark Lynn Ferguson, who hosts the contest and writes The Revivalist blog. “Ones that bring back memories as soon as we smell them.”

Ferguson’s grandfather was a hunter and fur trader in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, so wild game was served all the time. This week, he shares his family’s recipe for rabbit hash.

“When I make this dish, I experience something my grandpa experienced, taste what he tasted. But not just him. He learned to hunt from his daddy, who learned to hunt from his. This goes a long way back.”

He said it’s the same with all of our family recipes. They connect us to our heritage — and through this contest, they might even help you win great prizes.

Everyone who submits a photo of a dish that’s been in their family for more than two generations is automatically entered to win a two-night getaway at the historic Mast Farm Inn nestled in North Carolina’s secluded Valley Crucis.

In addition, two runners-up will win one-year subscriptions to Smoky Mountain Living, which celebrates life throughout the Southern Appalachians. The magazine also will showcase the three top-voted photos in an upcoming issue.

The contest runs through Oct. 10. For more information and full contest rules, visit

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Speaking of contests, the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, which includes Charleston as one of nine featured cities nationwide, has just launched a recipe sweepstakes that it hopes will help show people how easy it can be to prepare fresh seafood at home on a weekly basis.

From now through Oct. 21, Kanawha Valley residents are encouraged to share a photo of a seafood dish prepared using five ingredients or less (not counting spices or garnishes) on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #HealthyHeartPledge and #SNPSweepstakes. At the end of the competition, 10 lucky winners will be randomly selected to win a $250 gift card.

For more information and a full list of contest rules, visit

▪ ▪ ▪

As promised, I made it down to the Riverside Anchor and had that Pip Squeak last week. And it was good. So good.

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by email at You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy.”

Granny Murr’s Cough Remedy (Appalachian Cough Syrup)

Fifth of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

1 pint honey

1 dozen lemons, thinly sliced glass container

Pour whiskey into container and add honey. Stir well.

Add lemon slices and cover. Let stand for 6 weeks.

Take out lemon slices and reserve for use in iced tea. Pour liquid into a glass jar and cover. Store and use as needed.

H.K. Ferguson’s Wild Rabbit Hash

1 large rabbit (wild or humanely raised)

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion, divided

1 cup chopped celery, divided

2 Tbsp. flour

Toast or biscuits

salt and pepper, to taste

Clean and quarter rabbit. Soak meat in water with teaspoon of salt overnight.

Drain salt water, and then boil quarters in fresh water until meat will come off the bone, about 5 minutes. Pull meat from bone and, in chunks or shredded according to your taste, fry in iron skillet with tablespoon of vegetable oil until cooked through and just starting to brown.

Remove meat and add chopped onion and celery to skillet, sautéing until tender. Return meat to skillet and add two tablespoons of flour and two cups of water. Cover and simmer, stirring every few minutes until the juices thicken to a gravy-like state.

Add salt and pepper, to taste, and serve over toast or biscuits.

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