Saluda News & Notations: Beating the winter chills with Brunswick stew

Published 8:00 am Friday, January 11, 2019

“Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?”

~ Pat Conroy

Here lately, I’ve been calling this old house a meat locker, as I find myself colder and colder each passing day.

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In an effort to keep warm, I drag the vintage crockpot out from underneath the counter, where I’ve stuffed it until needed.

Last weekend, it was time for homemade spaghetti sauce — the kind that becomes more eye-ball-rolling delicious as it cooks and thickens. I’d stopped by Thompson’s Store for ground chuck to make meatballs.

River sniffed the air the whole time, moving closer and closer as the meatballs and sauce simmered. Dogs know!

Something else that’s perfect for the January chill is Brunswick stew.

In years past, I’ve written about the Brunswick stew my elementary school made every year for the fall barbecue fundraiser. As a kid, I remember we were given lists to take home. Everybody contributed toward the ingredients: bags of potatoes, corn, cabbages, sugar, lima beans, chickens, homemade desserts.

Nowadays, that would be unthinkable.

When the barbecue was started back in the ‘40s, people sent live chickens (not sure if pigs got sent live). That was before my time, but I find myself wondering if the chickens rode on the old school bus, and if any escapees made it out the windows.

Later on, packaged ones were sent.

Can you imagine that now? The health inspectors would have a meltdown! Then a lockdown.

Huge steaming pots of fragrant thick-red Brunswick stew (a highly guarded secret recipe) were cooked in the old cafeteria building. Open pits of barbecue were tended by men overnight; women got slaw-making duty.

I’ve tried to re-create that Brunswick stew over the years, and almost, just almost, have come close to my childhood memory of it. Nothing can quite get there from here, though.

Sometimes, at a barbecue joint, I’ll order a bowl, just to see if their stew attains star status. Sometimes,  it’s a watery concoction, sometimes a bit thicker, but never the ultimate prize.

I’ll probably keep trying different approaches: a bit of this, a bit of that…by spring, will be Brunswick-stewed out!

Feel free to invite me over for dinner if you’ve got THE stew, Dear Reader. River says he’ll second that notion!

• Saluda Welcome Table resumes in February.

• Saluda Community Land Trust would benefit from your donations this New Year or your time as a volunteer for their many community projects. Contact SCLT at 828-749-1560 or visit

• Art Notes: Saluda Business Association is accepting applications for the 16th annual Saluda Arts Festival on May 18. Entry deadline is March 15; download an application at (link to the arts festival page).

• The Saluda Center Annual Gala, 64 Greenville St., will be from 6-9 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20.

• Ward’s Grill will have free breakfast from 7-11 a.m. for all military veterans on Thursday.

• Saluda Living in Place will have Jill Hart speak about “Downsizing with Heart” at 10 a.m. Thursday at Saluda Fire Station on Greenville Street. At 2 p.m., certified Ageless Grace instructor Donna Humphries will have an Ageless Grace program. SLIP also offers a veterans’ breakfast the first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. at the fire station.

• Happy January Birthday to Nora Parks Anderson, Brandy Bradley, Alex Bardos, Carolyn Ashburn, Scott Kinard, Donna Bond, Greer Eargle, Wyatt Alan Pace, Irma Anderson, Paul Aaybe, Phyllis Arrington, Kenneth Justus, Cheryl Harbin, Avery Lena Mintz and Connie Scicluna.

Thank you for reading this column; as ever, the goal is to make you feel like you’re enjoying small town life in a friendly mountain town called Saluda. Feel free to contact me at, 828-749-1153 or visit