The Foods of Home—by Inez Kelley

  • Pepperoni rolls (no sauce! It is not a pizza sub!)
  • Sweet tea (brewed, not powdered)
  • Spinach on my pizza
  • Fried potatoes and Ramps (wild onions, very strong)
  • Venison loin
  • Slaw dogs (Hot dogs with chili and cole slaw)
  • Blackberry jam
  • Applebutter

This list above are foods I consumed within one week of coming home to West Virginia. The mountain views are gorgeous, the air is clean and we had a snake in our yard. But food brings you home in a way nothing else can. Something about those regional favorites that you can’t get anywhere else just cement the feeling of “home” in your belly.

Even if items were available elsewhere (and some are) they don’t taste the same. We’ve gotten many strange looks when we asked for pepperoni rolls in other places. Most times, people assume it is like a sub with pizza toppings. No. It is a hunk of pepperoni baked into a soft roll. That is it. The greasy perfection of it cannot be matched. Occasionally you will see if offered here with cheddar cheese baked in. Never mozzarella. It stems from when the poor Italian coal miners back in the day needed lunches and the pantry was low. They’d wrap a slab of pepperoni in bread dough, bake it and head to the mines. Being poor can sometimes create something wonderful.

Sweet ice tea… self explanatory. When I ask for sweet tea, I do not want to be offered raspberry tea or unsweetened tea with a sugar packet. BLECH! Sweet tea, all day, every day, everywhere.

Spinach on pizza seems normal to me (chain stores often offer it here) but the only places it was offered elsewhere were ‘gourmet’ pizza shops. And they call us hicks?

Fried potatoes and ramps are pure WV heaven. It stinks, true, but the taste is worth it.

Venison loin. I’ll take it over a steak any day.

Slaw dogs. I craved these while pregnant and while living out of state. Keep your ketchup and mustard.

Blackberry jam from a fair vendor, sold in a mason jar. I bought it by the case before I left and family sent it to us when the supply ran out. My children have NEVER eaten grape jam at home. They call it ‘school jelly’ and hate it.

Applebutter made in a caldron over an open fire, the air flavored with apples and cinnamon, once again sold in mason jars. It is the taste of fall in a glass container. Mild is my preference but my husband Big G likes it spicy enough to scorch his tongue. And in my state, applebutter is one word, not two.

I could go on and on with this list. Sausage gravy and biscuits, fried green tomatoes, rhubarb pie, fried bread, potato candy…

What food says “home” to you? And where do you call “home?”


Should’ve Been Home Yesterday

Sweet as Maple, Stubborn as Hickory and Strong as Oak:


Thirteen years ago, Webb Hawkins and Clay McCreedy were best friends, more like brothers than business partners. Determined to push Hawkins Hardwood into the future, their lives were intertwined on every level. Until Webb came home and realized little Molly McCreedy had grown up.

Stay away from my baby sister. It was the one thing Clay had asked of Webb, but it was a promise Webb couldn’t keep, and his actions did more than ruin their friendship—it changed everything. Now Clay is dead, Molly is pregnant after a night of memories and alcohol, and a guilt-ridden Webb needs to put things right.

As what begins as a marriage in name only slowly grows to include the love Webb and Molly have always kept carefully buried, a series of fires erupts across Black Cherry Canyon. And an infamous eco-terrorist sets his sights on Molly—the ultimate pawn in his vendetta against Hawkins Hardwood. To save one, Webb may have to let the other go

INEZ KELLEY was born and bred in the mountains of West Virginia. She currently resides there with her lumberjack husband, their teenage drama queen, Spawnetta, and the Demolition Duo – Damien and his twin, the Omen.

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2 thoughts on “The Foods of Home—by Inez Kelley”

  1. Heather Brewer says:

    OMG – someone else that eats friend potatos and onions – you should try and add egg to the mix – you scramble it like you would to make scrambled eggs and then pour it over the friend potatoes and onions (ramps). Hasbrowns are good to use in the mix too.

    and you are right – brewed sweet tea, it needs no explanation. We have a Mr. Coffee tea maker and go through a 3 qt picture of sweet tea a night and mine is real “southern sweet tea”. my daughter’s friends used to call it sugar crack tea LOL.

    other comfort foods in our house include:

    granny’s chocolate pie
    chicken and dumplings (made with egg noodles)
    mac & cheese (made with butter – no milk)

  2. Inez Kelley says:

    I will come eat at your house any day! My kids love “Nanny’s mac & CHeese” which is just as you describe and Chicken and noodles is their most requested food. And you CAN’T have potatoes and ramps/onions without eggs, it is sacrilegious.

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