Dear Readers,

Much of Chariot on the Mountain takes place in 1840’s Virginia, so classic Southern and Soul Food dishes can provide some delicious menu options to serve at your book club meeting. Here are some authentic recipes to consider.

Jack Ford



Makes 2 (8×4-inch) loaves

Master Dough

  • 1 cup warm water (105° to 110°)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast; let stand until frothy and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. With mixer on low speed, add yeast mixture and melted butter, stirring just until combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes.
  3. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Sandwich Bread
Makes 2 (8×4-inch) loaves

  • 2 recipes Master Dough (recipe precedes), flour increased by ½ cup
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Garnish: old-fashioned oats, wheat bran
  1. Prepare Master Dough, and let rise as directed.
  2. Spray 2 (8×4-inch) cast-iron loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide dough in half; shape halves into 2 loaves, and place in prepared pans. Spray loaves lightly with cooking spray. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°. Using a sharp knife, score top of each loaf. Brush loaves with egg white, and garnish with oats and wheat bran, if desired.
  4. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 1½ dozen

  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or bacon grease
  • 2 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, and sugar. Make a well in center of mixture; add buttermilk, water, ¼ cup vegetable oil, and eggs, stirring well.
  2. In a large skillet, pour oil to a depth of ¼ inch. Heat over medium heat.
  3. Drop batter by 2 tablespoonfuls into hot skillet, and cook until brown and crisp on bottom side; turn with a spatula, and brown other side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer hoecakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Yield: approximately 12 servings

  • (10- to 11-pound) bone-in smoked ham (shank portion)
  • 1 cup sorghum syrup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Garnish: fresh parsley, sautéed apple wedges (see note)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil. Using a sharp knife, lightly score outside of ham. Place ham, cut side down, in prepared pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sorghum, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour
    ½ cup sorghum mixture over ham.
  4. Bake until a meat thermometer registers 145°, approximately 2½ hours, basting occasionally with remaining sorghum mixture. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Place ham on a serving platter; drizzle some of remaining pan juices over ham. Garnish with parsley and apples, if desired.

Note: To sauté apple wedges, cut 2 small cooking apples into 4 wedges each. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add apple wedges, and cook 5 minutes until lightly browned, turning occasionally.