Kentucky food traditions

Beaten Biscuits Board

This beaten biscuits board was given to my mother by Hugh Wood of eastern Kentucky in 1972.

My mom made a few cookbooks and shared her recipe for beaten biscuits in those cookbooks. It is the recipe my sisters and I grew up with and what my dad remembers from his youth. Mom passed away a long time ago, so we continue her recipes. I am the one who makes the beaten biscuits for the family. I have made YouTube videos explaining how to make them, and I’ve shown different beaten biscuit boards. (We have always used he word “board,” although some people call it a “break”). The beaten biscuits we make are supposed to be soft and not hard. They have a distinctive look from the fork holes that let the air escape. If you look online, you will notice different looks. For this reason, I have named our type Western Kentucky Beaten Biscuits, as my father is from Hopkinsville.

Growing up, our parents bought a beaten biscuits board for all of us and had them motorized with a sewing machine pedal. I have bought one for each of my kids as well.

My mom and older sisters would do demonstrations with a board on the Belvedere in the 1970s.  I try to keep the art of beaten biscuits alive! I am so attached to my board that it has moved with me out west, even though it is very heavy. I have two old beaten biscuit cutters that I keep in very safe places. I treasure the memories of beaten biscuits in our life like waking to the sound of the machine’s whir when I was little, and running downstairs wanting to watch and help my mom as she made them.

I also love their taste! They are time consuming to make, but worth it!

Frances Lussky


Simple Snacks

I have been working on a publication for several years about quick-fix snacks that are never found in cookbooks. It concerns the Western Kentucky homemade concoctions that have no recipe, in no cookbook, and were passed down from families. I believe that they are an important part of our history that should be preserved.  The simple snacks are comfort foods usually  made just to tide us over.

This is a draft of a brochure I created inviting participants to send in their homemade snacks for the project.

Jean Merrell, Madisonville


Kraut Cutter

This cabbage shredder and box belonged to Mary Ruth Slaton, whose diary is in the Kentucky Historical Society collections and used in the depression-era kitchen of our “A Kentucky Journey” permanent exhibit. Mary Ruth mentions using some of the items from this collection in her daily journal. For example, in an entry dated Aug. 7, 1939, she mentions canning kraut in the afternoon. Her cabbage shredder was most likely used in this task.


Pouring Molasses

Man pouring freshly-made sorghum molasses into buckets ca. 1940-50 in Sebree (Webster Co.), Ky. Ohio River Portrait Project, 1990PH02, contributed by Mary Edith Pritchett.