The Winding Stream - The Carters, The Cashes and the Course of Country Music

Here we are, squarely in the throes of the holiday season.  The older I get, the more I understand that the essence of this time of year is just spending as much quality time as possible with friends and family.  Hanging, cooking, eating.  Repeat.

With the holidays in mind, I recently turned to my copy of Mother Maybelle’s Cookbook, written by June Carter (introduction by Johnny Cash!). This find – it’s out of print – was given to me by a great supporter of The Winding Stream film project, Vikki Mee of the Faerie Godmother Fund (Vikki is a women’s film advocate and philanthropist).  This cookbook’s extra special because it’s autographed by the Carter Sisters – June, Helen and Anita.  And it’s not only full of Mother Maybelle’s recipes, but also great stories of the lives of these extraordinary women.  A real treasure no matter how you look at it.

So, since it’s that time of year, I’m going to share one of Mother Maybelle’s recipes from the book, Christmas Hermit Cake.

If you make it, get back to me with how it came out!   Happy holidays, everyone.


2 cups (4 sticks) butter

1-1/2 pounds brown sugar

6 eggs

5 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Juice of one lemon

2 pounds dates

All-purpose flour (to coat dates and nuts)

1 pound English walnuts, shelled

3 pounds pecans, shelled

Preheat over to 250 degrees. Grease and flour one 9-inch Bundt pan. Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs. Add flour and baking powder; combine thoroughly. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and lemon juice.

Cut dates into small pieces (about 3 pieces to each date). Coat date pieces with flour to separate them and to prevent then from sticking together. Break walnuts and pecans into quarters and coat with flour. Add nuts and dates to cake batter; mix well.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s). The cake does not rise much, so pan(s) maybe be filled rather full. Bake 3 hours.