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Updated: Nov 6, 2022

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HEARTS Harvest Reflections - November Program Change - December’s Winter Wisdom - Gratitude

HEARTS Harvest Reflections

Since the launch of the HEARTS (History, Ecology, Art, Reunion, Trails, Store) happenings this past February, it has been a beautiful whirlwind of amazing local history, new friends, renewed connections, magical music, transformative art, and stories throughout the year. Even the historic architecture whispers stories to our guests. Surrounded by the brilliant yellow paw paw and pecan leaves and the blazing reds and ambers of maples under the crisp blue sky, October’s HEARTS Harvest was no exception. The program opened with the soulful sounds of the Stroller Singers of Torrance AME Zion Chapel Church, a truly awesome group of talented singers.

We then traveled back in time learning about harvest foods from the Native Americans to the 20th century, and how our foods reflect, connect, and communicate Southern identities and culture.

Dr. Ashli Stokes presented Carolina Crops: Cuisine and Cultural Meanings and shared how food shapes who we are. She explored stories and symbolism around food and how food is both personal and a regional identity simultaneously, how food conjures memories and deeper connections too. She discussed how food conversations connect people and reflect the culture, and also how it has changed customs throughout time. An example shared was of a rural mountain woman being visited by missionaries and told to use white flour because it was better, shifting cultures to believing certain foods were superior to others and socially less than acceptable than their traditional methods.

The pound cake was referenced as a personal recipe to which almost everyone is likely to have a connection. Dr. Stokes shared a sampling of her family’s recipe for a delicious black-walnut pound cake with the audience. She facilitated a mindful sensory moment as the audience savored her sweet and buttery confection with the perfect black walnut hint, and shared memories of the tastes together. She kindly shared her family recipe by her stepmom, Brenda Quesinberry with us for others to enjoy as well.

Aunt Brenda's Black Walnut Poundcake
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
5 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups sugar
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup black walnuts

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Cream together shortening and butter. Add sugar gradually until mixed well. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix after each. Add alternately flour and milk. Before adding all the flour, reserve one tablespoon to coat walnuts with reserved flour so they won't settle to the bottom. Add vanilla and stir in nuts. Don't over-mix batter. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, and turn out on rack to finish cooling.

Dr. Stokes is prominently involved in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Garden’s new Carolina Heritage Trail and Gardens which features purposeful plants specific to historic time periods.

Many plants were brought to our region from many cultures and these gardens share their stories. For the Harvest event, Dr. Stokes focused on five prominent foods through the ages: the American chestnut, the cowpea/black-eyed pea, watermelon, peanut, and corn. You can learn the fascinating stories of these Southern staples on the handout below.

Harvest Through The Ages Handout 10-15-2022
Download PDF • 788KB

Abigail Jennings, HEARTS organizer and Dr. Ashli Stokes, UNCC Professor of Communications Studies

Following Dr. Stokes, we were honored to present musical artists David Childers and The Serpents with special guests Mark Scott and Randolph Lewis. Mark Scott, keyboardist for the Stroller Singers, happened to be sound-checking when David Childers and The Serpents arrived, and they played a song together at sound-check. It sounded great and everyone was having fun, so in a rare and spontaneous moment, Mark sat in on keyboards for the entire set. In addition, Randolph Lewis, HEARTS organizer and guitarist for the Mike Strauss Band sat in on electric guitar for a moving and memorable show.

November Program Change

November brings exciting news and change for our November HEARTS event. The good news is that needed rehabilitation work at Cedar Grove is commencing with the installation of a new whole-house HVAC system, providing climate control for comfort and recommended humidity levels to protect and preserve the 1831 Greek Revival masterpiece and its many artifacts. Due to this work, we are postponing the planned November event to a later date. We’ve been making some wonderful new Native American connections that we look forward to sharing with our HEARTS friends in the future. The Store is open in November and it's a beautiful time to visit the oldest standing store in North Carolina, the Hugh Torance House and Store, which is open for tours, artisan crafts, and sundries every Sunday in November. For details and tour reservations, please visit the Events page.

Mark Your Calendars for December’s Winter Wisdom

On December 10, 2022, we’re honored to feature Margaret “Chuck” Basinger at our HEARTS happening, “Winter Wisdom.” Chuck is the fifth-generation descendant of Hugh Torance, and the fourth-generation to Cedar Grove’s first Torrance family, James and Isabella Torrance. She will be sharing her holiday memories with us through the pages of 'Tis the Season with Belle and Chuck, her recently published book she authored with her mother, Belle Banks. Copies of the book will be offered for purchase, and Mrs. Basinger will be available for book signings and visiting too. As with every HEARTS happening, we’ll be sharing community connections, nature, and the arts, so please mark your calendars for this special event. More details to come soon, as well as other special holiday happenings at the Hugh Torance House and Store.


The Matt Postle Quartet featuring Matt Postle and Kel Williams and Gustavo Cruz and Lois Majors, students from Jazz Charlotte entertained September's Gala guests.

We are grateful to have connected to you this year, and hope to see you soon. HEARTS happenings and the operation of the Hugh Torance House and Store (HTHS) are only possible through the sharing of time, treasure, and talents by dedicated volunteers, HEARTS Circle members, and donations. All proceeds benefit HTHS’s efforts to further the HEARTS mission of historic preservation, ecological conservation, and forging community connections in our region. To make a gift today, Giving Tuesday, or an end of year charitable donation, please click here to Give. We greatly appreciate your support, and we wish you a wonderful fall and holiday season.

We celebrated our members with our first HEARTS Circle Gala this past September, and we are looking forward to celebrating again with our members soon. We are grateful for your support!

HTHS is a private 501c3 nonprofit. Group tours and volunteer opportunities for stewardship, preservation, and conservation are available. For more information, visit, email, or call (704) 920-9931. The historic Hugh Torance House and Store is located at 8231 Gilead Road, Huntersville, NC 28078.

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