Making Jam in Marjorie's Kitchen
by Alexandra Edwards — University of Georgia
March 08, 2017 – 10:31
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings became famous in the 1930s for her regional fiction about backwoods Florida—a place full of Crackers, exotic wildlife, and illegal moonshine stills. In novels like The Yearling and in her memoir Cross Creek, she immortalizes pre-tourist Florida as a mystical paradise.
Now, roughly 80 years later, the homestead and orange grove she made famous have become a state park where tourists and students from nearby University of Florida can experience the "slow time" Rawlings described. The park’s rangers have preserved Rawlings’s home and furnishings, replanted her kitchen garden exactly as she described it, keep chickens and ducks as she did, and regularly make bread, jams, and preserves on her original wood-burning stove. The park makes Rawlings’s literary legacy into an interactive domestic exhibition, adapting her 1930s regionalism to speak to 21st century concerns over sustainable food and spiritual homelessness.
But at the same time, the park is itself part fiction—the barn has been rebuilt and a tenant house moved from a neighboring property to stand in for the demolished original—where docents in 1930s period dress gossip and tell tall tales about "Marjorie," now a larger-than-life southern character just like the moonshiners in her books.
In the video clip to the left, park volunteers make "ice box rolls" using Rawlings’s recipe, as part of a "Campfire Cooking" demonstration at the park. Once shaped, the rolls will be cooked in a Dutch oven over an open fire.