Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
I like Lucinda William's music but was surprised to see an article about her in the latest issue of Garden and Gun. I know, only in the South would you find a magazine with "gun" in the title but you should give it a chance. It's honestly a beautiful magazine with well-written, interesting articles and stunning photography. It's one of the few magazines that I read every single article and I always come away fascinated and even a little bit in awe. Anyway, back to my surprise. I wondered why there was an article on her in this magazine. Was Lucinda Southern?
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
- Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
- A Curtain of Green by Eudora Welty
- The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
- The Second Coming by Percy Walker
- Girls in Trucks by newcomer Katie Crouch
Friday, March 20, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Why don't Southern women make good prostitutes?
Too many thank you notes to write.
It kills me every time. Because it's true. A Southerner is taught early on about the art of writing thank you notes. Even if you aren't old enough to pen it yourself, your mom is writing it on your behalf and asking you to scrawl your fledgling autograph on it or scribble a "masterpiece" of thanks. It's not just a rote task though. It is a nice habit of taking a moment to reflect upon someone's graciousness or thoughtfulness. Someone who made you a meal or sent a gift or even shared with you some fruit from their garden has gone to some effort in spite of their very busy life to show you they care, that they're thinking of you. It makes you feel special, even loved at times. And I think one of the nicest things you can do in return is to let them know that you noticed and appreciated it.
Although some people may not have been taught this practice, it's never too late to learn and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the feedback you receive and how easy it really is. I think practicing gratitude is something we'd all benefit from today. I mean really. We have so much. Even in the wake of this economic downturn. It wouldn't hurt to spend a few minutes each day being grateful for food, friends, work, clothes, electricity, etc. I don't mean to be preachy, but I do think making a conscious effort to acknowledge it is good for the individual and collective soul.
The Art of Writing Thank You Notes
1. Get something to write on. As you might imagine, I'm a bit of a stationery fanatic. I'm really digging these notecards from Room Service Home at the moment, but anything is fine. Yes, you can go out and buy a single thank you card from your local Hallmark store, but you can get a box of cards from your local drugstore for less than $10. Or if you want to get creative, go to an arts and crafts store and buy plain notecards or card stock that you can decorate with a rubber stamp.
2. Don't worry about poor penmanship. Typing on computers may have ruined our handwriting but, trust me, your chicken scratch will be endearing to the recipient.
3. Just say thank you. You should acknowledge the gift or the thoughtfulness and say something specific or personal about it. Like, "Thank you, Grandma, for the birthday check. I treated myself to a cook book that I've been wanting. When I cook from it, I'll think of you." It does not have to be a dissertation or fine literature.
4. Put it in the mail as soon as possible. We are all busy, but you should make your thanks a priority.
Is an email thank you note acceptable? Well, it's certainly better than nothing but it really doesn't have the same effect as receiving a note in the mail. I will often send a quick email of thanks right away just to let them know that I received the gift or enjoyed seeing them last night but I'll always follow-up with a formal note that I mail.
I wanted to practice my own advice and spend a few minutes being grateful for my friends who made my weekend so fun. Del, a corporate executive who works her tail off at the office and then cares for her eight month old, had "the girls" over for a homemade supper on Friday. I always feel so loved when someone bakes me a meal. It's primal — someone providing food for you. And we can all use a night off from cooking or cleaning dishes. And it takes extra effort to cook and entertain with a crying baby.
Bret and Tamara hosted a tapas party on Saturday. We all devoured tasty Spanish treats and sipped some excellent wines. Aftering stuffing ourselves, we sat outside by the fire pit and listened to Sam and George play guitar, then came inside to dance to old vinyls when we ran out of firewood, and then progressed to drinking whiskey until the wee hours of the morning.
I was decidedly ungrateful for my headache this morning, but it was outshined by memories of an epic night with friends.
So excuse me now as I go write my thank you notes.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Well, I've made a promise to myself to preserve that Southern hospitality no matter where I live. As I was completing my jog, I passed by a house that had recently been remodeled. I'd never met the owners before and thought it was high time to serve up some of that hospitality and formally welcome them to the neighborhood.
I had just seen an enticing recipe for a sweet potato pound cake (seriously how perfect is that?!) care of Molly Wizenberg of Orangette that was adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott. The picture alone made my mouth water. I was invigorated and went immediately to the grocery store to pick up some sweet potatoes.
And I started making a new cake for myself. . . .
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the walnuts for 7 minutes, until lightly browned; let cool slightly. Coarsely chop and transfer to a bowl.
2. Raise the oven temperature to 450°. On the rimmed baking sheet, toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 10 minutes, until browned in spots.
3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fusilli. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 2 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, beet greens and crushed red pepper and cook, crushing the tomatoes slightly, until the greens are just wilted, 3 minutes.
4. Drain the fusilli, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta, the reserved cooking water and the sliced goat cheese to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, tossing to coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a bowl, garnish with the chopped toasted walnuts, top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.
Perhaps it was beginners luck, but the pasta dish turned out delicious! I do think when you start with the best, freshest ingredients it's hard to go wrong. The toasted walnuts were an amazing garnish, really adding depth to the dish. If I made this again (and I'm sure I will), I think you could add more roasted tomatoes, some shallots or sweet onions, and even more beet greens. Although I love cheese, I would start by halving the amount of goat cheese and then add more to taste. I thought the amount suggested in the recipe overshadowed some of the other ingredients. But Russ and I cleaned our plates! I feel great about not being wasteful with my beet greens and happy to have a new tasty dish to add to the rotation.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I like Facebook. I’m a relatively late adopter but an enthusiastic one. It’s been fun to see how viral social marketing can be. One of my favorite social studies of late is the omnipresent “25 Random Things About Me” being posted. And while I’ve enjoyed reading these fun facts about my friends, I haven’t yet penned my own list of secrets I’m ready to reveal. But it did lead me to join the band wagon and pen this list that feels very intimate to me.
25 Things I Love about the South—
1. Watching heat lightening over the water in the summertime
2. Saying “yes ma’am” and “no, sir” regardless of your age
3. My grandmother’s biscuits
4. Fried chicken and fried green tomatoes (not necessarily together but I wouldn't complain about it)
5. Football as a religion (I love the pride people have in their Team)
6. Bourbon and coke at a football game
7. Getting dressed up to go to the football game
8. Thank you notes
9. Spanish moss hanging from the trees
10. Apalachicola oysters
11. Grits (sublime with salt, pepper and butter and delightful topped with shrimp but never with sugar)
12. Thin fried catfish from Middendorf’s
13. Magnolias, camellias and hydrangeas
14. Cornbread from a cast iron skillet
15. People asking if you want a Coke and then asking what kind
16. Pulled pork BBQ
17. Small batch bourbon
18. A casserole from a neighbor when something goes wrong
19. The white, soft sand beaches of the Gulf
21. Never meeting a stranger
22. Having the “bless her heart” card to play
23. Recycled family names
24. Robert E. Lee and his teachings on how to be a southern gentleman
25. The drawl, y’all!