Recently, my daughter’s best friend included me in a group text, whining about what to cook for her weekly prayer group. She, like many of us, felt too busy, too tired and too overwhelmed at the list of “to do’s” ahead of her. The idea of being a creative, thrifty culinary whiz every Thursday night created a Pinterest hangover with a hankering to sleep in and mope. Like every good Southern mom, hip with the texting, and even quicker with sage advice, I succinctly texted: Suck in your stomach and put some color on.
I immediately got many replies from the group text from LOL to HAHA. to what does #@$% that mean? What I meant is to stand tall, put your best foot forward, smile and make sure your food has lots of good color. Think about it; a beautiful bowl of fresh greens tossed with sliced red and green apples, pecans, and goat cheese can take five minutes to create. Want to add some fall color? Cream of pumpkin soup, cream of butternut squash soup, back bean and sweet potato chili, you name it, add an orange veggie to any dish and you will sure to please just about anyone who shows up at your home. Put some color on. Less is more, and grits meet grace; all these good Southern phrases work in life and the kitchen.
We in the South know the basics of good entertaining, and even on our worst days we provide a smile, a monogrammed napkin and a glass of tea. This says more than welcome, it says we value our past, and we want to treasure our future. Our menu, with good fall color adds our culture from fried okra to sweet potato pie. Roasted veggies in a beautiful autumn bowl and we are reminded that our harvests are real and not Pilgrim folklore. We have not left our roots behind in the fast food line.
As the holidays approach, the casserole dishes line up like the cars at the antique road show, and we as Southerner’s, Bless the Hearts of our neighbors, our co-workers, and politicians and our own families as only family’s can do. So, despite our schedules, our views, we come together and sit a spell, and start with conversations about the weather, to the food on our plate, and to the next time we can all pull away from our busy lives and remember the importance of friends and family.
And we must remember those moments with the kids running around asking for one more cookie, and our Uncle sneaking one more totty, and our spouse kicking us under the table as a sign to pack up the dishes and go. Life revolves around those moments. Let’s not forget to teach the next generation how to replicate the southern recipes and southernisms from how to cook the corn bread dressing, the carrot salad, the upside down pineapple cake to dealing with a day we would rather have end before it has begun. Some days, our recipes for success are the southernisms that push us forward. Our lives are rich with heritage and meaning and we pass on our southern integrity in many ways. May we preserve our South one recipe at a time, whether it be for the kitchen or for the heart.
Tricia Stearns is the market manager of the Peachtree City Farmers Market, ptcfarmersmarket.org, a Realtor with Prudential Georgia Realty and a mom of three grown daughters. You can read her blog at www.purpleokra.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.