Southern Wednesday

Submitted by Christi


Well, all of the Mardi Gras decorations come down today. My husband is sad about this. He really enjoys the Mardi Gras season. He is ready to have another party! He suggested St. Patrick’s, I countered with Kentucky Derby. I think the first Saturday in May will be sufficient time for our friends to recover from the Mardi Gras party (not to mention me).

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for family celebrations in that time as well. I love the Easter season – definitely family time. The return of Spring! It makes me happy just to think of the blooming dogwoods and redbuds and daffodils and forsythia.

Okay, I’ve talked myself into the mood for more party planning but it will have to be after Easter. I think I’ll go out and buy some seeds to get started for the Spring and then start thinking about a Kentucky Derby party!

Today’s Lagniappe: Baked Potato Soup

12 slices bacon
2/3 cup margarine
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups milk
4 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
  • In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  • Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Southern Chaos

Submitted by Christi
chaotic daisy

chaotic daisy

I see that I forgot to add my daily lagniappe yesterday and, in fact, didn’t really write a post yesterday. Ever had one of those chaotic days when you just couldn’t get it together? Yesterday was one of those days for me. Hopefully today will be better – I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I am today from my computer that it is sitting on my dining room table while the freshly cleaned carpet in the office area is drying. The office furniture has created quite the little obstacle course as it is sitting in the dining area as well.

Today, I need to start cooking for the Mardi Gras party. I need to make the king cake the pecan praline cheesecake, the cheese olive roulades, the mini crawfish pies and the shrimp balls. I could probably do some of this tomorrow after my morning seminar.

I sound like I’m complaining but I really do love cook and I’m really glad that my carpet is clean and I’m happy to be doing the seminar and I’m really happy to be having the party. I think what I need to do is just take a break, have a cup of coffee and a slice of my delicious banana nut bread and read for about 30 minutes to let my mind kind of settle.

I’m currently reading the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross. Just the kind of book I need right now. Thank goodness it isn’t one of Daniel Silva’s books in the Gabriel Allon series. I love those books but they are not books that would help settle my mind.

Okay, maybe I can turn chaos into calm.

Today’s Lagniappe: Brennan’s Bananas Foster
Yummy and easy to make.

* ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
* 1 cup brown sugar
* ½ teaspoon cinnamon
* ¼ cup banana liqueur
* 4 bananas, cut in half
lengthwise, then halved
* ¼ cup dark rum
* 4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

Southern Daddy Comments

Submitted by Christi


I have enjoyed so much reading comments and emails about the Southern Daddy-isms post. It is amazing to me how many lives my Daddy’s life touched. I believe he touched so many lives because he cared about people. I remember when he was in the hospital before he died, telling me how it is important that people know you care about them.

I have taught etiquette classes about what fork to use and how to introduce people but I think that what Daddy said is probably the essence of grace and good manners – care about people. I continue to be amazed at how blessed I am to have the people in my life that I have and have had.

I think the caring aspect is what “Southern Hospitality” is all about. A smile and a wave to a stranger in passing, showing up with a casserole in times of trouble, making people feel welcome in our homes.

Here is a Southern challenge for you: show kindness to at least one stranger a day for one week.

Today’s Lagniappe:  My Favorite Banana Nut Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream sugar and butter, add eggs, beat well. Sift in flour, soda, cinnamon and cloves, beat well. Mix in bananas and nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees.

Great with a hot cup of coffee!

Pics of the Southern Ice

Submitted by Christi

Some of the damage so far and it is still coming down. The crashes we keep hearing are terrible. The power was out for about 2 hours. Thank God it wasn’t any longer. Hopefully it will stay on now. – Christi



Southern Ice

Submitted by Christi


I woke up this morning to an icy wonderland. It is eerily quite. No cars driving past, no one out walking their dogs. Every now and then I here the crash of tree branches breaking and falling to the ground. This is the first Winter storm this year but it is doing a lot of damage. I just hope we don’t lose power. I’m making beef stew today. If we lose power, I can at least heat it up on my gas stove. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

Today’s Lagniappe: Beef Stew

Lightly dredge 2 lb. of stew meat in flour. Brown the meat in a little oil in the bottom of a dutch oven. When the meat is brown, add a couple of potatoes and 3 or 4 carrots that have been cut into bite size chunks 1 can of beef broth, 1 lg. can of tomato sauce, 2 cups red wine, a few tablespoons of Worcestershire, garlic powder, salt and pepper (to taste).  Bring to a boil and then simmer for a couple of hours. Serve with cornbread.

Sorry for the vague measurements. I am trying to write fast in case we lose power.

Impromtu Southern Party

Submitted by Christi


When you need to entertain at the drop of a hat, what would you serve? For some crazy reason, I think about this a lot. I have a vision that 12 people could show up unexpectedly on my doorstep and I could entertain them beautifully without blinking an eye. In real life, I might could handle 2 people if they were visually impaired enough to not see dust on my furniture or dishes in my sink. I could feed them cheese and crackers and maybe a glass of wine (if not wine, I could probably come up with some lemonade).In my dream world, everything would be spotless and I would have everything on hand. I think having these items on hand would work:

  • Sausage cheese balls and cheese and olive roulades and cheese straws served on a pretty silver tray (that doesn’t need polishing)  I would just happen to have these in the freezer, I would just pop them in the oven for a few minutes and serve piping hot.
  • A variety of wines, soft drinks, etc. with sparkling clean glasses and garnishments at the ready.
  • A variety of cheese and fruit or antipasto fixings that I would throw on a tray and they would land in an artful arrangement that would wow my guests.
  • Fresh flowers arranged beautifully.

Of course, I would also serve these with my flawlessly manicured hands in my beautiful hostess attire without a hair out of place.

Luckily for me, I have never had 12 people show up at my door unexpectedly. I have had 2 show up occasionally and I managed just fine. Thanks to my mother for teaching how to be a good hostess, I know how to smile and put things on pretty plates or trays and wing it.

You know, I could probably put some of those things in my freezer, just in case . . .

Today’s Lagniappe: Sausage Cheese Balls

2 cups Bisquick
1 pound hot sausage
1-1/2 cup medium or sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Roll mixture into balls a little smaller than a golf ball. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes.

Christi’s note: I like to add garlic powder, a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce, a dash of cayenne and sometimes a little dried parsley to this mixture.

Southern Kudzu

Submitted by Christi

flowering kudzuI recently read the book Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes by Cathy Holton. It is a pretty funny read, especially when it gets to the part about the Kudzu Ball. Back in the day, when I was involved in politics, a woman called me in a panic about kudzu. “It’s taking over everything!” The poem Kudzu by James Dickey says:

In Georgia the legend says,
That you must close your windows
At night to keep it out of the house
The glass is tinged with green, even so . . .

The kudzu vine grows as much as a foot a day in Summer months, covering everything in its path. Well, in the South, we are nothing if not resourceful. We have found many uses for kudzu. Here are just a few:

Basket makers have found that the rubber-like vines are excellent for decorative and functional creations. Ruth Duncan of Greenville, Alabama makes over 200 kudzu baskets each year and says she doesn’t mind that people call her the “Queen of Kudzu.”

Regina Hines of Ball Ground, Georgia, has developed unique basket styles which incorporate curled kudzu vines. She weaves with other vines as well, but says that kudzu is the most versatile.

Nancy Basket of Walhalla, South Carolina, makes paper from kudzu which she uses in colorful collages. Her designs vary from geometric shapes to images of rural life and Native American themes.

Diane Hoots of Dahlonega, Georgia has developed a company to market her kudzu products which include kudzu blossom jelly and syrup, kudzu baskets, and books. Her book, Kudzu: The Vine to Love or Hate, co-written with Juanita Baldwin, is an in-depth study of the South’s love/hate relationship with the vine. The book includes recipes and basket making instructions.

Henry and Edith Edwards of Rutherfordton, North Carolina have found many uses for kudzu over the past 30 years. Henry produces over 1,000 bales of kudzu hay each year on his Kudzu Cow Farm. The hay is high in nutritive value, but many people have found kudzu difficult to cut and bale. Henry says the secret is to “cut it low and bale it high.”

Edith Edwards makes deep-fried kudzu leaves, kudzu quiche, and many other kudzu dishes. She found recipes in The Book of Kudzu: A Culinary and Healing Guide by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, and thought this was a good use for a plentiful resource. She has demonstrated kudzu cooking for clubs, schools, and visitors to the Knoxville World’s Fair.

Kudzu blooms the end of July through September. It has attractive bunches of elongated, delicate purple flowers with a fragrance reminiscent of grapes. Use the blossoms to make jelly.

To cook with kudzu, Choose only the smallest, most tender leaves. Large leaves are too tough. Even the small leaves have plenty of body. Fresh and tender, the leaves have a flavor similar to that of a green bean. That’s because kudzu is a member of the legume family.

Wilma Clutter says: “Kudzu quiche and deep-fried kudzu leaves are wonderful. I’ve also eaten small kudzu leaves marinated in Italian dressing served on tofu sandwiches.”

Lagniappe: A recipe for Kudzu Rice Quiche

6 servings

4 eggs
2 cups cooked rice
½ cup finely grated Swiss cheese
½ pound fresh, young kudzu leaves
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cottage cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan
6 tablespoons heavy cream or evaporated milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
6 drops hot sauce

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie pan or use an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. In a medium bowl, beat 1 egg. Add rice and Swiss cheese. Stir well. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan, making a crust. Refrigerate until ready to fill and bake.
• Cook kudzu leaves in a small amount of water, press to remove moisture and chop fine. Add butter and set aside.
• In a medium bowl, beat remaining 3 eggs. Stir in salt, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, hot sauce and nutmeg. When it’s blended, stir in Kudzu. Pour into prepared rice crust. Bake 30-35 minutes or until firm.

A Southern Winter Garden

Submitted by Christi

I’m ready for Spring. At least in my mind. I used to really dislike Winter but I have learned to enjoy the shape of bare trees and the birds that visit my bird feeders. I also enjoy browsing through garden catalogs and planning what I would like to plant. I love to plant roses, perennials and herbs. I also love to plant a small vegetable garden. There is nothing like harvesting the first home grown tomato of the season. Just thinking about it warms me up.

Gardening has helped me enjoy all of the seasons. It has helped me accept the cycles of life. I know that even though it is cold today, that trees and plants and seeds are preparing for sprouting new leaves and blooms. Soon the daffodils and crocus will pop up and before we know it, everything will be green and lush. In the meantime, enjoy the shape of the branches in a beautiful tree. Feed the birds and enjoy their entertaining antics at your bird feeders. To everything there is a season . . .

Enjoy these pictures of birds in my yard.

bird at feederbird7bird3bird5bird21

Mind Your Southern Manners!

Submitted by Christi

I recently read an article stating that 2008 saw an increased amount of rudeness. Surely, they can’t be talking about Southerners. I’m sure you could find rude Southerners around, bless their hearts, but, hopefully, they are not the rule. Maybe in 2009, we should strive to promote Southern hospitality and manners. Even if you aren’t Southern, you can at least act like it. Here are the rules (adapted from the Facebook group “Ain’t Nothin’ Like Southern Hospitality”).

The Rules

  1. “Sir” and “Ma’am” are not just for occasional usage.
  2. Men hold doors for women/ seniors.
  3. If someone else needs a seat, you give them your seat, and you don’t complain.
  4. “Being a good Samaritan” is not just a saying, its an understood way of life.
  5. “Darling”, “Sweetheart”, “Honey”, and “Dear” are used, for the most part, as endearing expressions.
  6. You can dislike someone as much as you want, but when you see them you act cordially.
  7. When you bump into someone you say “pardon” or “excuse me.”
  8. Waving at people you don’t know or asking how they’re doing is not to be looked down upon.
  9. You can take time to slow down. Slower paced lives are happier lives.
  10. Say “God bless you” when someone sneezes.
  11. When in doubt, be as polite as possible. Only confront others when confronted.
  12. People hug one another, its OK.
  13. If you disagree with something, be polite. “Oh….I see,” or “Oh…thats nice, Darlin” will suffice.
  14. Saying grace at the table, even to yourself, should not be looked upon with disdain.
  15. The only place where cars still stop (even on the highway) for funerals.
  16. ALL people have the ability to behave like Southerners, though not necessarily recreate the accent.