Tuesday, January 12, 2010


(sign painted by my grandfather)
 A moment needs to be taken to get a bit organized. I feel like I have jumped into this full steam ahead with lots of ideas floating around and lots of recipes staring at me when I walk in the door every night. And with the addition of the two binders of recipes now residing in my house, I felt the need to make some plans...

At first count, it seems that I have exactly one hundred recipes that I would like to attempt. There are many in the binders that are either magazine clippings or recipes my mother has collected from friends that don't hold any sentimental value for me, so I don't think I'll include these at this point. Then I have the prospect of my grandmother's recipe cards that I haven't seen yet, which I'm sure will be a treasure trove of old-time, traditional southern recipes written in her own hand.

Memories of Granny Lula are limited. I was 8 years old or so when she died and I have no memories of her standing on her own two feet. I only knew her as bed-ridden, her bones like lace, riddled with bone cancer. When she received the diagnosis, they gave her 6 months—as it turned out, she was in bed for the last 3 years of her life with a broken leg that never healed, mostly in excruciating pain and back and forth to Nashville for stints in the hospital for treatments.

But when she was in that huge four-poster cherrywood bed in Sparta, she would hold court; visitors would come by to sit a spell either in her bedroom or on the front porch by the window near her bed, bringing her fresh vegetables and dishes and tales of their own woes. She would cheer up her visitors even though they came to cheer her up and relieve her pain. She loved Boston Celtics basketball (for some unknown reason) and Pat Sajak when he was a weatherman, long before Wheel of Fortune. There was always a bowl of magnolia blossoms on the dresser, and her African violets were by her bed. When we would go back to visit, I have very fond memories of sitting on the floor and making greeting cards which I sold to her visitors for 10 cents each...foreshadowing my later graphic design career, of course. I wish I could have seen her work with her hands. I'm sure she was a force in the kitchen—organized, in charge, efficient. Even in bed, she was in charge of the meals...my mother tells me that Granny would cut up a chicken in the bed, and shuck corn, and string beans, and would tell my mother what to do in the kitchen from the bed. And before she was ill, everything was homemade, everything grown in the garden, or brought to the house by friends and cousins. Like having a farmer's market delivered to your door every day. I remember what I thought was a creamed corn dish, but my mom just informed me that it was simply white corn (a variety rarely found in these parts), cut from the cob and scraped down to a milky pulp, fried with bacon fat and a little salt, pepper, and sugar. It was divine and I can still taste it, so creamy my sense memory thought for sure it was made of cream...

I could go on and on. More to come on Granny Lula once I dive into her original recipes. In the meantime, I've set up a spreadsheet listing all of the recipes I'd like to tackle, with the name of the dish, the category (main dish, appetizer, side dish, etc.), who the recipe came from, the date of my test, and any modifications I make (Yes, you're right, I am totally OCD!)

There's more cooking to do to get through the 100 or so recipes I have to test. This weekend, a dessert for a friend's birthday and possibly the Davis family staple: chicken and rice casserole. Stay tuned!


  1. Not related to your project - how do you get the shelfari widget on your blog and how do you get it to just be cookbooks? I'm new to shelfari and so far it shows everything!

  2. I'm new to Shelfari as well. I literally saw it on another blog the day I started mine; I added the "gadget" and only put cookbooks in it. I haven't been back to the site to tweak my settings or anything. I'll try playing around with it and will let you know what I discover.

  3. Ah! I was beginning to wonder if cheating was the way forward! Thanks!


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