Nancy, a dear friend of mine, posted this picture to her Facebook recently and I immediately turned the deepest shade of green! She explained how a neighboring farmer had left the gift on her doorstep. The thoughtfulness made me wish I lived nearby. It also got me to thinking about how much I love this area. Understand, I am not blind to all that is wrong with the South, but for me it is a love that goes deep enough to appreciate all this region has to offer.
The greatest of which is still good ‘ole SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY. And, yes, even today it still exists.
Being hospitable in the South is often defined by food. Always has been and I have a feeling it always will be. It is one of the things I love about HOME. It is also the easiest way we Southern women know to say, “I love you” or “I appreciate you”.
When the children and I moved to Oxford, Alabama in 2007, our neighbor across the street whom we had not yet met, left a plate of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on the little café table in our carport. When we returned from school that afternoon, the children and I were all smiles. Anderson poured us tall glasses of milk (mine with crushed ice) and we sat down and devoured the still warm cookies.
Looking back some of my sweetest memories involve food.
I remember Mother surprising me in the campus parking lot while I was in college. She was standing next to my vehicle holding a chocolate Coca-Cola birthday cake.
And, the first year I taught elementary school, I returned home and was surprised and delighted to find a pot of chicken and dumplings warming on the stove. My father had come, cooked supper for us and returned home.
My heart hurts with the memories too of all the trips my Grandpa and GrandMosie made to Talladega County when I first moved away from home. They would show up out of-the-blue bearing gifts –always a sweet potato and pumpkin pie. They are still my favorites. (I enjoy them warm, but still prefer a slice after they’ve cooled in the refrigerator, with a glass of sweet tea of course.)
For me, food will always be associated with hospitality or small acts of kindness.
“Be good to strangers; be better to family,” my Grandmother Libby used to say.
In the South, when someone is sick, you take them food. When a family is placed in hardship, folks show up with casseroles, buckets of chicken… desserts. That’s just the way it is around here. And, I like it!
Even at work, I am surrounded by teachers who bring and give –many mornings there is something fresh baked, or a box of doughnuts from Lamar’s waiting in the workroom. And, boy does the faculty miss Ms. Camp and her wonderful zucchini bread since she retired. Though I’m not sure which we miss most –the bread or her contagious laughter!
It seems the older I get, the more rushed life becomes. I hope that in the future this changes, but I doubt it. The one thing I am sure of though is that I want the giving to continue –even when I am tired, even when I am busy.
I hope that looking back years from now, my kids will remember the meals shared with family, will remember the hospitality that is part of their heritage.
If you haven’t had it, you need to ASAP!~
- 2cups sugar
- 2cups all-purpose flour
- 1cup Coca-Cola
- 1 ½cups small marshmallows
- ½cups butter or margarine
- ½cups vegetable oil
- 3tablespoons cocoa
- 1teaspoon baking soda
- ½cups buttermilk
- 1teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½cups butter
- 4tablespoons cocoa
- 6tablespoons Coca-Cola
- 1box (16-ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 2teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. *In a bowl, sift the sugar and flour, then add marshmallows.
In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients; blend well. *Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk then add to batter with eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well and pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and frost immediately.
Coca-Cola Cake Frosting
Combine: 1/2 cup butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil and then pour over confectioners’ sugar. Blend well and add the vanilla extract and pecans. Spread over cake, carefully. When cool, cut into squares and serve.
Elizabeth Mozley McGrady WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a memoir.