About Me

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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

Another recipe from Miss Betty's* Daily Diary Cookbook


This was everyone's favorite! Mother could make divinity like nobody's business! I must warn you though: even though you now have her recipe, you will never make it as good as she did! :) I know this for a fact because everyone who got the recipe always came back and said, "I made it just like you said, but mine just isn't as good as yours!"


So, here it is...especially wonderful at Christmas!


Divinity Candy
(typically just called: Divinity)


Ingredients


2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1 cup nut meats (pecans)
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup water


Directions


Bring water to a boil. Add sugar and Karo syrup and boil until stringy. Beat egg whites until stiff and gradually add sugar/syrup mixture while continuing to stir quickly. Add nut meats and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. This recipe is best done in the winter when the weather is not hot and humid.




(Miss Betty was my mother. These are the recipes I found in her penmanship, written in a Sexton's Daily Diary from c. 1955.)



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday's Talk About the Book

I remember when I was first starting out in this writing thing. I wrote for hours a day. The following day I edited what I'd written the day before and then I'd write some more. The next day, repeat. And so on and so forth. I had no other agenda but to write. There was no PRing going on. No worries about corporate finances. No meetings to attend. No social media, etc. Just the writing.

I kinda miss those days.

When a book is published, the focus shifts from "only writing" to "marketing what you have written." Color me guilty. I do this because I have to. And, because I want my work to sell. Not so I can make a lot of money (though I wouldn't complain, I don't think) but because the whole point of the writing was so that people could read...could grow...could ask questions and draw closer to God in whatever genre I chose to display Him (fiction or nonfiction).

So, here's the latest...my ABOUT ME page. And, if you visit it, you can "vote" and maybe mine will be the face used as the ABOUT ME poster girl. Wouldn't that be...fun? I think it is!

So, here it is...


Will you take a minute go go there, read a little "about me" and ... vote? While you are there, make your own "about me" page. It's easy and it's fun!

Thank you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

 "Y'all come'on in when ya git to tha house..."  


A few weeks ago I had a doctor's appointment right smack dab in the middle of the day. Two o'clock to be exact. At about 1:15, I grabbed my purse, my keys, my checkbook, and the book I was reading at the time. Knowing that doctor's office visits are usually spent more in the reception room than in the actual exam room, I was--for once--excited. The book I was reading was good. I was about to have some quality reading time.

Being reared by a proper Southern mama, I dressed appropriately for my appointment. Black dress capri's (this is Florida in the middle of summer, by golly), appropriate summer top, adorable dress sandals, and all the jewelry to match. I arrived on time, signed in, sat down, opened my book and started to read.

But, of course, I was interrupted. "Mrs. Everson, we need you to fill out these forms."

Put the book down, go get the forms from the smiling medical receptionist on the other side of the sliding glass window, return to chair, fill out forms, and then return forms to smiling receptionist. Return to chair, pick up book, and start to read.

"Mrs. Everson, I need a copy of your driver's license."

I smile. Put the book down, take my license out of my purse, start for the window, stop and say, "What about my insurance card?"

"Yes, that too."

Return to chair and purse, get insurance card, walk to window, return to chair and book.

I'm now reading. I'm a good three paragraphs in when the front door opens and in walks a tornado of a woman. She's probably ten years older than me. Maybe less. Maybe younger. So hard to tell these days. She's a little overweight, dressed in shorts and a tee shirt. Her hair is a dyed-blonde mess from the outside breeze. She is out of breath and excited but she is wearing--in spite of the work-in-the-yard shorts--a pair of really cute shoes.

After she checks in and is given her forms (she didn't sit down first for the joy of getting back up, but I think that's mostly because she lingered at the window where she chatted pretty loudly with the staff), she sits to the right of me but against the wall. So...she is facing me, really.

And now...back to my book.

That's when I hear, "Those are the cutest shoes!" And this was not in a whisper. This was pretty loud.

I look up. She is talking to me. "Thank you," I say. I look down at my feet, wiggle my foot a little in appreciation (if not embarrassment) and think how cute they truly are, especially paired with my recent pedicure with big-toe design.

"Are they Clarks?" she asks, again quite loudly.

"No. They're Mootsie Tootsie's."

"Well they're just adorable! And they look like Clarks!"

I do not think they look like Clarks. To me, they look like Mootsie Tootsie's. "Thank you," I say because I don't know what else to say. And then I return to my reading with a dramatic flare because I don't want to announce to this entire room what kind of shoes I wear, I don't want to talk about shoe brands, and I want this woman to "get" that.

Out of the corner of my eye I see she has put her paperwork aside to pull her cell phone out of her purse. I assume--although I don't know why I even care--she is looking up a phone number for the form. Next of kin or in case of an emergency. But no. She is making a phone call, which she conducts as loudly as my recent inquisition.

"Honey," she says to whoever is on the other end of the line. "This is Aunt Barbara!" (And now people in three counties know your first name, I think.) "I just want ya ta know that I'm so excited about your visit but I've had to come to the doctor this afternoon and I don't know when I'll be home. So, when ya git to the house, I want ya to not be worried when ya see that mah car isn't in the driveway. I've left the back door open for ya. Y'all come'on in when ya git to tha house. There's cold drinks in the icebox!"


While I am now officially miffed that I cannot read my book with any clarity, I'm amused at an old memory. It was the "come on in" that did it (and the word "icebox" didn't hurt).

I grew up in an open-door policy. Small Southern town where everyone knew everyone and you were family whether there was a bloodline or not. Front doors may have been locked but back doors never were, which was fine because no one came in the front door. Ever. Unless, of course, it was the ladies in my mother's "Circle." They used the front door because they were dressed in their Sunday best right there in the middle of the week. Proper attire requires proper doors for entry, don't you know.

Now, when the Circle ladies came, the doorbell rang. Mother opened the door and said, "Hey, come in, So-and-So." Mother was wonderful about using first names because it makes one feel important to you. Unless, of course, you were her child...then it meant the kiss of death and the sting of discipline.

But Mother never answered the back door in such a way because she didn't have to. No one knocked and waited. They knocked and entered.

Knock knock...door opens and, "Betty?"

To which Mother replied, "Y'all come on in!"

Well, of course, my Northern readers are thinking right now. The person had called earlier and said, "I'll be there in a minute" to which Mother said, "I"ll leave the back door open for you."

Ah...no. There was no call ahead. No one called ahead. You just drove over or walked over and waltzed in. That's the way it was done and, in some parts of the South, that is still the way it's done.

I kind of miss that. I miss having those kinds of neighbors and friends. That kind of community.

An open-door life. It was nice but it's no longer mine--at least not where I live now. When I go back home the back door continues to stay opened and unlocked. And it's nice, while it lasts.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday's Talk About the Book

Two things to talk about today.

1.  I have an AUTHOR'S INTERVIEW at Christianbook.com! Check it out by clicking below:



2. If you live in the Cedar Key, Florida area or just want to take the most awesome couple of days off, come see me at KONA JOE's in Cedar Key, next Saturday from 1 - 4. I'll be signing  books at one of the coolest places ever! And you'll just LOVE Edie and Kona Joe himself! 

Click here for more information about KONA JOE's:  Kona Joe's Island Cafe

Owner Edie Zapir at Kona Joe's!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

Another recipe from Miss Betty's* Daily Diary Cookbook...I remember Mother making this...


Oven Fried Chicken


Ingredients


1 Fryer cut into serving pieces
1/2 cup butter or margarine
Flour
Salt
Pepper

Directions


Put butter or margarine in bottom of baking pan. Place in 400 degree oven and melt. Mix flour, salt, pepper in a paper bag. Add a few pieces of chicken and shake until well coated. Place in pan, skin side down, in a single layer. Bake 30 minutes, uncovered. Turn chicken skin side up and cook 30 minutes or until tender.


(Miss Betty was my mother. These are the recipes I found in her penmanship, written in a Sexton's Daily Diary from c. 1955.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday's Southern Style Tunes


Don't want to offend anyone...
...but this song so reminds me of 
growing up in the South in the early 70s.

It's just the way it was.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

I don't know what got into me exactly, but Saturday I woke up with a "hankerin'" for homemade pound cake. Maybe it's all those miles I've put on the treadmill lately. Why not balance the exercise and calorie-burning with some high-calorie Southern-style dessert.

If you are from the South, you already know that pound cake is practically a staple down here. If you aren't, you should know it. My mother made some of the best and, I'll be honest, my mother-in-law was the Queen of Pound Cake, hands down.

I hadn't made a cake in so long (from scratch), I no longer had the pan. I also didn't have 75% of the ingredients I would need. A trip to the grocery store was necessary. But first, I went through old recipe books, found the recipe I used...oh...probably 15 years ago (for the last time), and wrote down the ingredients. Off to the store I went.

Okay, I'm going to admit it...I was a little stumped on the sour cream. The recipe called for a pint. But sour cream comes in ounces, for pity's sake. A year and a half ago, this would not have been a problem. I would have called my mother. But since she is busy whipping up pound cake in heaven, I did the next best thing. I looked around for an "older" woman in the dairy department who may be able to help me. God love her, there was one standing right there.

I didn't get her name but she told me 1) she started learning how to bake when she was five and was "fluent in kitchen" by the time she went off to the first grade; 2) a half-pint was 8 ounces; and 3) did I know where the pre-made cookie dough was. (For some reason, she thought I might know. As it turned out, we were standing right next to it.)

So I bought the ingredients and home I went. I even had to buy the pan to bake the cake in. I posted on Facebook what I was about to do and the requests came pouring in for the recipe. So, good people of Facebook, fine people of the South, and all y'all who want to know about the best thing to ever go with a glass of cold milk...here it is:

Sour Cream Pound Cake


Ingredients:


3 cups cake flour
1/2 pound butter (not margarine!)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 pt sour cream
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla





Directions:




Cream butter
Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time
Beat until light.









Add eggs, one at a time










Add sour cream.



Sift flour with baking soda; add to above mixture.










Add vanilla and beat for two minutes.










Pour into tube pan and bake 325 degrees for 1 hour, 20 minutes








Allow to cool, Topsy-turvy...serve and enjoy! 
A cold glass of milk is a great addition to this cake...or, for breakfast, a cup of coffee. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday's Talk About the Book



BOOK SIGNING!!!!


WHEN:  Saturday August 27, 2011

TIME:  1:00 -- 4:00 pm


Come to Cedar Key (or if you are in Cedar Key, come to Kona Joe's)! I would love to meet you and my assistant would, too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

Another recipe from Miss Betty's* Daily Diary Cookbook


Chicken Brunswick Stew



Ingredients


Onions - 3 or 4
Corn - 1 can
Butter Beans - 1 can
Rice - 1 lb.
Tomatoes - 1 can
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Ketchup - 1 bottle
Vinegar - 1/2 bottle
Irish potatoes - 3 or 4
Salt to taste
Mustard to taste
2 Hens - cooked and cut up

Directions


Boil the chicken until very tender in enough seasoned water to make 1 pint of broth. Save the broth and cut  the chicken into small pieces. Cook the canned tomatoes in the olive oil until they thicken. Make a roux with the flour, shortening, and onions. Add to the roux the broth, rice, tomatoes, chicken, potatoes, corn, butter beans, ketchup, vinegar and mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for one hour, adding more broth if needed. Serves 6.


(Miss Betty was my mother. These are the recipes I found in her penmanship, written in a Sexton's Daily Diary from c. 1955.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday's Southern Style Tunes


This is one of my all-time favorite numbers!

When I was a teenage girl, a group of us formed a group called One Way. We met every Saturday night in the home of an elderly couple, Mr. Carson and Miss Reba (we called them) in Newington, Georgia. I don't remember their story. Did they have children? Grandchildren? I don't remember. What I do recall is how they opened their living room doors every Saturday night for years to a group of teenagers who wanted to live for the Lord. We sang. We shared testimony. 
We prayed each other through.
We weren't perfect kids. 
We sinned like any others. 
But we had direction and a Director and we tried.
We tried.

Two of our members, Debbie and Lucy, used to sing this song so beautifully.

I want to dedicate this to Mr. Carson and Miss Reba, who have gone on to open their doors in heaven. How many of us will join you, because of you, and your willingness to put up with us.
And serve us cookies and punch.

And love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

I thought that, starting today and for a few future Mondays, we'd start a Southern dictionary.

While working on Waiting for Sunrise, the second in the Cedar Key novels, I had a character use the word "ever" for "every."

Examples:

I went the the library ever week of the world.

I took a samplin' of ever one.

These words that come so easily to those of us reared in the South are strange to everyone else. Foreign, like Greek. Or Hebrew. Or Russian.

So, I'm just letting them come to mind as they come to mind.

Here's one: Hankerin'.

Definition: a craving.

Example:  I've got a hankerin' for some shrimp and grits.


Mmmmm.... now that's good eats! And it reminds me, I'll be in Cedar Key, Florida on August 27 signing my latest book Chasing Sunsets at Kona Joe's (Located at 24th & 6th). If you live there or just want to get away for a wonderful weekend, come on down!




Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

Another recipe from Miss Betty's* Daily Diary Cookbook


Jello Whip



Ingredients

2 packages jello, raspberry
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup apple sauce
2 stiffly beaten egg whites

Directions


Mix two packages jello and pour into dessert dishes to congeal. Mix 1 teaspoon lemon juice with 1 cup apple sauce and fold into 2 stiffly beaten egg whites. Put on top of jello.

(Miss Betty was my mother. These are the recipes I found in her penmanship, written in a Sexton's Daily Diary from c. 1955.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

I'm reading THE HELP (now a major motion picture) right now. Loving every minute of it. Amazed this is Kathryn Stockett's first novel, however, according to her bio, she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nearly a decade. And, she lived in New York City, so I'm sure she absorbed some of the artistic culture one can only obtain there.

That said, this woman knows the South. And she knows what life was all about in the 60s for white families as well as for black.

I flipped to the back of the book to read her acknowledgments (as any good author would do) and noticed that her family, like so many of our families, had the "maid." Or, "the help."

Our maid's name was Etta Mae. Oh, gosh...I loved that woman! She was good and kind. So loving. Loyal. Looking back on it, for Mother to have entrusted the care of my brother and me to any woman while she "ran her errands" means the woman had to have had godly virtues and values.

I have two very distinct memories concerning Etta Mae. The first concerns the day she didn't come to work but sent someone in her place (she was sick, if I remember correctly). Mother was out "running her errands" when the mail came. Among the letters and such was a box, the perfect size for the doll I'd ordered off the back of a cereal box. I was beside myself to open that box! But the substitute help would have nothing to do with that until Mother got home.

I demanded (!!!) she allow me to open the box. I told her very plainly what was in it. But she held her ground.

When Mother came home, I ran past the substitute and said, "So-and-so won't let me open my box!"

Mother looked at the package, realized what it was and said, of course, I could open the box. I spun on my little five-year-old heels toward the woman who wasn't nearly as nice as Etta Mae, placed my hands on my hips, jutted my chin forward and said, "See! I told you I could open it!"

Mother immediately put the box away and made me wait another 24 hours.

Mother did not believe any child should talk to any adult with disrespect. No matter what.

The second memory involves the day Etta Mae's husband couldn't come get her from the house. By this time, I was probably seven years old or so. Etta Mae was in the midst of fretting when Mother told her "it's okay, Etta Mae. I'll drive you home."

"Do we get to go too?" I asked, speaking of my brother and me.

Mother said of course we did; she couldn't very well leave us at home alone.

I was thrilled! I was going to get to see where Etta Mae lived! We piled into the car. Mother in the front driver's seat, Etta Mae in the middle of my brother and me in the back. With my face pressed against the glass, I said, "Etta Mae, do you live far from us?"

"Not too far," she said.

I continued peering out the window, watching the landscape change from the sprawling ranch-style homes of the new families in town, to the massive Victorians of the "old money" along Main Street. And then, to small houses, many unpainted. Lots of dark-skinned, barefoot children running around in sandy, grassless front yards. Furniture meant for living rooms and dens stretched across narrow front porches. Front doors were wide open; I could see straight through what I now know are shot-gun houses.

I felt panic rising. "Etta Mae," I said, fearful this was actually where she lived. Not wanting my beloved Etta Mae subjected to such poverty. "Is your house pretty like our house?"

Etta Mae chuckled. "Oh, no chile...my house is not pretty like anybody's."

About that time, Mother--all pink-faced--turned into a driveway. A pack of children ran toward the car, frightening me all the more. My brother wanted to get out and play; I wanted to adopt Etta Mae, take her home and make my bedroom her bedroom. I could move in with Van.

"Them's my young 'uns," she said. She opened the door on my side, scooted over me, said, "Thank you, Miss Purvis," and got out.

I cried all the way home.

Make that three memories...Years later, I was a nursing student. My family and I had just sat down to supper when the phone rang. It was a friend of mine, an elderly doctor who had been my muse. He was about to perform an autopsy and, knowing I was struggling with Anatomy & Physiology, asked if I'd like to join him. He'd be more than happy to show me each part of the human body, how it works with all the other parts.

I jumped from the table, brushed my teeth, and out the door I went. Hours later, I returned, totally amazed by what I'd seen. The face of my  mother, however, looked grim.

Daddy was with the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation). He'd gotten a call while I was gone and had left to work a new case. Murder. Gunshot. 22-year-old black male. The same man I'd just seen sliced opened and used as a teaching tool. Then my mother said, "He was Etta Mae's son."

One of those little children I'd been frightened by ten or eleven years earlier had been my first autopsy viewing. My heart hurt now. No longer was he an gunshot victim who died, he was Etta Mae's son (Etta Mae had long retired from "helping" the white women by this point).

Years later I asked Mother why she had "help" at all back when we were children. She didn't work outside the home, after all. I said to her, "I have a full-time job, work myself silly with church functions and school functions, have a house the same size as yours, and I don't have a maid!"

Mother replied, "That's just the way things were done back then."

Well, I reckon so.