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Savory Memories

Savory Memories

L. Elisabeth Beattie Editor
Illustrations by Elisabeth Watts Beattie
With a Foreword by Ronni Lundy
an Afterword by Jim Wayne Miller
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Savory Memories
    Book Description:

    Writers love to tell stories, so when L. Elisabeth Beattie remarked that her next book ought to be a Kentucky writers' cookbook, Betty Layman Receveur replied, "Actually, all my sons ever demand of me is my pound cake." Adding a cup of this and a pinch of that, Beattie cooked upSavory Memories,a collection of twenty-two essays about particular dishes that call up warm memories in the writers.

    Featuring recipes and memories from writers such as Joy Bale Boone, George Ella Lyon, Ronni Ludy, Ed McClanahan, Sena Jeter Naslund, and Richard Taylor, this is both a cookbook and a compendium of sentiments. This warm and enjoyable blending of essays, illustrations, and recipes is leavened with humor and laden with nostalgia. As much as the food, these writers celebrate the personalities who lovingly prepared and provided their favorite dishes, sustaining life and helping to shape the personas of the authors themselves.

    A collection of highly personal recollections,Savory Memoriesis a veritable smorgasbord of delights.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5707-8
    Subjects: Sociology, American Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. viii-x)
    Ronni Lundy

    “If, beyond the pearly gates, I am permitted to select my place at the table, it will be among Kentuckians.” The first time I laid eyes on these words from historian Thomas D. Clark, they struck me as gospel. For me there will be no heaven unless it is laid out around a round oak table turned oblong by company’s-coming leaves and stretched into infinity to accommodate those who have gathered joyfully, eagerly, around Kentucky tables here on earth.

    At this table I will, of course, find the relatives and family friends who nourished and nurtured me as a child....

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. The Shape of Comfort
    (pp. 1-8)
    Dianne Aprile

    My son, Josh, believes there are really only two major food groups—Italian and Jewish—and he belongs to both. For Josh, blood ancestry and culinary lineage mingle and merge as naturally as basil and cheese in pesto, or apples, almonds, and honey in charoses. To be Italian is tomangiapasta. To be Jewish is to nosh on lox. A mixed birthright, to Josh’s way of thinking, is a passport to the best of both worlds.

    Some will tell you, you are what you eat. Josh is proof you eat what you are. Among his first solid foods were...

  6. Sunday’s Legacies
    (pp. 9-14)
    L. Elisabeth Beattie

    When I think of family my meaning extends to encompass the living and the dead, the latter rendered real for me by the ancestral antiques and tales of their owners I memorized as a child in the crook of my grandmother’s arm. Sunday-go-to-meeting day—as Grandmother Watts still called Sundays even in the 1950s—meant, in the dazzling heat of St. Charles, Missouri, nestling next to her in church and folding fans from the lily-bordered bulletins I’d extract from the plastic pockets nailed to the back of the pew; meant hearing hymns ancient and plaintive and slightly off-key rise and...

  7. The Proof of Mother’s Puddings
    (pp. 15-23)
    Joy Bale Boone

    As a child, my Christmas began in autumn. Though the event was temporarily forgotten by me when birthdays, Halloween, and Thanksgiving came along, its sweet solemnity was renewed when a plum pudding, top ablaze, each year made triumphant entrance into my parents’ dining room on December 25.

    I was three or four years of age when first allowed to watch the plum pudding ritual. In those days, children started school with kindergarten, not day care, so it didn’t matter which day Mother chose to devote to her one culinary distinction, provided, of course, that it wasn't her weekly day of...

  8. My Sister, the Rabbit, and the Roll
    (pp. 24-29)
    Marie Bradby

    Until recently, anytime that I visited my parents, my mother would make rolls. It was a reward for driving eleven hours. But my parents are getting up in years. During my last visits, I did all the cooking. For Thanksgiving, my mother even resorted to frozen rolls. I watched her slit open the plastic package and arrange the pale balls of frozen dough in a pan. She leaned against the counter for support. It pained me to watch. As I drove home, my mind slipped back to my earliest memory of bread baking. It was a day with a curious...

  9. Leatherbritches
    (pp. 30-37)
    Billy C. Clark

    She had been watching the sky for days now looking for a sign. A change in the weather had come. There was a chill in the wind and it carried moisture with it. The sky was as gray as the feathers of a mockingbird. There had been forecasts of cold weather and the possibility of a first snow. But I knew by her searching that she had chosen to follow signs that had been passed down to her by heritage, a heritage that came from her beloved Kentucky hill country. A heritage akin to a birthright.

    And then one evening,...

  10. Sweet Potato Balls
    (pp. 38-40)
    Michael Dorris

    My grandmother, Alice Burkhardt, was a woman who guarded her prerogatives. Never wealthy or famous beyond the scope of our family, she nevertheless cloaked herself in an air of dramatic importance: what she said or thought or did, there was no question, mattered, as if each small event was but a metaphor for actions or emotions much larger, more earthshaking than it appeared to the naked eye.

    The kitchen was her uncontested domain, and the recipes passed down to her were sacred texts that she never shared even with her own daughters. The role of my mother and aunts was...

  11. A Child’s Garden of Memories
    (pp. 41-46)
    John Egerton

    Some things are easier to remember than others. I may have a hard time thinking of the name of a song—but play me a couple of bars, and suddenly I’ll recall the tune and most of the lyrics. You may be good at names, while I never forget a face. Shapes may activate my recall button, while yours works best on colors.

    And then there is food, the most evocative element of all. The reason is obvious: It can be called to mind through all five of the senses. Your nose will draw you irresistibly to a simmering pot...

  12. Sunday Cooking
    (pp. 47-52)
    Jane Gentry

    My grandfather was a hellfire and damnation preacher. I’m as puzzled now, fifty years later, as I was as a child by how he could be so frightening and, at the same time, such a figure of fun, his blue eyes shining as he teasingly accused me, a good girl, of throwing rocks at the school bus. He was the pattern of contradiction, preaching righteousness and playing the devil with his grandchildren. Every Sunday at eleven a.m. church, he took a vivid text. One of his favorites he called “The Valley of the Dead, Dry Bones,” and he concluded that...

  13. A Fig-Flavored Visit with Eudora Welty
    (pp. 53-62)
    Wade Hall

    One of the most anticipated pleasures of my boyhood in South Alabama was the late-summer ripening of the figs on the trees in our backyard. We called them trees because they were taller than me or any of my four younger brothers. Indeed, we frequently had to climb them to pick off the most succulent ones from the top branches. Occasionally, we would slip and skin our arms and legs, but the risk was worth the reward.

    And what a reward it was! Light-brown, almost purple, fruit that tasted like it was straight from the orchards of Paradise. We were...

  14. The Tao of Cornbread
    (pp. 63-69)
    Ronni Lundy

    “There are those who will tell you that real cornbread has just a little sugar in it. They’ll say it enhances the flavor or that it’s an old tradition in the South. Do not listen to them. If God had meant for cornbread to have sugar in it, he’d have called it cake.”

    These words began an article I wrote forEsquiremagazine some fifteen years ago on the art of making real cornbread. A recipe for cornbread forms the heart of the piece, and in order to write that recipe out in cups and teaspoons, I had to go...

  15. Just Add Words
    (pp. 70-74)
    George Ella Lyon

    People often ask if there have been other writers in my family. Until I began digging through my grandmother’s recipes, my answer was, “Lots of storytellers, but only two writers: my father, who kept a journal, and my brother, who writes literary criticism.” But sifting through my culinary inheritance has broadened my response, just as all the recipes’ butter and bacon grease have broadened the rest of me.

    When my daddy’s mother, Josephine Wilder Hoskins, died in 1985, I inherited her recipes, I who am what became of the little girl who sat at her table. Jo left a few...

  16. Grandma Jess’s Easy East Rolls
    (pp. 75-79)
    Ed McClanahan

    My mother—Grandma Jess, my kids called her—died on August 29, 1996. She was eighty-eight, happy and healthy, living independently among friends and family, still driving her own car, still enjoying a Bloody Mary every Saturday before lunch, when, while she was watching her beloved Democrats on TV one evening during the convention, she dropped off to sleep and never woke up. She was a beautiful, warm, vivacious woman, and we all miss her powerfully. But she left a splendid legacy of good will and good humor, generosity of spirit, all-encompassing affection . . . and the priceless recipe...

  17. Slices
    (pp. 80-85)
    Maureen Morehead

    Ellen Spurlock was born on Moore Creek in eastern Kentucky in 1911 in a one-room cabin with a dirt floor. She lived there until she was twelve, then moved to Flat Lick, attended school until she was sixteen, then rode her father’s mule to a one-room schoolhouse on Mill Branch where she taught first through twelfth grades until the doctor’s son, Nevil Morehead, on his way to law school in Louisville, married her and took her there.

    Nevil and Ellen lived in a four-room house on Larchmont Avenue until he died in 1956 at forty-five of a massive heart attack,...

  18. Of Reading, Wriring, and Recipes: Sunshine Cake
    (pp. 86-96)
    Sena Jeter Naslund

    Each with a round face, we three seem to look out innocently, from our station on the mantel, at those people we are becoming over the years. In the hand-tinted photograph, John, four, and Marvin, six, are wearing shorts and T-shirts, and Marvin’s shirt has an applique of a small airplane, circa 1945, in the center of his chest; I used to wish that the airplane distinguished me, age two, and my blue dress. But all that time growing up in Birmingham, when I studied the photograph, I shared a secret with my former self. Although it had escaped the...

  19. When Angels Comb Their Hair
    (pp. 97-102)
    Lee Pennington

    The blizzard of 1996 which was lovely white in the trees and covered scars of the neighborhood where I now live was a reminder of something past, something of childhood, and the coming down sent my mind dancing across the years to Greenup County, Kentucky, where I grew up, to the head of that narrow valley and the mostly log house sitting flush against the hillside.

    The window at the back let in very little light—the window opening out directly onto the hill—and in the late autumn we had to remove the leaves piled up against the glass,...

  20. Mama’s Favorite
    (pp. 103-109)
    Betty Layman Receveur

    I was brought up by my paternal grandparents. My grandmother, who had a gentle voice and the most beautiful smile I ever saw, was five feet four inches tall, and nicely rounded in face and body. My grandfather was six feet five, long and lean, with highcheek bones and a Roman nose that bespoke the Cherokee blood of his great-grandmother. I'm sure there were those who thought them a mismatched pair, what with the difference in body build and height, but I didn’t. I knew that they loved each other dearly, and I knew that they loved me.

    We lived...

  21. One Writer’s Beginning
    (pp. 110-113)
    Frederick Smock

    My grandmother’s house in Old Louisville, where I lived as a child, had a small backyard that sloped abruptly to a brick alley. Her garage was dug into the hillock, its flat roof only a step up from the yard, and the front lip of that roof made a wonderful vantage point—a dreamy spot to lie on my stomach and look out over the maze of little streets and houses teeming with children and cats and delivery trucks and laundry snapping in the magnolia-scented breeze.

    The house across the alley held many mysteries. Never an adult came or went,...

  22. Good Eats with Jane Martin and Her Trustee
    (pp. 114-119)
    Alexander Speer

    Actors Theatre of Louisville has been the site of the premieres of many plays written by Kentucky’s nationally acclaimed playwright, the mysterious and fiercely reclusive Jane Martin. Now she has been asked to write down some of her food memories for this book. As her legal representative and public spokesman, I suppose I know as much about her as anyone. Well, actually I knowmoreabout her than anyone, except Jane herself, of course. Although Jane is a very private person and doesn’t like to talk about herself, I’m going to reveal a few facts about her. First, I can...

  23. The Innisfree Rock
    (pp. 120-123)
    Martha Bennett Stiles

    The dinner my mother served my older sister’s thirteenth birthday houseparty guests was a triumph that compensated her anxious, conformist daughters for all the experiments she had dished out to us—and worse, to our guests—ever since our family settled in the country.

    My mother was an art student city girl who married a navy man. Everything interested her; she pitied the wives who fretted over the possibility of remote assignments. “If Forrest and I were stationed on Guam,” she would say, “I would make an illustrated catalogue of the shells.” I write “catalogue” because she would have written...

  24. Guineas and Griddle Cakes: Two Kentucky Portraits
    (pp. 124-136)
    Richard Taylor

    An old photograph of Cousin Lucy shows her astride Nell, the pet mare she loved to ride around the farm. In those distant 1930s, the farm consisted of about 140 acres. It was located off Lime Kiln Lane in eastern Jefferson County about eight miles from the Louisville city limits. Wearing a sporty hat whose trimmed-back brim makes it seem somehow a briefer version of a man’s, she is in quarter profile, dressed in an old sweater and some sort of riding jumper with buttons both at the neck and at the calves of the billowing leggings. One low-heeled shoe...

  25. Merchants of Christmas
    (pp. 137-145)
    Gerald Toner

    No right-minded American would stand up for the proposition of a commercialized Christmas. Commercialism at Christmas is everyone’s favorite whipping boy and understandably so. During Christmas our emotions are such a mess that we hardly need another weepy Hallmark spot or the stress of beating your sister-in-law to the last Tickle Me Elmo. Moonlight Madness sales eat up our holiday evenings, and Budweiser semis keep their appointed rounds in our late nights before the television.

    Common sense, however, never prevents us from getting caught up in the rush and forgetting the purpose of our gifts. A mere handful of laudable...

  26. Sweet Cobblers and Stack Cakes
    (pp. 146-152)
    Shirley Williams

    In 1994, three friends and I put together an oral history play that we called “Kinfolks, Cornbread & Hillbilly Women,” based on our own early memories and family stories.

    Sifting through those memories inevitably brought on fond recollections of the food I enjoyed as a child when I lived with my grandparents, John and Mallie Hamilton, six miles up Wooten’s Creek—about twelve miles as the crow flies from Hell-fer-Sartin (Certain)—in Leslie County, from 1935 until the early 1940s.

    They owned about a thousand acres, some of it virgin timberland. Pa farmed and raised cattle, but I can't recall...

  27. Afterword From Oats to Grits, Mutton to Pork: North British Footways in Southern Appalachia
    (pp. 153-168)
    Jim Wayne Miller

    Until I started leafing through the text, I had not realized how often in my autobiographical novelNewfoundI had been concerned with food—the gathering, preparation, preservation, and consumption of food; with attitudes toward food; even with superstitions relating to food. When I was writing the novel I was not concerned with food, as such, in the least. Yet since food, along with clothing and shelter, is a basic necessity, it should not be surprising that so much of the story touches on food in some way. Although I did not intend the novel to do so, I see...