Grits, Gravy, and Graciousness: Or I've lived in The South for almost a year

Roasted Cauliflower Soup on Papa's Trunk

This coming December will mark the first anniversary of my living in The South. As if swimming along the coast with a gash in my thigh, the sharks have been circling, demanding my opinion on whether or not I have enjoyed my 365 days of grits, gravy, and graciousness.

After the third inquiry in one week I finally broke down and asked my boss if my demeanor was beyond my comprehension. Perhaps I was unknowingly pea-cocking a unspoken disdain for my surroundings. Giving off a bad vibe. Scaring small children.

Let's face it, my resting bitch face could take home the blue ribbon. I don't give off the most come hither, welcoming vibe. I really do scare small children. 

But that doesn't mean I don't love my new home, The South. 

The Jew in me is mildly uncomfortable with all the Jesus prayers that are made at public gatherings. But I appreciate the community their faith provides. And the height of hair in correlation to ones closeness to God.

The lover of history in me is daily aroused by the story telling that happens in The South. A meal is almost always paired with a story about some eccentric old timer, some misadventure had in youth, or some hotly debated "whose momma made it best" recipe throw down.

I've gone from wondering how many handguns are concealed while I grocery shop, to accepting that there are more pocket book or calf strapped handguns than I could shake a stick at. I trust that Grandma at the deli counter is a better aim than I am.

I will proudly say my blood has in fact thinned. Fifty-five degrees is cold to me. I don't miss having to carry an extra handkerchief just to wipe down my frost covered beard from walking from the house to the car. And you know what? Your blood would thin too. However, I will say, I do very much miss snow. There best be a white Christmukkah when I go North in December.

"Yes, Ma'am", "No, Ma'am", "Sir", "Have a blessed day", "Might could", "Tighter than Dick's hat band", "Fixin' to", "Cussed out", "Blessed out", "Rode hard and put up wet", "Drunk as Cooter Brown", "Y'all", "All Y'all", and "Y'all ain't right" are phrases I understand, use if needed, and hope to carry with me until I die. 

As we slowly enter into this next year, and the period of hibernation that winter brings let it be known I do not regret my choice to move to The South. It may not be my forever home. But its roots have cracked my foundation and will forever be a part of me. Let's see what happens in year two. 

Soup for a Southern Fall Day (highs in the 60's - I'll be wearing a jacket when I go outside)


RECIPE FROM Produce on Parade

Serves 6

Cory Matthews, Cream of Celery Soup, and (Pain Au) Chocolat

It happened this week fan(s). I saw some leaves changing color and that can only mean one thing.


I love soup season so much that I am just now finding frozen soup in my icebox from last soup season and the reunions have been sweet. And some meals have even been a gamble because I clearly didn't have a Sharpie to mark what the frozen soup flavor was. Who doesn't love a surprise outside of dropping the soap in the locker room? 

Back to making soup. This weekend was just chock full of activities. I had a work social engagement on Friday. Thankfully my new work friend insisted we slip away so I could venture even deeper into Southern Jewishness and try oysters and mussels for the first time. As with most things I need to give them three tries before saying, "yup, still gay". I mean, "I like oysters".

I followed that crazy Friday up with a date on Saturday. Yes I said date. I'm still in shock myself. Not to sound selfish but I like to make sure to plan my dates around places that I need to get something out of...say a fresh pain au chocolat. Thankfully there is a perfect petite patisserie, Atelier on Trade, within walking distance. So perfect I had to tell myself I couldn't just wander into the back and test my croissant skills. After my date I came home, noshed on my pain au chocolat and maybe watched 20 episodes of Girl Meets World. Don't judge. I learned 20 life lessons and oddly a lot of history lessons. Thank you Mr. Matthews.

Feeling somewhat guilty and worrisome regarding bed sores, I removed myself from the settee and decided to make some Cream of Celery Soup. Did anyone else call it Cream of Celery Poop Soup growing up? Or was that just some twisted Northern Minnesota thing my cousins and I did?

Anyway, thanks to my dear friend Ms. Stewart I was able to whip up my first soup of the 2015 Fall season! And this time (and just this time) I made just enough to eat for this week and not need to freeze for next years possible zombie apocalypse. 

Ms. Stewart's Creamy Celery Soup


  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 1/2 pounds (12 to 15 large stalks) celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick crosswise (about 6 cups), leaves reserved for garnish

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1 baking potato, (8 to 10 ounces),peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes

  • Coarse salt

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Heat butter in a large (4-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, onion, and potato; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, 8 to 10 minutes.

  2. Add 6 cups water to saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.

  3. Working in batches, puree soup until smooth. (To prevent splattering, fill blender only halfway, and allow the heat to escape: Remove cap from hole in lid; cover lid with a dish towel, holding down firmly while blending.) Return soup to pan; stir in lemon juice, and season with salt. Serve, garnished with celery leaves.


The Dead Dad's Club

Dumplings and Bean with Bacon Soup

Dumplings and Bean with Bacon Soup

Below is a post from awhile back. I find myself reading it once a year on Father's Day. So I am going to share it once again. And you will probably see it next year around this time as well. It's a damn good recipe.

Today’s post is going to be short. It is a holiday for many and I assume there are meats being bought, hot dishes being prepared, and Jell-O salads firming in the ice box.

This is the time of year I steer clear of the card aisles, ignore the barrage of promotional emails that filter in daily and make a concentrated effort to not ask my co-workers what they have planned for the weekend.

Today is Father’s Day and I’m a card carrying member of The Dead Dad’s Club. Though the name of our club sounds harsh it is our way of memorializing our fathers. Most of us in the club agree our fathers had a sense of humor to support our sardonic group name.

We formed innocently enough one night over beers. The Fates had found it necessary to bring together different circles of friends that once seated and stories told realized they formed a human Venn Diagram whose common space was our departed fathers.

That night, though nothing was said, we had our own Hallmark-less, cookout-less, present-less, and fatherless Father’s Day. I will not speak for everyone at that table but I imagine for a split second we all held a mental memorial for the men who were half responsible for making us.

This Father’s Day I will spend time thinking of the men who taught us to make soup, who could play a mean accordion, who proudly served our country, who filled a station wagon full of kids and travelled cross country, who stopped to make history by being photographed on a toilet in the middle of a field, who built a log home, who could light up any room with his electrical skills, who took us to our first psychic reading, who made historical societies cool, and who knew that even after he was gone could make a difference to a medical school.

So this week’s recipe is dedicated to my father, Just J. In my mind this is a family recipe. It very well could have come from Good Housekeeping decades back. But only my father could make it a real family delicacy. It’s a simple soup. From a store bought can. But made to taste homemade because of who taught me to make it.

Just J’s Bean with Bacon Soup (aka Dumps)

Feeds me for about two days. Or a family of four for one meal