Changing Seasons

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     Ahhh…. The seasons in the South. They bring wondrous changes of color and temperatures that hint of what is to come. It is now late summer, and we're beginning to see and feel that marvelous slide into the season of FOOTBALL!      I know that football is played in other areas of the country, but in the South it is more than an athletic contest, or an excuse to indulge in too much beer and body paint. It is a Saturday celebration that combines tailgates, debutantes, and the WWE.      Tailgating incorporates the preparation and presentation of those old and well-guarded secret family recipes that we happily share with our parking lot pals. Well, except for that one little detail of ingredient, measure, or instruction. We’re not going to give everything away.      Debutantes...

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A Grits Primer

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     To deconstruct grits is to relegate the dish to a pantry staple. To refer to grits as dry goods puts them in the emergency food category. But historically, grits* is both of those things. Grits has been served to visiting royalty, and it has been used to feed the troops on American battlefields, and it has been used to feed the hungry and poor.      Grits is basically ground corn. Poured between two stacked grindstones at a gristmill, the product result is about 55% corn meal (fine), 40% grits (coarse), and about 5% bran or hull that pops off during the milling. There is actually a finer bran that affixes to the grits, and if it’s not rinsed and removed by skimming, it adds a nutty flavor and texture to the dish.      There are three...

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Faith Healing

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Propped like a cripple in a creek, mere muscle and rickety bone pressing feebly against the insistent liquored-up rambling of water and wind. pestering the pushy riffles with impertinent hope of catching the critical wild wet eye sealed in the stone and glass. I believe in the faith healer, and the medicine man, and the magic of the willow and the cane. My shaky prayers rise up into the green loop, and settle in the spell of feather and steel. When the offering is accepted by the hunted holy ghost, I am instantly remade, bent by God. and I believe that I can stand, crutches falling from my...

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A (Mostly) True Fishing Story

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     In the late Spring of 1986, my friend Bobby and I had planned a weekend float trip on the James River in Virginia. As a precursor to this event, I had purchased a new fly rod, made of genuine GRAPHITE. State of the art. Berkley. $110.00. The weapon of bass destruction. The night before our early Friday a.m. departure, I spent several hours putting together The Ultimate Smallmouth Box. It was perfect. At 2:00 a.m., I was finally satisfied that the box was complete, and I went to bed for a couple of hours.      Bobby came by at 4:30 a.m., we hooked up my trailered Gheenoe, and we headed to Hillsborough, N.C. for breakfast at Jack’s, a local greasy spoon which served thick slices of country ham on a hot, homemade, cat-head...

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Puttin’ Up

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     As a child, I watched my mother and her sisters gather in my Grandmother Mimi’s kitchen two or three times a year for “puttin’ up.” My cousins and I would gather fruits and vegetables from Mimi’s big garden and lug them into the hot kitchen where the women were boiling water in big canning pots. They trimmed, minced, chopped, seasoned, blended, sieved, scrubbed, and scraped. They often sang spirituals and hymns in lovely harmonies that only come from being blood kin. It was a hoedown of pouring, lidding, and labeling. Except, of course, that as Baptists, they did not dance. The church, though, did not discourage the Gasaway Girls from bringing theirpreserves, jellies, jams, pickles, chow-chows, relishes, and various vegetables to Homecoming and other church events. The church was rather strict but not...

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