Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love My Ice Tea!

Today, Thursday, is Free Tea Day around the country, and Mississipi has its best iced tea, sweetened of course, served just about in every restaurant. We have one company with cafes scattered around the Jackson Metro Area that is really famous for their tea, McAlister's. If you haven't gotten a McAlister's you are missing some good Southern sandwiches and their tea.

A recent article revealed that the company is particular about making and keeping their prepared tea. Their recipe and the fact that they don't keep prepared tea around long are two secrets. In fact, oftentimes they run out just when I'm ready to order. We get 32 ounces of cold tea sweetened too much for some and just right for others. Until I saw a recipe, did I realize that a pinch of baking soda in the tea as it brews reduces the bitterness of the tea and gives it a dark color. The taste is perfect and if you finish with 32 ounces, you can get a refill. Refreshing!

We Southerners consume lots of tea year around, not just the summers. Unlike the literary books and movies about the South that has made you think we sit on our porches drinking mint juleps, you can hardly find anyone who has an afternoon julep.It must be tea. Iced, meaning cubes sitting in the glass; no tepid tea that sat in the fridge attempting to get cold.

As one local restaurant owns states,"I see it as a staple. You best not open a restaurant if you're not able to provide iced tea." And that sums it.

P. S. We say "Ice Tea" not "Iced Tea" We've swallowed the -d so long we've forgotten it belongs!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's That Southern Thing

Today's sports section of our local newspaper carried an interesting article entitled "Childress, Favre now have better understanding." Seems the Viking coach and Brett had difficulties Childress' first year of coaching the famed quarterback. Favre has held off his decision to return to the Vikings' clubhouse. So Childress decided to come to Mississippi and entice Brett to return. What he discovered is this, in his quoted words:

"The Deep South is different, and he'd (Favre) would be the first to tell you that." The time spent, as the article continues, gave Childress a stronger understanding of Favre's way of life and his way of thinking".

Every section of our country has produced people whose philosophy and general way of life are slightly different from other areas. Southerners are no different. Despite our slow speech, our laid-back life, our seemingly less informed minds (although we do have highly educated people), we treat life as it comes. A friend from the Northwest remarked, when I sent him a photo of a friend and me both over 70 years old, commented, "You women look so young!" We don't have searing cold weather to erode our skin, and the moisture of our humidity does preserve our bodies. Most of my neighborhood is made up of vibrant young-looking, women over the age of 60.

On the same day of the article, a friend from Memphis forwarded a poem about Mississippians. With all the bad publicity we've had, somehow we folks seem to thrive in our little world.

If Mississippi's In You

(by Patricia Neely-Dorsey, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia, page 86)

If Mississippi's in you,
It'll always be that way;
It matters not how far you go,
Or how long you stay.

If Mississippi's in you,
It always plays a part;
In how you live and move and breathe,
And in every notion of the heart.

If Mississippi's in you,
It's in you through and through;
It's who you are and how you be,
And it's in everything you do.

If Mississippi's in you,
There is some special glow;
A different something down inside,
That all the home folks know.

If Mississippi's in you,
It'll always be that way,
From the time you enter in the world,
Till in the grave you lay.

Every true Mississippian,
Can surely have it said:
"I'm Mississippi born,
I'm Mississippi bred,
And when I die,
I'll be Mississippi dead."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Older I Get the Worse Food Becomes

Weekly I receive a newsletter from the state Department of Health citing articles of interest to those on the free subscription list. My son is the webmaster. Usually he sends an extra email with information about how we should care for ourselves. Usually, I have already read them elsewhere.

I had earlier dismissed a newspaper article about salsa and guacamole found in numerous restaurants around the country, and when my son emphasized that article with this title, " Salsa and Guacamole Emerging as Transmitters of Food-Borne Illness" I was somewhat appeased with my last meal.

Cooking isn't my forte, so I rely on whatever comes to mind one hour before a meal. I've wanted Mexican food for a month. Yes, I know that that's not the healthiest to select, but I need my Mexican fix every two months. Laziness prevented our going out to eat, so I created a near-Mexican meal of tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, and cayenne pepper. Served over spaghetti, served with Fritos. I thought it was 4 on scale of 5 but R offered, after a second helping, a 2. I don't create meals as my friend Laura does (see her website and this one was my "open cans and heat" recipes. Afterwards,I still longed for the salsa made at our favorite restaurant.

The next two articles were entitled "Wider Waistline and High Triglyceride Levels Together Indicate Heart Disease" and " Excess Weight on Hips Linked to Memory Problems in Women" which really upset me. Wouldn't you say that some guy has a grudge against women? I don't need to be reminded that the wide waistline I now carry is related to possible heart disease. I've tried, honestly, to whittle down my hips and thighs with no improvement. Alas, yes, I'm having trouble putting a name to an object, as in, "Honey, take the THING there on the stool and put it in the, you-know-where." Nowadays, a third of my daily conversation is uttering "thing".

And now my favorite drink, milk, is under attack. What is this world coming to?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Celebrating Independence Day 2010

R and I were glad to have chosen a small town to celebrate the Fourth of July. We could have been in AnySmallTown, USA. Its citizens were "down home" type, full of southern hospitality. And it isn't "put on". Tourist shops line the town's square, a variety found in most small towns. The square anchored by a large building once the city hall. The town is Dahlonega, GA. Never heard of it?

First, it is pronounced Duh LON e guh (note how easy to speak southern?); second, it is the gateway to the Appalachian Mountains, the beginning of the Appalachian Trail nearby, so you see a lot of hikers and bikers; third, it's an hour's drive north from Atlanta on State Highway 19; and fourth, it is near the site of the first U. S. gold rush in the 19th century.

All it took for the rush was a farmer kicking up a clod of dirt and recognizing the gold sparkles. This was on Cherokee Georgia land of Araria. Within 24 years Araria was growing with prosperous mines circling the town, and finally a mint being established in Dahlonega to convert the gold flakes into coins. The city hall, now the Gold Museum, presents a video chronicling those early days, along with displays of early coins and history in photos and writings. The building was constructed of hand-made bricks from area dirt and a close look at any brick reveals gold flakes. Nearby a chapel at the Northern Georgia University and College sporting a gold leaf roof, beckoning cars from the highway to come sit a spell in Dahlonega.

For two people who labored for five days learning new jewelry techniques, the square with its myriad of benches was a welcome sight. Sunday, the fourth, we sat in the shade of a building's overhang, feeling a light breeze as a church choir sang selections from WWII, the U. S. flag was raised, politicians stood in the sun giving their prepared speeches, and the reading of the Constitution. In the late afternoon visitors and citizens watched a colorful parade. Just what you'd expect in a small town.

Nothing makes most citizens more proud than to participate in the celebration of our independence from England. The most touching in Dahlonega were the white crosses listing deceased soldiers from the area who died defending their country. Patriotism and love of our country couldn't have been more visible.