Dec. 6th, 2012                                                                                             Volume 11 Issue 8

Of Fruitcakes and Dog Whistles

Hello folks, let’s chat… I should probably leave well enough alone.  But, really, what fun would that be? So, here’s the latest brouhaha from All Things Southern land. I recently tweeted what I thought was an innocent holiday funny. I simply said, “Someone, somewhere is dusting off a fruitcake and preparing to send it around in the Christmas version of a chain letter. Just say no.” And, children, that’s when the party started!

No sooner did I hit “send” than my social media circles began exploding with complaints from fruitcake lovers everywhere.  And you know how things live forever on the Internet. Well, the protests continue to trickle in. The milder respondents believe that I have obviously not eaten the right fruitcake. The more aggressive want me to repent of my fruitcake hating ways or turn in my southern belle credentials.  I may have to go into hiding. Did you know there is a Society for the Protection and Preservation of Fruitcake?  Yeah, it was news to me, too. I had no idea people could be so protective over their baked goods. Honestly, I didn’t get it at all until I began to notice many of the fruitcake lovers are referencing their mothers’ delicious fruitcakes. Now, that part makes sense. These folks think I was disrespecting their mamas, which of course, I would never do.

But that’s just the half of it. I’m working on a real theory here. I think it may be the name causing most of the controversy.  I’m afraid the word fruitcake itself may be acting like some sort of dog whistle. By that I mean that we when we say we don’t like fruitcake, the other side hear us calling them fruitcakes.  Think about it. Would I have gotten ugly letters like this had I said I didn’t like banana pudding? No. Well, maybe from Papa, and Phil, and…never mind.  This may be more complicated than I thought. I'll get back to you!

Peace on earth between fruitcake lovers and non fruitcake lovers alike. Y'all have a Merry Christmas and drop me a note! I love to hear from you.


P.S. Could I ask you a favor? Please forward our little visit to your friends or use the easy share buttons at the website. The more the merrier! :) THANKS!

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Shoppin', Aunt Marie Style

I can't remember if I've introduced y'all to my feisty Aunt Marie or not. She's not really my aunt, she's a family friend, but most everyone calls her Aunt Marie. This past week Aunt Marie celebrated her 91st birthday. She's in remarkably good health and she still lives alone. The only thing she seems to be having trouble with is her memory. Don’t worry. She’d be the first to admit it. Aunt Marie has a great sense of humor. She’s still laughing about something that happened last Christmas and the joke was on her.

Aunt Marie has always loved the holidays but she’s also a realist and last year she made a difficult decision. She decided it was time for her to consider giving gift cards to her nieces and nephews in lieu of presents. (She never had children of her own.) The shopping had just gotten to be too much for her. So, she bought some pretty cards and a number of gift certificates and mailed them out. Poor Aunt Marie, the Christmas season came and went and she never heard a single word from any of those kids about their gift certificates. Not a thank you note out of the bunch. She was more than a little surprised by the lack of manners. "To tell the truth," Aunt Marie said. "I was downright miffed about it."

Until that is, she got around to cleaning up her cluttered desk after Christmas. That's when she found the stack of gift certificates that she had forgotten to enclose in the Christmas envelopes.

"It's okay," I told her, trying to make her feel better. "A lot of people just send cards for Christmas."

"Yeah," Aunt Marie said with a mischievous grin, "I’m sure they do, but not like mine. My cards all went out with a little note from me that said, "This year, you can buy your own present. Merry Christmas, Aunt Marie"


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Easy Beef Enchiladas

Hello folks and welcome back to the All Things Southern kitchen. I’m sharing my Easy Beef Enchiladas so you can whip up a delicious supper in the middle of all of the shopping, decorating and wrapping. It's just one more way of saying thanks to all of you for spending another year with me here on the All Things Southern porch. Now, let's get cooking!

"Easy Beef Enchiladas"

1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 can fire roasted tomatoes ½ cup beef stock 1 clove garlic 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon chili powder Dash of Panola Hot Sauce 1 small can chopped black olives
8 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
12 Flour tortillas

I’m sautéing our chopped onions and peppers in a tablespoon of butter and browning a pound of hamburger in a separate skillet. Once my veggies are clear we’ll add a clove of chopped garlic, a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, and a half cup of beef stock. Then we’ll season it with a dash of hot sauce, a teaspoon each of cumin, chili powder and a good season all like Tony Chachere’s or Slap Your Mama. (Although I don’t recommend that—slapping your mama-- nooooo, I do not!)

Once we drain the beef we'll add it to the sauce along with a small can of chopped black olives. Then we’ll it simmer while we grate eight ounces of Monterey Jack cheese and grab a large casserole dish. We'll coat our dish with nonstick cooking spray and begin building our enchiladas by filling twelve flour tortillas with the meat sauce and grated cheese. Roll and place the enchiladas side by side in your dish. Reserve a little cheese to sprinkle across the top with any remaining sauce. Bake at 350' until the cheese melts and the enchiladas are thoroughly heated. Um, umm...Don't forget to ring the porch bell. Enjoy my Easy Beefy Enchiladas, folks. That’s good eating from the All Things Southern kitchen to yours.


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Sequoyah in the Southern Quote

He was born somewhere around 1776 in an Indian village in Tennessee.  His mother was the daughter of a Cherokee Chief, his father a Virginia fur trader who abandoned them before he was born. He grew up, married a Cherokee woman, and started a family, working as a silversmith to support them before becoming one of a number of Cherokees to fight under General Andrew Jackson in the war of 1812.

During the war, Sequoyah watched the white soldiers write letters home to their loved ones. He and his fellow Cherokee soldiers were unable to follow suit. Nor could they read their military orders or document the history they were making. Sequoyah called the books and letters "talking leaves" and marveled at their ability to record thoughts, dreams and intentions. Although he had become intrigued by the written communication of white settlers from childhood, those wartime experiences fueled his desire to develop a similar method of communication for his own people.  Once the war was over, Sequoyah made his dream a reality, working tirelessly to create 85 symbols from the thousands of sounds in the Cherokee language. He tested his system by successfully teaching it to his young daughter. After more than a decade of working on his project, Sequoyah presented the symbols to the Cherokee people. They absorbed the alphabet by the thousands and were soon reading and writing on their own “talking leaves.” The Cherokee Nation awarded Sequoyah a silver medal of honorary and a lifetime literary pension.

No doubt it is my love of the written word that endears this Native American and fellow southerner to me. I know that many times I need to write about something I've seen or heard before I really understand how I feel about it. In today’s Southern Quote the literary efforts of a man who taught his people to read and write. Sequoyah once said, "When a talk is made and put down, it is good to look at it afterward."

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Giving up the Perfect Prayer

Over the last few years I’ve met a ton of neat authors, many of whom have kindly shared some of their hard earned lessons in our industry. I’ve also been blessed with good counsel from agents and editors, but one of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever received has to be: “Don’t get it right, get it written.”

The phrasing makes it easy to remember but the practice of learning to turn off your inner editor and let the thoughts flow is crucial to getting something down on paper. I’ve learned that the first words to start lining up seldom make the final cut and that’s okay.  It’s far more important that I just sit down and start writing, to let myself feel the familiar tap of my fingers on the keyboard as I search for what it is that I really want to say. Once the words start flowing, I can always delete the opening ramble. Granted, some might say my writing style is pretty much a ramble all the way. I would forgive them for that. They don’t see what gets trashed!

I’ve noticed that my prayer times benefit from a similar practice. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes what I start off saying is not at all what I mean. It’s stilted and formal and pretty much what I think God wants to hear but it’s not what’s on my heart. I can try to pray without opening my mouth and I can try to compose just the right prayer, just the right way. Either approach will just be a meaningless exercise. Nothing life changing happens until I open mouth and begin to pray. Sometimes I have to come to Him and pour out a bunch of words before I can get to some that matter, but it is so worth it when the fellowship begins to flow. Maybe the practice will help you discover His sweet friendship. If so, perhaps you could remember it this way, “Don’t get it perfect; get it prayed.”


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