Sausage Gumbo Bake

Welcome back to the All Things Southern kitchen folks! It’s that time of the year. When the weather starts teasing us with the occasional cool morning certain dishes coe to mind and one of them is my Sausage Gumbo Bake. My gumbo bake is a lot like my big southern family, it’s got a little bit of everything in it. And no, I will not be elaborating on that, *grin* Let’s get cooking!


Sausage Gumbo Bake

1 pound fully cooked smoked sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Half a bag of frozen diced green peppers and onions
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel with green chilies
16 ounces of chicken broth
1 (16 ounce) package frozen okra
1 cup rice, uncooked
2-3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 (12 ounce) frozen French bread, open and sliced into ½ inch slices
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

We’ll begin by sautéing our peppers and onions in butter. In a separate skillet we’ll brown our smoked sausage, remove it from the skillet, and set it aside to make a little roux. We’ll do that by adding about three tablespoons of butter to our skillet. Once it melts, we’ll add an equal amount of flour and let it cook, stirring constantly until it’s nice and brown, or as we say, “next door to burnt”. Be patient, it will take five or six minutes to reach a light brown color, a bit longer if you like it darker. Once the color is right, whisk in a couple cups of cold water and turn the heat down until it thickens. That will be our signal to return the sausage to our roux along with our peppers and onions. We’ll cook it on low a couple of minutes before adding a can of tomatoes and about sixteen ounces of chicken broth. Then we’ll stir in our frozen okra, butter, and uncooked rice and season with minced garlic and a good Cajun seasoning. We’ll bring this all to a boil and pour it in a large baking dish.

Cover and bake at 425 degrees for thirty minutes. Afterwards we’ll top with French bread slices, leave it uncovered, and bake it another ten minutes or so. Just long enough to whip up a salad and pour the sweet tea. Yum! That, friends, is my Sausage Gumbo Bake and it’s mighty good eating, from the All Things Southern kitchen to yours!

Hugs, Shellie

Dorothy Dix in the Southern Quote

She was born prematurely in a plantation home in Woodstock, Tennessee and named Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer. The year was 1870. Her parents wrapped her tiny body in blankets and surrounded her with heated bricks. Few expected her to survive, but Little Lizzy not only lived, she spent the next ninety years defying expectations.

Lizzy’s childhood was as difficult as her birth. The war was over; but the standard of living she’d been born into was gone with it. Her financially challenged family sat in their large deteriorating home and ate sparse meals on fine china. Although she was in her teens before she was exposed to a formal education, Lizzy entered The Female Academy in Clarksville, Tennessee with a sound knowledge of literature and history through her own study of the classics she’d found in her grandfather’s library. Lizzy finished school and married young. She didn’t get happily ever after; she got a mentally ill and abusive husband. As a result of his abuse, Lizzy soon suffered a brief collapse of her own. It was during her recovery that she found her calling as a writer.

Lizzy never enjoyed a happy home with children underfoot, which makes it even more surprising that she became the pioneer of today’s advice columnist, writing under the pseudonym of Dorothy Dix. Long before “Dear Abby” and “Dear Ann” there was “Dear Dorothy” dispensing love and marriage advice with humor, kindness, and common sense and endearing herself to an estimated audience of 60 millions readers, earning herself the title of the most loved woman in the world.

In today’s southern quote we hear advice from this famous undefeatable Tennessean. Dorothy Dix once said, “There isn’t a single human being who hasn’t plenty to cry over, and the trick is to make the laughs outweigh the tears.” – Dorothy Dix


Lou Holtz in the Southern Quote

He was born in 1937 in West Virginia, a small child with a slight frame, an average athlete and a poor student. He overcame this apparent mediocrity through a burning desire to prove himself.

It’s hard to picture Lou Holtz as the shy child he claims to have been, but Mr. Holtz attributes his famous wit to his birth order. The oldest child had the responsibility he said, the youngest the attention. Stuck in the middle, he had to be funny to get attention.

After graduating from high school the skinny young man played linebacker for two seasons at Kent State before suffering a career ending injury and adjusting his sights to coaching. Lou Holtz tends to describe himself in unflattering terms. He once said, “I’m five feet ten inches tall, weigh 152 pounds, speak with a lisp, and appear to be afflicted with a combination of beriberi and scurvy. I wasn’t a great athlete. I’m not very impressive, I’m not very smart, and I’m not very intelligent.”

That’s okay, Lou. The record books say you’re still one of the most successful college football coaches of all time, with a gift for turning losing teams into winners.

Lou Holtz is the only coach to lead four different programs to top-20 finishes and six different programs to bowl games. He had eight top ten finishes and one undefeated national championship with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Today he works as a college football analyst and enjoys traveling as a world-renown speaker, popular for the motivational techniques and trademark humor he dispenses in equal doses.

In today’s southern quote we hear the wit of the coaching legend who has twice been named the best motivational speaker in the country. Lou Holtz once said, “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it.” – Lou Holtz

Harold Reid in the Southern Quote

Harold was born August 21, 1939 in Augusta County, Virginia. As a young man he sang with three friends in a church trio. Five years later, his young brother Bob came on board and the quartet began performing gospel music under the name the Kingsmen.

The group’s first big break came when they opened a concert for a popular entertainer and earned his admiration in the process. The man in black invited them to join his tour. Taking themselves a new name, chosen from a box of hotel tissues, The Statler Brothers hit the road and spent the next eight years traveling with Johnny Cash.

Harold was known as the group’s resident clown, but he also used his strong organizational skills to write much of the humor they used on stage, to supervise their album covers, and to coordinate their bookings. The Statler Brothers officially retired in 2002. They played their last concert in Salem, VA, not far from where they got their start. In the intervening years they had earned the distinction of being one of the most successful vocal harmony groups in the history of country music with countless hits including, “Bed of Roses,” “Pictures” and “Do You Remember These”.

They were known for performing classic, down home country music that celebrated faith and family. In today’s Southern Quote we hear strains of the appreciation they shared for the values we so badly need restored.

Harold Reid, former bass singer of the Statler Brothers once said, “The great white hats are gone. We’ve got action movies. We have adventure movies. You can upset 28 cars. You can set a whole town on fire. But you don’t have the heroes. You don’t have the guy in the white hat that steps on that horse with the silver saddle. And you look at him and say, “Man, I want to be like that.” We don’t have that anymore.”


Ross Perot in the Southern Quote

He was born in Texas, June 27th, 1930, the son of a cotton broker. By the age of seven he was displaying his famous work ethic, delivering newspapers and buying and selling Christmas cards, magazines, garden seeds, bridles, saddles—even horses and calves. In characteristic fashion he joined the Boy Scouts of America and became an Eagle Scout in fifteen months.

After high school he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with honors and served on a four year naval tour. As a civilian he briefly pursued a career in sales at IBM before taking a thousand dollar loan from his wife and launching his own electronic services firm. By the age of thirty-eight he was a self made billionaire.

In the early 1990’s Mr. Ross Perot burst onto the political scene as a quirky little fellow with a squeaky voice and a penchant for using folksy sayings and pie charts. His disdain for Washington politics tapped into Americans’ dissatisfaction with their gridlocked government but his 1992 bid for the Presidency succeeded only in lending President Bill Clinton a helping hand to the White House. Analysts on all sides called him a spoiler, although they were divided as to whether he was in cahoots with the Clintons, or if he was pursuing a personal feud with President George Herbert Bush. His second run for the White House was less successful than his first and spelled the end for his political aspirations.

Ross Perot’s critics always said he was crazy. His supporters have often concurred, only they like to say he’s crazy like a fox! Regardless, almost all agreed that during his time on the national stage his country wit was a refreshing anecdote to the hot air of career politicians. In today’s southern quote we hear the straight talk of two-time Presidential hopeful Ross Perot, who once said,

“If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”– Ross Perot




Kathy Mattea in the Southern Quote

She was born on June 21st, 1959 in Southern Charleston, West Virginia. Kathy was a junior high student taking classical music lessons when she was introduced to what would become her true love, folk music. Kathy sang with a bluegrass band for a couple of her college years before dropping out and taking off for Nashville, eager to pursue her dream.

For the next five years she worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame while she cut demos and sang backup vocals for a number of Nashville songwriter and publishers. It was 1983 before Kathleen Alice “Kathy” Mattea signed her first record deal with then head of Mercury Records, Frank Jones. Her real break-through, however, came with her third album, whose single “Love at the Five and Dime” became her first major hit.

Kathy Mattea went on to find great commercial success as a country and pop artist. By May of 1988, she had become the first female to have a single spend multiple weeks at Billboard’s number one slot since Dolly Parton’s run in August of 1979.  Kathy is a repeat winner of the County Music Associations Female Vocalist of the Year with seventeen albums and 16 Top hits in her resume and she continues to explore her craft and her roots.

Ever breaking new ground, in the last few years, Kathy Mattea has surprised and delighted her fans by delving deeper into her Appalachian heritage, first with Coal, an album of old-timey Appalachian mining songs and then with her most recent release, Calling Me Home.

And in today’s Southern Quote we hear the satisfaction this popular artist has found in the music of her Appalachian roots. Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Kathy Mattea has said, “It’s a wonderful gift to be able to feel like you have a life’s work instead of a job.”

Bo Diddley in the Southern Quote

He was born Otha Ellas Bates in December 30th, 1928 in Pike County, MS. You might know him as Bo Diddley. Diddley is a southern expression for “nothing much at all.” One story has it that the nickname was first given to him by his fellow elementary school students. Bo might not have had a lot but by the age of ten he was displaying a talent for music that money can’t buy.

As a child he took the violin lessons he got at school and taught himself how to play the guitar. While he did play the violin in the Ebenezer Baptist Church Orchestra, he took the guitar and made money playing music for passers-by on the street.

After high school Bo briefly worked in construction and tried the hardscrabble world of amateur boxing before deciding to form a music group. He was twenty-six. It was 1954 and a star was being born. By the mid 1960’s Bo Diddley had taken his unique style and signature beat and become an influential American blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. The Bo Diddley beat is all about rhythm. His songs often have no chord changes. His lyrics are generally witty. It was Bo who first penned the line, “You look like you been in a hatchet fight and everybody had one but you.”

Today Bo Diddley lives in Archer, Florida. He continues to travel and perform. Although Bo Diddley has enjoyed world-wide popularity for close to five decades and enjoyed numerous awards, among them a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, he always felt like he was taken advantage of in the early years and never properly compensated for his songwriting and recording talents. That theme can be heard in today’s southern quote. Bo Diddley has often said,

“I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob.” — Bo Diddley




Tyler Perry in the Southern Quote

He was born Sept. 14th 1969 in New Orleans, LA. His mother was a preschool teacher who took him to church and walked the talk. His father was a carpenter who abused him throughout his childhood. During those years, Tyler was also molested by several adults. By the age of sixteen he was a depressed teen who had attempted suicide, dropped out of high school, and changed his first name from Emmet to Tyler to distance himself from his father.

Tyler was working in an office when he caught an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that touted the therapeutic benefits of journaling. He began writing letters to himself to work through the bad experiences of his childhood. Soon, he had adapted those letters into a play about domestic abuse and dysfunctional families. Tyler rented a theater in Atlanta to put on his play, but it failed to find an audience. Tyler was down but he wasn’t out.

Seven years later, Tyler was living in his car and working odd jobs but he was also honing his craft, continuously revising and retooling his play. When he got his next opportunity to stage it, “I Know I’ve Changed” played to a sold out audience and fueled his drive to produce more of his work.

Today Tyler Perry is an extremely successful writer, director, actor and producer, with hits on the stage, and in the television and film industries. He’s grossed over $100 million dollars in tickets and DVD sales. The man named one of the 50 smartest people in Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly has done it all with clean material and characters like Madea, a large tough African American Jesus loving, gun toting, wise cracking grandmother played by Tyler himself.

In today’s Southern Quote, we honor the career of Tyler Perry who once said, “Don’t wait for someone to green light your project. Build your own intersection.”

The Boy Hero of the Confederacy in the Southern Quote

He was born on October 6th, 1842 in Rutherford County, Tennessee. His was an upper middle class family and he was the oldest son. At eighteen years of age, he left home to attend Western Military Academy in Nashville.

Shortly after his arrival the Civil War began. Samuel Davis joined the Confederate Army and spent the next two years serving with the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment. Sam’s regiment first engaged the Union forces at Cheat Mountain, and then in the Shenandoah Valley. Though he escaped from those skirmishes without significant injury, he was wounded in the next battle at Shiloh and then, more severely at Perryville. After his recovery, Sam began serving as a courier for Coleman’s Scouts.

On November 20th, 1863, the young soldier was captured by Federal troops near Minor Hill, samdavisTennessee. The secret Union battle plans he was carrying led to his arrest as a courier and a spy. Sam was sentenced to die by hanging unless he agreed to reveal his contact. Sam refused to name his source, insisting that he’d rather die a thousand deaths than betray a friend. On the evening before his execution, Samuel Davis received a visit from the company’s chaplain. He joined the man of God in a short devotional and together they sang, “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand.” The next morning, one week after his capture, Samuel Davis met his fate. History records that in that short time he had won the respect of his captors. Union soldiers stood at attention as he approached the gallows.

In today’s Southern Quote, we honor the life of the young man from Tennessee who became known as The Boy Hero of the Confederacy. It’s recorded that the officer upon whom it fell to preside over his execution was moved by the young man’s age and the peace with which he faced the moment and he openly despaired of his responsibility in his death.

With his last words, Samuel Davis is alleged to have said, “Officer, I did my duty. Now you do yours.”

Thomas A. Dorsey in the Southern Quote

He was born in Georgia on July 1st, 1899. His father was a preacher and his mother taught piano so it was perhaps no surprise when young Thomas, or Tommy as he was known, learned to play the piano in his childhood. It wasn’t long, however, before he was displaying a preference for jazz and blues over the gospel songs his family loved. When Tommy’s talent at composing his own tunes began to bring him a good measure of early success, the young composer drifted away from the church altogether. He became an agent for Paramount Records and put together a band of his own called the “Wild Cats Jazz Band.”

Although Tommy Dorsey is credited with more than 400 blues and jazz songs, he couldn’t stay away from the gospel that had been seeded in him as a child. After surviving a couple of close calls in which he came close to death, Tommy came back to his roots in his mid-twenties and began recording gospel music along with his blues.

Tommy was thirty three years old when a telegram was handed to him in the middle of a revival service in St. Louis, Missouri. His wife had passed away during childbirth. His infant son died two days later. It was during that dark period of grief that Thomas A. Dorsey wrote his most famous song. “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” has since comforted untold numbers of believers and become one of the most famous gospel songs of all time.

Gospel Hall of Famer, Thomas A. Dorsey, passed away in 1993 at the age of ninety-four. He had written more than 250 gospel songs, among them the gospel standard he penned for Mahalia Jackson in 1937, “Peace in the Valley.” In today’s Southern Quote, we honor this legendary singer and composer whose music reached beyond his African American audience to touch the hearts of people around the globe. Thomas A. Dorsey once said, “I write for all of God’s people. All people are my people.”

Hugs, Shellie

Where Were You?

I was on my second cup of coffee, in a comfortable recliner in my own home. I remember the disbelief, shock, anger, and overwhelming sadness. As I watched the images flashing on the screen, heroes began rising up from among everyday people and a wave of pride joined my confused emotions.

I remember feeling compelled to find my grown kids immediately, to locate my husband, my parents, and my friends. I’ll never forget the depth of my emotions that day and the weeks and months that followed, even though I was many miles away from New York City with no direct connections to the thousands of lives lost in the fire and rubble of the largest terrorist attack in our nation’s history. I don’t know how that day affected you and yours. For those directly impacted by the loss of a friend or family member, I’m sure each anniversary brings fresh pain. My prayers go out to you. This segment is an annual All Things Southern tribute and my humble effort not to allow a politically correct climate to whitewash the memory of that horrific assault on our country.

Today’s “It’s Been Said” segment initially ran on September 11th, 2002. We quote a man born and raised in Newman, Georgia. The lanky blond-haired, blue-eyed musician had already “arrived” in the music business a long time before September 11th, 2001. But the raw and sincere words he put to music memorializing that day became a career defining hit and offered cords to bind the wounded and grieving with their fellow Americans and help us heal as a nation.

In today’s southern quote we honor the victims of the 9-11 attack on America and those who are still missing them today. In the now familiar words of Alan Jackson, “Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?”

The Perfect Moment

If I could reclaim something from my childhood it would be the time spent with my grandparents.  I suppose it’s because I’m a grandparent myself now, but I think of how I look at my little ones and it makes me think how nice it would be to go back in time and be on the other end of this relationship.

I had wonderful grandparents on both sides of my family tree. My paternal grandfather died in my early childhood, but I was privileged to get to spend a lot of time with the other three. As much as I treasure my memories with them, I wish I had more.

If I could go back, I’d climb in their laps and stay there as long as I could. With my new perspective, I’d watch them play with my fingers and I’d know they were treasuring every moment they had with me. When they caressed my hair and doctored my booboos, I would understand that my aches really were hurting them as much as they were hurting me. And then, as soon as I got old enough, I would sit with them and ask question upon question about their childhoods, about their hopes and their dreams and I would remember not to forget a word they said.  Or, would I?

The funny thing about us humans is our capacity to take for granted all that is precious about our days, even as we are reminding ourselves of how fleeting our lives are.  Somehow, I suspect that we could go back in time and within a matter of months, weeks, or days, we would once again get lost in the up and down rhythm of the everyday and the ever present challenge to treasure the moments. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a God thing.

Maybe He wired us this way so that we have to decide on purpose, not just once, but over and over again to embrace this moment right here, right now. Maybe it’s because when we do make a concentrated effort to really be here in the marvelous mundane, we get to touch the One who lives outside of time and bring Him into our life and the lives of those we love.

In today’s Southern Quote, I offer you the words of a wise soul named anonymous who once said, “Don’t wait for the perfect moment…take the moment and make it perfect.”

Hugs, Shellie