Buttermilk Pie: The Experiment, Part I

I’ve been catching up on episodes of “Who Do You Think You Are?” this week, which always makes me think of my own roots and family history. The truth is I couldn’t be more southern. My mom was raised in the lowcountry of South Carolina, and my maternal roots go several centuries deep in Savannah. My dad is from the Pee Dee area of South Carolina, and we can trace my paternal ancestry back to colonial times in eastern North Carolina and Virginia. I was raised near Charlotte, N.C. — so, like my mom says, we haven’t moved very far.

My exposure to the cuisine of the South while I was growing up included staple recipes that had been in my family and the classics we ate in family-run restaurants. I grew to love food that most southern families have enjoyed for centuries: puckeringly sweet iced tea, fresh figs off the tree, blackberries on the vine and homegrown, road stand vegetables like deep, red tomatoes and fuzzy, tender, juicy peaches. In the fall we picked up pecans under the ancient tree that canopied my grandparents’ backyard and cracked and shelled them inside by the fire. At home we ate fried quail or fish with grits for breakfast, country-style steak with rice, chicken bog, boiled peanuts, slow-cooked collard greens, red velvet and caramel cakes … the list goes on.
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Saying a sudsy goodbye.

It’s been a couple of days since the news broke about the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live, and I think I’ve needed that time just to process.

Everybody likes to scoff about the silliness of soap operas — the umpteen marriages, resurrections from the dead, overnight aging of kindergarteners to high schoolers, the “we can’t be together because … you’re … my long-lost … twin brother!” scenarios. But, some of the most lauded actors in Hollywood started on soaps, and the way they churn out pages of dialogue and five hours of television a week is pretty amazing. It’s a grind for those actors and writers that you have to respect on some level. Plus, back in the day soaps had some of the best writing and story plotting I’ve ever seen on television.

Anne Heche on "Another World"

I became a soap opera junkie when I was 7. I can date myself because one of my earliest memories is when Roman (or John Black, as we learned years later) was discovered alive and reunited with Marlena on Days of Our Lives. That was my grandmother’s “story,” and it was part of our established routine during summers at the beach:  play at the beach in the morning, lunch, DOOL at 1 pm, then Grandmama’s nap while I watched Another World and Santa Barbara. Those “supercouples” of the 80s defined my childhood:  Jack & Jennifer, Bo & Hope, Patch & Kayla. On Another World, I loved watching the exploits of twins Marley and Victoria, both played by a young Anne Heche. Once summer was over, I’d rush off the bus from third grade to catch Santa Barbara at 3 pm, since I couldn’t miss one minute of Cruz and Eden’s saga! Epic. Keep reading »

I ♥ NYC.

When I was 7, my mom won a trip to New York City over Thanksgiving. We stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria (in the smallest room known to man), saw some Broadway shows and ventured out to watch the parade. My parents let me walk in front of them because they said I was good at parting the crowds. I just held my hands out in front of me, clapsed together like a rudder, and weaved through the sea of people. (Hey, I was 7.)

In middle school, my mom, grandmother and I flew up for one-day shopping trips during Christmas season. (My mom scared an elderly Asian lady in Macy’s when she put her arm around her from behind, thinking she was my grandmother. Oh, how we’ve laughed about that over the years.)

When I was in college, my dad and I spent fall break in New York, just walking around the streets and hitting all the tourist sites. We climbed the Statue of Liberty, where I had a heights-related panic attack on the spiral stairs, and took a photo at the top of the World Trade Center (freezing, since it was October). I remember feeling so let down coming back to my dorm room that night after I’d spent the morning walking in Central Park. Keep reading »

Project runaway.

I ran away from home last weekend.

This semester I’m responsible for reading 80 pages of finance text every week, calculating homework problems, plus reading 3-5 management articles and answering short answer homework on those.


We began plotting an escape to the beach at the beginning of the week, even though it’s far past summer and the weather has turned chilly. I begged out of class early on Thursday, and I can work remotely from anywhere. So luckily, our plan went off without a hitch. Keep reading »

To all the dogs I’ve loved before.

I really do mean canines.

(Though there’s only been one, so far.)

Last week at lunch I was reminiscing with my dad about my first dog, a beagle named Missy who a) bit me on the foot, b) ate my dad’s last Snickers candy bar (he’s still not over it) and c) ran away, never to be seen again, as soon as we arrived at my grandparents’ farm. I don’t think any of us were too upset. Keep reading »

It’s about that time.

This has always been my favorite time of year. The hot summer is fading into fall … but most importantly, it’s Fall TV Premiere season!

I’m such a nerd that I usually print out the fall schedule calendar, buy the TV Guide preview edition, read up on all the new shows, then dutifully program my DVR. I revel in it.

(I don’t yet recall all the stress the DVR causes me later as it inches toward 100% capacity.)

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An anniversary.

Nine years today. Gosh. That’s almost a full decade! And even so, I don’t think I’ve fully processed that day, how it changed the city and our whole country, the world. But I won’t go on and on about it. You know.

I took a writing seminar this summer on memoir. I’ve always liked family stories, and I haven’t taken a true writing class since I was 12. I thought it would push me but also give me some structure on how to put personal stories together into some sort of narrative. In class, our moderator would read a poem or story and ask us to choose a phrase from it that spoke to us. Then we’d have 10 minutes to write, in longhand, without stopping. She stressed the not stopping – even if you had to write, “This is stupid and I have nothing to say and I can’t think of anything and I hate this class,” etc. for the full time. She assured us that eventually the exercise would take us somewhere surprising.


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