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Come In, We Are OPEN!

Here it is! My very first blog post! It is something I have been thinking of doing for a while now, and today is finally the day.

The Southern Yankee Kitchen is officially open!

I love a kitchen. To me, it is truly the heart of a home. In older times, it was, by default, the heart of the home because that is where the hearth was located. The warmth, the light and most of a family’s time together was contained within its reach.

As time marched on, both families and kitchens evolved, but it continued as a place for folks to gather. At a party, everyone usually winds up in the kitchen. Celebrations typically begin, and often end, in the kitchen. Many a lively discussion has been had around a dinner table. It is a place of comfort and nurturing.

I love my kitchen. We did a renovation several years ago and now I have the kitchen of my dreams, but I have loved each one that I have known—from the kitchens of my childhood, to first apartment galley-sized; the ones that were fully equipped and some that were woefully ill-equipped. I even enjoy a camping stove set up under the trees.

I grew up in Massachusetts---a Yankee, but also a foodie. I got my first cookbook when I was 10 years old and that was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with all things food and cooking.

I own hundreds of cookbooks. It is somewhat of an obsession. Growing up, I read cookbooks as if they were novels. I watched black and white episodes of “The French Chef” with Julia Child (being filmed locally at WGBH-TV, Boston’s PBS station) and will only now confess to staying home “sick” from junior high school to watch “The Galloping Gourmet” with Graham Kerr. Cookbooks, cooking shows----and my treasured Gourmet magazine stash! I have every issue from my premiere subscription in 1982 to the shockingly abrupt final issue, November 2009.

I love learning about food, talking about food, watching people cook and cooking myself. That brings me to the “Southern” part of The Southern Yankee Kitchen. When I moved to coastal North Carolina in 1984, a whole new culinary world was opened. Seafood from warmer waters was readily available, inexpensive, completely different from the offerings of the North Atlantic and you could even catch your own! I tasted collards for the first time and learned about the Southern tradition of serving Hoppin’ John (a black-eyed peas dish) for luck on New Year’s Day. In North Carolina, whole hog was the way to barbeque and the sauce was always vinegar based. I couldn’t learn fast enough!

Twelve years later, I was newly remarried and living in East Tennessee. It was still the South, but a world apart from my former beach town. Sweet iced tea was available everywhere---all day and every day---a shock to my Yankee upbringing where it was served only between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and then only if you knew where to find it. New Englanders only took their tea hot back in the day. Biscuits with sawmill gravy was a beloved breakfast, deviled eggs were on every party table and heated arguments would arise over whose Mamaw made the best pimento (pronounced pah-mennah) cheese. I was once again in my own private culinary school!

In The Southern Yankee Kitchen, I want to share what I have learned, from the places I have lived and the people I have met. Stories, recipes, whatever comes to mind---as if we were all hanging out in the kitchen, fixing a snack and sipping sweet tea. I am happy to welcome you to my kitchen!

The Southern Yankee Kitchen

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