Saturday, December 22

A Southern Six-Pack for Jake Adam York

Today in Gadsden, Alabama Jake Adam York will be laid to rest.  His wife, Sarah, his brother, Joe York, his parents, grandparents and a host of family and friends are gathered there to say good-bye.

This week, in celebration of Jake's life and work, a community of poets and writers have done what they do best, put pen to paper.

What we can do today is to hold Jake's family in our hearts and remember.

1.  Jake Adam York, Poet Who Chronicled the Civil Rights Movement,  The Denver Post.

2.  Remembering Jake Adam York, Southern Spaces.

3.  Jake, Shenandoah, Snopes Blog.

4.  Remembering Jake Adam York, The Rumpus, Poetry Wire.

5.  Jake Adam York, Colorado Poet and Teacher, Westword.

6.  Acclaimed Auburn Educated Poet, Jake Adam York, The War Eagle Reader.

Monday, December 17

Jake Adam York, 1972–2012

The SFA family regrets to announce that poet Jake Adam York, age 40, died on Sunday in Denver, Colorado, where he taught at the University of Colorado, Denver. Born in Alabama, educated at Auburn University and Cornell University, he was the author of four books, including A Murmuration of Starlings.

Jake, the brother of SFA filmmaker Joe York, spoke at a number of SFA events through the years including the 2002 Symposium and our most recent Symposium, too. He wrote well and often of both race relations in the American South, and of how we define ourselves at table. He will be missed. Greatly.

Later in the week, we’ll post a more robust tribute to him. For now, please listen to his words, from the closing event of the 2012 symposium.

Thursday, December 13

We're on Pinterest!

We've started one of our New Year's Resolutions a few weeks early by joining Pinterest. We invite you to follow us for a visual window in to the SFA's projects, people, and events.

SFA Benefit Dinner in Hattiesburg, MS

Robert St. John and the nice folks at the Purple Parrot Cafe in Hattiesburg, MS, are hosting a special dinner on Monday, December 17, to benefit the SFA. A few tickets remain for this event; call the Purple Parrot for reservations (number below).

If you live in or near Hattiesburg, we'd love to see you there! Tickets are $75 plus tax and gratuity for a five-course dinner with wine pairings. The menu features local and regional ingredients including Gulf seafood, pastured pork, and Mississippi-grown produce.

We're grateful to chef St. John and the Purple Parrot for organizing this event on our behalf. 

Tuesday, December 11

Kitchen to Classroom: Grad Student Spotlight

Photo by Alfred T. Palmer, 1943. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Today's "Kitchen to Classroom" post is written by Paige Prather, a first-year MA student in Southern Studies here at the University of Mississippi. Paige is a native of Austin, Texas. She tells us about her final project for Professor Angela Jill Cooley's Foodways and Southern Culture class.

Photos by Paige Prather
After reading Cultivating Food Justice, edited by Alison Hope Alkon and Julian Agyeman, I was inspired to research food justice movements in the South. I was particularly interested in grassroots organizations addressing food sustainability in low income neighborhoods. I learned of the backyard gardens, Saturday market, and fishing industry run by the Vietnamese American population in New Orleans East from my current roommate here in Oxford, whose family immigrated to New Orleans from Vietnam.

I researched scholarship on Vietnamese history in New Orleans and discovered that New Orleans East inhabits the highest concentration of Vietnamese Americans in the United States. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Vietnamese refugees established a community in the neighborhood’s Versailles Arms Apartment complex. Today, more than 11,000 Vietnamese Americans live within three contingent residential areas of the neighborhood. The agrarian and fishing background of the refugees and the comparable climate of New Orleans and of coastal villages in North Vietnam influenced gardening and fishing practices still prevalent in the New Orleans East community. I traveled to New Orleans and conducted interviews with the Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Center and Vietnamese American residents in New Orleans about the gardens and fishing industry.

My paper explores the significance of gardening and fishing to Vietnamese Americans living in New Orleans East since 1975.  The strong cultural connection to agrarian practices learned in Vietnam provided the residents of New Orleans East with sustenance and employment that is now threatened by poor city planning and environmental disasters. In response the Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Center has built a farmers' co-op and an aquaponics agricultural system to assist displaced fishing industry workers and elderly gardeners in New Orleans East. This system offers sustainable alternatives to the individuals most vulnerable to environmental catastrophes on the Gulf Coast. The solutions formed by the Community Development Center employ agrarian practices learned in Vietnam and reinforce the resilient and adaptive culture of Vietnamese Americans living in New Orleans East.

Craig Claiborne Exhibit on View in Jackson, MS

Our exhibit on the life and times of Craig Claiborne is now in Jackson, Mississippi. The Mississippi Arts Commission—which also contributed funding for the creation of the exhibit—will host a reception this Thursday, December 13. Please come by if you are in the Jackson area! The event is free and open to the public.

The SFA extends a big thanks to MAC for their support of this project and to Georgeanna Chapman and Devin Cox, who wrote and designed the exhibit in conjunction with the SFA.   

If your venue or organization is interested in hosting the Claiborne exhibit, please contact Sara Camp Arnold at

A Report from the Field: Women, Work, and Food in Richmond, VA

Oyster shucker Deborah Pratt with her son, Davila.
Photograph by Sara Wood.

In advance of our 2013 summer symposium to be held in Richmond, VA, in June, former SFA oral history intern, Sara Wood, is in RVA to collect fieldwork relating to women, work, and food. Last week, she met with oyster shucking champion Deborah Pratt and her youngest son, Davila.

A short report from Sara:
Davila started shucking two years ago. Apparently, he was working somewhere else and Deborah said he learned to shuck wrong (cutting into the middle of the oyster as opposed to the right way, starting at the hinge of the oyster). So she re-taught him how to shuck, and now he "shucks right alongside her with his bad self." She says he was out there in the wilderness, getting into trouble so she started bringing him in with her to shuck. 

We'll share more of Sara's reports from the field in the coming weeks.

Go here for our current calendar that lists the dates of our summer symposium, as well as other exciting SFA events in 2013.

Monday, December 10

Oral History in the Classroom: Oxford Elementary School

SFA oral historian Amy C. Evans visits second graders at Oxford Elementary School in Oxford, MS.

Part of what we love about oral history is the possibility it presents in the classroom. Whether grade school or graduate school, oral history is a wonderful educational tool that offers young scholars a unique opportunity to hone a variety of skills: communication, research, documenting, archiving, writing, and more.

Take the group of second graders at Oxford Elementary School in Oxford, Mississippi, pictured above. They are about to do their very first oral history interviews as part of a class project. Today, our own Amy Evans visited the class to talk about her work as a professional oral historian, offer some tips of the trade, and get them excited about doing fieldwork. She led the group in a discussion about geography (where is the South?), culture (what is culture?) and, of course, the nuts and bolts of conducting an interview. Amy even interviewed a few students to give them a feel for what it's like to sit down with someone and ask--and answer--questions. The takeaways: be curious, listen, make new friends.

The students' interviews and photographs will be part of an exhibit in early 2013. We'll be sure to share an update here.

A special thanks to Smith Stuart, pictured far left, who invited Amy to speak to his class.

Mid-South Farm to Table Conference in Memphis, TN, February 12

Green Leaf Learning Farm - Memphis, TN
Photo by Amy C. Evans

The farm-to-table and urban agriculture movements in Memphis, Tennessee, are...growing!

Save the date for the upcoming Mid-South Farm to Table Conference, happening in Memphis on February 12. From the press release:
The third annual Mid-South Farm to Table Conference will take place on February 12, 2013 from 8 AM to 5 PM at Rhodes College. The conference is designed to provide a forum for farmers, consumers, entrepreneurs and other interested groups to discuss ideas for developing the local food system of Memphis and the Mid-South.
The Mid-South Farm to Table Conference was established with the vision that a thriving local food system will strengthen farmer livelihoods by connecting more farmers to local consumers; will improve access to fresh produce and increase healthy food consumption; and will stimulate economic development and job creation in the region.
The 2013 conference will feature sessions on a variety of important topics for the local food system – from fruit and vegetable production to new farm start-ups, food hubs, food writing and how food shapes our culture and urban agriculture in Memphis. A networking lunch will provide attendees the chance to further develop relationships and collaborative opportunities.
Sponsors of the 2013 Mid-South Farm to Table Conference include the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Slow Food Memphis, Rhodes College, Memphis Center for Food and Faith, and Grow Memphis.

Visit the Mid-South Farm to Table Conference website for more information.

*    *    *

Last week SFA oral historian Amy C. Evans traveled to Memphis to meet with Christian Man of Green Leaf Learning Farm, an urban educational agricultural effort that is a project of Knowledge Quest, a non-profit serving the children of South Memphis. Christian has spent the past few months conducting a handful of oral history interviews to document the farm, while also exploring changing experiences in, and conceptions of, agriculture in the South for African Americans. Christian shared his interviews with the SFA's permanent archive, and we will share moments from some of his interviews in the coming months.

Christian's tenure at Green Leaf will come to an end at the end of this month, but his work is far from done. In 2013, Christian will begin working for the Memphis Center for Food and Faith, a newly established effort that views eating and agriculture as acts of faith and will serve as an advocacy organization for the greater Memphis community on issues of food policy, access, and justice. He he intends to incorporate oral history fieldwork as part of the Center's mission. We will make sure to share more information as it is made available.

Friday, December 7

Southern Six-Pack

1.  A call to bring compassion and creativity to solving the nation's school lunch problem.  And a reminder that despite what I thought in 1980 (as an 8th grader), no one's high school cafeteria ever looked like this.

2.  Pie chart.  Pie movie.  Pie songs.  And, an entire issue of Indy Week devoted to pie.  You're welcome.

3.  Eat catfish before they eat you. Seriously, that's what they're up to.

4.  Want to know what else sucks about being over 40?  Losing your sense of taste, that's what.

5.  Five second rule!  Not so much.

6.  To help you get ready for the holiday season:  party food: 101 One Bite Appetizers, gifts: Eau de Pizza Hut, and a companion:  Your L.L. Bean Boyfriend. 

Thursday, December 6

Thirsty Thursday: All I Want for Christmas

Who doesn't love a holiday gift guide? The correct answer is no one. No one doesn't love one.

In the spirit of gift giving (and getting--hint, hint), here's a short list of gifts that will please a favorite drinker on your list. All I want for Christmas...

1. Bicycle Wine Rack
In their own words, "If you like wine and you like biking, you're going to love this." Obvs. This leather wine holder with antique brass fasteners is beautiful and handy. And you're gonna look totally badass pedaling up to your next picnic. Made by our clever neighbors in Montreal, Canada.

2. License Plate Coozie
The 3 Sisters Design Co. in Bradenton, Florida recycle, reuse, reclaim, and reinvent to make art, jewelry, and--in this case--coozies! These 3 ladies have molded old license plates into fabulous coozies to keep your beer cold/hand warm. Quantities are fact only the following states are currently available: AL, AR, GA, MS, TN, TX, and VA.

3. Bottle Opener and Resealer
 Ok, is this super necessary for the 12 oz Miller Light in your life? Nope. But local, craft breweries seem to be in most [awesome] Southern city these days. What do you do with your freshly opened growler? You're not going to let that brew go stale are you? Enter headache and aspirin. OR, use this resealer and enjoy the fresh beer again another day.

4. Rewined Candles
This summer, I ran across these candles on a trip to Charleston (where this brainchild was born). Summer lovin'...met a candle perfect for meeee! And you, I think. The candles are housed in recycled wine bottles. The scents, including pinot noir, chardonnay, and riesling, are "blended to mimic the flavors and aromas found in your favorite varietals of wine." If I could just find soap that smells like wine, it would be the makings of a perfect bath trifecta.

5. Leather Coaster Set
Confession time. I'm in love with all things Jon Hart. This San Antonio, Texas-based company sells classic bags and accessories (everything from duffles to rifle covers). I especially love these coasters, stamped with my a monogram. You may not even find yourself nagging guests to use a freaking coaster already.

Remembering Bill Dow

Photo by Ashley Young, August 2011
The SFA is sad to hear of the passing of Bill Dow, one of the founders of the Carrboro Farmers' Market. Bill sold his Ayrshire Farm produce at the CFM for over thirty years and was one of the interviewees in our Carrboro Farmers' Market oral history project. A former pediatrician and lecturer at UNC's School of Public Health, Dow was a passionate advocate for public access to fresh, healthy foods. Our thoughts are with his longtime companion, Daryl Walker.

Wednesday, December 5

Holiday Throwback Recipes: Dueling Cheese Straws

We've got a pretty solid collection of community cookbooks here in the office—and many more in our staffers' home libraries. And the holidays seem like the right time to whip them out and share some choice recipes with you, our readers. So fix yourself an eggnog, pull up a seat, and check back often between now and New Year's for our Holiday Throwback Recipes.

If we've got a holiday cocktail in one hand, nothing makes us happier than twirling (then chomping) a cheese straw in the other. There are many ways to make them and shape them, from shortbread-esque sticks to puff pastry spirals to cookie-shaped flats. In fact, we'd be willing to guess that there are as many recipes out there for cheese straws as there are for pimento cheese.

Here are three such recipes: a classic version, one with an extra crunch, and one that's got the blues.

Inverness Cookbook
Recipes collected by the All Saints Episcopal Guild, Inverness, Mississippi
(Publication date not given; probably 1960s)

Cheese Straws
1 lb cheese (N.Y. State)
1 stick butter
2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper or Tabasco

Put dough in cookie press with star point. Bake at 300 degrees about 20 min. Makes 81 straws. 

(Editor's note: If you were hoping to make 82 cheese straws, this might not be the recipe for you.) 


La Piñata 
Published by the McAllen Junior Service League, McAllen, Texas

Hot Corn Flake Cheese Cookies
3 sticks butter
1 1/2 lbs sharp cheese, grated
2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp red pepper
1 8-oz pkg. corn flakes

Mix above ingredients. Roll into balls about the size of a marble. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

—Mrs. Robert Whitis (Linda)


The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook 
edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge, published by University of Georgia Press

Blue Cheese Straws
Makes about 6 dozen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten

Stir together the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut in the butter and cheese until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the nuts and egg yolks until the mixture forms large clumps. Press and knead the clumps until the dough is well mixed. (It will stay crumbly.) Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a 9-inch log with round or flat sides. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cut the logs into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle the tops with salt. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the shortbreads cool to room temperature. They will firm up as they cool.

—Steven Satterfield of Atlanta, Georgia

Tuesday, December 4

Holiday Throwback Recipes: Fudge

We've got a pretty solid collection of community cookbooks here in the office—and many more in our staffers' home libraries. And the holidays seem like the right time to whip them out and share some choice recipes with you, our readers. So fix yourself an eggnog, pull up a seat, and check back often between now and New Year's for our Holiday Throwback Recipes.

Today's Cookbook:
Talk about Good!
"Le Livre de la Cuisine de Lafayette" 
Published by the Service League of Lafayette, Louisiana
First edition 1967; annual subsequent printings 1968–1971

Someone (read: me) had a chocolate craving this afternoon, so I took the opportunity to deck the halls of SFA World HQ. Or, at least spruce up the coffee table with the best seasonal flair that Walgreen's had to offer. What I should have done was make some fudge. It's quick and inexpensive, yet it feels fancy—perfect criteria for holiday gifting!

The ladies of the Lafayette Service League offer a handful of fudge recipes; here's one that claims a presidential pedigree.

Mamie Eisenhower's Fudge
4 1/2 c. sugar
pinch salt
4 tbsp. butter
1 tall can Pet milk

Boil the above ingredients for 6 minutes (time it after it comes to a boil). Remove from the fire and add:

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
12 oz. German's sweet chocolate
1 pt. marshmallow cream
2 c. nut meats

Beat until everything is melted. Pour out onto waxed paper and allow to set for 3 hours. This recipe makes quite a lot so have a large place to pour it out. This is excellent. It never dries out but remains moist for a week or more. Once you have made this fudge, you will never want to make any other kind.

—Lady Helen Hardy

Editor's note: We're not sure whether Lady was her first name, whether there's a royal Louisiana lineage we don't know about, or whether she bestowed the title on herself. In any case, we think it's pretty fly. 

Monday, December 3

Holiday Throwback Recipes: It's Game Time

We've got a pretty solid collection of community cookbooks here in the office—and many more in our staffers' home libraries. And the holidays seem like the right time to whip them out and share some choice recipes with you, our readers. So fix yourself an eggnog, pull up a seat, and check back often between now and New Year's for our Holiday Throwback Recipes.

Today's Cookbook:
Talk about Good!
"Le Livre de la Cuisine de Lafayette" 
Published by the Service League of Lafayette, Louisiana
First edition 1967; annual subsequent printings 1968–1971

It's game time, folks—and no, we're not talking about the college football post-season. Think wild game from land, air, and marsh: venison, quail, duck, and the like. We're not exactly avid outdoorsfolk here at SFA world headquarters, but you don't have to have a Mossy Oak wardrobe to notice that hunting season is in full swing. And really, we think it's pretty darn festive to serve up a holiday main dish you—er, bagged, yourself.

Apparently, the ladies of the Lafayette Service League were in agreement with us. Except they had a better idea of what they were doing with that deer (and rabbit, and goose, and squirrel...) 

To wit, the following recipes and tips, culled from an entire chapter of possibilities:

Hints to Game Cookers
Don't be afraid to season thoroughly with salt, red and black pepper.
Bell pepper compliments the flavor.
Too much garlic isn't good.
Don't hesitate to cook until it nearly falls apart.
"Steam" heat is the best method.
By all means use plenty of parsley.
—Mrs. F. M. McGinn

Goose Casserole
Soak 1 1/2 quarts white beans overnight in cold water. Drain. Place in a large kettle with:

3/4 lb salt pork
1/2 lb fresh pork rind
1 carrot
1 onion stuck with 2 cloves
1/4 tsp ground thyme
fresh ground pepper
Bouquet Garni composed of 3 cloves garlic, 4 sprigs parsley, 3 sprigs celery tops and 1 bay leaf (all tied together in a cheesecloth bag)

Cover mixture completely with boiling water and simmer very gently for 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons goose fat or lard in a large skillet and ad 1 1/2 pounds loin of pork and 1 pound boned breast of lamb, both well seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown meat on all sides and add 2 onions, finely chopped and continue to brown a little. Add:

2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 cup meat stock

Cover. cook slowly for 1 hour, or until meat is tender, adding more stock from time to time. When beans have cooked 1 1/2 hours, remove carrot, onion and Bouquet Garni. Put mixture in a large kettle and add to it the cooked meat (reserving the meat juice). Add also:

1 garlic sausage (about 1 lb.)
3 fresh pork sausages
all the meat from a roasted goose

Simmer slowly 1 1/2 hours. Remove meat. Cut lamb, pork, and goose in small slices, pork rind in rectangles; remove skin from garlic sausage, cut it in thick slices and cut pork sausages in halves. Cover the bottom of 2 large earthenware casseroles with the pork rind. Add to each a layer of beans, then a layer of the meats, and sprinkle with some of the meat juice. Continue the layers to the top, sprinkling each also with coarse black pepper and a little salt. On the last layer of beans, place a few slices each of salt pork, pork rind and garlic sausage. Add enough bean broth to cover and sprinkle top with coarse bread crumbs, dotted with butter. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover and bake 30 minutes more.

This recipe will serve at least 20 people, and costs $7.50 per portion at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York.

—Mrs. A. J. Shepard