I forget what a pleasant, relaxing exercise cooking can be, until I stop long enough to shop for just the right ingredients and try to make something new or something I’ve never made. Or something I haven’t made in a while.
For me, yesterday, the cooking experience felt imbued with my need to provide a nourishing dish that my friend would enjoy eating and which would complement the other dishes at the table. It needed to be vegan also. Little did I know, she’s not much of a fan of corn. For I had chosen to make Ferriday Fresh Fried Vegan Corn from the “Little Miss Cornbread” book. Fortunately for me, I enjoyed making the dish and she enjoyed eating it. It lifted my spirits, cooking and listening to the album “Tapestry” by Carole King.
In addition to acknowledging that she enjoyed the corn, my friend did comment that the “fried” description seemed a bit off the mark. So I explained how the dish is made by frying the corn in the vegan butter before taking it to the “cream” stage. Little did she know, she’d have her own book before night’s end. The occasion? Celebrate her birthday with a small number of friends and her husband at their home. So, of course, I gave her a book, and a Turtle Lake Press mug.
Here’s a photo of the corn frying on the gas stove after the cream has been added. And another of the final dish. I cannot express the satisfaction I received from the whole experience. See, I’m the writer of the stories in the “Little Miss Cornbread” book. My sister, Susie Jane, is the chef. So I’m out of my element when I’m making the recipes sometimes. But the real story is this: When I was growing up, few girls or young women escaped cooking. If you were “a girl,” it was a requirement to learn to cook and to enjoy it (whether you really did or not). At one time, I resented that. Times have changed. That was almost 60 years ago. I’m grateful I can prepare my own food or food for others. And yesterday I was reminded that a well-tended dish created with love and care nourishes the body and the soul, as well as new friendships and old.
Yum! This Vegan Second-Line Gumbo, a recipe crafted by sister Susie Jane Wilson, is featured in Little Miss Cornbread: Our Journey to Southern-Style Vegan and Gluten-Free Cuisine & Sort-of-True Short Stories. It goes nicely with the regular cornbread or the vegan, gluten-free cornbread. While eating, have your host or the biggest “actor” in your dinner party read aloud “Lee Catherine and Billy Joe Go To the Picture Show,” one of the short stories that’s featured in the book. The action takes place in an old theater in the 1960s (and in the woods where no one can see) in a small town in Louisiana. Think young, hot love, the movie “Psycho,” craw-fishing and first kisses. Visit your local bookstore or order the book online. Don’t forget to also visit author Susie Jane’s Little Miss Cornbread website. She’s adding new recipes all the time. Traditional and reworked versions for folks who prefer vegan, gluten-food. Later baby! Amylou signing off.
As of today, Dec. 27, 2016, Little Miss Cornbread: Our Journey to Southern-Style Vegan and Gluten-Free Cuisine & Sort-of-True Short Stories is published! Visit your local bookstore or order a copy online. We want people to smile as they read down-home stories (aloud at dinner parties hosted by you, I hope), while they eat well!!! We have five parties available. One is already taken. A party means you set a date. Tell me (firstname.lastname@example.org). You will be mailed (or delivered, if local), a free, signed book to reward you for hosting the party. (If you are in the Northwest Arkansas area or the San Francisco area, I or my sister may be able to set dates with you so we can be there in person.) Invite friends, make one dish from the book, and books will be for sale on site, if possible or via the website. Don’t forget to also visit author Susie Jane’s Little Miss Cornbread website.
Okay. Good news. Bad news. Good news? We have a second book, Little Miss Cornbread: Our Journey to Southern-Style Vegan and Gluten-Free Cuisine & Sort-of-True Short Stories. The bad news? It’s already December 22 and we still have no actual books in hand to sell. So, it isn’t available for holiday sales. (Sad face.) But we have big plans for sales in 2017! For one, we want to make people smile as they read down-home stories (aloud at dinner parties, I hope), while they eat well!!! So here’s the first fun idea: You host a “Little Miss Cornbread” party. (Offer limited to five parties initially, so email me now!) Here’s how it works. Contact Amylou at email@example.com and tell her your plans, including the date and time and contact/link for the event. Tell Amylou so she can publicize on Facebook and Susie Jane can publicize on http://www.littlemisscornbread.com. Cook a few items from the book. Share yummy food with people who attend your Little Miss Cornbread party. Tell people how to buy the book online from this website. Meanwhile, you will have your signed, one-of-a-kind copy in hand to show off. That’s your reward! A free book, healthy food and great stories, and Susie Jane’s and Amylou’s eternal thanks! How’s that for a plan?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. Don’t you just love this beautiful cover of our new book? I can’t sell it to you yet, though! We’re running late getting Little Miss Cornbread: Our Journey to Southern-Style Vegan and Gluten-Free Cuisine & Sort-of-True Short Stories to market. I’m sorry to report that it likely will not be available for holiday sales. However, get ready for a big roll-out after January 1! And please follow us on Facebook. I’ll keep you updated there, too. Until later … this is Amylou signing out.
So much has happened since the last post. We are very close to getting Little Miss Cornbread: Our Journey to Southern-Style Vegan and Gluten-Free Cuisine & Sort-of-True Short Stories to market. I did want to share two new pieces of information.
One is this beautiful logo created by Sara Schmidt, one of our Turtle People. We will be back in a few days, to add information to Turtle Stuff telling you more about the book and how to purchase it.
The second is that Susie Jane Wilson has her Little Miss Cornbread blog up and running. Check it out!!! As sisters, we are so grateful to get to work together on this heartfelt project.
Well, I’m back. Amylou Wilson here again after a long hiatus. All I can say about that is this: Regular work takes a lot of my energy. You know, the full-time job that I love and that keeps the lights on, the fires burning, the water running, food on the table, gas in the car, clothes on my back, health insurance. You know the drill.
The good news is that a new (old) project is back on the burner and in process. The working title is “Little Miss Cornbread.” My sister, Susan Jane, sketched the draft logo you see here. We have a fabulous logo created by Sara Schmidt and we’ll unveil it soon. Needless to say, I’m thrilled about it and more will be revealed in the coming months. I will simply say that the book contains recipes (gluten-free and vegan) based on Southern food, tastes and smells that we love and appreciate. The idea is to present the new versions, provide the old recipes, and then to perhaps entertain with some fictional stories by me at the end of the book (something along the lines of “Calling the Dogs.”) This part of the book is not set in stone yet. We shall see.
It’s an endeavor that’s been long in the making and may be still, so bear with us. And stay tuned. By the way, it’s important to note that Ginny Masullo is helping with recipe testing and editing. I hope you’ve been enjoying time with loved ones. I treasure all the good that’s come my way and I stay mindful and grateful for all the universe has bestowed. Until later …
Here we are, several years later and finally we have a book and a website. If I had known it would take this long, I might not have begun this project. It all started with a dream. To co-write a book of short stories and recipes with my sister. (Susie, known as Carmen Suzanne on the West Coast, is on the left in this photo. We were younger then. Little Sis and me in our Sunday best. Aren’t we just the sweetest things? She looks like she might be screaming. Oh wait. She’s laughing. Yes. That’s a laugh.) That book’s still in the works, but we needed a break and during that time, I went off on a tangent with another book when the oil spill happened in the Gulf. I became determined to write a story from a child’s perspective about how integral water is to everyone and every thing on the planet. That book is still on the table, but I hit a wall and needed to back away. The truth is I got cold feet about self publishing. I’m now warming up to the idea and getting more comfortable with it. That said, I owe a tremendous debt of thanks to Don Shreve of Shreve Imaging and Cheryl Barton of bycherylimages, who contributed photography and graphics’ help on that project. I’d like us to finish it one day, if they will give me and Turtle Lake Press another chance. Since all of us work other jobs and have family responsibilities, it’s a labor of love when we get involved in these projects.
While I was in the throes of squirming about my “dis-ease” with self-publishing, I ran into my friend and fellow writer Ginny Masullo and one thing led to another. As it turned out, Ginny had written a how-to pamphlet based on her experience of caring for her late husband in the home, with the help of a large circle of people from the community. She had already run the draft of her pamphlet by author Gail Sheehy, who had mentioned it in a column in USA Today. I suggested to Ginny that Turtle Lake Press would be a great publisher to take on the project. Why not turn her pamphlet into a book? She had already recruited a graphic designer (Susan Idlet). And that’s when we all got to work. Ginny wrote some additional essays. We also made the decisiion to reprint some essays published previously and written by her late husband, Nick, from the perspective of the person with the chronic illness. Meanwhile, Susan took a break and we recruited friend Dot Neely to pick up design where she left off. And … voilà! We now have a finished book. Find out more about Help is Hope and how to order it here. Check back soon for more Turtle Thoughts. There’s no telling what might turn up in this space from time to time. Thanks for visiting!