Ever run across a blog and within reading a few posts, you feel like you really know someone? It happens sometimes when someone writes so clearly in their own voice that, for a minute, you can almost imagine have a conversation.
Today's Featured Friday blogger is just like that.
A born storyteller with a passion for food, Jackie writes her blog from the heart and it shows in every post. She's only been blogging for a few months but already, Syrup & Biscuits so distinctly represents who she is. Even better, her friendly voice invites you to sit down, eat something homemade and listen to the story of the day.
We're excited to introduce you to...
We asked Jackie some fun questions to give you a sneak peek into the voice behind this soon-to-be-favorite blog and she obliged with these answers...enjoy!
Tell us about yourself, your family and where you live.
Being born and raised in Alabama and entrenched in southernism was a gift. It gave me an identity. I am part of a culture that embraces gracious hospitality, manners, love of God and country, frugality, family values and good honest food. That's who I am and that's what I'm all about.
A career move in 1985 brought my husband, two daughters and me from Mobile, Alabama to Tampa, Florida. Our son was born after we moved to Tampa. Mobile is a southern city that has retained its southern personality. Tampa is a city located in the southern part of the United States that doesn't have a southern personality. While raising our children in Tampa, it was important to me that I teach them about southern culture and their heritage. They don't have my accent, but they are Southerners. I'm proud of that.
Currently, I reside in Valrico, FL (a Tampa suburb) with my husband, Sam, and my Basset Hound, Belle. We are so blessed to have all three of our children and two grandchildren live close by.
After a successful career as a nurse, corporate executive and business owner, I hung up my ballet slippers and retired in April 2009. Since retirement, l have busied myself with doing anything I wanted to and nothing I didn't want to. My days are filled with writing my first cookbook, "Apron Strings", maintaining Syrup and Biscuits, gardening, enjoying grandchildren, family and my husband. Life is good. I always knew that.
How did you get your start in the kitchen?
I have been cooking family meals since I was 12 years old. Being the eldest of three, that job fell to me. In the beginning, cooking was a chore. Somewhere along the way, it became a passion as it remains today. Cooking is a way of nurturing as well as a creative outlet. Good food and good memories go hand in hand.
Some of the best things we have to offer folks is a special meal or dish prepared with them in mind. That's what my Granny did, that's what she taught me to do. She was truly my inspiration for cooking. My mother never liked to cook until the last few years of her life. But, Mama liked nothing better than for me to cook for her. And I loved doing it for her as much as she loved eating it.
The first cookbook that I used was The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook published by Simon and Schuster in 1954 which was a gift from my father to my mother. Since my mother didn't enjoy cooking and my grandmother lived a distance away, this book became my reference for recipes and cooking techniques. I used that cookbook right up until I left home. Some of the recipes stayed with me in my mind, but I always wanted the cookbook. Certainly, I could have bought another copy from amazon.com, but I wanted the cookbook that had the food stains from my dishes on the pages.
When my daughter got married in 2002, my mother presented me with a gift. The cookbook. The one that I had relied on for cooking lessons for so many years. It was quite tattered. In fact both front and back cover was torn off. But it I didn't care about that. The cookbook that I had loved was now MY cookbook. I asked my mother to write a note in the cookbook and this is what she said, "To the mother of the bride. I hope you enjoy. Love, Mom. 10/2/02." I am a collector of cookbooks and this one is a superstar among my collection. I keep it in a plastic ziplock bag to try to protect it as much as possible.
What was your inspiration to start your blog?
I've always enjoyed writing but never had much time to do it outside of my work responsibilities. Following the death of my mother when I was 52 years old, I suddenly realized that I was the oldest living person in my ancestral line. I was the matriarch.
My life has been enriched by some wonderful people who have given me wonderful memories. I didn't want time to take away the memories. It was important to me that my children and grandchildren know them. It made sense for me to pair the stories with food since I am passionate about cooking (and eating!) and so many of the stories relate to food anyway.
My stories are written from my heart and I try to keep my brain out of it as much as possible. Because the memories evoke such strong happy emotions, I wanted to write them because I can write up a storm and cry but it's hard for me to vocalize the story while crying. Plus, you can't understand what I'm saying when I'm doing my ugly crying.
What's the best thing to happen since starting your blog?
I have so blessed by all the wonderful sweet comments that I get from readers. My readers are the sweetest, kindest people in the world. It is satisfying for me to know that people relate to my stories and thank me for stirring up some pleasant memories. I feel so good about that. To know that I have played a small part in brightening someone's day is just the greatest feeling.
Quick! You have 30 minutes to put dinner on the table...what do you fix?
Homemade Tacos. My whole family is nuts about them. I make my own taco seasoning mix and keep it in a jar in my spice cabinet.
Care to share your favorite recipe from Syrup & Biscuits?
I would be happy to share a recipe from Syrup and Biscuits. This is one that I just posted last week which has caught the attention of a lot of people. One of my readers was even taken by the dish in the photo, asked me where I got them and sat right down and ordered them!
Shrimp and Grits
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 cup quick cooking grits
salt to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bring stock and milk to a boil. Slowly pour in grits WHISKING constantly to prevent lumps. After grits have started to thicken but are a little thinner than you would like the finished product to be, cover and remove form heat. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Keep warm. Just before serving, stir in cheese until melted. Taste for salt.
1 pound peeled and deveined wild-caught shrimp (I use medium or large)
2 T. bacon drippings
1 onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups stock, chicken or seafood
salt and pepper to taste
Add bacon drippings to pan and heat. Add onion and pepper slices and saute until soft and starting to caramelize. Stir in flour and brown. Slowly pour in stock, stir until thickened. Add shrimp and cook until pink, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve over hot cheese grits. Add Tabasco sauce if desired.
If you could have dinner with a celebrity chef, who would it be?
Scott Peacock. I love his style of cooking. The cookbook that he co-authored with Edna Lewis The Gift of Southern Cooking is one of my favorites. Scott grew up in the same part of Alabama as my family in a little town called Hartford. My parents left Mobile and moved back to Hartford after I had started college so I didn't make the move with them. Both of my sisters, who are younger than me, went to school with Scott but I have never gotten the chance to meet him. I hope I will someday. We speak the same language!
If you could design your ideal kitchen, what would be in it?
Actually, we just remodeled our kitchen a couple of years ago and I absolutely love it. I have such a nice place to cook. The only thing that would make it better is if my Granny could cook one meal with me in my beautiful kitchen.
If you could spend a whole day (guilt-free!) doing something you love, what would it be?
I really, really, really want to participate in a recreated working 18th century colonial farm. Someplace like Colonial Williamsburg that is interactive. I don't want to just sit back and watch demonstrations. Living the life for a whole day, maybe more, is what I have in mind.
Tell us something that no one would guess about you.
As I ponder this question, it pounds home just how utterly predictable I really am! I've been married to my high school sweetheart for 35 years. We have raised our three children (well, almost...our youngest is a Junior in college). We are retired and living a wonderful stress free life. My husband golfs. I garden and cook and write about gardening and cooking. We enjoy our family every way we can. I will be participating in my first 10k race on Saturday....my FIRST 10k (6.2 miles) will be 3 1/2 months away from my 56th birthday. WHEW!
Thanks for taking time to answer these questions, Jackie...we enjoyed reading and sharing the answers almost as much as we enjoy your blog.
Take it from her husband Sam,
Jackie can fix a mean
With posts like this, it's no wonder we love Syrup and Biscuits...we think you'll love it too. Pay Jackie a visit and you're bound to find something good to fix. Find her Page on Facebook for even more recipes and stories!
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