Category Archives: Giving

Sweet Southern Roots

November 18, 2016

Luv Cooks

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Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies from the kitchen of Callie Blount of Luv Cooks – see recipe at bottom.

 

Growing up in the Deep South, I was surrounded by great food. It was and still is at the center of all family gatherings.  My sisters and I had the privilege of eating fresh vegetables from the garden almost every meal. We always ate buffet style: Squash, okra, green beans, and collards colorfully decorated the stove top. Of course, at least one of them was hand-battered and fried in my dad’s secret recipe. I never realized how special it was until I didn’t have it everyday. (Ahh, adulthood!) The thought of starting a garden is daunting.

However, I haven’t always valued the things that have signified my Southern roots. I’ll never forget the first time I was taunted for my accent. I tried desperately in college to change it. Around certain people, I would talk less and softer just to avoid being called out. I hated it. I’ve since then managed to pronounce certain words correctly, but my vowels are still slow and long and Southern as sweet tea. People point it out occasionally.

And then it was my small town I grew up in that I never wanted to admit I was from. I’ve always lived by the mantra, “Just because you’re from a small town doesn’t mean you’re small minded.” I didn’t want to be stereotyped by a classist. I’m intrigued by other cultures and consider myself to have a broad worldview. I used to cringe when someone asked the question, “Where are you from?”

My town is infamous for landmarks like The Booby Trap and the Carrie Lawson case where theorists claim her body was dumped in the depth of Smith Lake. Apparently, that’s where all bodies are cast, probably by the hitman that you can hire for just a case of beer. (Seriously, this is a known fact.) Most recently, we became famous when National Geographic aired a special about the “Sipsey Wilderness Creature.” The hour long docuseries is of a man recalling his experience with an animal that is as closely related to Big Foot as you could find. Walker County doesn’t exactly have the best reputation.

Luv Cooks

The Spicy Chocolate Sweetie- Pie from Laura Chancey of Humble Pie- scroll down for recipe.

But what I see when I think of my childhood is my cousin and I crafting mud pies and topping them off with wild flowers; playing hours outside until dark; leaping from hay bale to hay bale with my sisters; sneaking vanilla wafers from my great grandmother’s cookie jar; and my dad making us pick vegetables from the garden in the sweltering summer heat. (Have you ever “looked” peas? It’s pretty dreadful!)

Goodness, I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

My childhood home sits beautifully in a large field and the cows peacefully in the neighboring farm.

No, I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

I see that now, and I’m not so ashamed of my Southern drawl. I’m still going to say “y’all.” It’s a part of me, and, apparently, it’s not going anywhere no matter how hard I try. And as for my small town, I’m not sure I’d be who I am without it. I wouldn’t value simplicity or relish in the small things.

This Thanksgiving, I’m going to attempt to make my great aunt’s fried apple pies, not just because they are mouth watering good. But rather, because they symbolize tradition, love and hard work – treasures I want to preserve.

I’m thankful for my Southern roots. That may be the first time I’ve ever said that.

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In honor of Thanksgiving, tradition, and family, I thought I’d share with you two recipes from two sweet Southern women, Callie Blount of Luv Cooks and Laura Chancey from Humble Pie. They both formed their love for cooking at an early age while learning and watching their grandmothers in the kitchen.

For the Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies above, click here. See below for Laura’s Spicy Chocolate Sweetie-Pie.

Pie Shot #1 Pie Shot #2 Pie Shot #3

 

Chocolate Pie Dough

What You Will Need

- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
- 1/2 cup ice plus 1/2 cup water to make super cold ice water

What You Will Do

1. Whisk the first 4 ingredients together, then with a pastry knife cut the butter into the flour mix until it resembles small pebbles.
2. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time, using a wooden spoon to incorporate it in.
3. When the mixture starts to resemble dough, form a ball with your hands and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or if you’re impatient, like me, freeze for at least 30 minutes.)
Note: When you’re ready to begin making the pie, roll the dough out first, put it into the baking dish, poke the bottom with a fork about 10-15 times, and then stick the dish in the freezer until your filling is ready.

 

For full recipe and the story behind Laura and Humble Pie, click here.

Brittany Windle

Thanksgiving Serve

November 6, 2015

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“If you don’t post it on social media, it never happened” is a common misconception. It can be extremely easy to lose sight of what’s important with the way the media has helped play a role in distracting us. The need to post everything we do from what we ate that night to a rant on presidential elections are among the themes we see on our Facebook news feeds. Some things should be left unseen and unheard. Unfortunately, privacy no longer exists.

Social media often fuels the selfish nature of man. Self is gloried at every turn. While the need to be outwardly beautiful is every person’s desire, this need has become an obsession to the point that many can’t post a picture without first editing and tweaking. Instagram accounts look like editorial features from magazines ranging from Cosmo to Southern Living.

“If you don’t have a crisp, white kitchen, wreaths decorated with burlap, and you and your children looking as if you’ve stepped out of J. Crew, you’re nothing,” a friend joked as we were talking about social media expectations.

What if the time we spent in front of the mirror or retaking a photo was spent serving others? What if we decided to create a balance, “unfollow” those who cause us to compare? What if we didn’t think about self so much but the person we may have passed by at the grocery store who needed help with their bags? Did we notice the homeless woman sitting outside that department store?

An act of service may not be seen or heard by a crowd of many. But the impact it has on an individual far outweighs the “likes” your selfie may receive.

Sometimes I have to remind myself what it’s all about. The expectations of the media and the self absorption it has helped create can be exhausting. To set myself aside, serve a person less fortunate puts things into perspective.

And if no one sees it or hears it, it still happened…. and best of all, it could be life changing to someone who really needs it.

Join me this Thanksgiving in serving those in the Birmingham area. Listed below are service opportunities hosted by several organizations in the city.

1. Church of the Highlands

2. Hands on Birmingham 

3. Jimmie Hale Mission

4. The Community Kitchens of Birmingham

5. First Light Shelter

6. See this list of Food Pantries in Birmingham for service opportunities.

7. Check out the Homeless Shelter Directory for a list of shelters in the state of Alabama.

* If the service opportunity isn’t on the website, call the location to inquire.

Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.

Quote and Photo: TryLife

Do Good: Warby Parker

January 13, 2014

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We believe that giving back to others is an important element in the success and happiness of your life. While online shopping for new eye glasses, I came across Warby Parker. I was first drawn to their style and look. However, as I perused their site, I came across a section entitled “Do Good” and program, “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair.”

According to its site, “almost one billion people don’t have access to glasses. That means that 15% of the world’s population is unable to effectively learn or work because they can’t see clearly.” I was astonished by the sheer number of individuals who do not have access to glasses. How many times do we take this for granted?

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Glasses are one of the most effective poverty alleviation tools in the world. They can increase one’s productivity by 20%. That’s the equivalent of creating an extra day’s work each week.

Warby Parker donates funding or one new pair of glasses for every one that is purchased. “Glasses are one of the most effective poverty alleviation tools in the world. They can increase one’s productivity by 20%. That’s the equivalent of creating an extra day’s work each week.”

By partnering with various non-profits like VisionSpring, they are able to provide glasses and training to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries to start their own business of selling glasses. VisionSpring’s model helps create jobs and also provide affordable glasses to those who would otherwise not be able to purchase a pair.

Women like Vicky has had their life transformed and bettered because of VisionSpring's employment.

Women like Vicky has had their life transformed and bettered because of VisionSpring’s employment.

The next time you are purchasing a pair of glasses, consider Warby Parker and their “Home Try-On.” Choose up to five pairs, have them shipped to your door step, try on, and pick your favorite. I can’t wait to tell you which one I chose.

HP-HTO

Brittany Windle

Follow Britt on Twitter.