Kiss My Grits, Sugar: Southern Humor with a Side of Tasty Fixin's by Gloria Hander Lyons

My book, Kiss My Grits, Sugar: Southern Humor with a Side of Tasty Fixin's is chock full of my family’s favorite recipes. My mouth is watering just thinking about fried chicken, potato salad, banana pudding and pecan pie. And because I’m not the serious type, I like my food served up with some humor on the side. So I tucked in a few tall tales from my childhood about me and my kin to tickle your funny bone.

Inside you’ll find 19 humorous short stories about growing up in the South in the 1950s, plus more than 80 recipes for good old-fashioned Southern cooking.

Come on in a sit a spell, sugar. Enjoy a chuckle or two, then whip up some of these tasty fixin’s.

Read a few sample stories and try some of the recipes from the book on this blog. See the list of links at right.
Book Size: 6”X9”, 116 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9842438-3-9. Price: $7.95.    E-Book: $2.99

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Introduction to Kiss My Grits: Southern Humor with a Side of Tasty Fixin's

Being a food lover all my life, I’ve been collecting and testing recipes ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. My fondness for cooking (and eating) eventually teamed up with my desire to share my recipes, so I began writing cookbooks.

So far I’ve penned twelve tomes on various cooking topics, but not a single one on Southern cuisine. I do declare! As my mama asked me many times, “Gloria Jean, don’t you have a lick of sense?”

Since I’m a Southern girl through and through—born in Louisiana and raised in Texas, I reckon it’s high time I got around to writing a book filled with good old Southern recipes. My mouth is watering just thinking about fried chicken, potato salad, banana pudding and pecan pie. This book is chock full of my family’s favorites.

And because I’m not the serious type, I like my food served up with some humor on the side. So I tucked in a few tall tales from my childhood about me and my kin that I hope will tickle your funny bone.

Most books by Southern women, about Southern women, carry on and on about the endless rules imposed on those pathetic creatures—never wear white shoes after Labor Day, never use dark meat in your chicken salad, and never, ever forget to send thank you notes.

My poor mama, bless her heart, she tried, but I never took kindly to following a bunch of senseless rules. For small-town Southern Baptist girls, my two sisters and I were a pretty feisty lot—traditional belles we were not.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My Southern roots are deep and Southern cooking is about as good as it gets, but when I was told to mind my manners or else, my response was, “Kiss my grits!”

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"Learning the Hard Way" From: Kiss My Grits, Sugar

From an early age, Southern girls are taught never to swear. But everyone knows swearing is just a way of letting off steam when you get your feathers ruffled. Out of necessity, we’ve invented a few colorful expletives over time to help vent our anger without offending those in polite society.

One morning when I was eight, and my two sisters were six and ten, we gathered around the kitchen table to eat our usual hearty breakfast of eggs, biscuits, jam, bacon and grits. Since I enjoyed experimenting with my food, I stirred a bit of sugar into my grits.

My older sister, Anna, was horrified. “Gloria Jean, don’t you have a grain of sense? You’re not supposed to put sugar in grits!”

“I’ll eat my grits any way I want and if you don’t like it you can kiss my…!”

Both my sisters sucked in air. “Don’t you dare say a cuss word!” Anna said.

I scooped up a big spoonful of grits and flicked it in her direction. “Kiss my grits!” I yelled.

The white mush landed with a splat just above her left eye. She growled and returned fire with a forkful of eggs-over-easy.

“Quit it!” snapped my younger sister, Charlotte. “Mama’s gonna have a hissy fit when she sees this mess!”

Two biscuits bounced off the top of her head. “Mama!” she wailed.

By the time our mama showed up, Anna and I were locked in a death grip, rolling around on the floor, and covered head to toe in food.

Needless to say, the two of us spent the rest of the morning sweeping and mopping the floor, scrubbing the table and washing the dishes while Charlotte played in the backyard.

“I hope you’ve learned your lesson,” said Mama after we’d put away the last of the clean dishes.

“Yes, Ma’am,” we said in unison.

We learned our lesson all right. Next time we’d settle our differences outside.

Recipes included in the book with this story: Southern Grits, Cheesy Grits (recipe on this blog), Shrimp and Grits, Homemade Biscuits, Sausage Gravy (recipe on this blog)

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"Something To Crow About" From: Kiss My Grits, Sugar

One Easter, when my sisters and I were ages four, six and eight, our Granny O’Daniel surprised us with a live baby chick. We named her Jenny. That poor critter actually managed to survive our affectionate squeezes and constant petting.

Before too long, our cute little pink chick grew into a big, white rooster. We changed his name to Jake. He was ruler of the roost, and mean as the dickens. Jake laid claim to the back yard and viciously attacked anyone who dared enter his domain.

When Mama carted the laundry out to the wash house or tried to hang clothes on the clothes line to dry, that rooster chased after her—pecking at her heels. Mama kicked and cussed at that bird the whole way.

My sisters and I stayed clear of the back yard. We played out front on our swing set. One day, my younger sister, Charlotte, jumped off the swing and let out a blood-curdling scream. “It’s Jake!” she yelled. “He got out of the fence.”

“Run!” said my older sister, Anna. “Get to the house!”

We sprinted towards the house with Jake angrily flapping his wings and snapping at our bare legs. I tripped and fell face down in the grass. He jumped on my head, pulling at my hair with his stubby beak.

“Get up!” yelled Anna.

“I can’t,” I screeched. “He won’t get off!”

Mama barreled out of the house wielding a long-handled broom. She batted that monster off my head and yanked me to my feet. “Run!” she yelled. “Get in the house!”

We all tumbled through the door and slammed it behind us. Mamma grabbed the phone and called her daddy, “Come get this crazy rooster!” she said.

“You’re scared that that little critter?” he scoffed.

Mama just smiled and raised a knowing eyebrow.

When Grandpa O’Daniel drove up in his truck, we glued ourselves to the front window. He sauntered over to the truck bed, gave us a wink and a friendly wave and pulled out a small wire cage.

Out of nowhere, Jake pounced on his arm and began pecking Grandpa’s hand. He dropped the cage and shook the bird off. Jake jumped up again and dug his claws into Grandpa’s knee.

Grandpa fought to pull Jake off, but he stumbled backwards and tripped over the cage. Jake had the upper hand now. He fluttered up to Grandpa’s chest, furiously attacking his face.

Grandpa looked like a windmill, trying to bat that crazed bird off his chest. He grabbed Jake around the neck, stuffed him into the cage and dropped the cage into the truck bed.

We all breathed a collective sigh of relief. But Grandpa’s cocky smile had turned into a scowl. He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow. It’s a good thing we couldn’t hear the language he spewed as he slammed the truck door and backed out of the driveway.

Mama just smiled and gave him a wink and a friendly wave.

Recipes Included with this story: Southern Fried Chicken, Chicken and Dumplings (recipe on this blog), Smothered Chicken, Chicken Salad (recipe on this blog)

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"Electrified" From Kiss My Grits, Sugar: Southern Humor with a Side of Tasty Fixin's

As a child, I was a never-ending source of grief for my mama. Not only was I a tomboy, but my curiosity more often than not landed me in a whole heap of trouble.

One afternoon, when I was four, Mama invited our neighbor over for a visit. They sat in two comfy chairs in the living room, drinking coffee and eating one of Mama’s favorite company desserts while they chatted.

For no particular reason, I got a notion to climb up on the floor lamp that stood between their two chairs. It had a sturdy wooden pole with three lights under a barrel shade at the top.

I shimmied up the pole and discovered the hard way that one of the light sockets was missing a bulb.

Every light in the house flickered while the electric current took a detour through me. My muscles contracted so tight I thought my bones would break. But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t let go of that pole.

Mama danced around, screaming like a banshee. Thank God the neighbor had the good sense to unplug the lamp cord before I turned to toast.

My body dropped to the floor, limp as a dishrag. I felt like one of Mama’s fried pies. I swear my hair smelled like it was singed all the way to the roots.

After checking to see that I was still breathing, Mama was beside herself. She couldn’t decide whether to give me a whippin’ for scaring the bejeezus out of her or console me with a pile of my favorite cookies.

The cookies finally won out—I reckon she knew there’d be plenty more opportunities in my future for whippin’s.

Overall, I wasn’t too worse for the wear—my brain didn’t seem to be any more scrambled than usual. But we had the dickens of a time trying to get my hair to stay down. Mama finally tied a scarf around my head so I wouldn’t keep scaring the dog.

I steered clear of electrical appliances for a long spell after that electrifying experience. And to this very day, I’m fanatical about keeping all the light sockets filled with bulbs—whether they work or not.

Recipes included with this story: Fried Fruit Pies, Fresh Apple Cake (recipe on this blog), Zucchini Bread (recipe on this blog), Cowboy Cookies

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"Ya'll Come Back Now" From: Kiss My Grits, Sugar

     Southerners are distinguished, not only by their distinctive accents, but their colorful sayings, as well.
      Only someone born and raised in the South could tell you where “over yonder” is. If they say they’ll be back “directly”—how long is that?
     You’d best beware when asking for traveling directions. “Just down the road” might mean two blocks or 20 miles.
     And Southerners are always “fixin’ to” do something: make dinner, go to the store, or “box your ears"!
     When my family returned to Louisiana for a visit one summer, Mama got a hankerin’ to see a former, elderly neighbor. I tagged along, too. Lyda Mae was a hoot, and she always had a tasty treat baking in her oven.
     We rang the doorbell and waited patiently for her to maneuver her walker to the door. Her weathered face lit up like Christmas when she saw us.
     "Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” she yelled. “You two are a sight for sore eyes!”
     She smothered us with bear hugs. “Glory Bee,” she said to me, “you’re growin’ like a bad weed!” She ushered us into the house and, as is the custom with Southern hosts, her thoughts soon shifted to food.
     “Come on back to the kitchen. I was just fixin’ to heat up some lunch. Are you girls hungry?”
     Do birds fly?
     We settled around her tiny kitchen table with our plates loaded with spicy ham jambalaya and black eyed peas from Lyda Mae’s garden. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, she set out a sweet potato pie and a plate of cookies. Life doesn’t get any better.
     “How’s your mama?” asked Lyda Mae. “I haven’t seen her in a coon’s age.”
     “She’s doin’ fine,” Mama said. “How’re your boys?”
     “Like two peas in a pod,” Lyda Mae replied. “Both working at the refinery and fishin’ on their days off. Rob finally married Linda Sue.”
     “The home coming queen?” asked Mama. “She was such a pretty little thing, riding on that float in the Home Coming Parade.”
     “Bless her heart,” said Lyda Mae. “She blowed up like a blimp. She’s big enough to BE the parade float now.”
     We shook our heads—poor Linda Sue.
     Our afternoon visit covered all the usual neighborly topics: food, family, friends, food, weather and food.
     As Mama and I prepared to leave, Lyda Mae bestowed more hugs and shed a few farewell tears.
     “Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear?”

Recipes included in the book for this story: Ham Jambalaya (recipe on this blog), Black Eyed Peas, Sweet Potato Pie (recipe on this blog), Peanut Butter Blossoms
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Chicken & Dumpling Recipe From: Kiss My Grits, Sugar: Southern Humor with a Side of Tasty Fixins

These are Mama’s light and fluffy dumplings that cook on top of the chicken stew.

2 cups, chopped, cooked chicken
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth (or use 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules dissolved in 1 cup hot water)
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 cups biscuit baking mix
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2/3 cup milk

In a large saucepan, melt butter and sauté onions and celery over medium heat until tender. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and 1 cup milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Stir in chicken and peas and carrots. Heat to boiling over low heat.

To make dumplings: Stir together 2 cups baking mix, parsley, poultry seasoning and 2/3 cup milk to form a soft dough. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto boiling chicken mixture. Cook uncovered over low heat 10 minutes; cover and cook 10 minutes longer or until dumplings are done. Makes four servings.

Read the humorous story from Kiss My Grits, Sugar: "Something to Crow About". (In the list at right labled "Sample Stories".)

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