Amy Metz, a former first grade teacher, is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. When not actively engaged in writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Facebook or Pinterest, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Learn more about Amy and her books at her website.
A Southern Kitchen
Food and family are at the heart of every Southern kitchen. Sunday dinner, church picnics and potlucks, and simple everyday life have one thing in common: really good food and a lot of it. Southerners cook with bacon grease, drink their tea with a lot of sugar, and fry anything and everything. Every Southerner knows it's just plain polite to offer their guests something to eat, and the worst insult you could pay them is to decline to eat. Food, family, and love are always wafting around a Southern kitchen, where cooks put love into everything they make.
In the South, you don't cook meals, you fix them. When eating barbecue, if you don't have it all over you, you aren't eating it right. "I'll have a Coke" means I want a soda--anything from 7-Up (Sebmup) to Dr. Pepper. Southerners preserve fruits and family recipes.
I think it's because Southerners love food so much that they equate everything with it. That's why some of the best Southern sayings have some reference to food:
You can use food to describe the weather: "Colder than a two-day-old biscuit" or "Hotter than doughnut grease in the middle of July."
Or someone's mood: "Look who had sassy casserole for lunch."
Even to warn someone about a slick-talker: "He talks so smooth, he could steal grease out of a biscuit without breaking the crust."
You can describe someone's lack of intelligence: "His bread's not quite done." Or "There's biscuits on the griddle, but the stove ain't on." Or "The butter slipped off his pancake."
One's intellect can also be likened to food: "He's sharp as a donut." Or "She's one marshmallow short of a s'more."
You can describe speed, or the lack thereof: "Slower than molasses."
Or say something's a good idea: "That sure is a peach."
Or describe someone's age: "She's not the freshest egg in the carton."
Someone's nature can be as "Sweet as pie," because pie is sweet and wonderful and loved in the South.
Only in the South could someone's appearance be likened to an onion: "She's so ugly she makes onions cry."
Food can even be used as a salutation: "See you 'round like a doughnut." Or "See ya later, sweet potater."
Exclamations using food are plentiful. For example, when someone exclaims that something is unbelievable they might say, "Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit," or "Well, I'll be dipped in peanut butter," or "Well, pick my peas," or "Well, I'll be battered and fried." I could go on and on.
Where did the saying "Gimme some sugar" when someone wants a kiss come from? Maybe because sugar is equal to love, so show me some love! You can always count on a lot of love and a lot of sugar in a Southern kitchen.
I could go on as long as a link of sausages. My point is, if the characters in a book live in the South, you can count on reading about a lot of good food. A lot of conversations will happen in the kitchen or diner or restaurant. Food is the tie that binds, and in the South, the kitchen is a place where WTF means Where's The Food. And it will taste so good, you won't be able to keep your feet still.
The following recipe is from my third book, Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction:
Apple Upside-Down Pie
apple pie filling
salted caramel sauce
Salted Caramel Sauce
2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon (more or less) sea salt
In a thick-bottomed, heavy saucepan, cook the sugar on low-medium heat. Do not stir the sugar, but you can swirl the pan around to mix it that way. The sugar will begin to turn an amber color.
Watch the sugar carefully as it can burn quite easily. Once it reaches 350°, add all of the butter, whisking quickly to combine.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in heavy cream. Mix in salt and let cool.
Once cool, pour into an airtight container.
Prepare the crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons cold butter
7 tablespoons orange juice
In a large bowl mix together the flour and salt and then cut in the shortening and butter. Once the mixture resembles crumbs, slowly add the orange juice. With a fork, mix until the mixture begins to form a ball. Divide ball into two pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 375° and line a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with foil. HEAVILY grease with cooking spray.
Combine butter, brown sugar, and pecans. Place mixture evenly on bottom of pie plate.
Make apple filling:
6 to 8 tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Mix together the apples, flour, sugar, and salt.
Roll one ball of pastry out to fit the pie plate. Place half of apple mixture evenly on bottom of pastry; drizzle 1/4 cup salted caramel on top, place remaining apples, then another 1/4 cup salted caramel.
Roll out second ball of pastry to fit the pie. Place on top and seal both pastry pieces together, you do not need to make a beautiful design because the pie is going to be flipped upside down. Make sure to still cut four 1-inch slits in the piecrust before baking.
Bake for 50-55 minutes. Check pie after 35 minutes. If crust is becoming too brown, cover with foil for remaining baking time.
Let pie cool on wire rack for 15 minutes.
Place serving dish on top of the pie and flip over. Drizzle pie with remaining salted caramel. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
This is not your average Southern town. With a hint of mystery and a lot of laughs, you'll catch a glimpse of everyday life in Goose Pimple Junction in this short story compilation. Short & Tall Tales occurs chronologically between Murder & Mayhem, book 1, and Heroes & Hooligans, book 2, in the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. Tales is a fun escape that will answer readers' burning questions about the residents of this quirky, small town.
How did Johnny Butterfield become police chief?
How did Tess and Jack get engaged?
How did Ima Jean come to live with Louetta?
How do you celebrate an Apple Day?
These questions and more are answered in Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction. Five short stories, one novella, and three recipes will give you more of the unique charm of Goose Pimple Junction, make you laugh, and have your mouth watering. If you want a feel-good read, you've come to the right place. Grab some sweet tea and escape to Goose Pimple Junction.