Darrell Huckaby - Seeking family recipes, stories

Well, the eating season is just about over, isn't it? We've all made those resolutions to cut back and push away from the table and be a little more active. I know I shoveled in the last leftover piece of Clay Stapp's traditional New Year's Day pecan pie just before midnight Sunday because everybody knows that diets begin on Monday.

But it sure was fun, wasn't it? I mean all the holiday food fests that started around Thanksgiving and ended, temporarily at least, this weekend. I hope everybody got to enjoy that one special dish that makes the holidays complete. You know the one I mean - that special dressing that only Mama can make or the pecan pie that, well, that Clay Stapp makes every New Year's Day.

A few days before Thanksgiving, several of us were sitting around the lunch table at Heritage High School, where I teach, enjoying our 17 minutes of uninterrupted dining pleasure, when our principal, Greg Fowler, ambled up with a folded piece of paper in his hand and a smile on his face.

"OK," he said. "I am taking a survey. I want to know what that one dish is that you absolutely have to have Thursday; the one without which Thanksgiving just won't be Thanksgiving."

He probably didn't use the precise grammar, of course. After all, he is from Alabama and I am certain that he left a preposition hanging on the end of a sentence somewhere, but you get my drift.

He started quite a conversation around the old lunch table and we were all amazed at the wide range of dishes that we think of as "Thanksgiving food." And everybody had a story to go along with their dish - a reason that this particular casserole or those particular mashed potatoes made the must-have list.

Well, our principal's little survey set me to thinking - always a dangerous proposition, understand - about my next literary project. I wrote about my travels across the country this year and haven't sold enough of those books to afford to travel around the world, so "A Southerner Sees the World" is still a few decades away. And the Lord knows that I can't get "Need Six" out of a trip to the Capital One Bowl. 

So here's what I got, and I hope some of y'all will help me.

I'm fixing to do a cookbook. I know. I know. Everybody and her sister has a cookbook out there, but I love 'em - and this one is going to be quite unique. It's called "Second Helpings" and is sub-titled "The Southern Eatin' Cookbook." And this is what it is going to have in it. It's going to have those recipes that are near and dear to different families' hearts. I am looking for those dishes that you eat for supper every night as well as the ones you serve on Sunday when the preacher comes for dinner after church. I want recipes from breakfasts and luncheons and cookouts and picnics - I mean the stuff we really eat, on a regular basis. Meats, vegetables, salads, desserts - if it is something you and your family enjoy, write down the recipe and send it to me. Please.

And if there is a story that goes with it about what makes the dish so special, well send that along, too. And you'd better include your name and phone number, just in case I need to confirm the amount of sugar or salt that goes in it. Send as many as you'd care to, but please make sure they are yours and not copied out of some other publication.

If I put your recipe in my book I'll give you credit - and send you a book, too. And if I wind up weighing 300 pounds by this time next year from testing all those good recipes - well, I guess that's a risk I'll have to take. They generally put my e-mail address down at the bottom of the page, so go ahead and shoot them my way. If you don't do computers, you can probably find my mailing address in the phone book. Or go ahead and send them to the paper, care of me, and I'll pick them up when I come by to pick up Alice Queen's recipe for jalapeno cornbread. I didn't ask, but I'm sure they won't mind too much - and besides, I really need that recipe, because Alice hasn't made me any for three straight Christmases now, so I might as well learn to cook it for myself.

And if you are a Yankee-American and have a good recipe, with a good story, go ahead and send it my way. We might put a whole chapter in the book, just for "youse guys."

But hurry up. I've been working on this thing for a few weeks and we're going to be wrapping it up soon - just in time for Spring eating season to begin.

I believe that starts on Super Bowl Sunday, doesn't it?


Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.