A TRUE SOUTHERN

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Springfield, Missouri, United States
Being Southern is more than where I am from, it is who I am. I love the South with its great beauty and wonderful deep-south traditions. I am Bev Allen, a true Southern Belle'. I am married to the love of my life Rick Allen, we are Assemblies of God US Missionaries. We lived and raised our two children, Chris Allen and Teresa Mosley (married to Randy) in the Great Southern states. Family is important and my grandkids Lexi and Lane are our most precious treasures. We love God and people and devoted our lives in His service. This blog is to share a little of what I enjoy and experienced, a little Southern Joy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Black-eyed Peas Tradition

If you are planning to celebrate the New Year in the South, it is most likely that you will be offered black-eyed peas in some form, either just after midnight or on New Year's Day.  According to Southern folklore, the first food to be eaten on New Year's Day for luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead.  T
he practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.
Traditionally black-eyed peas are served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, which varies regionally) and sweet cornbread.

Now for the Allen House I alway cook my tradition....................uuummmm good...... 
Happy to share the recipe. You can also find this at: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Hearty-Black-Eyed-Pea-Soup
Hearty Black-Eyed Pea Soup 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 ounces) Hunt’s® Original Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes
  • 4 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Directions
  • In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook sausage, beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Yield: 12-16 servings (4 quarts).

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Bit of "Steel Magnolias"


I love the sweet comfortable lifestyle of a small Southern town. Its quiet and enduring qualities give a presence of comfort and acceptance. One of my favorite past times is watching great films. There are certain ones that I enjoy watching over and over. One of my favorites is “Steel Magnolias.” 
If anyone could better paint a picture of charm, humor & life of great Southern women and capturing that essence of a small Southern town, this film does, it is totally awesome. “Steel Magnolias” is a 1989 comedy-drama film about the close-knit group of women bonding in a small town of the Chiquapin Parish in northern Louisiana area. 
The title of this movie suggests that the main characters can be as delicate as magnolias, but are as tough as steel. Revolving around Truvy's Beauty Parlor gather each week to get their hair and nails done and gossip thorough out the year as holidays and other gatherings come and go. They share their lives which are filled with humor and heartbreak with one other. These ladies will make your laugh and cry as the realities of their lives unfold.
The Actors: Sally Fields, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, & Julia Roberts captivate your hearts and imaginations.

These are some of my favorite quotes from the film:
Clairee Belcher: Ouiser could never stay mad at me; she worships the quicksand I walk on.
Truvy: Oh, honey, God don't care which church you go, long as you show up!
Ouiser Boudreaux: A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Ouiser Boudreaux: The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God.
Ouiser Boudreaux: I'm not crazy, I've just been in a very bad mood 40 years!
Truvy: Smile! It increases your face value.
Truvy: There is no such thing as natural beauty.
Ouiser Boudreaux: Don't try to get on my good side, Truvy. I no longer have one!

And Sally Field’s funeral speech, is so moving and heart-retching….and just when you are in tears…..  Quiser interrupts and admits she prays…..totally cracks you up. 

So if you want a bit of Southern Joy & Charm…..this is a must watch film.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Soul Food"


I was eating with some friends the other day and I ordered a bowl of Collard Greens cooked with Hog Jowl, they looked at me strangely, I told them, I grew up eating this with Black-eyed peas and cornbread.  My grandmother would cook this often. This is what you call, "soul food".  It is a comfort food that nourishes the soul too. One of my friends tired it, wouldn't you know it....they liked it.
Traditional African-American Southern food is called "soul food", meaning the soul defined their culture. Although many of these dishes were birthed from a culture during the sad days of slavery in the South, it still remains main dishes among the predominantly rural and southern African American population.
Because it was illegal in many states for enslaved Africans to learn to read or write"soul foodrecipes and cooking techniques tended to be passed along orally, until after slavery. Dishes like chitterlings (called chit’lins) which are fried or boiled small intestines of hogs, livermush (a common dish in the Carolinas made from hog liver), and pork brains and eggs can offer to any a folk a “soul food experience” in small cafes around about the Southern states.  You can also find now a days, a variety of “soul food” cookbooks in your bookstores and libraries.
Probably the most familiar dishes are fried catfish and chicken with dashes of mustard or hot sauce.  Come to think of it, I think I will just have to have me a mess of fried chicken & bowl of white beans.  Hope Ya’ll will too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Fall Masterpiece – The Smokies!


While living in Tennessee for several years, I always looked forward to the Fall season. Each year we would enjoy our annual retreat at Gatlinburg, TN which is a small town nestled at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains. This little town is a great getaway with many things to do. Crafts, skiing, site-seeing, walking trails, Ober Gatlinburg aerial tramwayand many more treats. This town has a pandemic view of one of the wonders of the South, The Great Smoky Mountains.
I would have to say that The Great Smoky Mountains are a magnificence masterpiece of nature’s beauty.  This great mountain range rises along the Tennessee-North Carolina border in the South. The name "Smoky" comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. The fog is seen best in the morning hours about dawn. 

The Fall color display usually reaches peak levels mid-October. The reason for the mountains’ spectacular display of color is its colorful diversity of trees like sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums, red maples, and hickories. Each in own right paints a colorful display but displayed upon nature’s canvas is a sight to behold.  You will want to bring a camera when you visit the Smokies.  The two very best drives for viewing fall color in the park is Cades Cove Loop Road and Newfound Gap Road.

My favorite spot is Cades Cove, a little valley cradle along side a small creek at the base of the mountains. It has a little historical community with a functioning farm and mill. It also, has a variety of small animals making their homes safely in the cove.

So if you want a Southern Fall Getaway I believe you would enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Orleans Jazz (Dixieland Music)


Jazz...the sound that put New Orleans on the map, musically speaking!! The Big Easy!  New Orleans jazz has a swinging, stomping, syncopated beat that makes you want to dance! Bands usually consists of horns (cornet, clarinet & trombone) accompany with rhythm (drums, bass & banjo and/or piano). Every night for decades the streets of New Orleans fill the city of Dixieland Jazz.

There are a whole list of Jazz entertainers that have made their marks in history, but the one that first comes to mind is Louis Armstrong (born in New Orleans) is one of Jazz renowned foundational musician. Armstrong developed his cornet seriously playing in a band in New Orleans.

Sounds of Jazz Bands will line the streets in New Orleans during Mardi Gras street parades playing songs like “When the Saints Come Marching In.”  

And you haven’t seen anything yet until you experience a Jazz funeral procession, is like no other. This tradition arises from African spiritual practices, but over the years has gradually started being practiced across ethnic and religious boundaries. 
When a respected fellow musician or prominent member of the community dies, the organizers of the funeral will arrange for hiring a band as part of the services. A typical jazz funeral begins with a march by the family, friends, and a jazz band from the home, funeral home or church to the cemetery.



Right now my favorite Jazz singer is 2010 America Got Talent Winner, Michael Grimm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting That Big Buck!

In the South many men and boys take part in a great activity during the fall and winter months by deer hunting, in hopes of getting THAT BIG BUCK!  This sport makes a great bonding experience for a father and son and/or daughter. They will take great pains in planning and gathering together their guns, orange vests, large knives, and all gear that they will need to enter the deep woods of many of our Southern States. Although deer hunting is done all over the world, the best places is in the southern states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. They will strap on their gear, grab those rifles and enter the wood waiting for a great white tail deer to step into view, it gets their adrenaline going. The anticipation that comes from waiting for that perfect shot can so exciting. It takes great discipline to be a skilled hunter.

You ask me how do I know about this, well, my Dad was one of those great hunters.  Just as soon as the leaves would start changing colors and the cool Fall weather settled in…..off to the woods. It was my Dad who took his nephews out for their first deer hunt. And when I was old enough to hold a shotgun, yes, girl or not…..I was with him. We would get up early before the sun would come up and be walking in woods where he had previously in the year, saw that big buck. My Dad, carrying a German rife with a scope that would seem…..like you could see forever… and me with my trusty Browning Sweet 16 shotgun would for hours walk and absolutely NO talking.  When I think about it….I had to be right on a deer to hit one.  I enjoyed those special bonding times I had with him. Those memories I would not trade for anything. It wasn't that we just loved deer meat, it was the trill of the hunt. The art of sneaking up on a 12 point (points of the antlers) and knowing you had him. We didn't always bring one home but the hours we spent together without saying a word were priceless.

There are two ways to hunt deer. Many build what is called deer stands where they wait patiently for the deer to come into view. But not my Dad, he was a walker. That is you walk until you saw one. There is an art to “stalking deer hunting”, with a wrong step a hunt can be over. A large crack of a misstep on a stick or the loud crunch of a pile of dry leaves and a hunter's position can be given away to his quarry. Many whitetail deer have been known to run off INSTANTLY.

Deer hunting is such a bit thing, that public school districts in the South will declare the first day of opening season a FREE day. It's Fall now, so happy hunting!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cotton Pickin'

More than many occasions, friends have busted into laughter with my general slang term....cotton-pickin". You might ask, what in the world does that mean?  It is a term used among many Southern as something is troublesome or disapproval. This usually occurs when I am driving, "that cotton-pickin driver" or trying to open a jar, "I wish that cotton-pickin' jar would open." You can see how this might amuse someone from another region of the country. But I really do know about cotton-pickin'. 

Pickin' Cotton is hard work. Cotton still remains to be a key crop in Southern economy. If you travel in the Southern Delta states during late summer, you would be amazed at first glance what looks like a blanket of snow.  Actually it would be rows and rows of cotton ready to be pick and taken to the cotton gin for processing. Now cotton picking is done with huge machinery, that speed time and efficiency.  But I can still remember workers lining the fields to pick these puffy cotton boils. This job once done by black slaves in early American history, but evolved into what we Southern called "sharecropping" in which black farmers and landless white farmers worked the huge Southern Cotton plantations. Cotton plantations required a vast labor force to hand-pick cotton. 

Now to pick cotton you must have a cotton strap around your shoulder and it need to be at least 20 feet long. You process in in a bent over posture to pluck the cotton that has blossomed out, as many a each hand can carry, and you toss it into the cotton sack. You have to wear gloves so that the dried bristles off the plant do not cut your fingers and wrists. If you are good at it, you could pick up to 500 pounds of cotton in a twelve-hour workday, from sun-up to sun down, taking off only an hour for a big lunch. You then load these huge sacks onto a wagon that would take it to the gin to be processed. 

My family was one such family. My grandparents were sharecroppers in the Arkansas Delta. They would work a land in a certain area in the day and build and have church at night.  I remember listening to my grandmother tell stories how my dad as a kid with his cousins pickin' cotton, and also getting into trouble because they would get bored. Many of hard working fathers and mothers with children would move slowly down these cotton rows, spending long hours to earn a small living. But for the most part, happy and content for this was their way of life. 
When I was was 5 years old, my parents bought a farm on the river-bed land of the Arkansas River. Our house for many years sat right in the middle of cotton fields. I still in my heart see those rows and rows of cotton. 

O, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
(lyrics, Dixie Land)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Southern Drawl'


You only have to be around me a few minutes to know I am from the South. Usually the first question I person will ask me is, not my name but “Where are you from?” I have a distinguishing accent, known as a Southern Drawl.  It is evident that a historic difference between the North and South is speech.  It is a regional dialect, stronger in some Southern states like Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, & Louisiana & Tennessee. Two words are a dead give away, “y’all” and “fixin’ to” which is probably part of my daily communication.
Two well recognized women, Paula Deen & Dolly Parton (which are some of my favorites) also have strong Southern accents.  A few years back, a very popular TV series, Designing Women were very charming Southern Ladies, my favorite being Ms. Julia Sugarbaker. You ask, what is a drawl? It is an accent of speech characterized by slow speech, with prolonged vowels. For me, it is adding more syllables to a word.  Like …(even that word, which is one syllable, becomes…L…I…Ke…)  I can’t help it….that’s me. Just because you may have a strong Southern drawl, doesn’t mean you are less educated which many times have been mistakenly taken. There are many great educators, doctors and many others of profound vocations with Southern drawls. It is just a form of speech. So, to round out this little thought, I will simple say, “Hope you enjoyed, Ya’ll come back now!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Georgia Peaches



In the South when you think of Georgia, the first thing that comes to mind is…..Georgia Peaches. This delicious sweet fruit has a yellow and orange fuzzy skin and a sweet delicate inside meat that holds a single, large seed, making it known as a stone fruit. As a kid my dad planted free-stone peaches this simply meant when you open the peaches up the stone or pit pulled easily away from the fruit of the peach. Georgia has over 40 varieties of peaches. Last year this state produced over 85 million pounds of peaches. There is absolutely no way to describe the feeling you get when after you pick peaches all day sitting down and griping one of those beauties, busting it open, still warm from the sun and eating it right there in the orchard. Letting the sweet juices run down the side of mouth and down your arms as you bite into it.

There are so many ways to indulge in these Georgia peaches. peach ice cream, fried peach pies, peach pastries, peaches topped with a heavy cream, and my favorite peach cobbler. Just for you…..I am posting a quick and easy peach cobbler recipe you just can’t resist.
2 cups sliced fresh Georgia peaches
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 stick of butter
½ tsp vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together  slowly with a beater: 1 cup self- rising flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk and vanilla  in a mixing bowl.
Pour batter mixture in a floured or spray coated deep bakeware and top with fresh peaches ( I use a large can of Georgia slice peaches). Bake 45 to 50 minutes in the pre-heated oven until golden brown. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream….it an totally awesome treat.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Storytelling-Grandma's Rocker



Many of Southern porches for years have echoed the sounds of exciting stories of families, adventures, romance, wars, etc. The art of storytelling.

Some of my fondest memories are of my grandmother and me sitting on the porch in rocking chairs or under a pecan tree shelling peas/breaking green beans and being captivated by her stories. Hours would go by and it would seem like just minutes, as she would tell of adventures. There would be stories of her brothers searching the banks of the Buffalo River for the lost Spanish gold treasure. How my grandfather and her would travel the Ozark trails from the copper mines to the wood mills in covered wagons with three small kids. She would tell with great joy of how my grandfather started his preaching ministry and how they travel from the Ozark’s mountains to the Mississippi River valley to start new lives and plant churches.  Oh  how I love those stories.  I have on occasion took my own children up along the Buffalo and relayed my own rounding versions of the tales.  It seems I can’t drive down Arkansas Hwy 65, without sharing one story to my captive audience (whoever is riding with me at the moment).
A good storyteller will take you with them in the story through vocal and body gestures. In a way, is a form of acting…you in your mind’s eye by the author’s view, actually can visually picture the actual event. Although storytelling is a world art, it is best in the Smokey & Ozark’s mountains, with it’s own touch of southern mountain flavor. In the parks, Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, there is a lady in the homestead areas that will entertain you with a rousing tale. 
You know.......I think I feel a story coming on......Anybody for a story?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gone With The Wind

For so many people, the first real glimpse of the beautiful South was the 1938 epic film, “Gone With the Wind.”  The film opens on large cotton plantation that we will find out is called, “Tara”. 
We find ourselves drawn in to the life and drama of Ms Scarlett O’Hara and her beau, Rhett Butler.  There is a picture of working plantation as the cotton crops are grown and harvested.  The film takes its viewers on a journey through the perils of slavery and the Civil War.  On to witness how diseases like, typhoid fever take lives young and old. Through it all, Southern people find courage to hold their heads up high and rebuild.  Although this is just a film, so much of the film script tells the history of so many Southern families. How families, local towns and cities, farms and plantations, people of all races live their lives.  The strong constitution of a life of a Southern can be said, “After all, tomorrow is another day” (Scarlet in Gone with the Wind).


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Magnolia Beauty

All over the South you can see and smell the blooming of those beautiful and great Magnolia trees, and what a site is to behold!  These splendid beauties are a fixture in the southern states, from coastal Virginia, south to central Florida and as far west as eastern Texas and Arkansas.  What a picture it makes with its large dark leaves and large white fragrant flower.  Standing tall, these stately Magnolia trees can be as high as 90 feet with huge strong limbs that are just right for climbing or a rope and tire swing.

I have seen communities with Magnolia tree-lined streets or several trees draping a drive way up to one of those Southern plantation home.  Louisiana has made the Magnolia blossom their state flower. These big beautiful white blooms in the summer cover the tree which gives off a  sweet fragrance.  In our home in south Arkansas we had several of the beautiful trees in our yard, They were large and the limbs hovered over the yard to create a comfort shade from the summer heat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dinner on Ground-----------(Southern Picnic)


A true Southern tradition that came from country churches in the South. This expression defines a well bountiful common meal usually done outdoors "dinner on the ground". They are most of time, right after Sunday's morning service and can last for several hours. It is a time of social conversation, fellowship and always interesting food dishes. Dishes like chicken & dumplings, black-eyed peas and hog jowl, fried okra, corn on the cob, apple cobbler, banana pudding, …..am I making you hungry? There will be rows of  tables lined with casseroles dishes served on paper plates with plastic silverware. Many church ladies specialized in a certain dish. This sometimes leads to church-founded cookbooks as fundraisers. 

"Dinner on the ground" is normally accompanied with an all-day singing. Ringing out with precious hymns or traditional favorite Southern Gospel Songs. When everyone’s is full, the singing will begin. The singing will continue and could go on to three or four in the afternoon. Since they have been at church all day, evening services will be dismissed. A "dinner on the ground" breaks up gradually, one family packs up and goes home, and then another. Before long, the church-yard is empty and folks are full and satisfied, both physically and spiritually.  All is well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mind Your Manners!

Manners matter and are an important part of life in the South, it goes hand-hand with respect. Children are taught early to say, “yes Ma’am” and “no Sir.” They are taught not to interrupt a conversation, to act like little adults. Above all, say “please” and “thank you.” Being friendly, neighborly and sociable with everyone you encounter is a normal way of life in the South. It is not unusual for people to wave to total strangers. A common phrase from a “porch sitter” to a nearby neighbor, “come on in…sit awhile”, which would lead to long spells of conversations and slices of apple pie. These are all expressions of putting others first and not getting in a hurry, but spending time with another. There is just nothing like Southern hospitality.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Riverboat

A Southern river icon is the riverboat. With its majestic giant paddles the riverboat commands the river moving with elegance and grace. Just about every major river in the South has a riverboat that offers many visitors to the South a little experience of the South's historical beauty. The mighty Mississippi has the Mississippi Belle, Arkansas River has the Arkansas Queen, Cumberland River has the General Jackson, etc. When I was a kid I loved reading Mark Twain as he wrote the magical words that would transport any kid on the many adventures of the mighty river. The riverboat not only provided transportation down the various rivers, but also offered entertainment along the way. Ringing out with Southern music, like heartfelt ballads, jamborees, jazz, or deep soulful spirituals, giving passengers on these beautiful boats a memorable Southern experience.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Southern Belle'

A true Southern Lady has charm, gentleness, a bit flirty with a little sassiness, being full of spirit. Southerners men were well known to be true gentlemen and still to this day are referred to as gentlemen. Southern women were placed on pedestals and treated with elaborate valor, chivalry and restraint. They would walk with great elegance; waving their fans and gently giving a simple curtsey. I don't think I would enjoy wearing those big dresses but the respectful expression of kindness, with a warm greeting I hope is a part of my Southern personality. Although I do love those floppy hat!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

ICE TEA


The only drink for a true Southern Lady is Ice Tea. I make it by the gallons. My children started drinking tea in their bottles. It is cool like a nice breeze, refreshing like a summer rain. I pray Lipton never goes out of business. Some like lemon, lime or some kind of berry. Not me! Best served in a pint jar with lots of ice. I am and will be forever faithful to the Southern art of sipping ICE TEA!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Three Southern Words

Three words of Southern magic: it can dress up the cattiest remark, express deepest sympathy or express the strongest admiration: "Bless Your Heart"~~~~Ronda Rich