Thinking on and celebrating our moms on this Mother’s Day…
When I was around 12-13, I remember making a comment typical of that age… part know-it-all, part judgmental and part bad attitude. That’s when I first heard my mom say “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Though many years have passed, those words ring in my mind almost daily as I encounter people, situations and life. Given our current state, this is even more important to remember – we never know what someone is going through or what their path has been like. My mom practiced empathy then, and now, and what I learned from her is what I hope to model for my four children.
They all seem to center around the summer, being outside and time off from school:
Our trips to the Florida Panhandle where we would play on the beautiful beaches by day and then at night, we would head to the go-carts, arcades, and Miracle Strip Amusement Park and stay until the minute they closed.
My mom taking my two brothers and me in my Dad’s red and white ’57 Chevy to our country club and staying the whole day long jumping off the super high dive, playing Marco Polo and eating all the peanut butter crackers, banana Laffy Taffy’s and Coca-Colas our stomachs could hold.
Going with her to pick peanuts fresh from the field and then heading home, covered in dirt, to wash off the peanuts (and us) on the back patio. She would get the water boiling and shortly thereafter we would feast on the best boiled peanuts in the world.
Recent favorite memories of my mom include my children and nephews going to “Camp Mammy” each summer, when they were in elementary and middle school, and getting to experience many of the things I did as a child.
I have two all-time faves I still request when I go home or my mom comes to visit.
Chocolate Gravy over Hot Biscuits
1 cup white sugar
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs. butter
Combine everything except butter in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Once boiling, cut the heat down and stir for a minute more as it thickens. Take off heat and stir in butter. Serve hot poured over biscuits with an additional butter dollop.
1 Pkg fresh or frozen speckled butterbeans
Biscuit dough – homemade or store bought (Pillsbury Grands)
Prepare speckled or colored butterbeans as you normally would. Drain half of liquid off then pour the rest of liquid and butterbeans into a long casserole dish. Roll out biscuits and cut in thin strips. Crisscross strips on top of butterbeans til covered then sprinkle liberally with black pepper and brush with butter. Bake at 350 til biscuits are done.
My mom “Beth” Mary Elizabeth Symons Harden’s most constant sayings were “pretty is as pretty does” and “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Mom is the happiest and most positive person I have ever met besides her mother Peg Symons. It must run in our genes to always see the best in people. But I can only aspire to their unbelievable compassion for others.
Our family has a lot of fond memories from our time in Athens when I was a toddler. Dad was studying accounting at the University of Georgia. We spent every Sunday after church on my great-grandparents’ Exa Bae and Leonard McRee’s farm in Watkinsville. We would walk the property after an incredible lunch that ended with Trudy’s chocolate pie. I wonder if Barbara and Vince Dooley remember that decadent pie as Trudy split her time helping my great-grandparents and the new young football coach’s family. Isn’t that funny? My mom would climb the giant pecan trees and shake the nuts down from the limbs and I would gather them in sacks with great-granddaddy smoking a cigar and shouting up for her to be careful. I am an only child that sort of grew up with my parents as they were so young when I was born but they were great parents from the start.
This is a must have for me at Christmas time. I adore my mom’s Lady Finger Cookies. I try to make them as good as she but that’s almost impossible. For Christmas, together we would make loved ones tins of various sweets like sugar cookies shaped as candy canes and chocolate fudge but the Lady Fingers were the best.
Lady Finger Cookies
2 sticks butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. good vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped
Powdered sugar, sifted
Cream butter and sugar. Add flour, vanilla and pecans. Divide dough into oval shapes like fingers. Bake at 250 degrees F. for one hour. Cool on rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
“Make it a great day” is something I’ve started most mornings of my life hearing… I can remember being dropped off in the middle school car line and my mom rolling down the window and yelling across the parking lot to me, “Make it a great day!!” While that makes for a very embarrassed teenager who rolled her eyes so hard they might “go into the back of her head” it now makes for a very grateful 23-year-old. My mom provides all of us (4 girls) a positive outlook and attitude in most every situation. We didn’t have to have a great day for it to be a great day— we could make it so.
Our family LOVES the beach. My mom grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and has spent her fondest memories in the sand and by the Gulf of Mexico. When I was younger, up until Hurricane Katrina completely took out my grandmother’s home in 2005, we would go to the coast often and gather with all of our extended family who lived between the two neighboring streets. I remember a lot about Barkley Drive— endless bug bites, numerous Easter egg hunts and crawfish boils, and sprints across Highway 90 to cross to the beach. Because of the hurricane, those gatherings look different now but we still love the beach and being by the water. As a family, we go at least 4 times a year— usually every season. One of our favorite things to do is go on beach walks and I treasure all of the times I spend with my momma… especially being in our happy place!
I believe this recipe is from Mom’s Bunco group… I always loved when she would make it, and I can picture the crumbs all over the kitchen floor. In our house, food goes quickly!
Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
1 box butter recipe golden cake mix
1/2 c oil
1/2 c water
1 pack chocolate pudding mix
3/4 c sour cream
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Put in greased Bundt pan and bake on 350 for 45-50 minutes.