Cactus and Cowhide by Laura Packard
photo by www.netranchers.com
I don’t know if y’all know this about me yet, but even though I’m a Georgia Peach to the pitted core, I’m also a Texas Rose at the hub of my heart. Yes, I was born in the Peach state, but spent the first nine years of my life, the formative ones, living and learning and growing in Texas before moving back to Georgia during the fourth grade.
What exactly is a Texas Rose, my South Eastern friends might wonder? Well, like the flower itself that thrives in the Lone Star State, it represents someone hearty by nature, a person who doesn’t need a bunch of extra tending to and not a whole lot of fuss. A Texas Rose loves….no blossoms in…. full sun, dry air, rocky soil, and vast, wide open spaces where one can ramble and roam which ever direction the blistering wind blows.
It’s a pull yourself up by the bootstraps kind of place; a place full of cowhide and cowboy hats; cactus and cold ones. It’s sharp and sturdy; a rugged piece of land with an edge.
Growing up as a little girl, I loved watching the tumbleweeds, as tall as me and twice as wide, roll down our neighborhood street. I looked forward to the weekends when we would take our Blazer, the Bumblebee, far out into the desert. It was here, among the rattlers and the cactus flowers, the hot sand and the coyotes, that I learned how to be truly still and solid in place, but know when to skedaddle if need be in a hurry.
See, there was the world, literally, laid out flat, in every direction, for miles and miles and miles, as long as the eye could see.
And there we were, a small speck of dust. Content. No place else we really needed to be.
I always think back fondly of my time in Texas and how it taught me a great many things.
I learned how to be tougher than a $2 steak.
I learned that grit is a form of gratitude and that if you stay true to yourself, stay strong, in good times and in bad, you’ll always be thankful.
I learned to love the land, really love it, as well as all of its people- whether roaming or rooted- black, white or brown- that we are all tied, if not by blood than by brotherhood, to the same places we dwell.
I kind of like the fact that I’m a Southern hybrid of sorts. Georgia, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida have all have affected me in some profound way. But I think it may be Texas that formed the beginnings of what I like to call my pitted core.
I found strength in the serene, purity within the roughness, and awe in the impossible. I take it with me always as I add the layers of my experiences, though always gently and with care, around my humble, but hardy beginnings.
Texas. You will always be home to me.
Speaking of grit, it’s that time again for Jekyll Island’s annual Shrimp and Grits Festival starting on Friday, September 14th thru Sunday,16th. And this year will be like no other, seeing as the Southern C, along with all of y’all, will be helping to sponsor this fantastic and delicious event. Stop by the Southern C Lounge while at the event and enjoy a libation with us.
In anticipation and adoration for this quintessential Southern dish that combines two of the South’s most precious resources, I am going to share with y’all my mother-in-law, Flo Anderson’s, to-die-for hot peppered buttered shrimp recipe. Toss these on top of your favorite family style grits and you’ll be sure to be a blue ribbon winner.
Kiss My ‘Hot Peppered’ Shrimp and Grits
-Emmeline’s Raw Bar Cookbook, Saint Simon’s Island, GA
Compiled by Florence Anderson
1 lb. margarine
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 T. paprika
1 T. black pepper
1 T. bitters
1 T. garlic powder
2 T. Lawrey season salt
1 T. dry mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. wine vinegar
Fresh peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp
In a mixer bowl or food processor beat margarine until light. Add remaining ingredients, except shrimp, and beat until well blended. Store butter in refrigerator and use as needed.
For Peppered Shrimp heat 2-3 Tablespoons of the pepper butter in a small frying pan. When it starts to bubble, stir in 6 to 8 shrimp. Stir quickly for 1-2 minutes until shrimp are just cooked. Pour on top of grits or in a bowl and serve with French bread for dipping sauce.
Gramma Flo also says this butter is great on sautéed oysters.
To make Kiss My ‘Hot Peppered’ Shrimp and Grits just pour the shrimp on top of your own baked grits- if you don’t have a tried and true recipe, there are many wonderful recipes on southernliving.com and Paula Deen has some great ones on foodnetwork.com. Enjoy! Talk to you next time!