Recipes and Stories

26 February 2016: Finding Home by the Recipe VI—Meet Clara Elizabeth Clayton

February 26, 2016

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce, Boyd Clayton, Clara Elizabeth Clayton

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce, the favorite supper of Clara Elizabeth Clayton, Boyd Clayton's precocious daughter, showing that the Southern cooking is no longer just fried chicken, grits, and okra . . . if it ever was.
When Charlie Bedford came back to Maple Grove, the little town in the Carolina hill country where he’d grown up, hardly anyone recognized him. Sure, a portrait of him smiled out from the back cover all eight of his children’s books and he’d been in People magazine as “America’s favorite uncle”—twice. But the man who had locked himself up in his childhood home on Elm Street was nothing like the composed, handsome fellow in those carefully posed photographs.

What people saw—when, that is, they got a rare glimpse of him—was not a successful, award-winning writer, but an award-winning mess. Refusing all visitors and offers of food, he spent his days in self-imposed solitary confinement, grieving for a talent that, he was sure, had deserted him forever. (more…)

13 January 2016: Finding Home by the Recipe V—Meet Carol Ann McCarter and Juanita Jackson at the Cozy Corner Café

January 13, 2016

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Juanita's Country Steak with Onion Gravy, Country-style Steak, Carol Ann McCarter, Juanita Jackson

Country steak with onion gravy: as Carol Ann would say, it's not terribly photogenic, but it IS terribly, terribly good!
The epicenter of Maple Grove’s business district (if one could presume to call their little Main Street a district) was the intersection where Elm and Sycamore Streets, the east-west corridor through town, met at Main, the shady divided avenue that ran north and south through the center of town. And on the southwest corner of this intersection was the town’s real heart, The Cozy Corner Café, known to everyone in town simply as “Carol Ann’s.” (more…)

10 December 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe IV – Meet Dr. Mac

December 10, 2015

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Fettuccine with Sweet Peppers, Sandy "Dr. Mac" McMillan

Dr. Mac's Fettuccine with Sweet Peppers, which he learned to make from his Italian-American landlady while he was in medical school
10 December 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe IV – Meet Dr. Mac

When Charlie Bedford came back home to Maple Grove, to say he wasn’t a well man would’ve been a gross understatement. He was nervous, at least ten pounds underweight, and struggled with chronic nausea, joint pain, and exhaustion, never connecting that all these things might be symptoms of his biggest problem: depression. But when he fainted one night from not having eaten all day, he realized he had to stop hoping that his physical problems would just go away on their own and do something about them.

He knew that old Dr. Eliot, the physician who’d delivered him and seen him through childhood, had retired, but had no idea who’d taken over the practice. And so he also had no idea he was about to be reconnected with an old friend. (more…)

5 December 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe III – Meet Charlie Bedford

December 5, 2015

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Marion Bedford's Chili, Classic Southern Chili, Charlie Bedford

Marion Bedford's chili is just the old-fashioned Southern variety, mildly spicy and made with ground meat and beans. She always served with saltine crackers and grated old cheddar from Grover's Market, the little family grocery and butcher shop on Main Street in Maple Grove.
Best-selling children’s book author Charlie Bedford had many talents, but cooking was not among them. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate good food, it just didn’t matter enough for him to be bothered to actually make it. On the rare occasion that the sleek kitchen of his Manhattan apartment had seen any activity, it had been Val who’d done it.

Besides, there were more good restaurants within three blocks of his apartment than there had been within a thirty miles of Maple Grove, the sleepy village where he’d grown up. (more…)

24 November 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe II – Meet Boyd Clayton

November 24, 2015

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Pan-Broiled Steak, Roasted New Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary, Boyd Clayton

Boyd's Steak is accompanied by roasted new potatoes with garlic and rosemary, a favorite of his daughter, Clara's, and the dish whose aroma restored Charlie Bedford's atrophied appetite
Chapter Two of Finding Home finds Charlie Bedford back in Maple Grove, the town where he had been born and raised. He’d not been home since his mother died three years before, and his sudden return naturally caused a buzz of excitement. After all, he was the closest thing to a celebrity that the little town had ever known.

But the buzz quickly turned ugly when Charlie walled himself up in his mother’s house and refused to open the door to anyone. Within a week, he’d been pronounced as crazy as a bedbug by everyone—with the lone exception of his childhood best friend, Boyd Clayton.

Everyone should have a friend like Boyd. He never gave up on anybody. (more…)

17 November 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe

November 17, 2015

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Chocolate Pound Cake, Classic Southern Cooking, Introducing Finding Home

Finding Home is set in Maple Grove, a sleepy little village in the hills of Carolina that in my imagination looks a lot like this.
Most of you probably don’t know, but cookbooks and culinary journalism are not my only forays into story-telling. Like most Southerners, I’ve been telling stories my whole life and have been writing them down for most of it. None of it has ever felt mature enough to publish, but for the last few years, I’ve been working on a novel that feels ready, and am now looking for a home for it with a publishing house.

Called Finding Home, it’s the story of award-winning children’s book author C. F. (Charlie) Bedford, who turned a childhood pet rabbit into the hero of a best-selling storybook series and rode its success right out of his small-town childhood into the kind of charmed life that every writer dreams about but that most never achieve. At thirty-eight, he’d conquered the world of children’s literature with eight bestsellers and had been living the good life in New York City.

But then he came home one afternoon to a note, an abandoned ring, and a half-empty apartment, and his charmed life began to unravel. Before he knew what was happening, he found himself right back where he’d started, in his run-down childhood home in Maple Grove, a sleepy little village in the hills of upstate South Carolina. (more…)