City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

A Southern Grandmother And Her Secret Recipes

Her door is always open, the oven is always warm, and the hugs are always long.

To know the South, is to know its women. And there is no woman more important in a Southern family than the Southern grandmother. Her aliases include Nana, Nannie, Meme, Mimi, Grams, Granny, Grandma, Gran, Big Mama, Emmy, Gigi, Gaga, GamGam, Gammie, Mammy, Grammy, Memaw, Mammaw, Oma, Noni, and YaYa. This special type of grandmother, you are convinced has a direct line to God. She has the patience of Job and enough activities in her hat to outdo any summer camp. She finds not only someone to talk to while waiting in line, but also moves to find common ground to eliminate that vulgar word ‘stranger’ as quickly as possible. She inevitably runs into someone she knows everywhere she goes, even if she's outside her neck of the woods. Her home is more of a haven - the door is always open, the oven is always warm, and the hugs are always long.

Every visit to my grandmother’s house held something to learn, something to discover. One visit might be making tea cakes, another might be sewing, another might be canning tomatoes, another might be snapping beans, another might be going on a nature walk. My grandmother’s house was an endless unstructured class on how to create. Traditions and basic know-hows she had learned from the matriarchs in her family. The way I saw it she could do everything my grandfather could do, plus more. She could hunt, fish, cook from scratch, bake anything, sew, knit, embroider, crochet, quilt, can and preserve, garden, raise chickens, play cards, tell the funniest bedtime stories, identify every tree, plant, snake, and flower in a forest, and she wrote the most detailed letters.

There is something soulfully satisfying about creating - creating something tangible, something with love, something sustainable. Southern grandmothers know this.


“Now add the sugar,” my grandmother would say to me as I sat in my favorite spot in her house - on the kitchen counter next to the mixer. I would watch the tea cake batter begin to form, swirling around and around, my grandmother pushing the sides down. From being picked up and sat on the counter to the ultimate treat of licking the beaters, if there ever was a more special place to be than my Nannie’s countertop, I have yet to discover it.


4 cups White Lily Self Rising Flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

Pinch of baking soda

1 cup shortening

1 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift together the flour, salt, powder and soda. Form a well in the center of the flour and add your shortening and buttermilk. Gradually begin working the dough together but do not over mix. Place the dough onto a floured putting board. Kneed until pliable adding more flour as you go but not too much. Roll to 1/4 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Continue until all dough is gone. Place biscuits on an ungreased cooking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Note: Nannie’s biscuit cutter was a Vienna sausage can that she had over 50 years, so aged it had turned almost black. She gave it to my sister who loves to bake 4 years before she died. It is in her ‘Top 5 Things To Grab If There’s A Fire’.



1/2 gallon milk

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla

1 box Nilla wafers

6 bananas

6 egg whites

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/3 cup sugar


In a double boiler, whisk together milk and egg yolks. In a small bowl combine sugar and flour, this will help to mix in the flour so it doesn't clump. Gradually add this mixture to the milk mixture, stirring constantly. At this point pull up a chair and get comfy, you will be stirring constantly until this thickens. Once thickened, add vanilla now.

With super clean beaters beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then add the cream of tartar and sugar. This will help the meringue not weep.

Layer a trifle dish, bowl, casserole dish, or whatever deep dish you like with a layer of Nilla wafers. Then top with a layer of sliced bananas. Pour part of pudding mixture over covering up bananas. Repeat layers until pudding is gone. Top with Meringue and brown under a low broiler.

Note: My sister’s ex-husband wanted this recipe in their divorce settlement, he did not get it.

She moves to find common ground to eliminate that vulgar word ‘stranger’ as quickly as possible.