A Recipe for Writing Sweet Southern Fiction
By Carolynn Carey
One of today’s popular myths about people who live in the southern part of the U.S.—the states that are known as “the South”—is that we all love to drink sweetened iced tea. The fact of the matter is, I don’t know anyone who drinks sweet tea. I’m sure there are some among us, but everyone I know orders their iced tea unsweetened and then adds an artificial sweetener that has no calories.
So what does sweet tea have to do with writing sweet Southern fiction? Merely that sometimes the writer has to choose between the myth and the reality, especially when the story setting is a small town.
I love writing stories set in small towns in the South, partly because I can create a world where neighbors are always neighborly, traditions are always observed, and people enjoy the simple pleasures of life year round. Among these simple pleasures are social gatherings, such as picnics, cookouts, and church suppers, all of which are excuses for Southern cooks to create their favorite dishes.
Three of my books are set in the fictional small town in Tennessee that I called Barbourville. The most recent of these books, Dealing with Denver, is the story of Denver Vance, one of three triplet brothers. Denver is the most laid-back of the brothers. In fact, when his new friend, Mattie Meadows, first asks him to help her search for her birth mother in Barbourville, he politely declines. After all, he explains, he was just passing through town on his way back to Chicago. But Mattie is determined, and Denver stays around to help. In the process, he’s introduced to some interesting Southern foods, such as buttermilk pie. If you’ve never tried buttermilk pie, you really should. It’s easy and delicious. Here’s a basic recipe.
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Cream butter and gradually add sugar. Add flour and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs until combined. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Beat well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for five minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees and bake another 45 minutes or until set.
Yield: One 9-inch pie.
Food also has a role in the sweet romance I published in February 2012. In Prognosis for Happiness, at the request of his sister, Dr. Trevor Kendall takes a leave of absence from his Hollywood plastic surgery practice to return to the small Tennessee town where he attended high school so he can oversee the medical treatment of his young niece. Only after he arrives does he learn that his niece’s pediatrician is Dr. Gwen Meyer, his nemesis from their high school days. Once back in Brook Haven, he also happily becomes reacquainted with Southern cooking, including (since it’s summer), a delicious cucumber salad one of the hospital employees takes to the annual Mayhew County Memorial Hospital picnic. With summer coming on, you’ll want to try this recipe too.
About 4 medium-sized cucumbers (enough to make 3 cups sliced)
1 medium onion
Peel cucumbers, score lengthwise with a fork, and slice thin. Slice onion very thin and mix with sliced cucumbers. Salt to taste.
Mix the following until very smooth and stir into cucumber mixture:
½ cup salad dressing or mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons vinegar
Chill until ready to serve.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, my recipe for writing sweet Southern fiction involves characters who reflect their small-town heritage, actions that are based on the traditional values of rural locations, and the love of good Southern cooking!
Buy Links for Carolynn's Sweet Romances:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/prognosis-for-happiness-carolynn-carey/1108801627?ean=2940014025089&itm=1&usri=prognosis+for+happiness
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