PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Immortality in a family’s holiday dishes



Where did the time go? Where is the oxygen? The ole clock on the wall says it’s only two weeks to Thanksgiving and I haven’t even set the table yet!

Too much stuff is going on, but I’ve managed to complete my menu for the big holiday. And this past weekend, I whipped up two pans of “Sweet Potato Queen Casserole” for family consumption.

Of course, there are people near and dear who will not dare poke a fork into sweet potatoes, but that’s their loss and everybody else’s gain.

I bought my taters a couple of weeks ago and put them into the fridge, as recommended, so they would get sugarier. I do not know why this happens, but apparently it does.

Cooking for my loved ones is always crazy but worth all the harried moments.

One really enjoyable part of this year’s cooking has been my much appreciated inclusion on my friend Carlie Kollath Wells’ website for newcomers to New Orleans, where she resides with her hubby, Caleb.

Carlie’s site affords me space for a cooking blog named “Southfacin’ Cook.” With the latest addition, we’ve published 40 recipes for folks to try everything from fried chicken and gumbo to garlic-cheese grits and fried green tomatoes.

Chiefly, the blog was aimed at people who don’t know how to cook, and especially for new residents to the Crescent City, where absolutely everybody is expected to know how to make red beans and rice without thinking twice.

That’s where all this started actually, with red beans and rice.

Now, we’ve really put out all kinds of recipes and step-by-step photos to show would-be cooks how it’s done.

In some instances, the recipes are my own, developed over years and years of a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Others, I’ve adapted from seeing good stuff via TV cooking shows or vintage cook books.

It’s just been a lot of fun. Sometimes a bit harried, but fun. And Carlie is always happy to cut me some slack if I’ve run into an impossible weekend with an out-of-town wedding or something else.

Last week, we posted a recipe for perhaps the best pound cake I have ever tasted and surely ever made. I found it in my mother’s recipe box – an aging newspaper clipping taped to a file card.

I dedicated the recipe to my father, who wasn’t much of a cook, although he made this style cake, which I well remember.

He’s most famously remembered for the time he set the kitchen on fire while he tried to cook bacon and watch the World Series simultaneously.

My mother got a remodeled kitchen, so it turned out fine.

We never were much for multi-tasking.

So, now that I’ve got the sweet-potato casserole done, I’d better go scout around for a couple of large turkeys to be brined and make my cornbread to be ready for dressing.

Margaret’s fiance really likes to cook with me when he’s here, so I’m going to save the dressing for him to help me with when they arrive on Thanksgiving Eve.

That may be cutting it close, but it seems my calling to pass these secrets along. How wonderful to prepare the next generation to make future holiday feasts with those handed-down flavors.

That’s immortality, just like a newspaper byline. Only a lot tastier!

Patsy R. Brumfield writes a Thursday column. Contact her at (662) 678-1596 or

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  • Carlie Kollath Wells

    You are too sweet. I’m honored to have you posting on You are a talented cook and I’m glad you are patient and willing to walk me through all these delicious dishes. Thank you!