Saturday, September 14, 2013

A tisket a tasket

...a Suck-Up Goody Basket.
One of my very favorite authors of all time is Jen Lancaster.  Several years ago, my friend Nancy in Canada told me how much fun she was to read & sent me her first book Bitter is the New Black...yeah...the crack pipe is always free. After that, well...I have every single one of her subsequent books...several of them in hardcover (delay instant gratification and wait for the paperback? Hush that crazy talk) and on my Kindle (I like having Ms. Lancaster on trips with me but I also want to bring several changes of shoes the Kindle allows me the suitcase room to do both).
In addition to reading Jen Lancaster's books, I got hooked on reading her blog ...especially after she did a complete re-enactment of the Twilight movies using the official Twilight action figures accessorized by everyday kitchen appliances. 
Through one of her postings, I was diverted to Quinn Cumming's blog: And after laughing myself sick reading her archives, I downloaded her book: Notes from the Underwire. I enjoyed it so much that when she came out with her second book about her first year homeschooling her young 'un, I bought that too...Despite the fact that my kiddo was entering her senior year of high school in public school and I had no intention of home schooling anyone, ever.  So glad I did, because it was still a hilarious read.
Quinn's last book Pet Sounds is something I really, really related to...because I have a house full of insane beasts that are apparently 90% loose, shed-able fur by weight.  Quinn's blog is great...the woman has such a huge heart for all of God's little creatures and does so much for the pet community that she puts my puny efforts to shame.  Also?  I would LOVE to learn how she manages her catch and release fostering.  I am a complete FAIL at the "release" part and have had to give up fostering anything, because once an animal crosses my threshold, it NEVER. LEAVES.
So when I saw a posting on Facebook (and confirmed on that Jen and Quinn were going to be at a book signing with a third author, Laurie Notaro (I had not encountered Ms. Notaro's work yet...but if she was traveling with the other two chicks, I knew she had to be good people)in Atlanta (approx. an hour and a half from the house) I was determined to go.
The three ladies are from Chicago, Los Angeles, and Eugene I decided as long as they were comin' down to Dixie...I'd make sure they got a full taste of the South while they were here.  I made Goody Baskets.  Here are the Goody baskets being assembled (with help from the cats):
I put Post-It notes on all of the items to let the ladies know why each item had been included in their Southern Care package.  Here's the range of things that went into them:
Midnight Moon Moonshine.
Junior Johnson, who owns this company is a NASCAR legend.  NASCAR started out as a past time for moonshiners.  They’d get together and race their bootlegging cars.  I live about 10 miles from the Talladega Superspeedway.  I was actually there when they were filming for “Talladega Nights.”  Say what you will about the redneck NASCAR fans, there is no better people watching anywhere than NASCAR races.  This moonshine came in three different flavors and had some nice, hooch-soaked fruit included: Cherry, Blackberry and Blueberry.
Lauri Jo's Pepper Jelly
Made in Georgia & sold in my friend, Janet’s wine & gift shop (Tyson Art & Frame).  You serve with cream cheese and crackers.  I’ve tried making my own.  HUGE FAIL. Now I just buy from Janet.
(You can read about the fail here.)
A really funny aside: when I brought the goody bags to the Barnes & Noble for the signing, the manager asked what-all I had in there...when I said I had pepper jelly, she said, "Now, you told them how to use that, didn't you?"  She said she'd lived in the South for 20+ years, and had only discovered that you can put out a platter of pepper jelly, a block of cream cheese and some crackers and folks will act like you have just invented the most gourmet, delectable appetizer EVER.
Geraldine's Cheese Straws
I started to buy Cheese Straws from my local bakery, Bonnie Ray’s, because they really are the best, but, since these lovely ladies don’t really know me, I decided Geraldine’s, a commercially available substitute (made in Jasper, GA) was a better idea.  No baby shower or bridal shower in the South is complete without cheese straws.  They are extremely horrible for any diet (seriously, each cheese straw is like 2 weight watcher points) because they are basically: cheese, butter, some flour to hold it together and spices.
Originally from Tennessee, they have become more associated with the city of Mobile, AL.  Mobile (home of the first Mardi Gras parade and festival in the US) started the tradition of throwing Moon pies from the Mardi Gras floats sometime in the mid 1950’s.  On New Year’s Eve, we don’t drop a ball at midnight in Mobile, we have a gigantic lighted moonpie instead.
RC Cola
You can’t eat a Moon Pie without an RC cola to wash it down.  I think it’s the law. An RC & a Moonpie has always been known as “A working Man’s Lunch.”
Wickedly Awesome pickles.  They are made in Dadeville, AL.  Original product was a sweet/hot pickle…then they added relish, sandwich topping, garden selection (pickled cauliflower, onions and pickles) and okra to their product line.  Honey hush.
Boiled green peanuts
You have to boil green (immature) peanuts, not fully grown and dried ones.  Usually you just see a guy or two set up on the side of the road boiling and selling peanuts.  Lots of folks still call these Goober Peas, like my Granny did.
Cracker Smack
My family always had seasoned crackers set out at any family gathering.  It kept folks from DYING as the main meal was being cooked.  We used oyster crackers, a packet of ranch dressing seasoning, lemon pepper, dill and red pepper flakes tossed with canola oil.  Janet carries Old World Gourmet (don't let the name fool you...this is a Southern company too...based out of Atlanta). Cracker Smack is a WHOLE lot less trouble than the stuff Granny used to make and is awesome. It even comes with a bag big enough to do a whole box of crackers.  I figured the ladies would appreciate getting the DIY kit rather than have me show up with a Tupperware container full of the seasoned crackers.

Here are the finished goody bags:

The base of the goody bag, holding everything stable, is a good ole, plain-Jane variety egg plate.  Because, as I have stated before, you cannot be a Southern Lady and not have an egg plate.
I cajoled my usual partner in crime, Jenn J into making a girls' boondoogle with me over to HotLanta. (Jenn doesn't need much nudging when it comes to boondoogle trips).  I booked us a room in Buckhead near the Barnes and Noble, scheduled a day & a half off of work and waited with eager anticipation for the coming weekend.
I ended up having to relocate the goody baskets to my daughter's TV/dressing room/extra room upstairs after finding a couple of spots of cat-vomit-curly-ribbon throughout the house and realizing that the varmits had decided that curly ribbon iz DELICIOUS.
Daughter: What are these?
Me: Goody baskets
Daughter: For who?
Me: These three ladies who write books that are going to be in Atlanta.  I know you've seen some of the books laying around
Daughter: Oh, yeah. Are you SUPPOSED to bring them something?
Me: No, I don't HAVE to...I thought I'd give them some purely Southern stuff...and I wrote a little explanation about each item.  I put it all on an egg plate and printed out my Egg Plate story to explain that.
Daughter: Oh. My. God. Mother! I am so judging you!
Me: What? Why? I'm being hospitable. I called the book store and asked if I could bring it and everything.
Daughter: This is like going to a concert and taking the band a CD of your garage band for a present.
Me: It is NOT!!  I mean,'s a leedle bit of a suck-up gift, but it's really to make them feel appreciated.
Daughter: .....
Me: Fine!  I'll take out the printed out story.
Daughter: No, you'd better leave it or they will have no idea what it's doing in their gift bag.  If you don't have an explanation for it, they'll just wonder why you are making them pack a heavy GLASS plate in their luggage.
....walks out shaking her head.
So, hopefully, each of the ladies will be delighted in their plethora of prezzies and won't think I'm some crazy, fan-girl, stalker type.
Next post...Trip Report on our Boondoogle!


  1. Marianne,
    I think the goody baskets are a fantastic idea! The ladies should find it interesting to experience some of these Southern goodies! Not only chose some of the most delicious Southern delicacies to introduce them to. Only things that could have make it better would be some fried catfish and fried green tomatoes, however, those are not exactly goody basket material. So, maybe just a tad suck up...jk... Seriously, they should feel the true meaning of Southern hospitality, when presented with your gifts! Great idea and something I would have never thought to do!