The New to the Old. The Old from the New.

I’m going back home for a short stretch. About a week. Interestingly home has been quite the trending topic lately – in my home. My home here in LA that is. This is my home now. But Virginia, is also, and will always be my home. My home where I was born and raised. I’m excited. I’m also excited that I’m excited.

I haven’t been able to return to Virginia much since I started my own business back in 2004. No more Christmases or other holidays, for sure. It seems like the reasons that have lured me back there in the past five years have been mostly not so great things. I can hardly remember I went back just to go. Hence my excitement.

The extra bonus of going right around now is FALL. Fall is, without a doubt, my favoritest season of all. Always has been – even when it represented back-to-school (and I never liked school). While my City of Angels does have whispers and hints of the different seasons, we don’t really get a proper Fall or Winter. Winter I don’t care a whole lot about. Y’all can keep it. But Fall, oh the love.

One of the things I’m extra super thrilled about regarding this visit is that I have scheduled a whole day to hang out with Aunt Babe. I haven’t seen her since her 90th birthday, which was back in 2007. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been especially taken with Aunt Babe. I write about her A LOT. But, really, I haven’t spent worlds of time with her throughout my life. I don’t know if I know her, really.

But what I do know is that I admire her composure, her calm. I admire her fortitude – she has been the rock of our family, and single, since her husband passed away over 50 years ago and her sister, my Grandmother, Janie, passed away the year before I was born. I admire her sense of family. I admire the fact that she’s, like, 95 years old and doesn’t wear glasses.

I also admire her cooking. One of the things I most looked forward to all of my life, until I was simply unable to attend, was Christmas Eve dinner, in Roanoke, at Aunt Babe’s place. It was, and is, literally my favorite meal of my life. Hands down.

Aunt Babe in the kitchen, with her sassy Christmas duds.

I’m sure it wasn’t just the food. I’m sure it has way more to do with the evening being so traditional, so normal, so warm and so consistent. But I swear I can still taste everything that was served at that meal each year. I’m kind of obsessed with that meal.

Well and so. In case you haven’t heard I’m bringing back Dinner at Eight. Again.

It all started about a month ago. I attended a bloggy Tweet Up or some such thing, and ran into Let Me Eat Cake. I’ve always gotten a super great vibe from this girl. We started talking about Southern food: how it’s seemingly on the rise like never before, how every other issue of every other food or wine magazine is The Southern Issue, how delicious and special it is, and how there is an obvious dearth of it in our City of Angels. That day we made a loose pact to make it happen here.

What better way to start that then to A) get my tail back home to visit Aunt Babe and get all those wonderful recipes from her and, B) share with and feed all of you, my dear Angelinos, this remarkable cuisine, that, while may be a trend, is also a rediscovery of something that was always there. And, hopefully, now here.

The next Dinner at Eight will be A Southern Sunday Supper. The date is October 23, 2011. We will have two seatings with eight diners each. Dinner will be served inside, by the fire. To see the menu, more details and to make reservations, click here.


Shortly after I posted the menu for the next dinner party, Aunt Babe’s daughter, Noel (my cousin and my middle name) sent me this email:

Hi Elliott,

Connie just sent us a link to your Dinner at Eight and we were tickled to see that two of Aunt Babe's dishes are included.

What spoonbread recipe do you use?  The best (and easiest) I ever tasted was one from Mom's first cousin Flonnie Kinnear.  It's just like the one from the old S&W Cafeteria in Roanoke and other southern cities.  You're way too young to have been there. 

Also, we just finished up the last two pieces of a buttermilk pie -- also from Flonnie, I think.

Love, Noel


So, I’m proud to say, here is Cousin Flonnie Kinnear’s recipe for spoon bread (and the one we will be serving at the dinner party). I’m printing it as is (even with the Pam!) with the exception of adding Anson Mills as a referral for the cornmeal as their product is unsurpassed.

Cousin Flonnie's Spoon Bread
Serves 4

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweet milk
2 eggs
⅓ cup Anson Mills cornmeal
½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Pam a casserole.

Combine all ingredients.  Mix for one minute.  Pour into casserole (or cast iron).  Bake for 20 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. have a great time with Aunt Babe! I can't wait to see what recipes you learn from her and I can't wait to hear all of the amazing stories I'm sure she will tell. Southern Style Dinner at Eight is going to be amazing!