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Countertop Review

This time last year I was packing up our house to prepare for our down-to-the-studs renovation in our kitchen, family room, and master bath as well as the addition of a screened porch. The family room wasn't originally part of the plan, but that's a post for another time. The kitchen was where I really had to plan and scheme, and, yes even fret, to stay in our footprint and budget and to get the function and look I wanted. I love a challenge like this, though, so despite some occasional frustration with my client (aka me! ), I enjoyed the process. A key "want" of mine was honed marble countertops. There are dozens--maybe hundreds--of blog posts, articles, and showroom sites that compare various types of countertop materials and their pros and cons. I read most of them and took notes from a lot of them in the months leading up to our start date. One of the most helpful things was visiting a sweet friend's kitchen, where I was able to ask questions about cleaning, a

Did someone say pie?

The trend watchers have been saying for a while now that pies were the new cupcakes. These are pretty much the same people that said tea was the new coffee. Maybe more people are drinking more tea, but it doesn't seem like coffee consumption has exactly plummeted. I predict it will be the same with pie and cupcakes. People, especially little people, like cupcakes. Cupcakes are manageable. Grown-ups like cupcakes, too. Cupcakes offer portion control. Even shoppers like cupcakes. After all, cupcakes offer opportunities for accessories.

But, still. Pie.
I'm all for it. In fact, embarrassingly, I can't stop thinking about it.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to meet cookbook author Martha Hall Foose. If you like to cook, or if you live in the South or if you are interested in sustainability and local food, then you probably know of Martha Hall Foose. The "other Martha."

She's written Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, winner of a 2009 James Beard Foundation Award. Currently on the road promoting A Southerly Course, she was in town as the guest of local magazine Edible Upcountry and the Center for Sustainability at Furman University. She was really charming and chatty, and she is much prettier and younger than she looks in her books. But I digress.

After a brisk walk through Furman's beautiful campus, my friends and I arrived at the event where MHF was signing books and chatting leisurely while earnest college students (well, they looked earnest to me) passed trays of roasted tomato canapes and bacon pralines (I know) and mini custard pies.

To say she had her audience eating out of her hand is quite the understatement. She talked about some of her favorite recipes, and she made a pie crust while she shared anecdotes from her work on the film The Help, for which she did all the food styling.

Her story of creating a chicken leg for a vegan, celiac actress who practices a "cruelty-free lifestyle" was particularly amusing.

Still, cookbook authors are pretty plentiful. And, really, how many Southern cookbooks does anyone need? Here's the thing, though, Martha Hall Foose can not only cook (with impressive experience here in the U.S.  and in France), she can write. She has that whole Mississippi story-telling thing going, and she uses her incredible gift of writing to tell stories not about food but about people. So much more delicious.

Sometimes the stories are about the people that made the food or ate the food, but the best ones are about the people that inspired the food. Eudora Welty comes to mind. Welty, who lived in Jackson, Mississippi her entire life but wrote short stories and essays and novels that still resonate with readers all over the world, inspired Foose’s custard pie recipe. Turns out Miss Welty actually liked to eat some god-awful liver and curry concoction, but she inspired a custard pie.
e and me with martha foose
Personally, I want to be the kind of person that could inspire a pie.
Or—even a cupcake.


  1. My sister in law was married on the Furman campus! She and my inlaws live in Greenville and Pickens respectively. Ironic!
    I will NEVER have too many cookbooks so thanks for sharing this...I will have to check it out!

  2. This is a kind of cooking of which I have absolutely no experience. Thank you for sharing. This might be the next direction to explore.

  3. The books are great reading, just for the reading's sake, but the recipes I've tried have been excellent, too. Stunning photography. She is not a "convenience" cook, and not all the recipes are "Southern," which I personally think makes it more interesting. Her pimento cheese, however, was outstanding!

  4. I will always be a cupcake girl. I dont like short pastry so pie just doesn't do it for me. Unless it's key lime meringue...I can make an exception for that :O)

  5. A statistic shows that almost 60 percent of people start their day with a cup of coffee. I also love to start my day with a cup of coffee. I, however, like to brew coffee in a Coffee Percolator . The percolator is perfect to make an excellent cup of coffee. What do you think about this?


  6. This is a very helpfull blog.Thank you for sharing this

    Best Coffee Maker With Grinder


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