“Include us in your story and we will include you in ours. That is the job of a family.”Ramona Ausubel/No One is Here Except All of Us
Every Monday night for eight years, amid the hurl and burl of a small Middle Tennessee town, two women connected by marriage find their way to an extraordinary kitchen. These are not your garden variety type women, nor is the kitchen one that dwells for microwave use only.
The kitchen, first blessed after construction by a meal some 46 years ago, is commandeered on a daily basis by Connie Hardin. Connie is a well-known community matriarch. She has spent her adult life in talented service to her family, countless friends, the James K. Polk Home, St. Peter’s Church and People Helping People.
In ceaseless labor she offers gifts of organizing, floral and space designing, life style editing and non-profit fundraising. At a moment’s notice, she can deliver food, drink, flowers and a wide eyed smile to a boisterous crowd or a single broken heart.
Connie’s husband’s sister Susie Maddux holds favor in countless hearts. With ethereal good looks, she is a reminder that a creative spirit generates beauty of all classifications.
Kile Patrick, Connie’s hubby and Susie’s bro, knocks out a list documented since his birth, a la Suz – “organized, thrifty, and a great fashion style,” he says. Susie is chief deputy of the register of deeds in Columbia, Tennessee, but is known to many as a jewelry designer and stained glass artist.
The women maximize their stout mothering skills to extend from their own children to the world.
Kile says that the two of them together give him the intangible. “When I come home from a ‘can’t get it done day’ and my wife and my sister are bonding, well I love that….it’s a night for family,” he says.
Susie finds the evening one of comfort where she can open up and “they give me advice – sometimes.”
The meals are composed in a way that reflect their artsy – what is on hand and what sounds good.
Susie’s favorite meal is grilled salmon and spinach salad. Connie loves chicken and dumplings and ‘my grannie’s slaw.’
They each have specialities which are often repeated. They partner on things like a giant turnover, stirring the pot together. “I cook the apples and Susie makes the crust; she pinches the crust for effect just like a bunch of flowers,” Connie says.
And Susie’s flair for dough extends to a regularly rotated item on the Monday night menu, her Maw’s biscuits. She reclaimed the recipe though a friend after her Maw had passed.
“Out of a bowl of loose flour you create beautiful delicious biscuits that cry for jam, ham dust or honey – it’s therapy for me,” she says.
And a golden ticket for those who are lucky to get a Monday night invitation.
3 cups of self rising flour
1/2 crisco stick cut up into the flour
Make a well in flour to pour 1 cup buttermilk
The dough should have a sticky consistency
Fold in some flour to the dough – not too much – until smooth
Share Ms Cook With Your Friends