Danna Standridge felt right at home in the Bailey Center at Wallace State Community College where she spoke about her cookbook celebrating the State of Alabama’s Bicentennial and signed copies for guests who stopped by. Standridge, of Blount County, is an alumna of Wallace State and recalled lining up in the lobby of the Bailey Center to register for classes.
While the facility doesn’t look quite the same as it did back then, the memories brought it all back as she signed copies of her book.
Memories make up a large part of “Time to Eat, Y’all: Celebrating the Culinary Heritage of Sweet Home Alabama.” Many of her own memories and traditions as well, as those of numerous government officials and legislators, fill the book.
The title of the book comes from Standridge’s own childhood, when her grandmother “Nanny” would call the family in to the Sunday dinner table by yelling “Time to eat, y’all” from the doorway. Standridge shares memories from growing up at the children’s table with her many cousins, farm-to-table practices that were the norm in the days of her grandparents and parents, and the importance of a home-cooked meal to a son serving in the military.
Standridge said she loves to cook and share recipes. “I’m not one of those that hide the recipe and leaves out ingredients,” she said. “I will give you the whole recipe and I hope you’re successful with it. I also give out cards like this,” she added, holding up an index card with a recipe on it. “If you need to cook something for somebody, I’ve got a recipe for that and I’ll pull it out of my purse.”
After her husband, Rep. David Standridge, was elected to serve Blount County in the Alabama Legislature, he asked her to come with him to be his assistant. Her practice of giving out recipes continued at the State House and her reputation was set as someone who loves to cook and talk about food.
That led to a phone call from a representative from the Alabama Department of Tourism, who asked her to help write a cookbook to mark the state’s 200th birthday. “I said, ‘Oh, I’m your girl,’” Standridge recalled.
Once she met with the committee in charge of the book, she shared with them many of the memories that came with her recipes and they told her they wanted her to write those memories down to include in the book.
“To me that’s just a gift from God, those stories,” she said. “A gift that I could put out there so that people could remember where we came from. Think about it. Think about your family. Where have we come from?”
She encouraged everyone to think about their family stories and recipes and to write them down for future generations to enjoy. “If you don’t write it down, when they’re gone, it’s gone,” she said.
She was met with that issue on the passing of her paternal grandmother who was known for her Chicken and Dumplings. “Everybody in Blount County knew about her dumplings, but she didn’t write it down,” Standridge said. She and her mother worked on trying to recreate the recipe. “We worked and worked on the recipe and parceled then out for family to taste. We finally found the missing piece of the recipe from a family member who recalled Nanny Swann talking about making dumplings and now we have the perfect Nanny Swann’s Chicken and Dumpling recipe in the book.”
Standridge shared the story of her Ugly Biscuits and how much her son Caleb missed them while he was going through survival training with the U.S. Air Force.
“He told anyone who would listen about how good my ugly biscuits were,” Standridge said. “He said he dreamed about them.”
When he completed training and she was able to visit, Standridge said she flew to meet her son – her dark, well-used biscuit pan packed in her suitcase – to make him those ugly biscuits.
“If my son wants my ugly biscuits, he’s going to get some,” she added. “Like I told David, I’m going to feed that boy or die trying.”
Along with her own family recipes, there are recipes from government officials and legislators throughout the state, such as Dist. 11 Rep. Randall Shedd’s contributions of White Fruitcake and Tea Cakes.
“One of my favorite memories is enjoying my grandmother’s White Fruitcake at Christmas,” Shedd writes in the book. The recipe comes from his grandmother, Mollie Jones Garrett, and it’s been passed down two more generations so far. “Debbie Ray Shedd, my wife, will hopefully someday pass it on to our granddaughter, Maddie Claire Shedd, and teach her how to bake it just like she does.”
Ugly Biscuits, White Fruitcake and Turnip Greens are just a few of the recipes/memories in “Time to Eat, Y’all.”
Standridge shared the stories about these and more when she presented a talk, along with a cookbook signing, on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 11 a.m. at the Bailey Center Auditorium at Wallace State Community College.
2 c. self-rising flour
1 stick butter, melted
2 T. butter
1 c. milk
1 T. vinegar
- Preheat oven to 475°.
- Pour vinegar into milk and set aside till needed.
- Place 2 tablespoons of butter in bottom of skillet and place in oven to melt.
- Place flour in mixing bowl and make a well/indention in the center.
- Pour the milk/vinegar mixture into the well in the flour.
- Pour in the melted stick of butter.
- Stir together. Batter will be thinner than traditional biscuit dough.
- Drop large spoonfuls onto prepared buttered skillet every 2 inches.
- The batter will spread and slowly connect as it cooks.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes till bottom is crisp and brown and top is lightly brown.
- Cut biscuits apart.
- Danna Standridge
1 box white cake mix, baked according to directions for two layers
2 c. sugar
8 egg yolks
1 c. coconut
1 c. butter
1 c. white raisins
1 c. black walnuts
Cook on medium, stirring constantly till mixture starts thickening. While warm, spread icing between layers, the remainder on top. Cake gets better next day or next if any left.
- Rep. Randall Shedd
Gerald’s Turnip Greens
Turnip greens, picked fresh
About 24 oz. water
2 T. bacon grease
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp. salt
- Take a bucket or foot tub, go to the turnip green patch and pick enough greens for a good meal. Wash greens through about 3 waters to make sure they are clean. Pick out any bad leaves.
- Using a large pot with a lid, prepare the liquid to cook the greens.
- Add about 24 oz. water, bacon grease, bouillon cubes, and salt and bring to a low boil.
- Place a few greens in at a time until all are in the pot.
- Boil about 10 minutes, then turn to simmer and place a lid on top of pan and cook about 30 minutes or longer as needed.
- Gerald and Shirley Swann