Stirring up memories
A Quick Getaway
August 31, 2005
I ducked, almost
sliding off the bench. And just in
time. The talons of the vulture
almost knocked off my hat. The way
I remember it, I felt the breeze come off his wings.
wasn’t scared. Well, maybe just a little bit nervous; plus, the breeze
felt good. I was sitting in the raptor
(birds of prey) show at CallawayGardens near Pine
and Vinnie-the-Vulture was just
about as tame and friendly as my dog Frank back in Bainbridge.
learned a lot about vultures that very hot August morning. They are clean (don’t ask why
their legs are white!) and perform the valuable service of keeping our
countryside and roadsides clean.
have new respect the next time I see a flock along the road. This may happen soon, because
we’ve been on the road a lot lately, and we plan to keep it that way!
summer we spent about as much time in our trusty Jeep as we did at home. I’ve got wanderlust. I’m thinking about the roads that
lead away from and toward home.
I know if I hop onto Highway 84, I can go to Cairo
or Donalsonville, and that U.S. 27 will take me to Havana in one direction and Colquitt in the
other. But are there adventures
further along the road?
That’s what I was finding our when Vinnie skimmed my hat.
Moscow-born and London-based daughter-in-law Irina was here us visiting. When she’s here I try to serve her
up as much of the American experience as I can. This time we wanted a short trip to
spend the weekend with Atlantan daughter Katy. The perfect solution? Head up U.S. 27 to Pine Mountain—not
too far a trip for us, and just a hop and skip for Katy.
took our usual route to Columbus,
but instead of getting on I-185, we stuck with 27. (I-185 actually gets you to Pine Mountain
more quickly, but I was on a 27 adventure.) We went right through downtown Columbus. If we’d had more time, or if
we’d had kids along, we’d have stopped at the Coca-Cola
Center and the Port Columbus
We saved that for next time and headed through the rolling countryside, through
Hamilton and right into beauty.
we made our plans, I thought we’d spend all of our time at Callaway Gardens. But wait! There’s more much more than the
Gardens. We enjoyed going into the
shops in quaint Pine
Mountain. I particularly loved the used bookshop;
not only for its inventory, I bought three books, but also for its name—Cup and Chaucer. But for our treat we passed on
coffee at the bookshop in favor of ice cream at the Purple Cow.
and Katy took over Irina’s American experience with a field trip to the
Little White House in nearby Warm Springs.
What an inspiration to see where so many folks received treatment for
polio and the modest and lovely retreat of the thirty-second President,
Franklin D. Roosevelt.
they were day tripping, I stayed back on our screened porch at Callaway Gardens. A great way to spend a lazy Sunday
morning. The troops got back in
time for a trip to the Gardens and an organ concert in the Ida Cason Callaway
Chapel. Perfect! The deep bass tones had an accompaniment
of thunder from an approaching shower.
much more. The weekend wasn’t
long enough. I took votes on
favorite things. We each got three
because who could decide on one or even two? I went for the organ concert, the
vegetable garden, and, naturally, the screened porch and my books. Katy joined me in choosing the organ
concert and her dad on the Little White House; plus, she was enamored of the
koi at the Horticultural
Center. Bob chose the Horticultural
Center as well, and he’d looked
forward to seeing the But terfly
Center since it
opened. Irina, loved it all, but
finally decided on the butterflies, the vegetable garden (in made her think of
her garden outside of London)
and the Birds of Prey show with my pal Vinnie.
What to eat in
this lovely country? The openair
made us work up an appetite, and the vegetable garden was an inspiration. For Sunday night supper, we enjoyed the
view—and the food—at Callaway Garden Country Store. One of the specialties is a country cup
of black-eyed peas and turnip greens with the Garden’s special tomato
relish. I had to have it. The peas and greens came out in
individual cups with the sauce in a tiny bowl on the side. I got instructions to eat them
separately and put the relish on the peas.
wanted to put the relish on everything.
It was sweet, hot and delicious.
We dropped by the store on Monday.
I hoped I could buy some relish—it’s not for sale. I begged an employee (here nameless) to
tell me how to do it. She
told me that while it can be made from fresh tomatoes, she makes it at home
using canned. I tried. It’s good.
Sunday Supper Spicy Tomato Relish
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
sugar to tomatoes and juice and heat in a small saucepan until the sugar
dissolves. Simmer until the sauce thickens
slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool and
taste for sweetness. If you need
more sugar, reheat. Add the
pepper flakes very gradually—they heat things up fast.
amazingly simple recipe is great on top of black-eyed peas, but that’s
just a beginning. It’s good
on rice, mashed potatoes and (for me) best of all, scrambled eggs.
secret source at the restaurant assures me it can be double, tripled or
“just cooked up by the pot full.”
on to a good down-home dessert.
We began our Pine
Mountain adventure with
the delightful country-style buffet at the Callaway Gardens Mountain Creek
Inn. We were late, and we were
hungry. By the time we’d all
made a couple of trips back for more turnip greens and fried chicken, no one
had room for dessert—we thought.
Then Irina came back from a scouting trip with a dish of bread
pudding. Plenty of room!
I didn’t get the Callaway
Garden version, and then
when I got home, I couldn’t find my favorite.
makes me wonder about bread pudding and how such a simple sounding dish became
so popular. On another trip this
summer, I heard that bread pudding is a distinctively New Orleans dish. They haven’t heard this story at Callaway Gardens—or lots of other
about it? Do you have a favorite
bread pudding recipe to share?
Please send it along to me.
There’s more about bread pudding coming up!
while you are sending in recipes, how about some good scuppernong suggestions?
Post-Script: If you are looking for a great
weekend getaway, consider Pine
Mountain. Check it out at www.pinemountain.org or call
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network