Kenda Williams

freelance writer and journalist – Savannah, Georgia

Serving up a tasty, heaping helping of “The Help” August 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kenda Williams @ 8:22 pm

Southern women know how to cook. It’s in our blood. Our mothers and their mother’s mothers all know how to win over the hearts of friend or foe with food. It’s also something that brings people together – especially women. We laugh, cry and tell deep stories over a plate of apple pie or a bowl of chicken ‘n dumplings. We also share memories and relive life experiences with the food we bring to the table. It’s inherently a part of us. And it’s not a passion for just any food… It’s southern food. It breaks through all boundaries of socioeconomic class, race, or gender, and it goes straight to the soul. It feeds the soul, keeps us strong and helps us help others.

In the book and recently-released film, “The Help,” several southern women come together and share their life stories in the midst of the 1960s civil rights era in the South. It’s a southern woman’s world, revealing the relationships between the African American help and the women for whom they work. A young girl decides to write a novel from the perspective of the help and asks some of her closest friends’ maids to join her in this dangerous task.

The film, The Help, tells about southern traditions, friendship, forgiveness, love, and life. Fortunately, it also has a tasty, heaping helping of down-home southern food.

The Help: Southern Food – This is a great piece in Food and Wine Magazine. Read an excerpt here:

“About 20 minutes into the movie, you’re craving fried chicken,” says director Tate Taylor. That movie is The Help, the new film based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel; it stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer and costars platter after platter of incredibly delicious-looking Southern food. The Help examines the complicated relationships between African-American maids and their white employers in 1960s Mississippi, and since the story crosses race and class lines, the cooking does too. There are scenes of ladies’ luncheons with tomato aspic and cocktail meatballs, and scenes calling for soul food like collard greens, black-eyed peas and, of course, that craveable fried chicken. “Food is just everywhere,” says Taylor.

Martha Hall Foose, author of the acclaimed Southern cookbook Screen Doors and Sweet Tea and the new A Southerly Course. Foose made fried chicken for the film based on a recipe described in the novel, prepared by a maid named Minny who’s revered for her talent in the kitchen. The secret: Crisco. (Minny praises Crisco thusly: “Ain’t just for frying. You ever get a sticky something stuck in your hair, like gum? That’s right, Crisco. Spread this on a baby’s bottom, you won’t even know what diaper rash is. Shoot, I seen ladies rub it under they eyes and on they husband’s scaly feet. And after all that it will still fry your chicken.”)

In honor of the film (Go see it!! It’s in theaters now!!), and from one particular scene in the film where Minny helps Celia learn to make fried chicken, I cooked up some buttermilk fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes today. Using Crisco in a large cast iron skillet, I made fried chicken to go alongside fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes. It was soooo delicious! It reminds me of the fried chicken and mashed potatoes my Momma makes. Hopefully Minny would be proud of my southern cookin’! :)

 

Arm Parties, ’80s Glam and Jewels Galore August 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kenda Williams @ 5:05 pm

I am in love with the jewelry I’ve seen this summer. I wanted to share a few pieces I’ve collected and a few pictures of other jewelry, arm parties and what inspires me…


Gold and blue necklace from Send the Trend; black and gold necklace with white quartz stone from Bauble Bar; Blue and gold earrings from college; black and gold flower ring from Bauble Bar; teal blue stone cascade earrings from Bauble Bar; gold plated and teal jeweled teardrop earrings from Send the Trend; black and gold "World's End" earrings from Jewelmint; round filigree ring from Charming Charlie; peacock feather earrings from Forever 21.

(Above: Gold and blue necklace from Send the Trend; black and gold necklace with white quartz stone from Bauble Bar; Blue and gold earrings from college; black and gold flower ring from Bauble Bar; teal blue stone cascade earrings from Bauble Bar; gold plated and teal jeweled teardrop earrings from Send the Trend; black and gold “World’s End” earrings from Jewelmint; round filigree ring from Charming Charlie; peacock feather earrings from Forever 21.)

Black and gold necklace with white quartz stone from BaubleBar; gold and black flower ring from BaubleBar; "World's End" earrings from jewelmint; gold and black bracelet from Forever 21; antiqued gold and black jewel earrings from Forever 21; beaded black and gold hoop earrings from BaubleBar

(Above: Black and gold necklace with white quartz stone from BaubleBar; gold and black flower ring from BaubleBar; “World’s End” earrings from jewelmint; gold and black bracelet from Forever 21; antiqued gold and black jewel earrings from Forever 21; beaded black and gold hoop earrings from BaubleBar.)

I dig the gold and black color theme in all these pieces, both from the arm party below and the mixed jewelry above. They have a certain ’80s punk meets modern sophisticated feel to them.

Gold studded bangles from Forever 21; black and gold mixed geometric shapes bracelet from Charming Charlie; gold link bracelet from BaubleBar; gold and black stone bracelet from Forever 21.

(Above: Gold studded bangles from Forever 21; black and gold mixed geometric shapes bracelet from Charming Charlie; gold link bracelet from BaubleBar; gold and black stone bracelet from Forever 21.)

Below you’ll see a few of my other favorite pieces…

Gold link bracelet from BaubleBar; gold dot-textured bracelet from Forever 21; gold and peach filigree bracelet from Forever 21; cream-colored bangle from BaubleBar.

(Above: Gold link bracelet from BaubleBar; gold dot-textured bracelet from Forever 21; gold and peach filigree bracelet from Forever 21; cream-colored bangle from BaubleBar.)

Purple jeweled owl necklace, vintage; gold and black owl earrings from Forever 21 in NYC; silver filigree owl necklace from Maurice's; multi-colored jewel owl necklace, vintage; peach and gold owl ring from Charming Charlie; large antiqued gold owl necklace, vintage; smaller antiqued gold owl neclace from Maurice's.

(Above: Purple jeweled owl necklace, vintage; gold and black owl earrings from Forever 21 in NYC; silver filigree owl necklace from Maurice’s; multi-colored jewel owl necklace, vintage; peach and gold owl ring from Charming Charlie; large antiqued gold owl necklace, vintage; smaller antiqued gold owl neclace from Maurice’s.)

I love owls and purple… can you tell?!!

Large gold-colored diamond shapes necklace from Forever 21; "Bella Flora" multi-colored earrings from Jewelmint; purple and gold teardrop earrings from Send the Trend; "Rachel earrings" from Jewelmint; lilac stud earrings from BaubleBar; purple bangle from Forever 21; cranberry and silver earrings from BaubleBar; mixed stone purple bead drop earrings from Eureka Springs, Ark.; purple filigree hoop earrings from Forever 21; purple and gold ring, family ring; purple jeweled owl necklace, vintage. (Above: Large gold-colored diamond shapes necklace from Forever 21; “Bella Flora” multi-colored earrings from Jewelmint; purple and gold teardrop earrings from Send the Trend; “Rachel earrings” from Jewelmint; lilac stud earrings from BaubleBar; purple bangle from Forever 21; cranberry and silver earrings from BaubleBar; mixed stone purple bead drop earrings from Eureka Springs, Ark.; purple filigree hoop earrings from Forever 21; purple and gold ring, family ring; purple jeweled owl necklace, vintage.)

I recently went to an “’80s Prom” that enticed me to buy these bracelets seen below… The ’80s party was a blast, as was wearing these fun pieces.

Bracelets from Forever 21(Above: Bracelets from Forever 21.)

If you wanna question whether or not the ’80s styles are coming back, take a look here:

Love at First Click: Lanvin For H&M, Piece by Piece!

Here are a few jewelry pics I found online that look pretty awesome, I think. :)

Happy jewelry-ing! :)

 

Soup’s On! August 8, 2011

Filed under: Food and Writing,Recipes and Food Writing,Uncategorized — Kenda Williams @ 10:10 am

It’s summer, so why am I posting about soup? Well, it’s not just because I’m ready for fall (although I am!). My hubs was in a car accident a few weeks ago and had surgery on his orbital bone and cheek bone. Needless to say, eating soft foods like soup has been about his only option other than indulging in popsicles and smoothies. I’ve been on a mission to find various soups that he might enjoy eating and that I might enjoy making. There are so many soups out there to choose from, so it’s hard to settle on opening a can of Campbell’s.

So far, I’ve made a Creamy Potato Soup, Tomato Basil Soup, and Corn Chowder. A friend of mine brought over a Butternut Squash Soup with Pear, and I have a few other ideas of soups to make…

Taco Soup for dinner!

Tonight, I made this Taco Soup, and it was amazing! Spicy and sweet with the kernels of corn, ranch-style beans, organic diced canned tomatoes, and ground turkey topped with a helping of shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, scallions and cilantro. Perfect summer soup! It’s my aunt’s recipe, which can be found in my Mom’s cookbook, “A Pinch of This… A Smidgen of That.”

My Mom is an excellent cook. You can check out her recipes on her food blog: A Pinch of This… A Smidgen of That. When I was a kid, especially in the fall and winter, she would make a collection of delicious, warm-the-heart soups that could bring anyone out of a cold or just a cold day.

This recipe for Basil Tomato Soup is amazing! I used fresh basil out of the garden, and it was perfectly sweet and aromatic. We enjoyed the soup for several days, along with a grilled cheese sandwich hot off the cast iron skillet.

What soup is your favorite? Do you have a soup recipe to share? Go for it!

 

Georgia Peaches July 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kenda Williams @ 10:13 am

Long live the Georgia peach!

So, I’m not from Georgia, but I can still cheer for my adopted state’s fruit and identity. An interesting piece from the New York Times was written about the fruit and the rivalry that exists between The Peach State and its neighboring state, South Carolina: The Wanna-be Peach State. Sure, they may produce more peaches than Georgia, but more doesn’t make better does it?

Here’s an excerpt from the story in the New York Times:

The Georgia peach farmers, grim-faced beneath their John Deere caps, sat in the auditorium unmoved by the enthusiasm of their South Carolina counterparts. Quantity, they said, cannot replace quality.

“They’re trying to make it up in volume but they can’t best us,” said Will McGehee of Pearson Farm, pointing out that South Carolina’s nights are too cool for truly great peaches.

“The key to a good peach is a hot night,” Mr. McGehee said. “What makes it miserable for humans makes it perfect for peaches.”

Georgia began its peach dominance as the South rebuilt itself after the Civil War. In the late 1800s, the state began shipping the Elberta — a firm, yellow-fleshed peach named for a farmer’s wife — to New York and other East Coast cities.

But by the 1950s, South Carolina had taken over as the biggest peach-producing state. Now, although quantities have dropped, it ships 90,000 tons a year compared with Georgia’s 40,000 tons, according to United States Department of Agriculture statistics. (New Jersey follows with 32,000 tons.)

Georgia peach farmers have been fighting back, focusing on what they argue is a superior flavor that can come only from the unique mix of heat and red clay soil in their state.

They have taken to marketing the Georgia peach as an exclusive and seasonal item. They have even resorted to the mascot, paying someone to dress like a seven-foot peach named “Big Fuzzy.”

The brand appears to have an edge, at least among Internet users. Searches for “Georgia peaches” have outpaced those for “South Carolina peaches” by nearly 20 percent since 2004, said Sandra Heikkinen of Google.

So who really grows the best peach? In this good-natured rivalry, there may be no real way to judge. Plenty of variables determine what makes the kind of peach that drenches your hand and tastes exactly like summer. Rain, heat and soil conditions all play a part, as does the variety planted and the time from the tree to the eater’s mouth.

“I honestly don’t think you can taste a difference,” said Josh Tanner, the produce coordinator for Whole Foods stores in the South. “There is a lot of state pride and that’s what it’s about.”

In honor of Georgia’s great peach, here are a few simple recipes to enjoy summer’s treasured, sweet stone-fruit:

Take 4 peaches and dice into small bite-size pieces. Place in a bowl along with 1 cup fresh blueberries and 1 cup fresh blackberries or raspberries.  Add 1 cup pomegranate-flavored Craisins. Enjoy alone as fruit salad or over granola and yogurt. Another variation is just take the 4 peaches with 1 cup Splenda or regular sugar, mix with fruit and allow to sit for several minutes to macerate fruit. Then add to 1 stick melted butter, 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup milk, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes for a great cobbler.

 

Peonies!! Happy Earth Day!! April 22, 2011

Filed under: Nature — Kenda Williams @ 8:02 am


Happy Earth Day! What better way to celebrate than with the beauty of nature. I love spring time in the South. What I especially love about it are the beautiful flowers and plants that always pop out this time of year. Peonies are one of my favorite flowers. And this white peony is from my parent’s yard in Arkansas. Love these softly-scented delicate flowers!

I took this photo several years ago at the Fayetteville, Ark. Farmers Market. Some more gorgeous peonies.

These flowers were given to me by a sweet friend. Pink peonies and roses galore!

Here’s a pink peony I saw in Kansas a few years ago. It is so gorgeous! I love the buds, too, just before they’re about to pop open with color. Beautiful.

This is an interesting variety of peony, called Raspberry Sundae. I bet it smells just as wonderful as it looks.

I didn’t take this picture, but oh to be in this field of pink peonies. Just lovely…

And if those peonies weren’t enough, here’s a wedding cake with peony design and topped with peonies! The best of both worlds – sweet and lovely.

Go outside today and find your favorite part of nature! Enjoy this Earth Day, get inspired and take care of the world around you. <3

 

Goodbye October, Hello November! November 1, 2010

In certain parts of the country, like where I grew up in Central Arkansas,  it may be colder and leaves on trees may be turning colors of orange, yellow and red, but in Savannah, the sunshine and green lingers a little longer… And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! It provides the perfect setting for a lovely southern autumn.

Halloween is, of course, the magical and wonderful holiday that comes with October, and it’s quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year. (Dressing up and wearing crazy shades of makeup may have something to do with that.) It’s the perfect season for foodies! It’s so great to buy pumpkins and make chili, warm soups, deliciously sweet desserts and apple cider – yum! Even after October rolls away, and we get into the deep of fall with pumpkin pies and turkey dinners, it’s so warm and nostalgic. There’s so much to love about the autumn season.

The Harry Potter series of books and movies and I go way back. It is a favorite of mine, and I tend to associate it with this time of year. I love re-reading the books and watching the movies during fall…

I didn’t go to school at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but I did go to a fun, beautiful university in a magical land called Fayetteville, Ark. (And my name is forever etched in the 2006 senior sidewalk)…

So many great autumn memories happened while I was in college at the University of Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas has one of the most beautiful fall seasons of anywhere I’ve ever been. It was lovely being here this time of year…

But, of course, ultimately the best thing about this time of year is the decorative, seasonal food… especially fall-time desserts!

October and November are definitely my favorite months out of the year. The holidays are upon us, and there’s nothing quite like the beauty of the outdoors around you (see some gorgeous fall photos captured by one of my favorite Arkansas-based photographers, Tim Ernst) and the tasty food that’s prepared this time of year is definitely part of that excitement that comes from the season.

When it comes to food, I say the more local and the more ethnic and unique, the better… This Halloween Sunday was also celebration of The 22nd Annual Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival. The festival was held in Forsyth Park on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Aromas of food filled the park, and it was delicious! A friend and I sampled the chicken soup with matzah balls and the apple strudel with almonds and raisins. The park was packed with people all getting in line to purchase some of their favorite traditional Jewish foods. By the time I arrived, the challah bread, which I observed being made at Congregation Mickve Israel, was all gone. I did find a recipe for challah, but if I made it would likely not taste as authentic as the family recipes from the congregation. And they do make some great food!

Here is a portion of my preview article on the event that appeared in the DO section of the Savannah Morning News:

The Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival to kick off 22nd annual event

The Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival to kick off 22nd annual event

October 28, 2010

The 22nd annual Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival, presented by Congregation Mickve Israel on Sunday, will feature a variety of Jewish food from around the world.

The festival, which charges no admission, requires tickets to purchase food and drinks. Two ticket booths are available on festival grounds.

“It’s great to do this because it allows us to share our culture with the community,” said Lauri Taylor, festival chairperson.

Ethnic Jewish cuisine will include chicken soup with matzah balls, challah bread, potato latkes, apple strudel, honey cake, hamantashen, bagels with cream cheese and lox and many other items.

Hamantashen, a triangular-shaped pastry filled with poppy seeds, jam or fruit, is traditionally served during the Jewish festival of Purim, or the festival of lots. Challah bread is traditionally served each Sabbath, or Shabbat as it is called in Hebrew, as well as Jewish holidays.

In preparation for the festival, Congregation Mickve Israel held several baking sessions that included a challah braiding class led by Isser Gottlieb, of Gottlieb’s Bakery fame.

A Savannah institution, the bakery was established by Gottlieb’s grandfather in 1884 and closed in 1994, and although the bakery is no longer in business, the Gottlieb family is still passionate about traditional Jewish baked goods and foods. Both Isser and his wife, Ava, were present at the challah braiding class.

(Click here to read more…)

 

Ganache galore! October 7, 2010

Filed under: Food and Writing — Kenda Williams @ 12:55 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Oh, ganache, how I love thee!

Cakes with ganache icing…

truffles made from ganache…

and cupcakes with ganache frosting…

It’s heavenly, this chocolaty creamy gooey bit of sweet stuff.

It’s diverse in its usage, easy to make and practically impossible to mess up. Made it too thick? Add more cream or liquor. Too thin? Add more chocolate. Too sweet? Never!

It starts out with boiling heavy whipping cream on the stove-top, remove from heat, and add white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate pieces (whatever your recipe calls for or whatever you prefer). You can also add Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua or another liquor of your choice to the mix.

I recently made a bread pudding with white choocolate ganache. The texture of the bread pudding was moist, and the ganache added an extra sweetness. It was delicious!

A friend and I spent a recent Saturday afternoon making milk chocolate and dark chocolate truffles. They were amazing!! Sweet, delicate, silky smooth ganache, and our toppings were lovely and creative. Making truffs is definitely a two-person, time consuming task, but it’s so much fun!

Here’s to ganache and the many delicious desserts that can be made from it!

 

 
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