I am a child of the 1960s; born in Valdosta, Georgia and raised in nearby Lakeland, 20 minutes away. I was named Lawson Leo Patten, II, after my paternal grandfather, and my father was named after his grandfather, Robert Lee Patten. My mother was the former Roselyn Carter, known to everyone as Rosie. I have one sister, Paula Clyde Patten; her middle name comes from our paternal grandmother, Clyde Purcell Patten.
Many of the foods I ate as a child have made a lasting impression on me and are linked to memories, experiences and events. For this I would like to share an example.
Frances Wainwright was Mama's aunt. There was never a time, if you were to pay her a visit, that she did not have on hand a pound cake she had baked. On your visit to Aunt Frances, depending on the time of day, you would either be served coffee or sweet tea with you cake. Every time I eat pound cake I am immediately transported back to her house two doors down from my childhood home in Lakeland, Georgia. There I can see her kitchen where the white floors match her white table and her white gas range. I can see the cake under a domed cover on her buffet in the dining room. I can hear the rattle of the window unit air conditioning.
Over the last 12 years of living in Nashville, my constant talk of food, eating and recipes has prompted friends and acquaintances to suggest that I write a cookbook. My vast collection of cookbooks began taking up more space than I had to hold them. In an effort to consolidate my collection, I began sifting through in excess of 200 books to pull out recipes that I liked. At the same time I also began searching for family recipes. It was during this that I discovered I did not have many of the ones I remembered eating as a child. That began a quest to locate recipes that were the next best thing to what I was served at home growing up.
Many of us have memories attached to something we have eaten in our lifetime. When I began thinking of how I would put a collection together, I began to recall memories from my life. Specific dishes play an important part in these memories. When I talk to family members about visiting Aunt Frances, they themselves often remember having their own piece of pound cake. My hope is that in reading the recipes and stories on this site, you'll recall how something you've eaten has played an integral part of your own life experiences. My wish is that you are able to secure your family recipes; ones that you recall when telling your stories to your family and friends. May the recipes and stories here give you something to share with someone special in your life. May some of them accompany a new memory you will create and enjoy looking back on through the years to come.
There are several cookbooks that hold an important place in my culinary journey. Mama’s favorite cookbooks were Southern Cooking by Mrs. S.R. Dull and Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook by Ruth Berolzheimer. The first cookbook given to me was Mary Beth’s Sampler...A Georgia Cookbook. I still have my copy, which was autographed by the author, Mary Beth Busbee. The second one being Flatlanders Cook Book...A Collection of Recipes from Lanier County, Georgia, compiled and edited by long time Lakeland resident, Helen Strickland. These two, like many, are examples of wonderful cookbooks published by local communities, clubs and organizations all across the United States.
On a lunch break during the fall of 2012, I offered my friend a piece of a cookie from a local bakery. Valuing his opinion, I asked “Well, what do you think?” He replied, “You know what this cookie tastes like? Friendship.” Every recipe included here are things that I would hope others would say upon tasting them. I truly believe they hold up as well as that cookie did that day for my friend Chad.