Sunday, May 10, 2009

a day for mothers

Named after my grandfather and a lead biblical character my mother, Mary Clyde, grew up on a small dairy farm in a little Tennessee town. On that farm she learned to sew just about anything, cook even more, all the while reading books of far away places fantasizing what life was like outside the south. A life without sweet tea, ripe tomatoes warmed by the sun, shucking just picked Silver Queen corn or breaking beans under the shade tree to prep for canning season.

Eventually she made it out of the south. Like many others who left, it always drew her back. There's something about the warmth of the Southern culture that feels like home to just about anyone, local or not. It could be the friendly nature of the people, the humid air that seems to stop time or the comfort food laboriously prepared with love. Whatever it is, I'm always taken aback when a complete stranger offers a slow drawl of a hello to me as I pass. A hello that will make anyone smile.

Over the years my mom taught me some of the best things in life come through a little patience, a lot of elbow grease and I can do anything, as long as I put my heart in it. Just to clarify, I'm not calling anyone heartless for making a complete flop of something. Because that my friends, has happened more often than I would like to admit. What I really mean by heart is
perseverance. Keep trying until you succeed. And if you do that, you'll soon learn, it requires heart. A good amount of it.

As it happens, my mom has a big heart. Not only is she a loving wife and mother but she also designs and makes some of the most incredible quilts. Quilts that easily take months to complete. I will be the first to admit, I know very little about quilts other than they keep me warm at night. But, her uncanny knack for pattern and color transforms what on first glance I would easily consider an impossible combination into an interesting play on light and shadow. She also co-wrote a quilting book, And the Greatest of these is Love, on wedding quilts.

In the spirit of Mother's Day and slowing down this post wouldn't be complete without a recipe. My mom's foccacia bread seemed the best fit. It's such a simple recipe but not so simple it can be whipped together at a moments notice. This dough needs time to rise. The better part of an afternoon to be exact.

Mom's Foccacia Bread
4 cups of unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or 1 package of yeast
1 3/4 to 2 cups water, room temperature

Lightly mix the dry ingredients together. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and mix. Adding enough water to make a soft, sticky dough. Knead until dough is smooth. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a draft free, warm spot for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough is at least doubled in size. Punch dough down and divide in half. Place into 2 butter/oiled loaf round cake pans. (I always use glass pans/dishes to bake mine). Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans immediately to a wire rack and cool.

Happy Mother's Day!


  1. the best mother's day gift I could ever wish for. thank you Casey, I love you

  2. Beautifully written and so truthful about your talented mother. your mother is the best!Robin

  3. Hallmark has no card to compare! What a heartfelt tribute from daughter to Mother.

  4. Casey,
    This was so special. I am so proud of the Love you have shown your Mother, and I am so proud to be her friend.

  5. Wow! Those are exceptional! Since I've lived here in Paducah, I've learned to appreciate the art of quilting. The biggest quilting show to my knowledge is here every April. I was floored last year when I went to the show. Your mom is very talented. - Keisha