Monday, 17 August 2009
Last summer we were in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina and were introduced to Ferrell and Becky Shuford by our amazing hosts, Hugh and Bambi MacRae. As we spent most of the holiday swimming, it was a treat to be invited for a sail on the Shuford’s yacht. Hugh had told me that he wasn’t sure how old Becky was but she seemed extraordinarily youthful and this I can confirm. She is also very pretty. (Ferrell, you’re not so bad yourself!)
[Photo by Freda]
As I relaxed in the cockpit with the sun on my face and the salt breeze in my hair, Becky was all over the boat trimming the sails, keeping us ship shape. The Shufords spent many years ocean racing and she was a formidable foredeck hand.
Now as a grandmother, Becky has looked back over a fulfilling family life and pulled together a number of threads that are important to her in Smidgens – Bits & Pieces of a Southern Family’s Life. I have just received my copy.
Woven into anecdotes from her life is her gentle faith-based philosophy, advice on a happy marriage (‘share domestic tasks’), bringing up children, running a household and, most importantly, her love of entertaining.
Isn’t this picture great of her as a newly wed/novice cook and I love the anecdote about inviting her brother and his wife for an evening meal. Working full-time as a teacher she decided on a simple supper of her mother’s wonderful vichyssoise, hot herb bread and, wait for it, prune cake. Becky only found out years later why her brother turned down a second helping of soup. He was waiting for the entrée. It made them both laugh.
Since then her entertaining became more varied, more appropriate to family high days and holidays and more sophisticated.
Her formal table setting
I have been drooling over the good old-fashioned recipes and there are dozens of them. But let’s have that Vichyssoise:
4 leeks or 1 ½ cup chopped onion
3 cups peeled chopped potatoes
3 cups strained chicken stock or 3 bouillon cubes dissolved in 3 cups water
3 tablespoons Chicken fat, butter or margarine
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 tsp salt
About 1 tsp white pepper
Chop washed leeks and about 3 inches of their green tops into small pieces. Boil leeks and potatoes in stock from which fat has been skimmed until very tender (about 40 mins). Without draining, blend until smooth. Add fat, cream, milk, salt and pepper. Reheat in top of double boiler to blend flavors.
Vichyssoise should be thicker than the average cream soup and served thoroughly chilled, garnished with minced chives. In winter you may choose to serve hot, garnished with paprika.
One of the reasons I love the book's cover is the washing line! Since I don't own a tumble drier it gladdens my heart to see a line full of clothes billowing in the wind. It also appeals to my inner Mrs. Tiggywinkle: I mostly love doing the laundry. It is about my only domestic accomplishment. For that reason I was ecstatic that in her chapter on ironing, Becky described the production of a fragrant, pressed masterpiece of a shirt on a hanger. It had been washed, liquid starched (yes!) line dried, sprinkled with water and then rolled into a ball to allow an even dampness for pressing. Yes, again! Call me old-fashioned but that's how I do it (when I'm in the mood).
Smidgens is privately published and edited by Ferrell Shuford MD who admits that helping his wife put this book together has been one of the greatest sources of pleasure since his retirement.
To order a copy for $25 (including shipping in the USA) contact Boatshu Publisher, 2602 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403-4037