Tag Archives: Red Velvet Cake

Annie Mae Turnes Justice, the primary inspiration behind DixieDining.com, dies at age 101

26 Aug

“Living a century on Earth is pretty remarkable — even in this modern age of medical miracles. But Annie Mae was a truly remarkable lady in many ways. I may be more than a little biased, but I believe this with all my heart. Many people today measure a successful life in terms of fame and fortune. Sad, but true. I can honestly say that Annie Mae never got caught up in any of that. She lived a simple, graceful life — and always seemed more than content with life’s simpler pleasures. In her long lifetime, she rarely left her home state of Virginia. Here favorite place to be was at home — surrounded by her friends and family. She first worked at Tubize Artificial Silk Company and, later, along with her husband Phillip, ran Justice Grocery in Hopewell, VA. She preferred home cooked meals to ritzy restaurants. She loved farm markets and yard sales. She could cook up a mess of greens with the best of ‘em. Her crispy fried okra was an inspiration. Her red velvet cake and chess pie were other worldly. When I recently asked her to name her favorite food, she surprised me by saying: “Potatoes.” Think about it: “Potatoes!” Not steak. Not lobster. I think that says a lot. The woman lacked pretension of any kind.”

“Annie Mae was indeed a woman of simple needs and tastes. And she possessed the unique God-given gift of turning simple, everyday things into something rather exceptional. I always admired that trait in her. As she aged, the world around her became increasingly busy, materialistic, and complex. But Annie Mae chose to keep it simple. She never seemed to long for material things. Never appeared to worry about what she didn’t have. She was too busy being thankful for what she did have — and placing other people’s needs ahead of her own. Annie Mae was always a giver — not a taker. She was ever positive — rarely complaining. She gave enormous hugs — and had an unforgettable, infectious laugh. And she was always perfectly comfortable in her own skin. What a rare quality that is these days. I can only hope a little bit of that has rubbed off on me.”

“I recall visiting Annie Mae & Phillip during my college years. As soon as I pulled in their Petersburg driveway, Annie Mae was quickly out the door to the grocery store. She wanted to whip up something extra special. I told her that wouldn’t be necessary, but she wouldn’t hear it. So she was off in a flash. She backed her sedan out of the carport — and slammed right into the front of my car.  I was so mad at myself for not reminding her that my vehicle was parked there. Just hadn’t thought about it. Didn’t have time. And, of course, I was concerned that she might have hurt herself. But all she could talk about was how sorry SHE was — and how she still needed to get groceries. That story speaks volumes about Annie Mae’s outlook on life. It was NEVER about her — ALWAYS about someone else. But in living out her life in that fashion, she forged a lasting legacy of love that few can match.”

A picture of me & Granny – taken at her 100th birthday party 

“We were all so blessed to have had Annie Mae Turnes Justice in our lives. Her quiet, selfless, Christian way of moving through this world made a massive impression on me. We were separated my many miles in recent years, yet I always felt a special bond with that wonderful Southern lady I called “Granny Justice.” Or, sometimes, “Granny Mae.” She would often tell me: “You were always my boy.” It never failed to put a smile on my face. During our last family trip to visit Granny, we arrived at Imperial Plaza cradling white cardboard box lunches from Sally Bell’s Kitchen in Richmond, VA. And by Granny’s reaction, you would have thought we were toting jewel boxes. She made such a big fuss about how tasty everything was – and how nice it was to see us all. Her smile lit up the room. Meanwhile, our youngest son Travis was growing more anxious by the minute — stomping back and forth — constantly asking when we would be leaving. Eileen and I were so embarrassed. But Granny, true to form, was simply “tickled” and that uncomfortable feeling of embarrassment soon disappeared. She had worked her special magic once again.” 

“I know the final few months were very hard on her. A loss of independence and energy, no more cooking, bland hospital meals, a bad fall, and a broken hip. She slowly lost her healthy appetite for good food — and for life. She was ready to go. She said that more than once during our last phone conversation. The Lord knew this, sensed her pain, and promptly carried her to Glory. God, as she often reminded us, is SO good! In our time of sorrow, I take comfort in knowing that Granny is no longer suffering, she is in a far better place, she sees clearly, she walks without pain, and she is at last (after 26 long years) reunited with her beloved Phillip Hendry Justice. They have an awful lot of catching up to do. And lots fish to catch too. That was always their thing. Rest in Peace, my sweet Granny. I love you so much and feel blessed to have had you in my life for so many wonderful years. I will see you again on the other side — and I will be fully expecting one of your famous bear hugs.”

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Cakes from “We Take the Cake”

28 Aug

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Lori Karmel, the owner of We Take the Cake bakery in Ft. Lauderdale, was kind enough to send us some cakes to review for our web site and blog. It seems that Lori walked into the bakery to buy her son a birthday cake and was so impressed that she eventually bought the business. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

The cakes are very attractively packaged (see above) and arrived in pretty good shape. That is not always the case with fine cakes like this, so they obviously know what they are doing.

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Although the cake box wasn’t massive, we were astounded by the sheer height of the Coconut Layer Cake and Red Velvet Cake when they arrived at our home in Fairhope, Alabama.

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The Red Velvet Cake was topped with decadent white chocolate shavings.

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The combo of cream cheese icing, abundant white chocolate shavings, and the brilliant red cake is simply a delight to the senses. I am something of a Red Velvet afficianado and I must say this cake was very well done.  

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The true highlight for me was the Coconut Layer Cake. It was a bit more rich and creamy than most coconut cakes we have sampled in the past. And they certainly don’t skimp on the coconut. That, to me, is always the true test of a fine coconut cake. Now most coconut cakes are good — this one was “Slap Yo Momma … and Grandmomma Good!”

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No, the image above is not a Pac Man-themed cake. This is our Coconut Cake (from Lori and our new friends at We Take the Cake) after pulling off two generous slices for last night’s dessert. Oprah loves the cakes from We Take the Cake and that has been a blessing for this small business. We also encourage you to give them a try. The cakes run about $50 including shipping and are well worth it for a birthday, dinner party, corporate gifts, or special occasions of any kind. They also make a killer Key Lime Bundt cake. It is an incredibly moist pound cake drenched with real Key lime juice and then topped with a Key lime icing. It is a WINNER! 

Thanks, Lori — keep making them tall and tasty. 

www.wetakethecake.com

New Food Discoveries along Gulf Coast

12 Jul

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The delicious pickle mix you see above was purchased at Hazel’s Farm Market in Daphne, AL. The pickles are made with TLC in Gautier (pronounced Go-Shay), MS. I haven’t seen them in the local grocery stores, but several roadside produce stands and restaurants carry them. I have even seen them for sale at The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, MS. Seek them out — they are really tasty. Spicy but not too hot, very fresh! Contact them directly at stuartsbusnes@aol.com or 228 369-9642.

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Another specialty item we really dig is the Coconut Cake from Dean’s Cake House in Andalusia, AL. It is moist and loaded with flaky coconut. One bite will transport you back to the days when Granny crafted cakes like this. I’m told they also make a mean Red Velvet Cake and the traditional Southern Hummingbird Cake. Can’t wait to try those out. Dean’s has a web site so please take a look at www.deanscakehouse.com

Sheryl’s Buffet Does Live Oak FL Proud

16 Apr

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The last time we ate at Sheryl’s it was on a tip from a web site we have come to trust. This time we didn’t need anyone pushing us in their general direction. We made the trip gladly! Live Oak is a nice little Southern town. It feels much more like Alabama or Georgia than it does Florida. But I guess that could be said for much of the northern third of the Sunshine State. The people are so darn friendly at Sheryl’s — we have been treated like family each time we have visited.  In fact, we arrived just a few minutes from closing time (they are open from 11:30 a.m. ’til 2:30 p.m. daily) and they suggested that we call ahead next time if we are running a few minutes late and they’ll keep the place open for us. How ’bout them apples???

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The fried chicken and the charcoal-kissed pork ribs (yes, they were cooked outside over coals) were the stars of the show on this particular afternoon. I added some turnip greens and some stewed okra and I was ready for business! Step one was to grab myself a big glass of ice cold sweet tea (they make it right here at Sheryl’s); step two involved splashing some Texas Pete Pepper Vinegar on my greens; while step three was to annoint the slimey okra with a few drops of Tabasco hot sauce. Finally, I ladeled out a small cup of the sweet, dark BBQ sauce (step four). It was all pretty amazing — the chicken some of the best we’ve ever tasted. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, with none of that typical  greasy aftertaste.  

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I was bummed to find that they were completely wiped out of Sheryl’s homemade banana pudding, but that disappointment soon disappeared when I spied the squares of red velvet cake on the nearby dessert table. Our server Debbie was super pleasant and highly efficient. She dished out the “sweeties” and “darlins” with the best of ’em while anticipating our every need. We were even awarded with a complimentary cartoon map of Live Oak and surrounding Suwannee County. This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to receiving a key to the city.

The true key to Live Oak, FL is good folks and good downhome eats. So please stop in the next time you’re on the road between Gainesville and Tallahassee. It will stimulate the local economy and your taste buds, y’all!