Big Thel’s Kitchen


Writing 101: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today, be inspired by a childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice – even if that makes you a little nervous.


Imagine living in a home where the lady of the house is a glorious cook and everything she cooked was super duper yummy. She could cook the best soul food on the planet and insisted that her children would never go hungry so we were encouraged to eat as much as we wanted. Growing up in this environment, as I did was joyous; however it makes this assignment very difficult. There is no way on earth to determine my favorite meal when everything that came from my mama’s kitchen was the best food on earth.

Just thinking about the wonderful smells that permeated from Big Thel’s kitchen makes my mouth water. I don’t know how she did it, but every day after working a back breaking job as a maid in someone else’s house, mama always had a home cooked meal on the table. Keep in mind this was back in the day when there were no short cuts to cooking. We always ate dinner as a unit and in our family that meant 8 people nightly. How in the world did she decide what we were having each and every day? Hell, I have trouble deciding our menu now and it’s just my husband and me. Sundays were extra special because we usually had 2 or 3 meats in addition to collard greens, fresh green beans, cabbage, baked squash, potato salad, mashed potatoes, yams, a cucumber tomato and onion salad, and corn bread. That sounds like a feast in itself, but we always had dessert which usually consisted of some sort of homemade goodness. The menu varied, but some of my favorites were sweet potato pie, coconut layer cake, rice pudding, corn pudding, strawberry shortcake, pecan pie and the list goes on and on.

Sitting at the dinner table on Sundays was a treat. First and foremost mama cared about appearances. The white linen table cloth had to be pressed to perfection, as well as the linen napkins and place mats. From the time I was an itty bitty girl, it was my job to iron the linen for Sunday and it had to be perfect or I had to start over. The table was decorated in different color schemes depending on the season of the year. I am the baby of the family so I usually got whatever I wanted much to the annoyance of my siblings. They still harbor ill will toward me when we reminisce. I really don’t care, it wasn’t my fault I was born last and as they claim am mama’s favorite. The truth is I am not the favorite; I just spent the most time with mama. Whenever she was in need of a steward, I was her man. I have peeled countless pounds of potatoes and chopped numerous onions at my mom’s side while learning her trade secrets in the kitchen.

Now when I cook for my husband or a larger crowd, I have that feeling of home in my kitchen. I have a much easier time because of technology. I have learned from other TV chefs along the way, but be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Big Thel’s home.