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Lacy's Lit

Cooks in the Cemetery

I returned to the home place, Lynchburg, Va. I was so happy to see familiar faces at the Old City Cemetery for a book signing. My mother, Esther Claxton who suffers from painful sciatica, was even able to come. She caught the train from Washington, D.C., to attend the event in her hometown.I couldn’t have written Sunday Dinner without having her sharing stories and recipes from our collective past. It was also great to meet new kindred spirits as well such as author Jessica B. Ward. She’s written two books, “Food to Die For: A Book of Funeral Food, Tips, and Tales From the Old City Cemetery,” and “Food to Live For.” Her books are filled with comfort food recipes from Southwest Virginia. Ted Delaney, the executive director of Old City Cemetery, said this cemetery loves cookbooks. The 27-acre historic landmark is one of the oldest public cemeteries in the country still in use. About 75 percent of the buried are African-American including my paternal great-great grandparents. This was my first visit to the Old City Cemetery but it won’t be my last. I want to explore the grounds and learn more about my ancestors and discover more recipes. You never know who you may find standing among the tombstones. Maybe another good cook.

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Sunday Dinner, the Gift

I’m so excited. I wrote Sunday Dinner, a cookbook filled with recipes and stories, because I wanted people to gather at the table and share a meal and a hug. It’s happening. As I’ve been around different Triangle stores, people are buying my book for themselves and as gifts for their relatives or friends. Kimberly from Charlotte bought the book because she grew up with the big meal. Her mother cooked the feast. Kimberly shared with me her mother now suffers from Alzheimers and can’t recall her recipes. Allison, a young bride, wanted to start the tradition. She was shopping with her mother-in-law who bought the book for her. Some of you told me that you were going to give the book as a gift and pair it with all the ingredients from one of the recipes. I love all the ideas because I know when you prepare a meal for a family member or friend, I don’t think you can give a more sincere honest offering.
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Summer Vacation: Adult Style

Summer treats are not just for children. I love goodies too.

Some of my favorite activities are versions of the ones I enjoyed in my youth - savoring books, delighting in the smooth chill of ice cream and warm tang of grilled meats. There’s only a few weeks of summer left and I intend to enjoy the last few weeks of the season.

Books

As a young girl, I loved sitting on the back porch swing reading a novel. That was my way of eavesdropping on interesting characters and travelling to some interesting place and time. My grown-folks adaptation - audiobooks.

I can listen while I fold clothes, chop vegetables or soak in the bubble bath. Right now, I’m hooked on James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird read by actor Michael Boatman. This 2013 National Book Award winner is a hilarious fictional account of Little Onion, a black boy pretending to be a girl who joins John Brown's antislavery crusade to survive. I didn’t want the story to end.

Ice Cream

Since I work for myself, I determine my own schedule. So I love to treat myself to an ice cream break. There’s nothing like sitting at the local frozen custard stand, licking a cone and watching the world go by. My treasured spot is Goodberry’s. I like checking out the Flavor of the Day calendar to see when one of my favorites will be served. I’m still partial to Butter Pecan and I love sweet cream.Summer treats are not just for children. I love goodies too.

Grilled Meats

The smoky flavor of well-seasoned pork ribs is so satisfying. I was recently invited to a Sunday dinner at my friend, Mary’s home. Her brother, Stephen had smoked slabs of ribs flavored with dry-rub and served with warm potato salad with chunks of well-seasoned white potatoes and bacon. After a couple of bites, the dinner conversation came to a halt. We were digging in to that delicious fare. The conversation was reduced to dang that’s good. When I was ready to leave, I was given a slab of ribs to go. I came home, sliced those ribs into single bones and placed them in the freezer for dinner at a later date.

Every season should bring such wonderful treats.
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Yoga is a tool for healing

I started practicing yoga after reading Eat, Pray, Love. When I saw author Elizabeth Gilbert interviewed on Oprah, I was sold. She had this inner glow about her. When I tell my friends about yoga, they think I’m not flexible enough. I’m too old to stand on my head. But to me  Read More 
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Produce Boyfriend

Whether you are single or married, you need a produce boyfriend. That’s the guy who knows when the melons are right. That’s a watermelon. Tony at Fresh Market is my guy. He can pick the right fruit to slice into now and one for a few days from now.

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Love, Loss and What We Ate

Searching for a good summer read and dinner recipe, check out Poet extraordinaire Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir, The Light of the World. It tells the story of love, loss and food. She paints a lovingly rendered portrait of her marriage to an artist and chef and the life and meals they  Read More 
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Lessons from Aunt Barbara

I was recently on the train, travelling to Washington, D.C., and I received a text from my 66-year-old aunt. I kept trying to call her, she didn’t answer. And often, I didn’t have cell service. But she kept texting, what time do you want me to pick you up from Union Station? Finally, I  Read More 
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Passion and a Paycheck, Why not Work Smart

Spring forward means another hour of reading new books for me. What’s on my nightstand? “The Encore Career Handbook” by Marci Alboher. Required reading for professionals looking to make a living doing what they love.
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Second Act

For mature workers, it’s getting tougher to re-enter the job market. So be sure to use every tool available. Check out AARP’s Work ReImagined designed to help older workers make the second act, the best one yet.

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Stay Current

Kicking, screaming and pushing my way through learning new technology. I downloaded my first audiobook with the help of a digital librarian. What new skill have you learned? Stay current.
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