Mrs. Whaley's Charleston Kitchen: Advice, Opinions, and 100 Recipes from a Southern Legend

Mrs. Whaley's Charleston Kitchen: Advice, Opinions, and 100 Recipes from a Southern Legend

by Emily Whaley
     
 

The kitchen and the dining room are where we can truly learn life's lessons, and we learn through trial and error," Mrs. Whaley declares, as she sets about sharing her secrets for cooking delicious meals and serving them with style. As in the bestselling Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden, her approach to entertaining is a mixture of warmth, wry asides, and clever…  See more details below

Overview

The kitchen and the dining room are where we can truly learn life's lessons, and we learn through trial and error," Mrs. Whaley declares, as she sets about sharing her secrets for cooking delicious meals and serving them with style. As in the bestselling Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden, her approach to entertaining is a mixture of warmth, wry asides, and clever advice.

Whaley offers up timeless do's and don'ts for today's hosts and hostesses, offering candid opinions on everything from selecting the guest list to handling cleanup. As a tasty treat, she supplies her one hundred favorite recipes -- including such regional favorites as Pawleys Island Crab Cake and Dancing School Fudge. Here indeed is a classic treasury for cooks and armchair chefs alike.

Editorial Reviews

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At her best, Whaley can be as funny as Lucille Ball, as cheeky as Thackeray's Becky Sharp.
—Wendell Brock
Knight-Ridder Newspapers
A must-have...delightful.
—Carol J.G. Ward

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684863245
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
11/18/1999
Edition description:
1 FIRESIDE
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
0.64(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Lights On in the Kitchen

Lights on in the kitchen probably means someone is in there being productive — the person who has a sixth sense about other people's physical and psychological states of being and what to provide them with to produce energy and efficiency and comfort. She produces sugar treats and knows a lot about the word festive and how what is produced in the kitchen adds to festivities. She also knows where the peroxide is and where the scissors and screwdrivers are hiding, what someone's telephone number is and also who needs a nap or a compliment.

Yes, the kitchen is the physical place most likely to produce comfort and refreshment for body and soul. A place to receive a recharge of energy and enthusiasm — and a new direction if need be.

And yes, I suppose some of you younger women (especially those of you working full-time outside the home) are already gnashing your teeth and rending your veils. Well, I can't help it. This is how I truly feel about being in the kitchen — my idealized vision, at least — and it would be the same as a lie not to say so. Still, I certainly don't mean to suggest that careers are somehow bad. All three of my daughters have enjoyed careers. Nor would I bar men from the kitchen. Most of the men in my own family are excellent cooks and I'm sure they're all capable of finding scissors and offering comfort. And it should be equally obvious that marriage is not a prerequisite for good cooking or love and friendship either. In the Southern village where I grew up fourscore years ago, a virtual army of maiden cousins and widow neighbors welcomed me into kitchens that were every bit as welcoming as my own.

Solisten, no matter what your schedule or situation, you can still find rewards in cooking and even a spiritual strength in the kitchen. I suspect it's something in the air. A calming ether occupies that space.

But there's more involved than ethers. Life is complicated. You have to work hard at it. That should surprise very few. The kitchen is also a place of learning. With the family absent, the room can be a center of quiet and easeful enjoyment; but with them present, the management skills learned in that kitchen are invaluable. And, naturally, the social skills learned and used in the dining room are the same ones that serve in making friends and keeping them. These two, kitchen and dining room, are where we can truly learn life's lessons, and we learn them through trial and error. Sounds easy? Of course it's not.

In 1934, when my husband, Ben Scott Whaley, and I were first married, we left South Carolina and lived in Washington, D.C., where Ben was a clerk for Senator James F. Byrnes. I had my first experience in independent cooking and entertaining in that city. Sixty-four years later, I'm still imagining that I can organize everything — if I really put my mind to it and if I'm not constantly interrupted — so that it will be no trouble at all, at all, at all, so that I can sit serenely on the front porch dressed up like a fiddler's bitch in my beads and earrings and drink several cocktails and then invite everyone in to supper and have it be perfectly delicious, just the right temperature, sitting there in my latest cooking gadget, the one with the good-looking white domed lid. And when uncovered, this creation will look as wondrous as one of my daughter Marty Whaley Adams's paintings and taste like one of my grandson Kershaw LeClercq's glorious concoctions.

Well, every now and then I come close, but I admit I'm still reaching for that perfect meal. It remains an entertaining challenge rather than an accomplishment. But that's all right with me. I keep happy just imagining.

After all, the food, flowers, and festive fixings are simply the stage set for the next scene. Breaking bread together magically brings humans into closer friendship and warmth. It should be a communion that enriches friendships.

But as the song says, "It ain't necessarily so." You do have to dress up that stage with some care, taking into consideration what your talents and interests are and what those of your guests will be.

So here's the basic rule: Choose people you can listen to without getting either very angry or very bored. Yes, that's pretty basic. And as for being bored, I should add that a person can be boring even if he owns a diamond mine in Africa or she is the CEO of Wal-Mart.

On the other hand, you must be careful to distinguish between uninteresting and timid. When I was a young wife in Charleston, one of my favorite people was the wife of a famous newspaper columnist. She was older than me, but each time we met she would sit me down and say, "Now what are you doing?" Oh, that is a rare gift, to make someone feel they do matter.

Just remember, you can cultivate friendships just as you cultivate flowers. I have found over my eighty-seven years that there are about the same percentages of amusing, gifted, humorous, boring, stingy, and malicious people in every social drawer. Life is short. Plant and tend a friendship garden that will grow and flourish. Expect the best of life and yourself.

Now, what follows are stories about cooking and entertaining that I certainly hope will make the points raised here. And after that are one hundred or so of my favorite recipes.

Copyright © 1999 by Emily Whaley and William Baldwin

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Meet the Author

Emily Whaley tended the most-visited private garden in the country and the number-one tourist attraction in the city of Charleston. She died in 1998 at the age of eighty-seven.

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