The ExPat Returneth

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Southern Speak & Christmas Cookies

This post is a reprint from one I did for Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, but it includes a Christmas cookie that can be made without baking, something that was necessary for me while living in Japan. Only 3 ingredients, too, all of which can generally be found overseas (I had a hard time getting chocolate chips but could get sweet baking chocolate which works in this recipe). Enjoy!

And by the way, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY is part of the Henery Press Holiday Sale for ebooks. For a short time, find it for 99 cents for Kindle, Nook, and on Kobo!

I love figures of speech, idiomatic expressions, and interesting pairings of words.  The South is famous for the creative turn of phrase, but in my Midwestern hometown, we like to toss interesting words together, too.  I moved to Georgia sixteen years ago.  Since that time, I’ve adopted some local vernacular.  Y’all is just too convenient not to use. Shopping carts are now buggies and instead of sick, I’m feeling puny.
Mid-westerners are less prone to hyperbole and similes, but they do like metaphors.  Metaphors are replacements for something we’d rather not say aloud.  Actually, much of what we think is better not said aloud.  I grew up hearing so-and-so was “three sheets to the wind.”  I kept picturing my mom’s laundry line until I learned what it actually meant.  My mother would accuse me of having “champagne taste on a beer budget”.  One of our neighbors looked “ridden hard and put away wet”.  I often had to “eat crow”.  Still tastes bad…
However, my favorite figure of speech is the Southern spiritually back-handed compliment of blessing someone.  Basically it means we don’t have to say a person is an idiot behind their back. “Poor Bill, bless his heart, he got the short end of the smart stick.”  This means Bill’s not just dumb, he’s one fry short of a Happy Meal.  We can be sweet and still say our minds!
My Cherry Tucker mysteries take place in a small, rural Georgian town.  Naturally, the prose is full of metaphors and similes, something you’re told not to use as a writer.
However, if you’re familiar with small, Southern towns, you would know that people don’t speak directly.  Where’s the fun in that?  You have to talk around the subject and take your time doing it.  I use some familiar sayings in Portrait of a Dead Guy and Still Life in Brunswick Stew, but I also make up some of my own, which is great fun.
Here’s a short selection of my favorites from Portrait of a Dead Guy:
“They paired up better than sausage and biscuits.”
“It wasn’t that Wanda was flashy, she just shopped above her raising.”
“There wasn’t much more to say unless someone started handing out shots of Jack with a Loretta Lynn song on the jukebox.”
“Casey couldn’t find ambition if it drew her a map and hired a sherpa.”

Because it’s the Christmas season AND because Larissa is our Guest Chef today in the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales’ kitchen, she is sharing one of her favorite recipes.
This is a Christmas tradition in my mother’s house and was my favorite cookie as a child. During the holidays,  you will always find foil-covered log rolls in my mother’s fridge.  Ask her for one and she’ll cut you a thick slice of marshmallowy-chocolate goodness. The colored marshmallows surrounded in a ring of chocolate looks like a stained-glass window.
  1. 1/2 c margarine or butter (or as my mom calls it, oleo)
  2. 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  3. 10 oz package (2 c) colored marshmallows, small size
  4. Powdered sugar
  5. 3 pieces of wax paper about 10-12 inches each.
  • Sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar over each of the three pieces of wax paper to cover. The sugar helps to keep the chocolate from sticking.
  • Melt chips and margarine in a microwave (of course, mom does hers over boiling water on the stove). 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring between, until all the chips are melted and smooth. Pour marshmallows into the melted chocolate and mix to cover.
  • Pour marshmallow mixture evenly between the three pieces of wax paper. When pouring, make an even layer length wise.
  • Form into log rolls by rolling the wax paper. Fold paper on the ends and along the length to secure the log roll. Wrap in foil and chill until hard.
  • Slice as needed and keep refrigerated. They will last six months. (“Well, if you forget them,” mom writes)
In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge.  But commissions are scarce.  So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small-town rival.
As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a controversial subject.  Her rival wants to ruin her reputation, her ex-flame wants to rekindle the fire,  and someone’s setting her up to take the fall. Mix in her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into a corner she’ll be lucky to survive.
Amazon Kindle     B&N Nook     Kobo   Amazon Paperback     B&N Paperback

Have any Christmas cookies that are easy to make overseas? Please share!

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