• 63°

Nothing says home like good cooking

Facebook is better than counting sheep.

Since wisely investing in an iPad mini, I’ve found that the surest way to get sleepy is to scroll through my friends’ Facebook posts while I’m lying in bed with the table light on the lowest click on the switch. There’s something about looking at the chatter of everybody’s day that is even more relaxing that turning on HDTV or reading a book – both of which have long been my proverbial cup of warm milk or herbal tea.

Last night, I scrolled upon an interesting link shared by one of my Alabama friends. Accompanied by a U.S. map filled with cartoons of pies, cakes and other assorted sweet stuff, the link said, “If every state had an official dessert, what would it be?”

In sharing the link, my friend had said that if she had to choose between Alabama, where she now lives, or Iowa, where she grew up, she’d have to pick Iowa on this one. With an intro like that, I had to learn more. I’ve never lived in Iowa, but I did spend a lot of years in Alabama, and, besides, I wanted to learn what Mississippi’s dessert was.

Iowa’s dessert, according to the site, is cherry pie. For some reason I wouldn’t have figured that, but when I saw Alabama’s was Lane cake, it seemed somehow appropriate.

The only place I have ever come across Lane Cake was there, and it was a Christmas tradition for some other Alabama friends of mine. They always sliced up several pieces to send home with me after a Christmas season visit, and I tried very hard to grow to like it. But like fruit cake, Lane cake never resonated with me. I like the way it looks better than the way it tastes.

But on to the Magnolia State’s dessert, according to the link. It was, I guess appropriately, Mississippi mud pie. For some reason, I had been expecting pecan pie, which is one of my favorites. I figured some other state was bound to have that one. I checked Georgia; it got peach cobbler. I just kept scrolling through desserts and states, and finally came across pecan pie on the Texas description. That one surprised me.

Since I’m speaking of food, I might as well segue into recipes, which also are a popular shared link on Facebook. If I like one, I know I’m supposed to share it to my own page so I can find it again, but I seldom do that. I usually just do an Internet search for whatever dish I want to cook with the word “recipe” after it and I find an approximation of what I’m looking for.

I also can always check my bookcase full of cookbooks. My latest addition is “Recipes from the Heart, Episcopal Church Women,” which was I was happy to see was recently reprinted and offered for sale by the ECW at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, my church.

Since I arrived in Brookhaven three years ago, I have enjoyed sampling the wealth of good cooking produced by Redeemer’s church women, and I’m delighted to finally have a copy of a lot of those well-enjoyed recipes.

Also among my prized cookbooks is a “Wooden Spoon, 30 Years of Recipes,” published by The Daily Leader. For 32 years, the newspaper published annual cookbooks, but the last one was put out in 2009 – two years before I got here – so any of those editions would be great finds at local garage sales and thrift stores.

Another of my all-time favorites is my first-edition of “A Grand Heritage, A Culinary Legacy of Columbus, Mississippi.” My hometown, like Brookhaven, is filled with cooks of unparalleled excellence, and many of their recipes are found in this book.

There’s also my much dog-eared “Let’s Start to Cook” book that my mother gave me so I’d know how to make the things you cook without recipes. And, along with that, passed along when she finally retired from the kitchen in her 80s, is a two-hole punched, nine-by-seven inch binder printed with “My Recipes” on the cover. It’s so full that it doesn’t lie flat and takes up about five inches on a shelf in the bookcase.

Each recipe inside was hand written by my mother, and each contains a memory that still triggers the sight, smell and taste of home.

And I guess that was sort of what matching up desserts with all the states was about, too. Home.

Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at rachel.eide@dailyleader.com.