The Divining Wand

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Keetha DePriest Mosley and Culinary Kudzu(s)

July 21, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


From the Book’s Back Cover

Kudzu. That quintessential Southern vine that seems to envelop everything in its path and can’t be deterred. Much like this indefatigable creeper, Southern culture seems to have ingratiated itself into every aspect of our daily lives. Nowhere is that presence more apparent than in the kitchen. Long have Southerners appreciated and embraced the joys and memorable times that accompany good food and good friends.

Almost five years ago, Keetha DePriest Mosley [formerly Reed] (Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern) enjoyed her freelance catering jobs, while working in public relations for her hometown hospital and writing a food/entertaining/growing up life column for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. She didn’t need Julia Child to be her inspiration for a cooking/essay book, instead it was the favorable responses from her newspaper readers that encouraged her to write
Culinary Kudzu.

The wonderful, visual title…where did it come from, Keetha?

“I don’t rightly remember how I came up with the title. I wrote down a bunch of words, southern words. I knew I wanted the title to be immediately identifiable as being southern. Kudzu is such a strange thing and specific to the Deep South (I believe) and I like alliteration. So it just worked!”

Here’s an example of kudzu from Keetha’s blog post, Don’t stand still.

Now, by reading the book’s description, you’ll understand how perfectly kudzu applies to culinary dishes and times that wrap around one’s heart:

A charming mix of tips and ideas for entertaining and gifts of food, coupled with rich tales of growing up in the small-town South. This lively book reads like a kitchen conversation with an old friend.

It’s homey and loving as both professional and book buyer reviews agree:

“More than a cookbook, [Culinary Kudzu] is a delightful collection of essays with seasonal themes, each one accompanied by a recipe or two…Reed takes readers on nostalgic trips…this book is a winner,” Today in Mississippi

“Culinary Kudzu is a fantastic find. As I read, I was reminded of my own childhood growing up in the south. Reed’s recollections were entertaining, her tips useful, and recipes fantastic. Whether you were reared on such southern foods and stories or just interested in exploring samplings from the region, Culinary Kudzu leaves a satisfying taste. I can’t wait for Reed to serve up seconds,” says Laura in Oxford, Mississippi

Laura in Oxford, Mississippi only had to wait two years for More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern.

“Keetha DePriest Reed’s second book, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, is as warm and light as a buttermilk biscuit and refreshingly sweet as your grandmama’s iced tea with a sprig of mint…Keetha skillfully and tenderly looks to her past while driving forward to provide the same sense of wonderment and security for her son.” Delta Magazine

Keetha shares her life moments in a conversational tone that jogs the reader’s own memories from everything to catching lightening bugs on a hot summer night, sitting around a Thanksgiving table and listening to relatives tell their stories, and how Fall — though brief in the Deep South — is her favorite season as it well may be yours. And, while she writes without pretense, the author writes with a confidence that comes from honesty and caring. It’s no wonder that the following observations made me smile:

“This book is as sweet as a Smith County watermelon on the 4th of July; as fresh as spring water; as tender as the first greens in winter. Keetha is way too young to be so knowing and so good at what she’s doing. More Culinary Kudzu has terrific recipes combined with wise, finely crafted essays…” says Judy Tucker, writer and playwright.

Ah, regarding the 4th of July, take a look at what Keetha posted on July 5, 2010, as Oh, Yeah:

“Four cups chopped frozen watermelon, 1/3 cup vodka, two mint leaves, and a handful of ice whirred around in the blender until it’s slushy.

Summer in a glass.”

Notice, no cooking required! In fact during summer in the Delta — from April though mid-October — the key is to avoid kitchen “heat” as much as possible. Mother Nature helps with this by providing an abundance of home/state grown fruits and vegetables always ripe for a variety of salads and other cold dishes. Of course exceptions are made and on Sunday, July 11, 2010, the author posted the recipe for Tomato Tart and even confessed:

“Up until I made this tart, I didn’t like tomatoes, not even a little bit. Not on a burger or sandwich or salad. Now, though…”

If you read The Divining Wand’s Guest Keetha DePriest Mosley on Creating Time, you’ll remember the author’s feelings:

“It’s funny about living in a small town, and loving it so much, because when I was younger, I knew Manhattan is where I would live. I would have a sophisticated job and buy flowers from the little carts on the way home. I’d live in a loft and go to art galleries and whatever else it was sophisticated people did. I was going to be fabulous.

I realized – in time – that I could be fabulous right here in Mississippi but finding time, or, rather, making time to do what I really wanted to do was a challenge.”

Keetha DePriest Mosley is making her life fabulous as she turns her sights from writing about real life to pure fictional storytelling. Working now on her first novel — set in the Delta –, she’s on target to finish writing it by the end of the year. Then, she says, “all I have to do is revise, edit, get an agent, and get it published.”

And when that happens, the novel is certain to be fabulous and heartfelt. Yet for now, there are Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, and More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, both to be enjoyed!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s The Education of Bet in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Lauren Baratz-Logsted and The Education of Bet. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.

AND

The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Keetha DePriest Mosley’s Culinary Kudzu and one copy of More Culinary Kudzu in a random drawing to two separate individuals who comment only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Friday, July 23, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Monday’s post. If you enter, please return Monday to possibly claim your book.

Guest Keetha DePriest Mosley on Creating Time

June 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Time can be elusive. One might think that living in a small southern town — as opposed to a big city — that the pace would be slower and offer more time. But, in today’s guest post, Keetha DePriest Mosley [formerly Reed] (Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern) explains that even she’s had to learn to create and embrace life’s moments.]

It’s funny about living in a small town, and loving it so much, because when I was younger, I knew Manhattan is where I would live. I would have a sophisticated job and buy flowers from the little carts on the way home. I’d live in a loft and go to art galleries and whatever else it was sophisticated people did. I was going to be fabulous.

I realized – in time – that I could be fabulous right here in Mississippi but finding time, or, rather, making time to do what I really wanted to do was a challenge.

Years ago I read an interview withPeyton Manning. He was asked how was he so successful. One of the things he said was that he used his time. If he had five minutes to look over chemistry notes, he didn’t think, “I can’t possibly get anything done in that time so I won’t try.” He used those five minutes.

I’d heard that advice before. Heard it and ignored it. It was easier to say I don’t have time because I didn’t have a big, pretty block of two hours to write in. I had a messy, jumbled up, untidy, scraggly looking 12 minutes here and four minutes there and that’s not nearly as appealing.

But it works. I find that writing on demand, when an unexpected time opens up works pretty well. I do it fast, without thinking about it and kind of sneak behind my inner critic’s back. I’ve surprised myself by coming up with some decent stuff during those times. Ideas, sentences, topics.

That keeps me busy but it’s a good busy. It always surprises me what I can get done in fifteen minutes.

My mother once said, “You know? Nobody thinks they have enough hours in the day but people tend to do what they want to. If you really want to do something, you’ll figure out a way.”

Finding time is a challenge. Everyone is busy. I don’t know anyone who isn’t. I read a quote once (I love quotes) – I’m paraphrasing – but it was something like, Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have the same number of hours in a day that Benjamin Franklin, Mother Theresa, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Thomas Jefferson had.

A friend of mine told me once that she thought self-discipline is remembering what you really want. I have those words typed out where I can see them every day.

So now I write every day. I’m working on a novel and about halfway through with it. It may well be dreadful – that’s okay. I’m treating this as my own personal intense fiction-writing workshop. By the time I write to the end of it, I’ll know much lot more about crafting a novel than when I began. My second one should be better, and the third one even better.

I almost said that writing fiction is hard. Then I remembered a quote I read by Richard Ford. A Mississippi native, Ford won a Pulitzer. He said that digging ditches is hard. Standing for eight hours in an operating room performing brain surgery is hard. Writing is not hard. I think about that when it feels like it’s too much, that pulling the threads of a story together is too out of my skill level.

Making up stories is the best. I do it all the time. Driving to work, a car will pass me with a man in a business suit. And he’s singing away. I imagine he’s listening to opera. He and his wife’s first date was to opera production in college. Today is their wedding anniversary. Oh and he’s got tickets to Italy he’s going to surprise her with. My husband and I will be in Jackson and he’ll get annoyed because some car cut us off in traffic. I’ll say, Maybe his wife is in labor and he’s on the way to the hospital. Oh, wait – maybe his son is about to play his first t-ball game and he’s late for it. Oh, no, maybe he’s dog has been hit by a car and he’s speeding to the vet’s office. Maybe the guy is a jerk but even if he is, he’s got a story.

The reading life, the writing life, it’s so abundant and marvelous. It makes life – ordinary, every day simple things – seem so full and big. So much to wonder and marvel over – it’s vibrant way of life that I feel so lucky to live.

Note: The movie version of the bestselling novel, The Help, will be filmed mostly in Greenwood, Mississippi, the town where Keetha works. Imagine the behind-the-scenes film making tales she’ll be privy to and might well share in her blog posts at Write Kudzu, so visit often.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Robin Antalek’s The Summer We Fell Apart in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Robin Antalek and The Summer We Fell Apart. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

The Revealing of Keetha DePriest Mosley

June 23, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Today The Divining Wand takes special pride in introducing a cyber friend/reader/and regular visitor to this site in the role of author. Keetha DePriest Mosley (formerly Reed) made her debut on September 1, 2007 with Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern and followed a year later with its sequel, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern.

Categorized as Cooking/Essays, the books are described as:

“A charming mix of tips and ideas for entertaining and gifts of food, coupled with rich tales of growing up in the small-town South. This lively book reads like a kitchen conversation with an old friend.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern for Wednesday, July 21, 2010. But let’s meet Keetha on her website’s About Me page where she tells:

….I did public relations – award winning public relations, might I add – for my hometown hospital and began writing a food and entertaining column for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

I catered, developed recipes, and freelanced here and there.

At some point – I wish I could remember exactly what made the light bulb go off – I decided to write and publish my own book of food writing and recipes, Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern.

The Delta Dish, my monthly ezine, came along. A few years later I came out with the sequel: More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern.

I helped found the Mississippi Writers Guild. I started a blog.

More recently, I’m writing fiction. I also met and married a wonderful man and that’s not fiction,

I’m working on a novel. I think it may be terrifically bad but that’s okay. I’m treating it as my very own intensive MFA fiction workshop. Nothing may ever come of this particular book but I will have learned a lot and will be better prepared to write the next one. I have ideas.

Keetha certainly has ideas and more personal revelations:

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. Blessed, full of grace, happy, full, vibrant, just right

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. It’s never too late to be the person you wanted to be.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. It changes. Sometimes it’s a fall afternoon, blue skies, and a crisp snap in the air. A book that I’ve been looking forward to that delivers. Making my husband laugh. My husband making our son laugh. Lightly floured kitchen counter, my mom’s cookie cutters. Christmas lights at bedtime. Coffee in the morning.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. I can’t talk about it! That would totally jinx it.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Someplace cool with low humidity by a lake on a porch swing with no mosquitoes.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. I wanted to come up with a remarkable person and a witty remark to tie it together. But I didn’t.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. I admire lots of people. My husband. My mom. Ann Patchett. The fourth-string Mississippi State football player who found a cell phone in the empty stadium, called the owner, and returned it to her. People who live big.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. At a writing workshop last weekend a friend pointed out I had used “gestured” five times in ten pages.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. I’d like to be able to render cell phones useless from ten paces. That way I wouldn’t have to listen to conversations at restaurants, movie theatres, and on sidewalks.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Writing every day.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Defeating myself before I get started.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. I’m curious.

Q. What do you regret most?
A. I can’t have regrets. They make me downcast, wistful, and grumpy. I have to see it this way: everything that’s happened has brought me here and I like it here. Everything that’s happened has made me who I am and I like that, too.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. I’d be me. I know how to do that now.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew how other people saw you? If they were at my house, it’d be all the books or the bright red kitchen. That I love my family and thin-crust pizza?

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. I think I need another page to fully answer but off hand I’d say Anne Shirley, Woodrow Call, Flavia de Luce.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Severus Snape.

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Oppressive heat. Drivers who don’t pay attention. Gum chewing.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Baking

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Novelist with a part-time gig as a ballet dancer.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Kindness, compassion, character

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Shrimp

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Life by the Drop – Stevie Ray Vaughn; Time of the Preacher – Willie Nelson; New Orleans Ladies – Louisiana LaRoux; Just As I Am; You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma – David Frizzell and Shelly West

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. That’s funny, coming up with just five books! Wait – you’re serious?

Without thinking too much about it: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith; Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; The Snare by Elizabeth Spencer; A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

The Rock Orchard, A Thousand Acres, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I can’t stop!

A charming Southern Belle who can redecorate better than anyone on HGTV, read/review tons of books every month, and share the beauty of life’s simple moments, please visit and enjoy Keetha DePriest Mosley at her (almost) daily blog, Write Kudzu.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Trish Ryan’s latest memoir, A Maze of Grace in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Trish Ryan and A Maze of Grace. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.