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Sidna Brower Mitchell: Summertime Memories in a Small Town

Sidna Brower Mitchell
Sidna Brower Mitchell

There were 22 of us first cousins on my mother’s side, almost all of them living on farms in Mississippi when I was growing up. Summer in a small town filled with relatives was a real treat for me – the city girl.

I would spend two or three days with different aunts, uncles and cousins. Ellen and I were always close because we were only a year apart. But my favorite stay was at Uncle Sperry’s and Aunt Ada’s. The food was always wonderful—Aunt Ada could make the best “potato chips” fried in bacon grease.

Most of my time there was spent with Janice and Sonny, the two oldest kids in that family. Sonny, one of my very favorite cousins, was always trying to play tricks or pull something over on this city girl. However, his tricks sometimes backfired.

For example, Sonny and his best buddy Don decided to challenge Janice and me to strip poker. I had never played poker, much less the strip kind. However, we girls were easily winning when the guys decided they weren’t taking off any more clothes.

Another time the guys suggested we go camping and they plotted all sorts of ways to scare us. However, Uncle Sperry went up in the woods as Sonny and Don were setting up their camp and somehow managed to frighten them. They gave the flimsy excuse that it was supposed to rain so we had better stay in the house.

Once as we were riding horses down to the creek to swim, Sonny started showing off. For an unknown reason, his horse ran under the trees and Sonny was knocked off by a low branch. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt.

But Sonny won’t be up to any more stunts. He passed away recently after a long illness. I’ll always remember his grin and his laugh. He was a good man.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend his funeral but if I had, I would have taken some pimiento cheese, the creamy spread expected at Southern funeral receptions.

Here’s my recipe.

Pimiento Cheese

2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small jar (4 ounces) diced pimientos, drained

Mix all the ingredients until well blended.

Serve with toast points or crackers.

NOTE: For a delicious sandwich, spread the pimento cheese on toasted white bread and add sliced tomatoes and lettuce. Of course, crisp bacon is always a tasty addition.

Sidna Brower Mitchell was graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1963 and named to the Ole Miss Hall of Fame. She was editor of The Daily Mississippian when James Meredith integrated the university, receiving a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her editorials and a number of other honors and job offers.

The Memphis native worked for the World-Telegram and Sun in New York City and UPI in London. She held other media and public relations jobs as well as being a part owner of weekly newspapers in Morris County, NJ, for 25 years. She has continued to write a weekly cooking column since 1975. Sidna retired as deputy director of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), a controversial state agency.

Still holding offices in several organizations, Sidna has taken up serious croquet in retirement and has participated in tournaments in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida.

While she has never returned to the South to live, Sidna’s heart and cooking still have that Southern touch.

She can be reached via e-mail at sbmcooks@aol.com.

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