As a child, Martha Hall Foose, author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook (Clarkson Potter, 2008) longed for the world beyond Highway 49 that crossed through her hometown of Tchula, Miss., and nearby Yazoo City, a farming community on the banks of the Yazoo River known as the "Gateway to the Delta."
Wanderlust first took Foose around the United States to work in the food industry, to Paris for studies at the renowned pastry school Ecole Lenotre, and on to worldwide travels that led her right back to Tchula, Miss., population 2,332.
"I inherited the family farm, Pluto Plantation, and, honestly, I was homesick. The farm has been in the family seven generations," says Foose.
Pluto remains a working farm and continues to be a family affair, with 15 cousins living [photo book max-width=150 align=left] nearby. Foose’s cousin Michael oversees the cotton and corn fields. Catfish are raised to fingerling size by Cousin Louie and then sold to commercial growers. Fields of family grown sunflowers are a cash crop as well.
Until recently, she was the executive chef at the national Viking Cooking School headquartered in Ridgeland, Miss., where she still teaches. Foose now operates the Mockingbird Bakery in Greenwood, Miss., with her husband. There, her 5-year-old son JoJo loves to help his dad with the baking. Another fun can-do task for the 5-year-old is helping mom make sweet summer drinks like lemonade, other fruit-ades, and Sweet Tea.
While making drinks with the kids, Foose says, "Take the whole operation outside. There are bound to be spills and mishaps and this brings the worry factor way down. The kids can be kids and you can relax and enjoy them and perhaps be a kid yourself."
Also, read our article on mocktails!
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