When Madison County native Christy Jordan steps into her vintage kitchen, she’s doing more than whipping up a mouth-watering dish — she’s preserving her heritage as a ninth-generation Alabamian.
“When I was born, I had 13 living grandparents and great-grandparents who were all wonderful, Southern cooks,” said Christy, in reference to her large family which included great- and great-great-grandparents. “They were from a long line of poor people, sharecroppers mostly, but they had this amazing gift and talent to turn whatever they had on hand into something great. When you’re raised with food like that, and when you’re raised appreciating it and knowing how hard people had to work for it, it really forms how you view the family supper table.”
Christy says while she didn’t have the opportunity to get to know some of her grandparents and great-grandparents that well, she feels a connection with them through their recipes.
“That’s how we pass down our family heritage. I didn’t know my Mama Reed, but every time I make her rice pudding, my mom tells me about her and the type of person she was. Sharing and preparing recipes from the past is a way to treasure our loved ones and preserve their memories. It’s the backbone of this family.”
While her Southern Plate blog and cookbook fans rave about her dishes, Christy’s favorite food critics are her kids, Brady and Katy Rose.
“My favorite thing to eat may be anything Mama cooks, but my favorite thing to cook is anything my kids love to eat,” she said. “Cooking is my way to show you I love you, and if I have the opportunity to cook with my loved ones instead of just cooking for them, well... that’s a double blessing.”
For folks who are a bit skittish around skillets and spices, Christy encourages everyone to let their guard down and enjoy the process.
“I think cooking really is simple,” she explains. “But cooking is a lot like life — it’s one of those things we insist on complicating.”
To prove how easy and fun cooking can be, Christy shares a few recipes from her kitchen.