Disclaimer #1: This post was meant in humor, y’all need to know that upfront. I ran it by several of the wonderful men who read Southern Plate to make sure they would take it that way as well and it passed with flying colors. I think men have a much greater sense of humor than we give them credit for sometimes. After all, they do have to live with us-Bless their hearts! Disclaimer #2: This isn’t how I got my husband. I snagged him with my triple chocolate brownies. But I bet this would’ve worked, too!
Every now and then a gal happens upon a guy who makes her wanna hang up her shopping bags and settle down into a nice cozy marriage. Okay, I was totally kidding on the hanging up shopping bags thing, but there have been times throughout history in which ladies met gentlemen and found themselves desiring marriage. If you’re like me, once you set your sights on something, patience is not necessarily a virtue which you possess. You found your man, you want him and you want him now. Well boy howdee, did you come to the right place!
We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This saying has never been truer than when speaking of Southern men. Come on now, did you really think they were complex creatures? Pfft. Food = happiness. It’s just that easy. So rather than spend all of those months primping, courting, and pretending to like sports, I’m gonna show you how to reach your objective in six easy meals. Besides, you’re a busy girl. No sense in wasting valuable shoe shopping time on trivial things like convincing a man he is madly in love with you.
First off, a note of advice: Don’t pull out your cooking skills until you see what DooBob has to offer. I am dead serious about this. He may be a five star chef but if he knows you bring good Southern cooking to the table, you’ll never know if he can boil water. So, hide your pots and pans (or make them look all clean and shiny like they ain’t never been used!) and every time he talks about being hungry, automatically say “oh where you wanna go?” and then start suggesting a bunch of high end restaurants. You don’t want to start out being low maintenance because believe me, your standard of living as a woman definitely decreases after marriage – unless his last name is Trump – and for goodness sake, you need to have all of the fancy meals out you can if you are planning on snagging him for a spouse and eventually mothering his brood. Babysitters are harder to come by than Dr Phil lets on!
After you have skillfully managed to determine the full range of his cooking skills through interviews with friends and family, going through his trash, etc, We’re ready to begin our venture.
It is very important that you follow my steps to the letter. Each meal is designed to evoke nostalgia, showoff your cooking and hostessing talents, and provide much needed tests along the way to ensure that this guy is, in fact, worthy of your greatness.
*Dirty Eggs are eggs scrambled in a skillet you just cooked bacon in. Leave about a tablespoon of bacon grease and all of the little bits and particles of bacon in there and stir them into the eggs while you scramble them. mmmm mmm!
All southerners love breakfast for dinner, it’s just in our genes. Now I know some of you are thinking “Bacon AND Sausage?” to this I say “Heck yeah!” and if you got any country ham, throw that in the skillet too! You see, way back in our southern history, there was once a time in which meat was a scarce thing and we hold our ancestors in such high regard that we are still trying to right this wrong by serving as much as we can, as often as we can.
Note: Sweet tea is to be served at all meals! Frankly, I’m embarrassed I even had to say that. Y’all should know better.
Here’s what you do: Call up DooBob on your way home from work or just before getting off. This needs to be on a week night so he is less likely to have plans with another woman (who doesn’t cook anyway) and once you mention this menu any plans with male friends are out the door.
Recite the following: “Hey, I just picked up a few groceries and I thought I’d throw together a little breakfast for dinner, nothing much just <recite menu here> but I hate for all of that to go to waste. So I just thought I’d check in with you first and see if you wanted to come over. Come to think of it, I might call my neighbor, too.”
This neighbor thing makes you seem completely un-desperate and disinterested. The disinterested thing is important here as we all know that men want what they can’t have and like deer in headlights, they’ll startle and bolt if they get an inkling you’re about to mow ‘em down and hog tie ‘em.
The night before, make a yellow sheet cake with old fashioned peanut butter icing (like his granny used to do – and I bet he hasn’t had a bite of it since she done went to be with Jesus). Cut out two or three pieces and give them to your neighbors beforehand so you can put on the whole “Oh I just had this sitting around” attitude about it. This will cause his entire brain to skip a beat as he begins to wonder if granny has somehow incarnated again. Send him home with a few slices of cake, too. Good southern women always send their guests home with food! Anyway, you need to have that blasted cake gone so we can have another dessert just laying around when he comes over next!
He is still tingling over your impromptu dinner. We gotta keep up the whole “oh just a little something I threw together” attitude.
Here is what you wanna make:
This is really a simple meal and I want you to make it the day ahead of time so it is a heat and eat type thing. Besides, I want your time freed up to focus on the cornbread, which is the real trial by fire. Any woman who can make good cornbread is a prized catch in a man’s eyes! Note: A cast iron skillet is a must and don’t you go a putting that thing away before he arrives! Just set it up on the counter and have a dish towel beside it and claim you’re letting it cool. In reality, we just wanna show off that you know how to hang with the world’s greatest cornbread bakers, the Meemaws and the Grannies, who wouldn’t dream of using anything other than their beloved cast iron!
Now if you are practicing intercultural dating (ie. A Southern gal dating a gentleman of the northern persuasion), he’s gonna expect a little sugar in his cornbread. No honey, I’m not talking about unseemly things which are best left to a committed relationship. I’m talking about how some folks expect their cornbread to be sweet.
I know, this is just plum strange but you gotta realize that your man was raised differently. So just suck it up and add a few tablespoons of sugar to my cornbread recipe. Do you have any IDEA how it hurt me to say that? I bet Scarlett herself is going to have me eating dirt encrusted turnips in my dreams tonight.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with intercultural dating but my personal experience is that for southern women, we tend to want a man like our daddy’s and our granddaddy’s and dating a man of the northern persuasion can be well- as much of a culture shock as biting into cornbread and finding it sweet.
Fact is, when it comes to a southern lady ready to settle down, we instinctively look a bit closer to home. Those of us who disregard those instincts have to suffer through sweet cornbread. On a lighter note though, you can still get close to his Mama and she has a whole new set of recipes! Folks of the Northern Persuasion eat pretty darn good, too.
We need to show our watermelon savvy here so the meal is just the preamble.
- Grilled chicken tenderloins
- Homemade macaroni and cheese (That is Mama’s Recipe, Mine is here)
- Sweet and sour green beans (ignore the name, which is somewhat exotic by southern standards – these green beans are cooked with bacon grease so that makes them instantly accepted by any right mind thinking southerner)
For dessert, you need to have a watermelon. Now don’t go wasting your money on those little things the size of cantaloupes. The fact that they even appear in our grocery stores just attests to the sheer volume of folks moving down south.
~Pauses to dip her head and smile in neighborly fashion as she waves to the newcomers “And we’re mighty proud to have ya, too!”. She turns back to her writing and continues…~
To a southerner, watermelons this small just ain’t natural!. Get you one of those big old oblong ones and let the bag boy carry it to your car for you because this is a great time to practice the grace of being a lady and thereby allowing a man to be a gentleman. Every Southern lady knows that a man can only be a gentleman when a lady allows him to be so. Those women who bark at a man for trying to open a door for them? Not only is that rudeness in response to common courtesy but its also ungracious and strips the man of his ability and desire to be a gentleman. The last thing we want to do is actively undo all of that good raisin’ his Mama done put into him!
How you cut the watermelon is key here. Don’t go a slicing it so thin you could read the paper through it. Every self respecting southerner knows that one of those big old watermelons serves FOUR. That’s right, four. Alright, eight if you must but I suggest just hiding it if more company shows up and saving it for a time where you can make four neat slices and pig out. This is a great time to take dessert out on the back porch and demonstrate your watermelon seed spitting skills. Its alright on this one occasion because he’ll think its cute. Just be sure you spit in an endearing fashion, in full makeup, with a fresh pedicure if you do it barefooted – and for goodness sakes, no noises when you spit!
Alright, now its time to pull out the heavy artillery. We’re gonna make this poor boy some chicken and dumplings. Again, this is a “throw together” meal.
Say something like “I was thinking about making chicken and dumplings this weekend.” Say it in an offhanded manner and note how he is leaning in, his tongue practically wagging out of his mouth begging for an invite.
Don’t give him one.
Make him ask. 🙂
During dinner, while his face is buried in the bowl, use this time to study his complexion and figure out what colors you want the bridesmaids to wear. Personally, I don’t care for peach. Any shade of green is a classic and many yellows are lovely as well but you know you just can’t go wrong with pink…Oh honey, give him some more tea! I think he just inhaled a dumpling in his zeal at your culinary artistry.
After dinner on meal #4, let him follow you into the kitchen to help with the dishes. By now you are reeling him in fast so might as well start training him! When you’re done, have him go with you in the laundry room to put the dish towel away, after all that bulb is out and you really need it replaced….
Note: A prepared southern lady always has a popped light bulb saved on a shelf in her closet for moments like this! You’ll need to switch out the bulbs after meal three in preparation for this moment.
Wasn’t it nice of you to let him do something and get that manlified feeling? Be sure you ooh and ahh over how quickly and easily he changed that bulb. Mention his strength somehow in relation to doing it, too. Sure, it’s a stretch to pretend strength is required to change a light bulb but men fail to see reason when it comes to compliments towards their masculinity anyway so just toss it out there and watch him puff up like a prized peacock! Besides, every good southern lady knows the way to get things done is not by nagging, but by positive reinforcement.
After he is done changing your bulb direct his attention to the washing machine but don’t do so by mentioning it by name, simply put your dish towel in and say something like “What do you think about this brand?” This is a test to see if he knows what a washing machine looks like. If your question is met with a dull stare….Sweetie, you just wasted an entire pot of chicken and dumplings because this one is a throw back.
This is just a snack really, but it’s still a deal cincher. If you really don’t want to make homemade apple butter (guess you’re not as serious about this guy as we thought) you can buy it in the store, I suppose, but the hoe cake absolutely must be made from scratch, no exceptions. Besides, it’s easy anyway and I thought you were in love? Alright then hush, its not like you’re not getting some darn fine meals out of this, too. I mean, seriously, those lean cuisines are getting a bit tired.
After this meal, suggest a walk and make sure you take your purse with you. He’s going to need to get more physically active after eating all of that food anyway, so you are doing both of you a favor and getting in another valuable test to boot.
Five minutes or so into the walk, shrug your handbag off your shoulder and make a light (but cute) grunting noise as you switch it to the other shoulder. An alert man would immediately take notice of your struggle but we gotta give this one a bit of time because his senses are dulled by bacon grease and the equivalent of a sugar drip from all that sweet tea. Give it another minute or two before you verbally complain “oh, this is so heavy!”. Of course, you are not lying here. That brick you put in weighs at least five pounds. If he offers to take your purse and carries it the rest of the walk, you’ve got you a man ready for marriage. Note: It takes a lot of love for a man to carry and/or hold a woman’s handbag.
This is a vegetable rich meal but it shows him the full range of what you can do if he has gardening skills (which we want to encourage because Grandaddy was such a good gardener…and it really is far too hot for US to be out there!).
Be sure you send him home with a big old plate all covered in aluminum foil, just like his Mama used to do. Tell him to take it for work the next day. Poor thing has been without real food for so long he’d likely just take it home and set it up like a shrine so he needed the suggestion. Besides, this wins him major brownie points in the eyes of his coworkers and I guarantee you they’ll be asking him when he’s gonna buy a ring once they see that puddle of butter sauce you cooked the corn in.
And on the seventh day, you rest. 🙂
Don’t call him and don’t be available for the next week. His stomach will be a growling as he goes through a physical withdrawal from decent cooking and he’ll be missing you so bad he’ll be like a cat chasing its tail.
Don’t turn him down when he calls up and asks to come over though, we don’t want to hurt the fragile ego here. Just be busy and have him call back or better yet, schedule a date for the following week. NO MAN needs to ever think they can have you on last minute notice. Considering the amount of spoiling we’ve just done this past week, we need to give him time to miss us and appreciate us in the manner with which we are accustomed
After about a week, let him take you out…
Be prepared to meet his mother 🙂
“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it!”