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Comfort Food: From the Kitchen of Randi Rhone

The love of cooking was instilled in Randi Rhone at a very young age. Her grandmother, Ella Jane Black, saw to that.

Photo by Art Meripol

Throughout childhood, Randi Rhone’s weekends weren’t complete without a visit to Nanny Black’s house and an afternoon spent in the kitchen. “I can still visualize a step stool Nanny Black kept in her kitchen that she would pull out for my sister and me to stand on,” Randi reminisces. “We would put on the aprons she had sewn especially for us, hop up on that stool at the kitchen counter, and go to town with whatever she was cooking that day.”

Whatever they cooked, whether it was fried okra (one of Randi’s personal favorites), her grandfather’s vegetable soup, or divinity (another family favorite), Randi quickly learned that cooking was about so much more than simply preparing a meal.

Randi’s grandmother went on to self-publish a cookbook, Cooking With Love, that featured many of her recipes, and today, Randi still cooks many of the same dishes she prepared with her grandmother all those years ago. “When I cook from her cookbook, I immediately think about the times I spent cooking at her house,” says Randi. “It makes me feel like she’s still here cooking with me. And now with a daughter, who is named after Nanny Black, I look forward to sharing them with her one day.”

Paw-Paw’s Vegetable Soup

2 cans tomato sauce
1 can whole tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ pound suet (fat; usually free at market. Note: Instead of suet, you may cut stew meat into small pieces to use.)
4 potatoes, diced
1 large package frozen cut-up okra or 1½ cup fresh, cut up.

Place the first 8 ingredients in a 4-quart or larger pot with 3 quarts of water. Simmer 1 hour, and then add potatoes, vegetables, and okra. Simmer another 1 ½ hours. Yields 8 - 10 servings.

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