A true Southern woman has the poise of a debutante, the patience of a saint and the kitchen skills to feed a small army with one hand tied behind her back. My Grandbetty was one of those women.
Betty Caroline Boys (née Crabb) was one of the gentlest, most compassionate souls I've known. A mother of five, an avid painter and an independent spirit, Grandbetty devoted her early years to her family and her later years to her art.
With a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force for a husband, Grandbetty raised their five children largely on her own. When their brood was grown, she enrolled at Georgia Southwestern State University at the eyebrow-raising age of 48. By the time she was 53, she had a masters degree in art and soon began teaching at one of the local high schools. She taught art in an economically depressed, racially complicated area of south Georgia that didn't put artistic self-expression high on its priority list, and fought hard to support her students and their work.
I spent every summer vacation at Grandbetty and Papa's stately house in the sleepy town of Americus, Georgia, where the whole family would laze around the pool, eat endless amounts of Papa's conservatively seasoned popcorn, do jigsaw puzzles on the sun porch and yell out the answers during the daily Wheel of Fortune watch party. Life in Americus was sweet and simple – a lot like the iced tea that was consumed daily by the gallons.
As I got older, I began watching Grandbetty's style and technique in the kitchen. She liked to flavor things with sugar, she used scissors instead of a knife for many tasks, and she'd always have a tub of pimento cheese in the fridge. Whenever I'd ask if she needed help, she'd say in her syrupy Georgia drawl, “Nooo, huuuneh. I’d rathuh just doooh it maaah waaay.” Funny enough, this delicate rejection perfectly sums up my own druthers in the kitchen.
Grandbetty's attitude was inherently, truly, deeply happy, and she carried that sunny disposition with her as her mind and her memories faded. She was never one for much fuss, which is evident in the simple recipe I'm sharing with you.
Grandbetty's Pimento Cheese
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 (4 oz.) jar of pimentos, drained
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. sugar
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until smooth and whipped, about 90 seconds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.