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About Bobbi Jo Lathan

About Me

THE SKILLET DIVA

I learned to cook in my Grandmama Watson's kitchen that my Granddaddy built for her by kerosene lamp. Cause see, in those days, if you wanted to marry a girl, you had to have a house for her to live in. So, he worked all day as a carpenter over to Tallahassee, buildin' government buildings, then worked on that house at night 'til it was finished. And it was in her country kitchen, in that house that he built, that she taught me how to use a skillet. Standin' there in our aprons, right before we'd put the cornbread in the oven, she'd give me a big ol' hug and say, "Barbara Jo (that's my birth name), now we're cookin' with a right smart of love!"

Now, some of you are problee' wonderin' just what the heck a "right smart" is. Well, it was Grandmama Watson's means of measurin' somethin'. Like a "dab" of this or a "pinch" of that. To be honest, I never really asked her exactly how much a "right smart" of somethin' was! You just sort of learned by watchin' her cook. One thing for sure, you knew it was just enough.

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Grandmama Watson’s house in Woodville, Florida.

 

One thing I know for sure. Wasn't nuthin' like Grandmama's fresh home-cookin'! All the food found in her country kitchen had been sleepin' in the garden the night before. Fresh-picked corn, white-acre peas, little baby okra, speckled butter beans and the most beautiful, fat, red, juicy tomatoes you've ever tasted! I mean, the kinda tomato that tastes like a tomato! Yum! And when you peeled one of Grandmama's fresh-picked peaches for a cobbler, the whole kitchen smelled of peach! When was the last time you passed the peaches in the grocery store and could smell em' from the aisle? Well, I'll tell you what, if you cain't smell em', you best move on to the bananas!

In Grandmama's house, you woke up every mornin' to the smell of fresh coffee brewin' on top of the stove and venison sausage fryin' up in her cast-iron skillet. Grandmama didn't even own a toaster. She'd butter the bread on one side, place it butter-side-up in a bakin' dish and broil it in the oven. So, you'd end up with toast on one side and soft white bread on the other. Just perfect for dunkin' in your red-eye gravy! Served over grits. 

Now where would us Southerners be without our grits? Just like them Yankees with their bagels and them Brits with their crumpets. We gotta have our grits! Smothered in red-eye gravy and topped with two fresh eggs over-easy. Boy howdy! Bring on them hogs to slop and that field to plow! I'm ready! 

I guess you could say that life in Grandmama's house centered around food and family. And nuthin' ever went to waste. Even the chicken bones or the left-overs on somebody's plate (not mine! I cleaned mine!) or bacon grease was ground and mixed into the slop for the hogs. 

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Yes, Grandmama's kitchen ran as smooth and efficient as Granddaddy's tractor. And, not unlike his tractor , she never rested either. Even when she took a break between breakfast and supper to come out on the front porch and rock in her rockin' chair, she'd still be shellin' peas or shuckin' corn. But, it was never in a begrudgin' way. She was happy doin' what she did best. Runnin' her kitchen and feedin' every grateful mouth that sat down to her supper table. So, it's no accident that all kinds of folks seemed to just "happen-by" around supper time! 

But, you know what? I'm not so sure it was just the food. Although it was plenty delicious! I think it was more what was back of it. LOVE. Plain and simple. LOVE. There wasn't no pea that was shelled, no chicken leg that was fried without a "right smart" of love.

And that's why I wrote my cookbook, for us! Cause' it just ain't no fun to cook alone. And, besides what good is a "right smart" of love if you got no one to share it with? So, feel free to share my cookbook recipes with someone you love. I promise you’ll give them a tickle in their heart they cain’t itch.

Grandmama and her youngins on the front porch.

THE ACTRESS

Bobbi Jo began her acting career starring in the Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. “On our day off, I’d pick up the phone and tell a few friends I was cookin’,” she explains. “And 8 PM, I’d have 30 people over for supper!” It wasn’t too long afterwards she arrived in Los Angeles to shoot a television pilot. While the pilot wasn’t picked up, she quickly landed guest-starring roles on numerous shows, including Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show and Beverly Hills 90210. Integrating her love of cooking and acting, Bobbi Jo wrote her one-woman musical food comedy, Cookin’ With A Right Smart Of Love. “In the show, along with members of the audience, we bake a blueberry cobbler, cream corn, gig frogs, grunt worms and even call a turkey! You know, all the usual Southern stuff! It’s a hoot! And the audiences love it,” she says. Since so many people requested her recipes while work-shopping the production at Pasadena City College, she finally decided to write a cookbook of her own  – and her colorful THE SKILLET DIVA cookbook was born.

Before she could even get her musical off the ground, the culinary director for Williams-Sonoma in Beverly Hills read and loved her cookbook and asked Bobbi Jo to teach a series of Southern cooking classes using the recipes from her book. She agreed and the classes sold-out! Her ability to instruct and interact with the students in an engaging and entertaining way quickly made her classes the most popular on the circuit. “My students lovingly refer to me as their Beverly Hillbilly of food,” laughs Bobbi Jo. In conjunction with The Lodge Cast Iron Company, Borders Books also presented Bobbi Jo’s Holiday Buttermilk Pie and Brownies Book Signing Event. Bobbi Jo also appeared a guest chef on several episodes of E! Network’s popular You’re Invited.

Just call me Madam! From the musical, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.
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