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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Day Two of Our Trip to the Averett Family Reunion/Homecoming in Greensboro, Alabama!

Sunday was the official day of the Averett Family Homecoming, which is always held on the first Sunday in May.

This year it was held at Searcy Averett's Osage Hunting Lodge on County Road 51 in Greensboro, Alabama. Searcy is Daddy's second cousin and my third cousin, and Searcy' father was Murphy Averett, who was Daddy's uncle. Searcy and his wife Mary Ellen live on several hundred acres in the woods, and in addition to the hunting lodge, there is a lake for fishing and nature walks and programs for children and families. Below are a few photos of the lodge which Searcy built himself a few years ago. The lodge is spacious, comfortable, with beautiful views of the lake and the woods surrounding the lodge.

There were probably about 100 people there for fun, food and fellowship. The reunion was started many, many years ago by Murdie Averett Lyle, who was Daddy's favorite first cousin. I was encouraged that there were so many families with young children who were carrying on the tradition in Murdie's honor. I talked to several people about my age who said that they had come to Murdie's reunion when they themselves were young.

Daddy became fast friends with Searcy's cat Sheba - and Daddy says he doesn't like cats!

Below are some photos of the family - and I apologize that I don't know all of their names, but I will give it my best shot.

Daddy with Jessie Dean Williams (Daddy's cousin Murvle Averett Montz's daughter) from Greensboro, Alabama

Daddy with his 97 year-old cousin Gurthy Averett from Selma, Alabama - Cousin Gurthy makes the best peanut brittle you have ever tasted!

Gurthy, Jessie Dean and Daddy (Jeremiah Clements)

Gurthy and his four wonderful daughters - notice the identical twins on the right!

This Willie Dee Averett Woods with her brother Gurthy Averett

Gurthy, Daddy and Jo Anne Hill Drapo (sorry, but I don't know the name of the sweet lady in the red dress) - Jo Anne is Murdy's granddaughter, and frequently hosts the reunion at their home. That's Jo Anne's husband Rick Drapo in the background.

Another photo of Willie Dee and Gurthy (above)

And now we come to some photos of the covered dish meal we all enjoyed! All the food was so good, and I tried to take a spoonful of everything so that I could taste everybody's cooking. There are some great cooks in the family, and we were happy to hear that Jo Anne is putting together an Averett Family Cookbook. We are looking forward to getting our copies at next year's reunion.

We had planned on eating outside on the spacious decks of the lodge, but we were under a tornado watch/warning and it was too risky to set out all the food on tables under those conditions. Plus the wind was brisk and would have blown away the table cloths and napkins.

Mary Ellen decided it would be best to put the dishes on the large pool table, the bar and a few of the side tables, and serve from there. The weather held off, and we were able to eat outdoors with all the family.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Day One of Our Trip to Alabama for the Averett Homecoming!

On our first day in Alabama for the Averett family reunion, we saw Searcy and Mary Ellen Averett and their beautiful garden and grounds around their home. Beautiful home, beautiful flowers and shrubs, beautiful woods surrounding everything. I love Alabama! I love the Averett family!

Here is Daddy putting his travel gear in the back of the Disco, and we are ready to hit the road!

Before going to see Searcy and Mary Ellen, we stopped by Mount Hermon United Methodist Church in Greensboro, Alabama. This is the church where all (or most of) the Averetts attend and where all (or most of them) are buried. This is the church that Daddy's Uncle John Averett and his family were members and are now buried.

A nice church with wonderful members.

Here are Searcy and Daddy talking about, what else, hearts 'a bustin' shrubs.

One of Searcy's sweet dogs.

My favorite tree, the cucumber magnolia, also known as the big leaf magnolia, was all over the place.

I think this is the sweet shrub.

More cucumber magnolias in the woods.

A photo of Searcy's hearts 'a bustin' shrub, with a cucumber magnolia there too.

Daddy checking out the hearts 'a bustin' shrub.

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We Visit the Rural Studio Home Project of Auburn University in Greensboro, Alabama!

When Daddy and I were in rural Alabama in May, we went to see the Rural Studio project of Auburn University in Greensboro, Alabama.

Auburn University architecture students can do summer internships in Greensboro designing and building houses that cost only $20,000.

This county is the poorest county in the state of Alabama, with no commerce or industry to speak of, save a few catfish farms.

Studies found that there were people who were working full-time in stable jobs, but even so, could only afford to make payments on a house costing no more than $20,000.

When Auburn U. heard about it, they set up a program to design, build and sell homes to these people for the unheard amount of $20,000.

This was not a handout, not a giveaway. This was not related to ACORN or the Community Reinvestment Act. This was only an opportunity for hardworking poor people with full-time jobs to have their own homes. These people pay traditional mortgages on their homes, just like people with far more expensive homes.

Below are some photos of the houses the architecture students designed, followed by photos of some broken down shacks that were the customary rental homes of the working poor in this area.

Below are the shacks the Rural Studio houses are designed to replace:

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I Made Pralines for the Averett Family Reunion - They May Not Look So Pretty, But They are Delicious!

My pralines may not look as pretty, or have as uniform a shape, as the mass-produced ones, but they taste delicious! Better than the store-bought ones! These just melt in your mouth and taste so good.

I made pralines to take to the Averett family reunion in Greensboro, Alabama, as one of our covered dishes, and before the reunion dinner was even served, so many people tasted them and kept on eating them there not many left to put out. Made me feel real good about them, because there are some excellent cooks in the family.

Here are a couple of photos of the boiling candy mixture.

Below are a few photos showing the finished pralines cooling on cookie sheets. You have to act so fast when it is time to drop them onto the sheets, or else it all just hardens up on you.

Here is my recipe:

Delicious Homemade Pralines

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups broken pecans

Butter sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. In saucepan combine sugars and half-and-half. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionally, till thermometer registers 234 degrees, soft-ball stage (16 to 18 minutes).

Remove pan from heat. Add butter; do not stir. Cool, without stirring, to 150 degrees (about 30 minutes).

Remove thermometer from saucepan. Stir in pecans. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon till mixture just begins to thicken but is still glossy (about 3 minutes). Working quickly, drop candy by spoonsfuls onto waxed paper. When firm, store in a tightly covered container. Makes about 36 pieces.

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