Hurricanes… And a Wedding

I was planning to write about grits but grits are going to have to wait a minute. Hurricane Matthew came and went recently and flooded my mind with memories as it flooded our area with water… So much water!!! We stayed in town to ride it out because we were not in an evacuation zone. We even had some of our dearest friends from the beach evacuate to our house. I have to admit that as the storm approached, my nerves got the best of me! I was pacing and cleaning and baking, questioning our decision to stay. Billy spent an entire day boarding up the back of the house. Even though we were as prepared as we could be, my heart became overwhelmed in the hours leading up to its landfall. The Facebook frenzy and media coverage only fed more into my worries. Thursday proved to be a restless day… and night, but Friday morning brought the loveliest of distractions. Our friends, who are really family to us, arrived at our house. They brought with them wisdom, conversation, and the reassurance of family security. Once we were all snuggled up together in my living room, snacking on Oliver’s chicken nuggets and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies… My heart calmed down and my mind slowed a bit… I love our community here in Jax. We have been embraced so warmly and I am forever grateful for the love we’ve found here. I’m so thankful that we as a city faired pretty well and I’m saddened that many others did not.

As the winds gathered speed in the days leading up to Matthew’s arrival, so did my mind. Along with all of the what ifs, my mind was racing with memories of the stories I heard growing up about the wedding of Lindsey and Lucile, which in fact took place during the major hurricane of 1949! In effort to shift my thoughts from possible disaster on to something lovely, I consulted with my Daddy and my Mamaw’s scrapbook in order to refresh my memory of the details from their day.

On August 26 of 1949 an unnamed, Category 4 hurricane made landfall on West Palm Beach, Florida. Lindsey and Lucile had planned their wedding for August 27. It was to be a simple ceremony at the bride’s home on the beloved family farm in Central Florida (Center Hill). Lindsey was a young evangelist at the time and was conducting a revival in South Florida. The plan had been to complete the revival on August 26 and then drive to Center Hill to marry his sweetheart.

The storm hit on that day, however, and knocked down telephone lines, so they were unable to contact each other. Although preparations had already been made, the bride sadly assumed that because of the storm they would have to postpone the wedding. Lindsey had other plans in mind. With thoughts set on his lovely Lucile, he determined to marry her no matter what. He made his way, driving through the state, facing relentless winds, blinding rain, and falling limbs in order to keep his promise and stand before his bride. He was forced to stop again and again to get out of his car in order to remove the limbs that were blocking his path. He persevered, and amazingly he made it to Center Hill on the decided wedding date.

Lucile hadn’t gotten ready for the ceremony because she didn’t expect it to happen. Imagine her surprise when her handsome sweetheart walked through her mama’s front door, soaked through to the skin, and grinning ear to ear! The first words out of her mouth as she rushed to greet him were, “What are you doing here?” His smile widened even more as he responded simply, “I’m here to marry you.” And marry her he did.

They both wasted no time getting ready. She wore a white Palm Beach suit adorned with a white carnation corsage and topped off with a perfect pillbox hat. Her father got busy cleaning the yard that was littered with fallen limbs and Spanish moss. Her Mother covered their dining room table with a lace cloth where the three tiered cake would be served with punch. The mantle was adorned with white Shasta daisies and baskets of white gladiolus were placed at the hearth where their feet would soon stand. They contacted the preacher and the handful of family and friends who were to attend and let them know that the wedding was going to happen in spite of the storm…and it did!!! They promised forever right there in her living room.

I loved that room growing up. I would sit on the scratchy green floral couch and imagine what joy must have filled that tiny space the day that a hurricane brought with it much more than just wind and rain. It brought with it a promise kept. It brought with it a vow that would conquer all of life’s storms. It brought with it a story that would live on forever…a story of this faithful Lindsey braving any obstacle for his adoring and beautiful Lucile.

And since we’re talking about hurricanes, let’s talk about hurricane friendly food… I’m a southern girl who was raised with rice at almost every meal. For us, it was rice with everything…
Chicken and rice
Steak and rice
Rice and acre peas
Rice and zipper peas
Rice and black eye peas
Beans and rice.
Rice and gravy
And it had to be Uncle Ben’s Converted rice…Pa said he only wanted to eat rice that was saved (converted. Get it?? :-)) He had jokes, y’all! Billy, is Puerto Rican and grew up eating beans and rice with everything. So… When a major storm makes its way to our shores, making a big pot of rice is on the prep list. It heats up easily on our mini camping stove if the electricity goes out. A can of beans are easily prepared along side of the rice. For today’s recipe, I’m happily sharing how my own Prince Charming spices up a can of beans… Because life isn’t always fancy… Sometimes it calls for a can of beans and you should know how to make it delicious! Beans and rice are great alongside of so many main dishes and in a pinch, this side stands well on its own because it offers plenty of protein! Also… Beans and rice are extremely budget friendly!

Billy’s Beans and Rice
2 cans of kidney beans OR blacks beans
1 4 oz can of tomato paste
1 tbsp sofrito
1 tbsp recaito
2 tbsp cooking oil (optional)
Adobo to taste (optional)
Look for these spices in the ethnic isle!

Drain one can of beans, leave liquid in second can.
Empty the contents of both in a medium sized sauce pan.
Add seasonings.
Bring to a light simmer, stirring occasionally.
Serve over steamed rice. (we use a rice cooker)