Katie Exum learned to share at an early age
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Jun 25, 2013 | 1850 views |  0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Katie Marie Thomas Exum was growing up in Ellijay, Ga.., her parents taught her the importance of sharing. Now, she’s trying to instill that trait in her 2 ½-year-old daughter, McKenzie.

Katie thinks it’s working because one of the things McKenzie does is help take care of their guests.

“When we have company for dinner, if their plates get empty, McKenzie wants to get them more food,” said Katie.

Katie was born in Dallas, Ga., and grew up in Ellijay. She and her husband, Scott, who is Alabama Power Co., manager here, have lived in Jacksonville for the past year and a half. Scott has been with Alabama Power 17 years, and his position has required the family to move fairly often.

The Exum family attends the First United Methodist Church in Anniston. Katie and Scott will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary Friday. Scott is from Eufaula, and they met when Katie was visiting family and friends there. They married two and a half years later.

“He was so nice and polite,” she said. “Once we met, that was it. We both knew. He’s a rare find. We have so many shared interests.”

Katie’s parents are Frank and Laura Thomas of Ellijay. Their ancestors are some of the founders of the town. Her ancestry goes back to the 1700s there, and her earliest memories are of her parents’ vegetable gardens and the many vegetables they grew and shared with their neighbors and friends.

“On average, we would plant 300 to 400 tomato plants a year,” she said. “We supported the whole area with our garden. People would come to our fields and, if they were hungry, mama and daddy would tell them to go get what they needed. We always had excess. I learned as a child that everybody needs food, everybody needs friends and you need to share. My parents had such giving spirits.”

Katie said they always had company for meals, sometimes 10 or 15 people in their small house.

Katie relates gardening to living a good life.

“It’s all about how you walk through it,” she said. “If you walk slowly, you’ll get more out of it. If you’re slow and tender in your walk of life, you’ll bear a lot more fruit, and you’ll be much happier.”

Katie received a BS degree in English with a concentration in English and journalism from North Georgia College and State University in Dahlongea.

Katie, Scott and McKenzie enjoy their four dogs ­- two Brittney spaniels and two Boykin spaniels - and two chickens. McKenzie likes to gather the eggs. She also likes to her mother in their vegetable garden.

“Having McKenzie is wonderful,” said Katie. “It’s more than I could have Katie likes to knit and quilt. She’s made McKenzie two quilts and wants to make her at least one a year. She’s knitted baby blankets, toboggans and booties for McKenzie.

“I love prayer shawl ministries for babies,” said Katie. “That’s what people did for me when McKenzie was born. She was a preemie and only weighed five pounds. She came six weeks early. I still have those things.”

Katie and Scott checked into the hospital and, to their surprise, McKenzie was born nine minutes later.

Cooking is probably Katie’s favorite thing - except for playing with McKenzie. She said she grew up with an amazing woman who was a good cook - her mother.

“My mom is a phenomenal cook,” said Katie. “She taught me how to make biscuits when I was 5 years old. That was one of my responsibilities when company would come. I’d make 20 or 30 biscuits at a time. When I look back on it as an adult, I treasure those moments with my mom. It was a great experience.”

Scott also comes from a line of great cooks. His grandmother, the late Mitzi Exum, lived during the Depression. Her husband died and she had to take care of their seven children. Before she died, she and Katie spent a lot of time together. Mitzi knew how much Katie liked to cook so she gave her all of her cookbooks.

Mitzi was ill the last eight weeks of her life. Katie took care of her during that time.

“I’d cook for her,” said Katie. “She loved cornbread and buttermilk and tomatoes, and so do I. Some nights that was dinner. The thing she said to me that I think is so important is that you’re fine as long as you have flour. During the Depression, as long as she had flour, she could always find something to cook. If she started to get low on it, she would get nervous.”

Katie also has Scott’s great-great-grandmother Hilda Donat’s cookbook. “You can hardly turn the pages in it, it’s so tender,” she said. “But it has some wonderful recipes in it.”

Katie knows that Scott come from strong stock because three days before his father was born, Mitzi spent the day picking cotton.

Katie enjoys preparing Fig Preserves, Fig and Raspberry Tart, Best Biscuits and Quick Quiche for Scott and McKenzie.

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.


Fig Preserves

Yield: 6 half-pints

2 quarts figs
1 quart water
2 2/3 cups sugar, depending on sweetness of figs
2 quarts boiling water
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded

Pour boiling water over figs. This will clean them of bugs and dirt. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain water. Rinse figs in cold water – handle tenderly – drain water again. Combine sugar, 1 quart water, and lemon slices in a large saucepot. Boil 10 minutes. Remove lemons from sugar syrup and set aside. Dig figs into syrup a few at a time. Cook rapidly until figs are transparent. Remove cooked figs into a shallow bowl. Continue until all figs are cooked. Remove last figs and set in bowl.

Boil syrup until thickened. Pour figs back into saucepot and cover overnight or 8 hours. Reheat figs and syrup to boiling.

Remove from heat. Place lemon peel into bottom of jar, ladle whole figs into jar, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Alternate recipe: Put whole figs into food process or use hand blender and blend until smooth. Lemon slices are not included in this recipe. Ladle smooth fig preserves into jar, leaving ¼ inch headspace.

Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Let preserves sit overnight under towels overnight.

Fig and Raspberry Tart

Yield 1 Tart

Tart Dough Recipe

See below - 1 big box of raspberries 1 half-pint homemade fig preserves

Make tart dough. Wash raspberries. When dough is chilled, lay onto a lightly floured counter. Quickly roll out the dough because the butter will begin to melt and you will have a melted buttery mess. When the dough measures about the width of a cookie sheet or the pan you will cook it in, roll the dough over the rolling pin so you can pick it up and place the dough on the cookie sheet.

Quickly spread the 1 half-pint of fig preserves over the dough leaving about a 2 inch width around the edge. Starting on one side fold a section about 3 inches wide in until you touch the preserves, turn the pan and roll another section over until you reach the fig preserves, (you will overlap some of the first rolled edge) turn the pan and continue. You should have a nicely folded edge all the way around. Put an egg-wash (1 whole egg with a little milk) around the edge using a pastry brush.

Cook the fig tart at 350 until the figs are warm and bubbly. Place the raspberries on top of the warm fig preserves. You will want the raspberries to stand up so place the end with hole down and the point end facing upwards. Cook just 5-8 min until the raspberries are just soft but still standing. Let cool about 5 min.

Dough Recipe:

2 cups flour
½ t. salt
1 T. sugar
12 T. butter ice cold

Combine all ingredients in food processor until the size of peas. Add 4 T. of ice-cold water, 1 T. at a time until dough combined. Wrap in plastic wrap for 1 hour in fridge.

Best Biscuits

Self-rising Flour (White Lily)
Crisco – blue can
Whole buttermilk

Sift flour, about 4 cups, into large biscuit bowl. Grease 9 x 13 pan with Crisco. Scoop out lots of Crisco from can, enough to cover and round out hand from fingers to palm of hand. (about 1 cup). Make well in flour with back of hand that is holding Crisco. Pour buttermilk into well until full. Start kneading shortening into milk very tenderly. Stay in the wet well do not get into the flour (the flour will be pulled in as needed by the milk).

Keeping kneading until you don’t feel any Crisco. You should have used about ½ cup flour in bowl. You can save the rest of flour for morning biscuits. Pick dough up with two hands very softly. Gently pat down dough with small of hand. Turn dough over on one end. Gently pat down again. Do this 4 times.

Roll out biscuits to ½ finger height. (about ½ inch to 1 inch tall). Cut out biscuits using biscuit can. (a small metal can that is clean and both ends are cut out). Place biscuits into greased pan and cook 500 degrees for 20 min.

Quick Quiche

Pastry for 9 inch pie
6 eggs
8 slices bacon
Salt/pepper to taste
2 green chopped onions
Splash of whole milk
2 handfuls of cheddar cheese

Brown bacon lightly, drain off fat. Add chopped green onions. Cook until lightly browned. Beat eggs, cheese, milk, salt/pepper, and cheese into bowl, stir in bacon and onions. Splash with a little water if mixture still thick. Pour into pie shell back 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve hot.
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Katie Exum learned to share at an early age by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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