Entertaining with Southern flair

Patsy Tidwell penned her own cookbook, and is a regular at Helena's Market Days. (Contributed)

Patsy Tidwell penned her own cookbook, and is a regular at Helena’s Market Days. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

The Southern tradition of preparing good food and entertaining family and friends was early implanted in Patsy Tidwell, who was raised near Atlanta.

“I think my love of cooking and baking came from watching my mother and grandmother prepare the family feast for holiday occasions,” Tidwell said, noting that in the early 1990s she began her career as a caterer and restaurant owner.

Her first restaurant was Through the Grapevine in Murfreesboro, Tenn. After moving to Alabama, she and her daughter Pamela Carroll, opened The Red Geraninum in Pelham.

Tidwell reluctantly closed the Red Geranium after three and a half years in 2010 due to heart health issues. But since then, she has written and published her own cookbook and continues to offer her award-winning baked goods by order, as well as showcasing both at the Helena Farmer’s Market each Saturday.

Little Bit Southern Cookbook is all about her years growing up in Georgia, learning to cook and bake and it includes her collection of favorite recipes from her catering and restaurant businesses.

It contains her original recipe for Italian Coconut Crème Cake, which won her an immense purple ribbon in the 1978 South Carolina Sweepstakes for Best Cake of the Fair, as well as a billboard with her picture on it.

On her website you can find her recipe for Southern Fried Corn, just in time for the season, as well as her Georgia Peach Cobbler.

“I was born a go-getter—I don’t give up when life’s challenges appear,” Tidwell told me just a week after receiving a coronary stent. “I thrive on creating pretty, for myself and for others.”

Working from her commercial kitchen, Tidwell can make any of her signature southern goodies for upcoming special events and holidays.

“And,” the always upbeat Tidwell said, “I want people to know I am now available for speaking engagements to ladies groups, garden clubs, and churches. I love sharing and talking with anyone who loves to cook and eat and enjoys learning new recipes.”

Come visit Patsy Tidwell any Saturday 8 a.m.-noon through Aug. 23 at Helena Market Days. You can read more and order her cookbook online at: Littlebitsouthern.com.