When I was growing up in Alabama, our family lived in the kitchen. Culinary passion is as fundamentally a part of me as my mother's eyes, or my father's strong will. Both of my parents are from New Orleans and are avid cooks, and for as long as I can remember, they were challenging our palettes.

Knowing that Alison and I were raised in Alabama would make you think that were grew up eating fried chicken, collard and turnip greens, and macaroni casseroles, but that definitely was not the case. We were constantly encouraged to try new foods, and broaden the choices of foods that we enjoyed.

Our house was a daily destination for our friends, and at any given meal there might be numerous (self-invited) teens around the table. And while MOM's cooking is extraordinary, I believe that there was another quality that attracted everyone to our kitchen. The feeling of "home" steamed up from every pot, and "welcome" poured out every time we opened the oven. It was the conversations, laughter, and even occasional tears that instilled our friend's longing to be there.

So, as my sister and I have grown up and explored our own interests - my sister's in the arts and mine in healthcare and science - we find ourselves still living in our own kitchens. Although we are grown and out on our own, we are still bound by our love of cooking great food, and entertaining our friends. Cooking is the one thing that binds my very different sister and myself across the miles. It allows us to reconnect as we work to slow down our fast-paced lives.

I have recently discovered traditional Southern cuisine! I am amazed by fried chicken and collard greens! The South has a rich culinary history and every dish has an interesting story - even the recipes are personal: Granddaddy's Oatmeal Cookies; Aunt Ceile's Spice Cake, MOM's World Famous Barbecue Sauce. Sometimes the food defines who you are, and your creations become an extension of your persona.

We are so lucky to be able to live and cook in the beautiful countryside of Alabama, as we find ourselves out there, beside the grill, all year round. In this blog, we hope to encourage to broaden your ideas about cooking outdoors. We hope we offer you some new ingredients, and some professional techniques that will help you enjoy the great outdoor sport of grilling!

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