Two years ago, Gourmet printed an essay by the late Edna Lewis called “What Is Southern?”

It came out the month after I’d left my job making pastries for a European-style bakery.

I could make croissants in my sleep. But I’d never even tried to bake a biscuit.

That’s why God made Mommaws.

I didn’t see my place as a link in the chain, preserving my food culture and passing it on, until I read Miss Lewis’ essay.

Then, I started working my way through her recipes.

I could go for a slice of this Lemon Chess Pie right now. The filling has just the right balance of sweet and tangy.

Buttermilk Cookies! Simple and good. They sneak up on you.

This Sour Milk Cornbread makes me crave a plate of Beans N’ Greens in the worst way.

One of my favorite vegetables, Macaroni and Cheese. I love the grated onion in this recipe.

Peach Cobbler is a reason for living. Don’t even look at how much butter is in this recipe. I’m sure it evaporates.

And I couldn’t go without showing some biscuits. This recipe for Hot, Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits actually comes from Scott Peacock. He and Miss Lewis wrote “The Gift of Southern Cooking,” and he took care of her until her death in 2006. I’m including this recipe, because it’s hard to think of one of them without thinking of the other.

When I first decided to learn how to make Southern food, I thought it’d take me a summer.

Two years later, I know I’ll spend the rest of my life learning about Southern food and trying to get it right.

Thank you, Miss Lewis. And happy birthday.

Note: The first photo in this post is Miss Lewis’ Busy Day Cake.