I began life as a new bride in a region of the country known as "Florabama". I have many beautiful memories of the sandy white beaches, impressive flower gardens (oh, how we loved Bellingrath!), and spicy cuisine. Because we lived in a subdivision of good ol' boys, we enjoyed traditional Southern-style cooking, too: biscuits with red eye gravy, sweet tea, shrimp boils, coconut cakes, pulled pork, fried okra, and the list goes on. I never could emulate the sweet tea, which was a favorite of mine.
I consider it one of the great providences of my life that God placed us under the ministry of Pastor Steve and Mrs. Esther early in our lives. Their Southern graciousness combined with the love of Christ made their tiny church in central NH one of the bright spots of our lives. Esther had grown up in Florabama and made the BEST sweet tea I'd ever had. She graciously shared this recipe with me, and I've been making it ever since. Our water is quite hard, so I add just a tiny pinch of baking soda to get the tea to taste "right". You won't need any soda unless you have hard water.
Florabama Sweet Tea
makes 1 Gallon
2 Quarts boiling water
9 Tea bags (I like Red Rose)
1-1/2 cup sugar (I cut it back to just over a cup...I'm not as sweet as the southern gals!)
2 Quarts iced water
Add tea bags to boiling water and remove pot from heat. Add sugar, but don't remove tea bags. Allow to cool completely. Rinse tea bags in iced water. Discard tea bags and add iced water to cooled sweet tea base. To garnish, pull mint leaves through the center of a lemon slice. Enjoy!
I don't know where the Lord will place you, little one. Embrace the culture and your whole life you will be richer because of it. There are always things that will drive you nuts, but try to focus on the joys all around you.
May your life be full of new experiences,
P.S. "Bless your heart" roughly translates to either "I feel so badly for you" or "You're such a knucklehead" depending on the tone of voice. You do have to watch those southernisms!