The BFF Hometown Tour


with Helen

I would love to say that I will make  Hometown Tour a regular feature of The Sabbatical Chef, but, well, I think that it would go the way of most of my best of intentions.  As Mama Mildred has said to me more than once “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Is that a Bible verse?  Who knows?  (Mama Mildred probably does but since she is at Sunday School right this minute I can’t ask her.)

Back to my story.  We are often asked if we are sisters.  Did we always look alike?  I don’t think so.  But as they say about old married couples and people and their dogs, we have spent so much time together that it has happened over the years.

I met my BFF almost exactly 25 years ago.  OMG.  It’s our Silver Anniversary.  I just realized that.  Our oldest sons found each other on the first day of preschool.  Then she had another and then we both had one more who are the same age.  Here’s the gang in 2009.

goofy boys

Our own basketball team.  They have all graduated from college now.  Praise the Lord.

Here’s some scientific research about friends.

friends have genetic sim

“Our” psychic told us that we were siblings in another life.  We like that idea so much that we believe it. Wholeheartedly.

We have had some adventures and plenty of fun.  France, Italy, Sunset Beach, all around Durham, and Lexington, NC, her hometown.  I’ve been several times.  I even took Sister Moo there a couple of summers ago to spend a week at High Rock Lake.  The BFF introduced to me to both Lexington and The Lake.  She was born and grew up in Lexington and her family had a house at High Rock.  I never had the chance to meet her dad.  He died when she was pregnant with her first son.  I did get to know her mom.  She is pictured between the two of us above during a Second Wedding Dinner at Sunset Beach in 2009 when the Ex-Ex and I renewed our vows.  Helen and I hit it off immediately the first time we met.  I loved her.  (Don’t mean to make you cry, BFF.  Sorry.)  Her brother was quite a character as well.  Same party.  He was the master of Frogmore Stew. (Head over to the old blog for the recipe and a couple of stories.)

with Ben

Mom and Bro are up in heaven smiling down on the BFF right this very minute.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the BFF had to go to Lexington for a meeting so she invited me to go along.  Just for a day and night.

overnight bag

Lexington is in the piedmont section of North Carolina, a short detour off I-40/I-85, near Greensboro and High Point.

lexington map

It is famous for honest-to-God REAL barbecue and Richard Childress, of NASCAR fame.  It used to be known around the world for its furniture businesses.  Unfortunately, most of them went the way of most of our businesses in North Carolina– somewhere else. Downtown Lexington is the way downtowns used to be and I wish they still were.  Malls took care of that, though.

The BFF and I got to town early so we went driving around and that’s when I got the idea for this post.  We cruised past her childhood home.

MPK house

The football stadium where she went to high school (she still cannot tell me why if their mascot is a yellow jacket their school colors are purple and orange… have you ever seen a purple YELLOW jacket?)  She was a champion tennis player, BTW.


We saw where her family’s business used to be and some of the old factories.  The train ran right behind the factories, of course.

She told me how much she loved this little spot.  Who wouldn’t growing up in a small town? I bet she asked her daddy to drive through this and honk the horn more than once.


Mo, the BFF’s hometown BFF, took me on a walking tour in town while the meeting took place.


Oops.  She’s not in this picture taken in Paris in 2012.  She was taking the picture.  **Editorial note from the BFF:  Mo did not take the picture.  She had to miss the trip because her daddy was sick.  That was wishful thinking on my part.  Summer of 2017??

The BFF and I make cute bookends, n’est-ce pas?

Here is a photo of Mo recently taken at her son’s wedding.  (lifted from her FB page- thanks to whoever took it!)


Mo knows everyone in town.  She is a physical therapist with magic hands. Or at least so I have heard from people in North Carolina and the South of France…

In Lexington, they love their pigs.  This is the kingdom of pork barbecue, people. Pig sculptures are everywhere.

back to school pig

Conrad and Hinkle is an old-fashioned grocery store– real butchers even.  They sell local produce and products, the best of which, in my humble opinion (and Sister Moo’s) is their pimiento cheese.  It was featured on NPR in 2007 and they (gasp) gave out the recipe.

conrad hinkle

I got a sample.  (And a container to bring home.)

PC sample

Bull City Ciderworks has moved its operation from Durham to Lexington.  They have opened up a great little spot on Main Street as well.

bullcity cider

The Candy Factory is probably the best known spot, though.  It was recently featured (again) in Our State magazine.

our state

You name it, they have it.  I bet there has been more than one temper tantrum thrown in this shop.  One of the BFF’s cousins works here.  She wasn’t around during our visit unfortunately.

For some reason I can’t fathom, I didn’t take a picture of the old Courthouse.  It is a beautiful building.  The sign will have to do this time.

courthouse sign

After the meeting was over, our first order of business was lunch.  At Lexington Barbecue. Or The Monk, as the folks there know it.  Another mystery that was explained but really didn’t make much sense to me.  What do I know?  I am a mountain girl.  (**Ok– the website says it was built by Wayne Monk.)  Got it.  They even still have curb service. Another thing of the past. The precursor to the drive-up window. I was a touch offended when the BFF started to explain what curb service is.  (She didn’t know Don’s Drive-In in Spruce Pine back in the day so I forgave her.)

Hushpuppies and a messy BBQ sandwich with slaw.  Slap your mama good, as the BFF has been known to say.

After lunch, we headed to The Lake.  Mo and her husband have a house there.  I could sit on the deck for hours.

Mo's deck

We were joined by T and K and sat in The Island, sharing a red Solo cup of wine.

Côtes de Gascogne brings back lovely memories.  I introduced the BFF to it when she and Mo came to visit me in Arles, France during the summer of 2007.

This one was taken the morning they discovered viennoiseries, little French breakfast pastries.


Mo and her hubby also have a boat.

mo's boat

My toes were happy as we zipped around The Lake.

happy toes

So were the pups we took with us! Lola looks sad, but trust me, she was not.

We spent a lovely day and evening.  Thank you for having us, Mo.

Thank you, BFF, for so many, many things.  For being your best self and always being just a text or phone call away.  For being my soul sister, the Thelma to my Louise.  For all of your love, support and miles of walking therapy through this 25-year journey.  For having the chutzpah to reinvent yourself at an age when many are thinking of retiring. For loving white t-shirts and black pants almost as much as I do. For always looking for the silver lining and inspiring me to do the same.  For making me laugh. I love you.

A few years ago, the BFF gave me this recipe which she makes every Thanksgiving/Christmas.  It was passed down from her mother.

Helen’s Cranberry-Apple Casserole

3 cups tart, peeled apples, diced (Granny Smith)

2 cups fresh whole cranberries

1 cup granulated sugar

Mix above ingredients and put in 10 x 13 pan.

Top with:

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1-1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup melted butter

Mix topping together.  Sprinkle over fruit.  Bake 1 hour at 325˚F.

Bon appétit to all BFFs.  Here’s to adventures.  May we have many, many more and be those little old ladies who go kicking and screaming and laughing wearing pink scarves and just the right shade of pink lipstick.  Keep that twinkle.


2 thoughts on “The BFF Hometown Tour

  1. Martha

    Love, Love, Love this! Thank you so much! Especially for being my BFF and the sister I never had (Thanks Sister Moo for sharing). I can’t wait for all our future adventures – I’m sure there’ll be many.
    Love you more!


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