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  • Kara Kimbrough

Kara's Sights & Bites: Gaither star, Mississippi native honors late mom with a new cookbook

By Kara Kimbrough


Kara's Sights & Bites: Gaither star, Mississippi native honors late mom with a new cookbook
Made regularly by Ladye’s mom, Yvonne’s famous breakfast steaks with sides of gravy and biscuits are a favorite family recipe.

Reggie and Ladye Love Smith…” when you hear the names that are often printed or spoken together, you might know them from one of many different places and events. Reggie may be remembered as someone with whom you grew up in Jones County. Same with Ladye if you’re an Iuka native. Or it may be an Ole Miss connection. Both were members of the University Concert Singers; Ladye was selected Miss University. Most likely, though, you’re familiar with their outstanding vocal talents as long-time members of the famous Gaither Family Vocal Band.


      In addition to their association with the Gaither organization, the Smiths have sung with some of the most iconic artists in both country and gospel music; have been part of the famous Opry Singers at the Grand Ole Opry; been featured as vocalists at Billy Graham Crusades and sung on movie soundtracks of award-winning films.


     Now, Ladye's name is on another project; a cookbook entitled, “Ladye Love’s Cookin’ It Up With Reggie.”  The cookbook, an easy-to-read spiral-bound book filled with over 300 of Ladye and Reggie's favorite recipes from family and friends, was updated from an earlier version created by her late mother, Yvonne, a long-time home economics teacher and renowned hostess in Ladye’s hometown of Iuka.


   While her plate is full with a full-time career and an active home life as a wife and mother, Ladye always knew she’d one day update her mother’s original cookbook.

    “My mother was an amazing teacher and cook with a natural talent for hospitality,” said Ladye. “She would cook for various church and community events and her food was loved by everyone in town. As a wedding gift, I asked her to compile a book of her recipes for us, but it took her several years to gather them all.”


    Whenever there was a funeral at the church, her mom would cook and serve meals to the grieving families, Ladye recalls. She also organized weddings, catered receptions and hosted numerous showers and other special events until the end of her life. Before her death, she was involved in renovating the kitchen of their church in Iuka.


   “After her death, we sold the cookbook she made for us and donated a portion of the proceeds to help complete the church kitchen renovation,” Ladye said. “In this new version of the cookbook, I have included recipes that we received during our concert tours or from friends and family. Due to our busy schedules, I tend to prefer quick and simple yet delicious recipes. Gloria Gaither kindly shared her mother's red raspberry cake recipe and Bill's favorite tomato basil soup."


    Other “family favorites” included in the cookbook are her mom’s mock sukiyaki, a beloved recipe still made today by Ladye and her childhood friends, who were treated to the special meal countless times in Yvonne’s kitchen. Her aunt’s midnight fudge; Reggie’s favorite coconut cake; Yvonne’s famous breakfast steaks and Mississippi pot roast are other favorite recipes found in the cookbook.


   Besides the need to update her mom’s initial book, Ladye felt the need to publish another one due to the outpouring of interest from fans. Thousands grew to love the Facebook Live cooking videos she began posting during the pandemic.


   “We found ourselves isolated from both our loved ones as well as the wonderful people we meet on tour during the pandemic, so we turned to technology to connect us,” she said. “We started doing Facebook Live cooking and singing segments from our home, never expecting the incredible response we received. The popularity of the recipes we shared online prompted us to update our family cookbook.”


    She added the updated version includes many of the meals, appetizers, desserts and vegetable dishes they have shared online, along with many other favorite meals and desserts. To make the experience more interactive, a QR code next to certain recipes in the cookbook allows readers to scan them with iPhones or other online devices and link to some of the Facebook videos and personal stories about the friends and family members behind the recipes.


   The Smith’s Christmas plans often center around their touring schedule and other commitments. If they’re home in Nashville, the holiday includes attending a church service and a special meal served either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. As expected, Ladye relies on her mom’s and other family members’ recipes to make the meal special.


    “I prepare our traditional meal with ham, turkey, and several dishes from the recipe book, such as corn pudding, green bean casserole, my aunt Jean's orange salad, lima beans, fried okra, sliced tomatoes, green onions and rolls,” Lady said. “If we have a party, I use many recipes from the cookbook, including appetizers, cookies, desserts, and finger foods like easy peppermint dip and fruit.”


     The day after Christmas, the family travels to Mississippi to see Reggie's parents R.V. and Linda Smith in Moselle. There, they enjoy another big Christmas dinner with the entire family that  includes “Aunt Beth's corn casserole, Mamaw's chicken and dressing and sweet potato casserole, all of which are found in the cookbook,” she added.


     To obtain a copy of this unique cookbook filled with the perfect blend of old family favorites and new, healthy versions of classic dishes, visit the Smith’s website at: www.reggieandladye.com. Cookbooks are also sold at concert venues at which the Smiths are singing with the Gaither Vocal Band tour.


    Here are two of Ladye’s favorite recipes from the labor dedicated to her mother, who set the bar high for cooking and entertaining, but most importantly, to be the kind of Christian Ladye she still aspires to be.


     “Everyone she came in contact with felt special and loved,” Ladye said of her mom. “I always said if I could be half the spiritual lady she was, I’d be fine because she not only spoke of love, she was love in action.”


Reggie’s Coconut Cake

1 yellow or white cake mix

1 can cream of coconut

1 sweetened condensed milk

1 large carton Cool Whip

2 packages frozen coconut


     Cook cake as directed. Punch holes in hot cake. Pour in milk and cream of coconut. Cool. Spread Cool Whip and coconut on top. Refrigerate. Keep refrigerated. 


Yvonne’s Famous Breakfast Steaks

Top round steaks, chilled in freezer, stiff enough to cut in 1/8-1/4 inch thinly sliced steaks, cut by butcher (have butcher chill steaks before cutting and ask them to tenderize them or many grocery stores now have then top round steaks already cut)

Flour

Vegetable oil

Pepper

Lowry’s Seasoning or salt


   Lightly flour, salt and pepper steaks. Fry in oil until done. Note: Make gravy and serve with hot biscuits.


Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at kkprco@yahoo.com.




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