News Date: 
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Source: Athens Banner Herald

By Chris J. Starrs   |   Correspondent   |   Story updated at 12:38 AM on Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Jane Walsh's family, which includes two University of Georgia graduates, has for many years enjoyed her specialty dish, sweet potatoes with raspberry glaze.

"It's a family favorite at Thanksgiving and Christmas," says Walsh, a Maryland native who has lived in Athens since 1981. "I guess I've been making it for about 20 years. My family only gets it twice a year."

Today at the Village Summit dining commons on UGA's East Campus, several thousand students will have the opportunity to find out what the Walsh family already knows.

For the 19th year, the university's award-winning Food Services Department will host "A Taste of Home," in which some 120 recipes are brought from the kitchen of students' homes to the four dining commons on campus.

Food Services director Michael Floyd estimates that through the years, nearly 1,700 dishes have been showcased at "A Taste of Home" - which originally began as "A Tribute to Mother's Day" but switched to December at the onset of the semester system - and several have become staples of the department's regular meal-plan lineup.

"Our primary motivation is to get parents involved, but 'A Taste of Home' is also a great method to include more recipes in our menus file," says Floyd, who adds that about 8,000 UGA students are meal-plan subscribers. "We'll take the best of the recipes and incorporate them into our student menus. Many of the recipes on our daily menus came from the parents of students."

Most years, Floyd says, the department will receive around 600 recipes for "A Taste of Home," but a recent article in Southern Living magazine prompted an increase this year, when more than 1,000 food formulas for breakfast, lunch and dinner were submitted.

Watkinsville resident Laura Fair, whose daughter Juanita is a freshman at Georgia, submitted her recipe for tasty and tangy chicken (which will be served at Snelling Dining Commons) and says given the number of recipes submitted, she was "pleasantly surprised" to have her dish selected.

"I think ('A Taste of Home') is a good idea, but it's a great idea for variety," she says. "I know I get bogged down in my kitchen sometimes when it comes to ideas, and I'm sure (Food Services) does, too."

Entries that are selected entitle the submitter to complimentary meal passes and a commemorative plate. The department also provides a copy of the recipe's requirements to feed 8,000.

"It's our way of saying thanks to those who shared their recipes," says Floyd, adding that some parents have received four plates through the years for their culinary contributions.

Walsh, who has previously received Food Service plates for her sticky cinnamon buns and orange juice muffins, says she originally found a blueprint for her sweet potatoes with raspberry glaze in a cookbook, but she immediately made modifications to suit the tastes of her family, which includes her husband Joe and children Eamon, Amelda, Kevin and Kathleen, who is a freshman at UGA.

"The original recipe called for chunky sweet potatoes, but my family likes them mashed," she says. "And it also had fresh raspberries, but I made a sauce instead, because fresh raspberries are kind of seedy. Our family never really liked sweet potatoes with marshmallows, so we tried it this way once and have been doing it ever since."

Fair, who has been preparing her chicken dish for some 20 years, also found a recipe she liked and executed major alterations to the original guidelines.

"I cut the original recipe out of the newspaper and messed with it, played with it and changed it," she quips. "The major changes are the marinade and the cooking method. The original recipe called for oven baking, but I usually do it on the grill. We have the chicken a good bit, but we especially enjoy it during the warm months when we're doing a lot of outdoor grilling."

Fair and her husband Wayne plan to dine with their daughter this evening at Snelling, and she says she's got a special spot already picked out for her commemorative plate.

"On one wall in my kitchen I have a plate collection," says Fair, whose son Jason is a junior at Oconee County High School. "I'll gladly add this plate to the collection."

Floyd attaches a great deal of significance to "A Taste of Home" for many reasons, perhaps the primary one being some folks love their recipes like they do their children.

"Sharing recipes is such a person thing," he says. "It's a great way to help people feel connected to the University of Georgia. Not everybody can donate $1 million to the university, but we've got parents who are just as proud we've selected their recipes as they would be if they had given a bunch of money. They're making an impact at UGA."

For more information on "A Taste of Home," visit UGA Food Services' Web site at

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 120606