If you live in the “kuntry,” it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “there’s no cookin’ like mama’s cookin’,” and that’s a fact to which Bell Buckle’s own hick-hop star Big Smo can attest. Growing up, Big Smo (born John Smith) experienced countless homemade meals made by his mother, Momma Smo, or Mary Jane Smith. Now she’s ready to share some of her own favorite dishes in her new cookbook, Momma Smo’s Kuntry Cookin’.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, the cookbook will hit the shelves on May 10, featuring more than 200 recipes, including Momma Smo’s “World Famous Quick Chick,” as seen on the A&E reality show Big Smo, cornbread salad and a sweet and savory (yet easy to make) banana pudding and several other recipes.
Murfreesboro Pulse: Momma Smo, first off, Happy Mother’s Day, and congratulations on the release of Momma Smo’s Kuntry Cookin’ cookbook.
Let’s go back to when you first began cooking. Who taught you how to cook, and why do you think it stuck with you?
Momma Smo: I learned to cook from both my grandmothers and my mother with a little help from Mrs. McBride, my home economics teacher. Cooking was a passion of mine, so to me cooking was my fun hobby.
So exactly how many generations do these recipes go back? Tell me about some of your favorites in the cookbook and why they stand out to you.
The recipes in my cookbook go back over three generations, all the way back to the late 1800s before I was even born. Some of my favorites are:
Pecan Pie—it reminds me of my childhood when my momma use to make fresh pies for us kids.
Tea Cakes—Those take me back to some of my fondest moments with my grandmother in her kitchen.
Fried Chicken and Fried Corn—These need no explanation! I’m a Southern woman, so I’ve even had that for breakfast.
Is cooking something that came natural to you, or did it take years of practice?
I was a natural in the kitchen, and was blessed with years of practice, living in a full house of hungry family members. I still cook for all our holiday meals.
On the show you taught your daughter-in-law, Whitney, how to cook some of Big Smo’s favorite dishes. Tell me about some of the other recipes have you have passed along over the years.
I have taught all the young ladies in our family most of my secret recipes. Whitney learned my Famous Quick Chick first, than I taught her Fried Corn, Hello Dollies, Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Apple Dumplings. My grandkids are following in my footsteps learning from the best, their Nanny. We bake cookies from scratch and do all kinds of Sunday dishes for after church. It is a family tradition.
I know not everyone is as experienced a cook as you are, and I can certainly speak for myself. Are the recipes in Momma Smo’s Kuntry Cookin’ cookbook easy enough for those with less experience in the kitchen, or do the recipes require a lot of skill?
These recipes are very easy, most kids can cook many of them. I’m a big fan of simple and delicious.
Any favorite stories from the kitchen you’d like to tell?
It has been a pleasure watching my son enjoy cooking as much as I do. He had a very creative way of mixing his breakfast together like a backwards carousel topped with maple syrup. Even though it was messy, he always said “It was a blue-ribbon dish!” Now, I think Hardee’s makes something similar called a Breakfast Bowl.
You may not want to reveal any “secret ingredients,” but what are a few of your go-to ingredients and must-have items in the kitchen?
Nothing says Momma’s love like sugar and butter, so pile on that flavor and pile on the love. I’m a sucker for sweets, so you can find some of my favorites in the dessert section of my cookbook.
Momma Smo’s Kuntry Cookin’ will be available on May 10, and as a treat, Momma Smo will appear in a few area stores for special autograph signings:
Sunday, May 10, 12–3 p.m.
Big Smo’s Kuntry Store in Bell Buckle
Tuesday, May 12, 4–6 p.m.
Friday, May 15, 2–4 p.m.
Yoes Brothers Barber Shop, Shelbyville
Saturday, May 16, 1–3 p.m.