Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Pumpkin Tres Leches

Pumpkin Tres Leches

Moist, sweet and tender Tres Leches cake is a favorite of mine. A classic of the cooking canon of many Hispanic cultures, “three milk” cake is simply a delicate cake soaked in a combination of milks. For years, I used a recipe given to me by a friend from Nicaragua that used a box cake mix and it was always a big hit. I eventually developed a from-scratch recipe, and then adapted that to become one of my favorite Christmas dessert, Eggnog Tres Leches. It’s a fabulous holiday dish, because it needs to be made ahead and can serve a crowd. So for Thanksgiving, it seemed only right to come up with a pumpkin version.

Pumpkin Tres Leches is a great treat for any seasonal entertaining, and with its origins is a great choice for a Day of the Dead celebration. Serve it up as a post trick-or-treating feast of Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce or Spicy Chorizo, Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili (because you can’t have too much pumpkin on Halloween). And it is a natural for Thanksgiving and is imminently portable if you are headed to another house for the celebration. An artful dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle of nutmeg add an elegant touch if you’d like.

Pumpkin Tres Leches
Serves 12
  1. 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup vegetable oil
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  9. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  10. ½ teaspoon salt
  11. ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  12. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  13. 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  14. 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  15. ¾ cup evaporated milk
  16. ½ cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 13 glass baking dish.
  2. Beat the pumpkin, sugar and oil together in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Mix the flour, soda, spices, and salt together in a small bowl. Beat into the pumpkin mixture at low speed until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool to room temperature.
  4. Stir the condensed milk, evaporated milk and buttermilk together in a 4-cup measuring jug until completely combined. Poke small holes over the top of the cake using a skewer or cake tester. Slowly pour the milk mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then carefully cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Leave the cake to soak up the syrup for up to 12 hours.
The Runaway Spoon

Pimento Cheese The Cookbook


Pimento Cheese The Cookbook

It is hard for me to believe, but the day had finally arrived.  For the better part of the last two years, I have been working on my first cookbook, and on Tuesday it will released.  Pimento Cheese The Cookbook: 50 Recipes from Snacks to Main Dishes Inspired by the Classic Southern Favorite has been a true labor of love.  Because I love pimento cheese and I love sharing recipes and stories.  My book covers more than just the pimento cheese you spread on crackers – though there is plenty of that, from my house PC’s Pimento Cheese to Barbecue Pimento Cheese.  But I’ve got the subject covered from all angles.  Start the day with Pimento Cheese Waffles with Pimento Syrup and Bacon or Pimento Cheese Biscuits.   Snack on Pigs in Pimento Cheese Blankets or Bacon Pimento Cheese Truffles.  Feed your family and friends with Pimento Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon Breadcrumbs, Chicken Enchiladas with Pimento Cheese Sauce or Pimento Shrimp with Cheddar Grits.  Or serve up a side of Pimento Cheese Risotto or Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese Sauce. I can’t wait to share Pimento Cheese The Cookbook with you!

Ask your favorite local bookseller for Pimento Cheese The Cookbook, or order online.  I’ll keep you updated on news, signings and events on Facebook, at The Runaway Spoon and Pimento Cheese The Cookbook.  If I am in your neck of the woods, please stop by and say hey.

For all you Instagram fans, let’s start a conversation in pictures.  Use the hashtag #pimentocheesechronicles and show off your favorite pimento cheese, whether it’s homemade, from your favorite shop or restaurant, or something you’ve cooked from the book.


“Southerners have always known that pimento cheese is one of the true joys of human existence. Now, Perre Coleman Magness spreads the love by giving the stuff its own bible. You’ll want to make every incarnation in the book, from Comeback Pimento Cheese to the Creole and Green Chile versions, but Magness incorporates ‘PC’ into pretty much everything: stuffed eggs, pot pie, a yummy sauce for fried green tomatoes. After poring over every recipe, all I could think was, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ We should all be grateful that the enterprising Ms. Magness did.”

—Julia Reed, author of But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria and HamBiscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties


“With its mouthwatering photographs and unique yet simple recipes, Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook is sure to become the last word for all fans of this delicious Southern treat.”

—Nathalie Dupree, author of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking and PBS, Food Network, and TLC cooking show host

Top Ten Recipes for 2013

Top Ten Recipes 2013

So here they are, the ten most popular recipes on The Runaway Spoon in 2013.  From the perennial topper turkey to a couple of fun summer canning project and some Mardi Gras madness, the list covers a lot of bases.  It’s fun for me to see what you’ve been clicking and I thank you all for you continued support!  And by the way, the number two recipe will be featured in my first book Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook, coming in Fall 2014

Bacon-Blanketed, Herb Roasted Turkey

Pimento Cheese Crisps

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix (with Canning Instructions)

King Cake Bars

Crawfish Cornbread

Omelets in the Bag

Traditional Pound Cake

Tomato Butter

Fresh Basil Aioli

Watermelon Sweet Tea

Festive Finds 2013

Festive Finds

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and I love to share gift ideas for the food lovers in your life. As always, these are just some ideas about personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products.  To get a good look at all this year fun finds, follow me on Pinterest.

You can’t go wrong with a good gift of food, and if you don’t get around to going homemade, here are a few recommendations.  Classic cakes from Sugaree’s Bakery taste like you made them yourself.  And the fabulous, unique caramels like Old Fashioned and Artisan Beer and Pretzel from Shotwell Candy are a real treat.  Ricki’s Chipsticks are a chocolate chip cookie with a real difference- and highly addictive!  A special gift for any cook would be a subscription to BeshBox – a monthly box of recipes, tools and ingredients straight from New Orleans chef John Besh.

I think a cookbook is about the best gift there is, and the book I am hoping to find under the tree is The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford, a beautiful reworking of a true classic. These practical and pretty little Short Stack editions are a lovely gift for the cookbook lover, covering my favorite ingredients like buttermilk, grits, sweet potatoes and more.  Tara Desmond will jazz up all your meals with Choosing Sides, a wonderful book of creative side dishes. Or make eating your veggies more delicious with Sarah Copeland’s beautiful Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite. And for a rollicking good read (fiction this time), Cinnamon and Gunpowder combines food and pirates!

Grocery lists, recipe notes, photos of your favorite meals…keep them together in these bespoke notebooks and albums.  Pick a color and the text to imprint. Whether its making recipe notes, coaching the team or keeping the gift list in order, do it on style with these fabulous personalized clipboards. And it’s fun to make all those notes and lists with these fun Dewdrop Designs pencils. A beautiful ceramic piece from Ceramica Botanica is a work of art and useful in the kitchen.  And I would love one of these beautiful personalized mixing bowls from Ice Milk Aprons Southern artisan collection under the tree.   This fun Gastronomy cutting board features a map of the US with made up of local specialties.

I keep a fun, bright Scout Deano bag in the back of my car – it’s great for groceries, farmers market finds or anything thing that tends to move around.  You can even get it personalized.  And I love the hand-printed fabrics on Pomegranate’s aprons.  And if you’ll bring the snazziest dish to your next potluck in this classic canvas carrier.

For the gourmand in your life who deserves a little out of the kitchen pampering, Laura Mercier’s hand cream set includes fresh fig, crème de pistache, honey almond milk and crème brulee fragrances.  And what Southern girl (or lover of all things Southern) wouldn’t love some Sweet Tea Body Scrub from Farmhouse Fresh

But maybe the best gift of all is giving on behalf of someone you love to someone in need. There are so many great organizations to give to that will create special cards you can wrap up for your recipient or have it sent directly to them. Women for Women International is an amazing organization that works to raise women and girls out of poverty around the world.  They have a whole selection of gift donations.

And as food banks are under more strain than ever, Give-A-Meal through Feeding America to a family in need in honor of a family you love.  And remember your local food bank with monetary donations or canned goods.

For some more ideas about my favorite fun kitchen finds, book and movies – check out The Spoon’s Store, powered by Amazon. Just click on the box on the right hand side of the page.

Red Beans and Rice – My Way

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice are a classic of the Louisiana cooking canon.  And I assume every Louisiana cook has there own version that they would assert constitutes the only way to properly make the dish.  And I’ll tell you, the same can be said of me.  No, I am not from Louisiana and I don’t have roots there, but I love the food and I cook my own version of red beans and rice – the way I like.  So I’ve been reluctant to share the recipe, because I may be brought to task for not cooking them in the traditional way.  But as I see it, that’s kind of the point of a country, homey comforting dish.  You do what you like, with out the constraints of technique or the weight of history.  But with Mardi Gras on the doorstep, I thought I’d better share the dish I make most often from my Louisiana repertoire.

My red beans are full of flavor, and full of delicious pork.  I cook the beans with lots of flavorful additions, then use that cooking liquid in rich sauce.  I like a little creaminess in my red beans, the rice just soaks it up so well.  And underlying everything is the beautiful trinity of Louisiana cooking, celery, onion and green pepper.  This makes a big ol’ pot, and I like more red beans than rice, so cook a little extra rice if you are so inclined.  Make a batch of King Cake Bars and you’ve got a Mardi Gras party!

Tasso is a spiced, smoked Cajun style pork.  If you can’t find tasso at a specialty market, use a piece of smoked ham or a ham hock and some creole seasoning. If you can’t find Andouille, use any smoked sausage like kielbasa.

Red Beans and Rice My Way

1 pound red beans or kidney beans

1 carrot

3 stalks celery

1 large yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

6 ounces tasso or smoked ham or ham hock plus 2 teaspoons creole seasoning

1 green bell pepper

14 ounces Andouille sausage

4 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

salt to taste

1 ½ cups long grain white rice

3 ½ cups water

hot sauce for serving

For the Red Beans:

Sort through the beans, picking out any debris or broken beans. Rinse well then place in a bowl and cover with water by about 3 inches.  Soak overnight.

Drain and rinse the soaked beans and place in a large pot.  Add the carrot, broken in two, one celery stick, also broken and half of the onion.  Cut through the circumference of the onion and put the root end in the pot, it will hold together better.  Add the garlic, bay leaves and tasso.  Cover with 10 cups of cold water, bring to a boil, skim off any scum that rises, reduce the heat and cover the pot.  Cook until the beans are tender, about 1 – 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.

While the beans are cooking, finely dice the remaining onion half, 2 stalks of celery and the green pepper.  Cut the Andouille into bite-sized pieces.

When the beans are tender, place a colander over a large bowl and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.  Discard the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and garlic and set the tasso aside.  Wipe out the cooking pot and return it to the heat.  Melt the butter over low heat, then add the onion, celery and bell pepper.  Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft.  Sprinkle over the flour and stir until it is absorbed into the vegetables. Stir in the Creole seasoning. Pour in 3 cups of reserved cooking liquid from the beans.  Stir until the sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes, then add the andouille and stir to coat.  Return the beans to the sauce and stir gently to coat.  Dice the tasso into small pieces and add to the pot, stirring gently again.  Simmer over low heat until everything is warmed through, making sure the sausage is cooked through.

For the Rice:

When ready to serve, cook the rice. Stir the rice into the water in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil and boil until almost all the water is absorbed and little air bubbles form in the rice, about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and tightly cover the pan.  Set aside for 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.

Spoon the rice into nice, big bowls and scoop the red beans over.  Serve with some hot sauce on the table.

Serves 6 – 8

Festive Favorites 2012

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and I love to share gift ideas for the food lovers in your life. As always, these are just some ideas about personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products.

I love nothing more than a cookbook as a gift.  After all the excitement of the holiday season has calmed down, nothing is better than curling up on the couch with a book full of new and exciting inspiration.  This year, I am hoping Santa brings me Nathalie Dupree’s essential Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.  Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides will keep up the Southern kitchen inspiration. And I’d love to take some time to peruse Ann Willan’s Cookbook Library for a taste of the history of the cookbook.  Everyone loves a Barefoot Contessa book, and Ina Garten’s new Foolproof is no exception.  If you are ready to get your family off to a healthy new year, try Michelle Dudash’s Clean Eating for Busy Families.  And Cheryl Sternman Rule’s beautiful Ripe will inspire you with fruits and vegetables in whole new and exciting ways.

Le Creuset products are a perennial favorite, and this year you can give a gift that benefits No Kid Hungry with these special little mini cocotte sets.  This bright red Lodge 3-quart apple pot would look festive on any stovetop.  Sur La Table offers a wide selection of food and cooking themed ornaments for the tree.  Fifties chic Kobenstyle cookware is back and as cool as ever, particularly this handy baker.  I sprinkle a dash of Maldon Sea Salt on most everything and these little pocket-sized tins make a perfect stocking stuffer for any gourmand.  And for the party guest on the move, this classic canvas wine tote is a great gift.

If you and your family share some favorite recipes, there are so many fun ways to make them into a permanent kitchen fixture. Scan grandma’s handwritten recipe and have it engraved on wooden cutting board.  Or have it transferred to a porcelain platter.  Or have that famous recipe made into an art piece to hang on the wall. You can even add a favorite recipe to your holiday cards.

Homemade food gifts are always on my list, and packaging is part of the fun.  For me, its jars of produce I’ve put up over the summer, and I can’t wait to package them in these adorable muslin bags stamped with mason jars.  If baking is your thing, make your favorite muffins or quick breads in these sweet little Christmas paper baking pans.  Or bake your favorite cupcakes in these festive red striped baking cups. Package them up in personalized goodie bags.

But maybe the best gift of all is giving on behalf of someone you love to someone in need. There are so many great organizations to give to that will create special cards you can wrap up for your recipient or have it sent directly to them. Heifer International is really cheeky. Give a friend a goat, or a hive of bees, that will help a community sustain itself. They have a gift catalog and make great cards for giving. And for all those peanut butter sandwiches you make during the year, make a gift of Plumpy Nut, a therapeutic nut paste feeding thousands of hungry children through UNICEF. And as food banks are under more strain than ever, Give-A-Meal through Feeding America to a family in need in honor of a family you love.  And remember your local food bank with monetary donations or canned goods.

For some more ideas about my favorite fun kitchen finds, book and movies – check out The Spoon’s Store, powered by Amazon. Just click on the box on the right hand side of the page

Fun Finds for Summer 2012 – Southern Edition

It’s time again for this Summer’s Fun Finds. These are just some ideas about personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products. And this year, I’m focusing on the Southern products, food and books.

Everyone deserves a little pampering in summer.  So why not take a long soak and scrub that skin ready for a golden glow with Bourbon Bubbler Body Scrub from Farmhouse Fresh.  Then smooth on a little Honeysuckle Custard to keep things smooth.  And relax with a Southern Belle candle from Frisky Bumblebee, scented with peaches and magnolia blossom. And now that you’re ready for summer parties, show off that glow with a monogrammed acrylic necklace in a summer bright colors from Moon and Lola.

Save some time in the kitchen during the hot and steamy months with some simple Southern shortcuts.  All your vegetables, salads and grilled meats will benefit from T.Lish’s Sweet Garlic Vinaigrette. And when it’s too hot to cook, a sandwich always fits the bill.  Try a new twist with delicious Pecan Butter, from the Pecans Project, which supports youth in Birmingham learning important job skills.  Spread on some Blackberry Jam from Blackberry Farm and you’ve got a real treat.   And when guests pop by, serve up some of Aunt Lizzie’s Cheese Straws with a pitcher of cold peach iced tea.  And if you’re a griller, you know how useful rosemary is, so why not make it beautiful too with a Rosemary Bonsai tree from Brussel’s Bonzai.  Recreate some real Memphis barbecue with sauces from Central Barbecue, or have some of my favorite Interstate Barbecue sent by FedEx. Then you can cool down with some High Road Craft Southern ice cream. And carry all that cool food in the ultimate Southern seersucker lunch bag, monogrammed, of course.

Summer means farmers market fresh fruit and vegetables to me, so a cookbook like The New Southern Garden Cookbook comes in handy. Or travel around the South and around the world with The World in a Skillet: A Food Lover’s Tour of the New American South or the New Southern Latino Table.  And if you are ready to fire up the grill, you’ll really want Jennifer Chandler’s Simply Grilling.  Or explore the possibilities with Barbecue Nation.  And don’t forget dessert with Nancie McDermott’s seminal Southern Pies.

Bourbon and Cane Syrup Glazed Carrots

Glazed carrots are a classic French preparation.  But I don’t always think about that.  Not that it’s difficult, but frankly, I tend to use carrots as an afterthought, raw as a snack, chopped with celery and onions, or simply roasted.  But rarely as a stand-alone star.  Which is a shame, because beautiful, richly colored carrots are a taste treat.  Add a bourbon spiked, cane syrup sweet glaze and the humble carrot becomes a stellar addition to your plate.

I see these rainbow colored trimmed carrots more frequently, and they certainly up the wow factor, but regular orange trimmed carrots work beautifully.  You can also peel plain carrots and cut them on the bias into evenly sized chunks.  Whichever you use, make sure they are roughly the same size so they cook evenly.

Cane Syrup and Bourbon Glazed Carrots

12 ounces trimmed carrots

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon cane syrup (or maple syrup)

1 Tablespoon bourbon

½ cup water


Choose a medium sized skillet, and cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside as a cover. Cut a small hole of slit in the center of the parchment to vent steam.

Melt the butter in the skillet, then add the carrots and gently stir to coat.  Add the cane syrup and bourbon and stir again.  Pour in the water, bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover the carrots with the parchment round, pressing it down around the edges of the pan.  Cook until the carrots are tender, removing the paper once to stir the carrots, then replacing it. This should take 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of your carrots.

When the carrots are tender, remove the paper and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is evaporated leaving a shiny glaze on the carrots.  Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Serves 4

New from The Runaway Spoon

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I’ve just launched a new monthly e-mail newsletter, full of fresh, new ideas, tips, links and recipes.  Each month will have a special focus, and for June it’s all about canning, pickling and preserving. 

To sign up to receive the new monthly Runaway Spoon newletter, just add your e-mail address to the Subcribe to E-Mail newsletter box to the right  of this page. 

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Festive Favorites 2010

The holidays are here, and that means lots of eating, and lots of shopping.  I am not a big wander-around-the-mall type, or a fight-your-way-through-the-sales fan, but I do love picking out gifts for the special people in my life.  And I am told that I am pretty good at it, too.  A little sofa surfing is my ideal form of holiday shopping, so I thought I’d share some of my festive favorites.  For no other reason than the spirit of holiday sharing.

If anyone on your list is a cook or food lover (and that includes you), the must-have gift is a subscription to Canal House Cooking.  This seasonal series of mini-cookbooks is full of amazing recipes and spectacular photography.  No food aficionado should be without them.  The cookbook gift for the season may well be James Beard’s American Cookery, a re-packaged and illustrated edition of the classic.  I’d love to receive the marvelous Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (hint, hint), Tessa Kiros’s books are magnificent, the kind any food lover will want to curl up with and pore over.  Falling Cloudberries is a good start, but they are all well worth a look. The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook is a must-have for any lover of Southern cooking, and it benefits a great organization preserving the heritage of Southern cooking. The I Hate to Cook Book is a recent re-issue 50th anniversary edition.  I don’t imagine you’ll actually cook from it, but it is one of the funniest reads I’ve enjoyed in a long time.  Spoiler alert: folks on my list are getting a copy.  And check out The Spoon’s Store powered by Amazon on the right side of the page for my favorite kitchen gadgets, cookbooks and foodie movies and books.

A fun, happy little gift for any kitchen dweller, these themed sticky notes are sure to please.  The Foodie magnetic poetry kit would make any fridge more delicious.  Funky, fun and personalized colorful tempered glass cutting boards are a useful and personal gift.  And anything from Felix Doolittle is amazing, but the new personalized recipe cards are a real treat. Useful and practical, but also a great gift, personalized Polar Bear Coolers are great for men (and women, I have two).

Fun and functional and perfect to have around this holiday season are simple napkins on a roll – but in real cotton or linen fabric.  They are good looking and practical, can be washed several times and then biodegrade.  If you love giving gifts from your own kitchen, I am sure you love to present them in fun and pretty packaging.  With these PaniMold wooden baking molds, bake your gift and wrap it all in one stylish package. Decorate your packages with personalized ribbon and gift stickers from Namemakers.  Or top off your packages with personalized photo gift tags from Cardstore. Love patterned baking cups, but not how they fade when you actually cook with them? Then try Sutton Gourmet Baking Papers that retain their bright colors. 

But if you don’t’ feel like making your own food gifts, let someone else do it for you.  Custom blended Granola from MixMyGranola for your health conscious friends, or Chocomize custom designed chocolate bars for the indulgent. And these sites all offer gift certificates, so your friends could choose their own custom treat.  The gift I gave last year that produced the happiest response was custom blended tea from Blends for FriendsOlive and Sinclair make beautifully packaged, stone ground artisan chocolates that any chocoholic will truly appreciate. And get healthy with hand ground whole grain flours from Funder Farm.  Their baking mixes, like Chocolate Chip Bars and Blueberry Cobbler, are great, and make a lovely and welcome gift.

And yes, I do buy gifts that are not food-related, believe it or not.  A handbag or accessory from 1154 Lill Studio is a great gift, even more fun to give one of their design-a-bag kits.  Cath Kidston’s decidedly British, flowery accessories make great gifts, and the cases for all of today’s technology and gadgets will brighten any workload.  Savannah Bee Company’s Royal Jelly Body Butter is a super-rich treat that comes beautifully packaged.

But maybe the best gift of all is giving on behalf of someone you love to someone in need.  There are so many great organizations to give to that will create special cards you can wrap up for your recipient or have it sent directly to them.  These cool water bottles are useful and 100% of the proceeds benefit, which provides clean water around the world.  And Heifer International is really cheeky.  Give a friend a goat, or a hive of bees, that will help a community sustain itself.  They have a gift catalog and make great cards for giving. And for all those peanut butter sandwiches you make during the year, make a gift of Plumpy Nut, a therapeutic nut paste feeding thousands of hungry children through UNICEF. And as we continue to read that 1 in 4 children in the United States are food insecure, Share Our Strength is working to combat that appalling statistic.  And don’t forget your local food bank.