Being Dead Is No Excuse

My sister was gifted a recipe book some years back.  Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe and Charolotte Hays.

It might seem weird to associate food with death, though I do know that in parts of the US friends and neighbours will bring food to the bereaved’s home.  In the south we do that as well, but we also have a huge after funeral party so to speak.  Because the bereaved shouldn’t be hungry.  Well, no one in the south should be hungry, as it were.

Food is a huge deal here, probably because the majority of the south knew very lean times.  Some of our recipes and ways of cooking often reflect that; as in always using everything or saving bacon grease to cook with, eating greens and peas that other people in the US only fed their barn animals, etc.  Or else food is left over from farming days, huge breakfasts so that you can work in the fields all day.  Needless to say, it is not all that weird that food and the dead go hand in hand in the south, as food is a way to help people and a way to show love or that you care.

However, there are really one two recipes in this entire book that we have made, both of which we have absolutely loved.  None have been made because of a funeral, and you don’t need to have a funeral to eat these recipes.  In this post we have a side dish casserole and a dessert.





Broccoli Squares

This recipe is very indulgent, though it doesn’t make a lot.  It’s perfect for a family of four with left overs.  It can be your main dish or your side dish, just depending on which you prefer.  It made me love cooked broccoli and branch out into other forms of broccoli eating.

  • 2 C cooked broccoli, mashed
  • 1 C mayonnaise
  • 1 C evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Tabasco to taste

Mix all together.  Pour into a lightly buttered 8″ square pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.



  • Super easy and delicious.  Also, we never use the hot sauce.



Mary Mills Abington’s Chocolate Sheet Cake

I can never remember the name of this one and so refer to it as the Miss Abby Babbington’s Chocolate Sheet Cake.  I like my name for it better.  This is a lot of cake, best to only serve this for a large group of people, unless you keep half and give half away.


  • 2 C flour
  • 2 C sugar
  • 3 1/2 Tbs cocoa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C Canola or Vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 C buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Mix flour, sugar, and cocoa in a bowl.  Boil the butter, water and oil for 1 minute, then add to first mixture.  Combine the beaten eggs with the buttermilk, vanilla, and baking soda.  Beat until well mixed and add to previous mixture.

Pour into large, greased (10.5 x 15 x 1″) pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Do not overcook!  Keep an eye on the edges.


  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 1/2 Tbs powdered cocoa
  • 1 Tbs milk
  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (about 3 3/4 C)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C chopped pecans

Bring the butter, cocoa, and milk to boil.  Add the sugar and mix well.  Then add the vanilla and pecans.  Spread frosting over hot cake.  Let cool before cutting.



  • *Buttermilk.  It’s easy to make buttermilk if you don’t normally have any, or you only need a small amount.  Stir in 1 Tbs of either lemon juice or vinegar into 1 C of milk.  Let stand 10 minutes.  It will be thick and curdled, though not as much as real buttermilk.  I’ve used this trick loads of times on various recipes and the dishes always come out famously.
  • The recipe calls for margarine, but we don’t use it.  If you feel you need to use margarine, it’s the same amount as for the butter.
  • I’ve used the normal bitter-sweet cocoa and I’ve used dark chocolate cocoa to make this recipe, and I’ve used both in the same baking.  My favourite was choosing one for the cake and the other for the frosting.
  • The original recipe called for 1 box of confectioners sugar.  We don’t buy it by the box, so I went online and found the measurements for it, which is the 3 3/4 C.  You can use less if you prefer a cake that is not overly sweet.  I generally do use less.
  • Only once did we add the pecans and we all preferred it without.  So it’s your call.  Though it was tasty with the pecans.
  • The original recipe calls for Wesson oil, which is canola.  I’ve made this cake using canola, as well as vegetable.  Tastes the same.  So you choose your preference.


Measurement Guide:

I always see recipes with varied measurement abbreviations.  I always use the standard form, but if you are not familiar with that, it is as follows.

  • C = cup(s)
  • Tbs = tablespoon
  • tsp = teaspoon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s