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Southern women's language of love
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What do births, surgeries, new neighbors, church meetings, new homes or pretty much any life event all have in common? A home-cooked meal delivered straight from one kitchen to another.

Now while I’m sure our neighbors in other regions of the country have their ways, nobody does it better than Southerners. I like to think food delivery is the Southern woman’s love language. It’s what we do to show others just how much we care about them. We’ve been known to tote our best meal and finest china to a friend if it means it might cheer them up.

Southern women know nothing means more to friends and family than leaving a home-cooked meal on their porch.

Several months ago, my sweet momma fell and broke her hip. As soon as this news reached my circle of friends, a hot meal arrived on the bench of my porch. While the food was amazing, I was beyond thankful for the thoughtfulness of a sweet friend, and the namesake of the recipe below appropriately enough, who took time out of her busy schedule to feed my family.

We all know the best food on the planet is at a church potluck, funeral home or family reunion. We also know the greatest compliment we can receive is out of all the dishes on the table, someone wants the recipe for ours. I don’t think a beauty pageant sash would mean more to a Southern woman than to have the most popular, coveted recipe. Well, OK, it might be a close second.

For several years, I hosted an evening Bible study in my home. Each week before we began our study, one of the ladies brought supper to share. You better believe we were like bees to honey when the meal was laid out on the table. Pretty soon all conversation revolved around the ingredients, when we could all get a copy and where did those beautiful serving pieces come from.

Nothing says persistence like one woman wanting another woman’s recipe.

So whether you are gathering with your friends and family or taking something on the go, this chicken and rice casserole is a gold medal winner.

My friend Jennifer shared this recipe with me years ago and when she did I’m pretty sure the heavens sang hallelujah. I’ll have to say I have shared this recipe maybe more than any other. It has fed many in their time of need. Another friend, who first had this casserole at my house, told me she had given this recipe out many a time. So as with any good recipe, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

So now you have it. Feel free to share the love.

Jennifer’s Chicken Casserole

1 rotisserie chicken, least seasoned

1 box Uncle Ben’s Original Recipe Long Grain Wild Rice, cooked according to package directions

1 can cream of celery soup, undiluted

1 onion, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove meat from chicken. Combine with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.

Place into a greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at