Patricia Branning fell in love with the Lowcountry after moving to Beaufort from Atlanta in the 1970s.
After about seven years she moved away, but never forgot the food, friends and stories.
Branning is now sharing all of those memories in her commemorative Tricentennial Edition of "Shrimp, Collards & Grits: Recipes, Stories and Art from the Creeks and Gardens of the Lowcountry." More than a cookbook, the hardback, collectible edition features traditions and history of Beaufort and the Lowcountry. It is illustrated with well-known art and photos by local contributors including Beaufort native Nancy Ricker Rhett. The book was created as a tribute to the town of Beaufort.
"It is a love story because it is the place I fell in love with many years ago, and I want to pay tribute to the town that meant so much to us and to me," Branning said.
"I want people to feel like they can take a piece of the Lowcountry home with them, to take a piece of the Lowcountry art, stories, folklore and recipes -- it all ties in. To be able to take what they saw, what they ate, what they did while they were here."
Branning has cooked almost every recipe in the book or enjoyed the dishes at frequent gatherings she was a part of while living in the Arthur Barnwell House at Pleasant Point Plantation. Her husband, Cloide, enjoyed hunting with neighbors on the 800 acre plantation there as well as playing golf.
"I collected all kinds of recipes when a lot of the ladies would bring dishes, and we would share recipes after golfing events," Branning said.
Branning remembers two Gullah women who left fresh vegetables from their gardens on the steps of the plantation house, which overlooked the Intracoastal Waterway.
"From the veranda of the house, we watched as the crabbers came by every morning and dumped their pots," Branning said.
The couple returned to the Lowcountry permanently in December 2010. Their daughter teaches at Hilton Head Island Elementary School. Branning has learned about poverty and hunger of area students and is working to help those children by donating proceeds from the sale of her cookbook at farmers markets through her Carolina Cooking Initiative.
"A large number of children qualify for the free breakfast and free lunch, which means the weekends are not much more," Branning said.
"It will be a three-way effort between Pamela Ovens of the farmers markets and the Hilton Head Elementary PTA. We want to create public awareness for children and hunger."
For details and an update on how the project is coming, go to www.mycarolinacooking.com.
Branning hopes the cookbook will keep many Lowcountry legends alive.
"When I came back, I found some of that culture was lost that I had found in the 1970s," Branning said. "For example, some people were not aware of a Sheriff J.E. McTeer, who didn't carry a gun or about the Gullah people."