Her New Year’s Cooking Is Steeped In Generations Of Tradition

Connie Jo Kirk wants everyone to experience “home-cooked, post-slavery meals.”

By Leah Scarpelli & Caroline CovingtonJanuary 4, 2021 1:20 pm, , ,

Connie Jo Kirk is a lifelong East Austin resident, and a professional jazz and blues singer. But she’s also a long-time cook; Kirk has perfected her own barbecue sauce and is planning to publish recipe books. This New Year, she cooked some of her favorite recipes – meals that are part of her family’s African-American culinary tradition.

Connie Jo Kirk sits next to Tane Ward, one of her “adopted” family members, after New Year’s Day dinner at her home in East Austin.

“You have to have black-eyed peas to start the year off. I have glazed carrots, I have collard greens – I ain’t braggin’ but my collard greens are to die for … collard greens to make you slap your momma, your daddy, your cousin, your uncle, your dog, everybody up the street; you just go on down the street slapping people.”


“These are old Black recipes, the way we cook.”


“People get to know you when they eat your food; it shows them that you have a kind heart and that you are a special person. … I feed at least 16 people every week.”

Some at Kirk’s fondest memories are about her mother’s cooking.

“I come from a family of great cooks; my great-grandmother was the head chef on the plantation, my grandmother was born on the plantation but she was a free slave. They were excellent cooks.”


There was nothing like coming home to fresh skillet cornbread and chili beans smelling outside the door all out in the yard, pickled beets, fresh pickled beets, and collard greens or either cabbage. And that made your day.”


“I want many people to experience the wonderful flavors of home-cooked meals, post-slavery meals.”


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