Two of my Favorite things…

Muscadines

I remember when I was growing up going to my great-grandmother’s house and picking muscadines.  We would take our plastic grocery sack out to the back yard and see who could pick the most.  I think I ended up eating more than actually made it into the bag.  I miss these little buggers.  It’s a grape I guess.  They aren’t as sweet grapes.  A little sour if you ask me.  The skin is kind of tough so I would bite a little hole into the skin and suck the insides out.  And then suck on the skin until I couldn’t take the sourness anymore.  We never made anything out them.  Some people will make jelly or wine.  We just picked them, took them home, and snacked on them.

According to Wikipedia “Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are a grapevine species native to the present-day southeastern United States that has been extensively cultivated since the 16th Century. Its recognized range in the United States extends from New York south to Florida, and west to Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. They are well adapted to their native warm and humid climate; they need fewer chilling hours than better known varieties and they thrive on summer heat.”

I’m hoping the next time I go back to visit I can go out to my great-grandma’s house and pick some.

Boiled peanuts

Ah.  The boiled peanut.  Who doesn’t love those?  It’s really an acquired taste.  You either like them or you don’t.  I however LOVE them.  Every time I go home to visit I eat a ton of them.  The local store in the town my family lives in has a boiled peanut serving station in their store.  You can get a small, large, or extra large container.  I opt for the extra large container every time.  And yes, I will eat them all in one sitting.  To make boiled peanuts you need raw green peanuts.  And of course the wonderful state of Oregon doesn’t have them and I can’t seem to get my family to ship them back to me.  The raw peanut is in a semi-mature state.  It has reached its full size but hasn’t dried out yet.  The peanuts will get softer the longer you boil them and will take on a strong salty taste.  Boiling peanuts has been a cultural practice in the south since the 19th century where they were originally called goober peas.  Boiled peanuts are a symbol of southern culture and cuisine.

Boiled Peanuts

  • 1 pound of raw “green” peanuts (not the color green, but fresh raw peanuts which are called green peanuts)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (or 2 Tbsp table salt)
  • 4 cups water

Rinse the unshelled peanuts in water.  Place peanuts, water and salt in large stock pot and boil 2 to 3 hours.  Some people will boil them all day until they get the desired softness they are looking for.

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Food is an important part of a balanced diet

I’ve decided for this post I wanted to ask some of my family members some of their thoughts and memories of certain dishes they experienced through their years.  I’ve sent out a few emails and was happy to read some of the replies i received.  As I keep getting replies I will add to this post. We’ll start out with my mother, Dollie, my Aunt Mary, then my Grandmother, Peggy, who I call Memama, then with my uncle Jim.

Dollie Dantz (Mother)

I have several things I liked to eat growing up ……My dad had built a large concrete block barbecue pit with a rack for cooking and he used to charcoal Delmonico steaks with hickory chips and tons of butter, ah the best steak you would ever eat along with baked potatoes baked in the oven, not in a microwave (which we had no idea what that was at that time.)
Several things that Mama made were her Ham Pies with the flakiest crust, the fried Pork Kidneys in gravy eaten over bread. I remember every time that Mama would bake a cake or cookies, I would make sure the bowls with all that raw egg and batter was licked clean. I wouldn’t dream of doing that now. Mama’s cheese straws were the absolute best and you couldn’t eat just 1 or 2, you couldn’t stay out of them. I have very fond memories of being in the kitchen when Daddy would pop popcorn on top of the stove. I have yet to duplicate his expertise.
The whole family also used to get together and have fish fries with the fish that we used to catch out of Lake Greenwood. Fried Catfish, bream, crappie, French fries, and oh the hush puppies. That was the best.
While my brother was still at home, we would take care of the clean up of the dishes after supper and I would have to escape the rolled up wet towel snapping at my legs. He thought he was having a great time, me on the other hand, not so great time, but good memories.
A few of my favorite things to eat now would be fried venison steak, which I eat on a limited basis, fried okra has always been a favorite, also limited hence the word “fried”.  Anything grilled, no matter what it may be, is always a good thing. I recently visited Hendersonville, NC and ate at a restaurant that served a grilled Romaine lettuce drizzled with a Caesar type dressing…..absolutely delicious and I hope to try my hand at that soon.

 

Mary Welborn (Aunt)

1.)  As a child what was your favorite thing to eat

I don’t recall having one specific thing as a favorite.  (My mother may know differently!)  But — some of the things that I remember as being favorites were:  chocolate cake with chocolate icing (the gooier, the better!); my grandmother’s banana cream pie (she made it from scratch and it was oh, so yummy!); biscuits made from scratch by the lady who used to live next door when I was a child, Edna Smith (these were melt in your mouth good and needed NO butter. I have never tasted one to compare); Edna also made homemade muscadine jelly that was awesome (put that on her biscuits and you had gone to heaven).  Butter cookies!!    It would be difficult to even begin to count the number of these we have made through the years at Christmastime.  These are rolled, cookie-cutter cookies and are wonderful!  Take note that none of my favorites were actually healthy and nutritious fare!

2.) What’s your favorite thing now? Why is it different if it’s changed?

I think one of my most favorite foods now is a Flo’s Filet Mignon from Longhorn — there’s nothing better!  This is different from when I was a child because first of all, there were no Longhorn Restaurants around then, or at least none near where we lived.  I also love Dove chocolate candy — too much!  This was also not around when I was a child.  With the exception of the butter cookies which we STILL make at Christmas every year as one of our family traditions, my childhood favorites became only wonderful memories when each of these wonderful cooks passed away.

3.) What are some of your memories growing up? With food and in the kitchen?

I remember when I got old enough to help out in the kitchen, it was always my job to peel and cook potatoes for dinner as well as make the tea (for iced sweet tea — I grew up in the South, you know) with loose tea leaves.  I still have a Mary Alden’s Cookbook for Children that I received when I was most likely about 10 years old.  Mama and I made many, many batches of the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from the recipe in that cookbook.  I still have the book.  Other duties in the kitchen included setting the table, helping clear the table, and drying the dishes as Mama washed them – no dishwasher back in the day — and Mama and I could zip through a whole meal’s worth of dishes and pots/pans in no time!

If there’s anything else you’d like to add about southern cuisine and even some recipes that would be awesome!

My dad (your granddad) used to own a restaurant in Laurens, SC, called The Hub.  I’m attaching a couple of recipes in which the quantities have been modified for home preparation that you might enjoy.  Daddy used both of these recipes at The Hub — one for hot dog chili, and one for barbecue hash.  The butter cookie recipe is also attached in case you want to start a tradition of your own!

HOT DOG CHILI

This recipe has been converted by my mom from the original recipe my dad used at The Hub Drive-In in the 1950’s.

  • 1 lb. Lean Ground Beef
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons (level) Prepared Mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • Salt

Cook ground beef in small amount of water. Salt to taste. Drain excess water after cooking.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Makes approximately 12 servings.  Freezes well.

~~Submitted by Mary Potts Welborn

CROCK-POT BARBECUE HASH

This recipe has been converted by my mom from the original recipe my dad used at The Hub Drive-In in the 1950’s.

  • 3 lbs. extra lean pork (Butt)
  • 3 lbs. extra lean stew beef
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 3 Tablespoons mustard (prepared)
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • Dash hot sauce

Cut up and salt meat. Cook at least 12 hours in crock-pot on low. Pour into pan and beat with potato masher. Pick out scraps (fat, skin, etc.) with tongs. Season with Worcestershire, ketchup, mustard and hot sauce.  NOTE: Do not pour off juices from meat after cook­ing. Small amount of water may have to be added if consistency of hash is too dry.  Especially good served with barbecue sauce on toast­ed hamburger buns or served over rice.  Makes approximately 30 servings.   Freezes well.

~~Submitted by Mary Potts Welborn

BUTTER COOKIES

Cream ½ lb butter and 1-cup sugar together.  Add 2 eggs and 1-teaspoon vanilla.  Beat till fluffy.  Sift 3 ½ cups plain flour and 1-teaspoon salt and add to mixture.  Sift plain four on countertop and roll dough.  Place on foil-covered sheet, and bake 10 minutes @ 350°.  Makes approximately 9 dozen cookies, depending on size.  NOTE:  5-pound bag of flour plus a 2-pound bag of flour will equal 4+ batches.

2 cookies = 1 point

Peggy Burns (Grandmother)

1.)  As a child what was your favorite thing to eat

My grandmother’s fried chicken, chicken gravy and cornbread.

2.) What’s your favorite thing now? Why is it different if it’s changed?

Mostly seafood–don’t eat much fried food, and little meat because of my cholesterol and blood pressure.  But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to!

3.) What are some of your memories growing up? With food and in the kitchen?

Most of what we ate came from a HUGE garden at my grandmother’s house, which my dad helped to work.  She canned and preserved everything she possibly could.  I especially liked the pickled beans and pickled beets.  We bought very little from the grocery store.  You must remember that I wasn’t raised in the deep south.  I moved here after I was married, so that’s when I learned about collard greens, black-eyed peas, hush puppies, grits, fish camps and barbecue!  They all became instant favorites.  We ate greens when I was little, but it was kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion, Creasy greens and wild greens.  I still cook my grits the old fashion way–no instant grits for me.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add about southern cuisine and even some recipes that would be awesome!

I’ve searched for and just now found what I was looking for–two recipes that are from MY grandmother, and in her handwriting.  This would be your great-great- grandmother, and it’s an example of how they wrote recipes then.  These are both very, very delicious.  I’m sure you’d want to substitute in the doughnut recipe!!!!!!! I’m writing this just as she wrote it.

Doughnuts

  • 2 eggs well beaten.  Add
  • 2 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons lard, beating well.
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 level cuts flour with
  • 1 scant teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, all sifted in flour.
  • Add flavoring, roll, cut, and fry in hot lard with a pinch of salt in it.

Applesauce Cake

  • 2/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce
  • 1 or more cups stewed raisins
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 or more cups walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger

There are no directions as to pans or oven temp or time so I guess you just have to wing it.  I would use a bundt pan and bake it for at least an hour at 300 or 325.

Jim Coates (Uncle)

1.)  As a child what was your favorite thing to eat

Mom’s fried venison with rice and gravy – don’t forget the fried okra and creamed corn.

2.) What’s your favorite thing now? Why is it different if it’s changed?

Crazy Noodle – don’t forget the fish sauce and Thai basil.

3.) What are some of your memories growing up? With food and in the kitchen?

Hanging out with Mom in the kitchen. She was always cleaning venison or catfish and preparing them for the freezer. I also have a photograph of me at five years old standing on a stool leaning over a stove stirring what I imagine was peanut butter fudge, because I loved it and Mom made it frequently.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add about southern cuisine and even some recipes that would be awesome!

Dad’s (my Grandfather, Papa) Catfish Stew was legendary in the Greenville area of South Carolina.

Dad’s Catfish Stew

  • 20   lbs. potatoes
  • 15   lbs. onions
  • 1      6×6” slab of fatback
  • 2      gals. Whole milk
  • 2      lbs. butter
  • 3      cans cream corn
  • 3      cans whole kernel corn
  • 15   lbs. cooked de-boned catfish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Powdered potatoes as needed to thicken

Peel and dice potatoes and onions and cover with water in pot. Bring to boil and cook with fatback until potatoes are cooked through and begin to break down. Stir constantly.  Stir in whole milk, butter, and corn and bring back up to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in catfish. Salt and pepper to taste. Finish by adding powdered potatoes one cup at a time until desired thickness is achieved. Continue to stir until pot cools.

Serves 60 – 80

Serve with:

  • White bread
  • Saltines
  • Ketchup
  • Sweet iced tea
Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Artfully Fried

Fried chicken is an art form and I’ve yet to perfect it.  My dad always did most of the cooking in our household.  I loved fried chicken night. We would have rice and gravy and green beans usually.  I never watched my dad make the chicken and I regret not being in the kitchen with him.  I never wanted to know because at that time my daddy would always cook for me.

When I moved to Oregon I wanted fried chicken and I didn’t know how to make it.  I looked up recipes and there were many different variations.  I tried dipping the chicken in egg then in flour, it was ok.  I tried the flour, egg then flour again, it was ok.  I tried flour egg, and panko, that wasn’t bad.  I never bothered asking my dad.  Three weeks after my son was born my dad came out to visit and he made fried chicken, rice and gravy, and green beans for me.  I was so happy.  I stood in that kitchen and watched him make his chicken.  It was like watching an artist start to paint on his blank canvas.  All he did was salt and pepper the chicken, then dredge in flour.  That was it.  Who would have thought to just use flour?  He placed the chicken in the oil and started cooking.  Watching him playing with the heat when he took the lid off and put the lid back on, flipping the chicken when it was time was like watching a magician.  The chicken was spectacular.  It had the most perfect crust on it, and with just flour.  I’ve tried his way.  I can’t cook fried chicken like my dad can.  He is truly amazing.

My fried chicken on the hand is yummy, just not my dad’s.  I take my chicken and season it with Johnny’s seasoning salt and olive oil in a zip lock bag.  Then you want to place some flour in a brown paper bag, drop the chicken in and shake to coat well.  Place dredged chicken in a bath of hot oil, 350 degrees if you can, and cook for about 15 minutes.  I use a Fry Daddy.  I need a bigger one.  This recipe I use is awesome, but it’ll never be my daddy’s chicken.

Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Greens: Collards or Mustard

Collard greens are traditionally a staple in southern cuisine and are eaten year round in the south.  We however only ate them on New Year’s Day along with black eyed peas and cornbread.  That was supposed to bring wealth in the coming year.  Cornbread was used to soak up the pot liquor, a nutrient-rich collard broth.

Collard Greens

Cooked Collard Greens

 

Typically when preparing collards one will use smoked or salted meats such as ham hocks, smoked turkey drumsticks or fat back, diced onions, vinegar, salt, and pepper (black, white, or crushed).

I was never a fan of collard greens.  You have to cook them most of the day and they were kind of chewy.  So I substitute mustard greens in place of the collards.  They don’t take nearly as long to cook and they melt in your mouth.

Mustard Greens

Cooked Mustard Greens

 

For your own pot of mustard greens you’ll need:

  • 4 – 5 bunches mustard greens
  • 1 onion, diced
  • smoked and salty meat of your choice (I’ll throw diced bacon in if I don’t have a ham hock handy)
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 splashes of vinegar (I’ve never actually measured my vinegar usage)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot add about 3 to 4 inches of water.  After you’ve cleaned your mustard greens tear them up with your hands and add to pot until completely full.  Place on the stove and crank the heat up.  As the water comes to a boil the greens will start wilting and you’ll be able to add more greens to the pot.  Once you have all the greens in the pot and they are mostly wilted pour a little hot oil in the pot to help you stir.  The hot oil helps break the greens up and make them freer and a whole lot easier to stir.  Add onions, bacon, jalapeño, and vinegar, stir.  Add salt and pepper, cover and reduce heat.  Let simmer for a couple of hours.  Taste for salt levels.

These are my mustard greens

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Random Videos and Links

I was flipping through the channels and stopped on the Cooking network.  There was a child in the kitchen cooking some wonderful food.  I found her blog and I am very impressed.

http://littlegirlinthekitchen.blogspot.com/

Also on the same channel after the fantabulous little girl’s cooking segment this guy came on making a Cherpumple, I was intrigued.

Here’s an awesome song my brother made me listen to.

This is one of my all time favorite websites.  It comes in handy sometimes.

http://www.webtender.com/browse.html

I like to buy things from here.

http://www.cheftools.com/

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Frogs Here

Frogmore stew is a meal we all love to eat.  When Frogmore Stew was first cooked in the 1960s, Frogmore was a small town on St. Helena Island, near Beaufort, South Carolina. In the 1980s, however, the postal service did away with the name Frogmore. That changed the name of the dish to Lowcountry Boil or Beaufort Stew.  We still call it Frogmore stew though.  This stew isn’t really a stew.  It consists of smoked sausage, corn on the cob, red potatoes, and shrimp boiled in a crab boil.  We buy Zatarain’s crab boil back home.  Yet again living in the Pacific Northwest there is no Zatarain’s crab boil.  So, I have my own recipe for the spice blend.

  • ½ cup mustard seed
  • ¼ cup dill seed
  • ½ cup coriander seed
  • 2 Tbsp all spice
  • 10 ea. Bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp chili flakes

With a mortar and pestle break up the whole seeds, you don’t need to make a powder or anything.  Once you’ve broken up the seeds place them loosely in cheese cloth so the spices won’t fall out.  Tie the end.

Now to get the actual stew going you’ll need:

  • 1 beer (any kind will do)
  • 2 lbs. red potatoes
  • 2 lbs. sausage (again, any kind will do)
  • 12 ears of corn, quartered
  • 4 lbs. large shrimp (doesn’t have to be peeled)

Get a couple of gallons of salty water boiling, pour the beer in and add the spice bag.  Let that boil for a bit to release some of the flavor.  First you’ll add your potatoes.  When those are close to done add the sausage, then corn, and then the shrimp.  When the shrimp are done the stew is done.  You should time all the ingredients so they are all done at the same time.  Once you’re ready to dish up you drain the water and serve.

Traditionally in South Carolina this dish is served in the summer time.  We make huge batches and invite friends and family over.  When the stew is ready we dump the pot out on a newspaper lined picnic table and dig in.  You can stand around the table and eat or actually grab a plate and sit down somewhere.

Published in: on March 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s All In The Sauce

I met a gentleman last night at work originally from Texas.  I was whipping up a basket of tacos and he must have notice the shirt I was wearing.  He asked if I was actually from South Carolina and I said I was, born and raised.  He asked me about my favorite barbeque sauce.  That led into a wonderful conversation and my accent promptly came back while talking to this fellow southerner.

It really is all in the sauce.  I moved to Oregon not knowing what to expect and soon realized there wasn’t much for southern anything out here.  There were no mustard based barbeque sauces.  There were no vinegar based barbeque sauces.  What was I going to do? It was devastating.  So I made it a point every time I went home to visit to ship back to myself my favorite sauce.  Normally I would buy Maurice’s BBQ sauce, but after a controversy involving the rebel flag most bottles were taken off the shelf.  http://dixierising.com/corporation/recommend/maurices_bbq.php

So I started buying Shealy’s BBQ sauce and it was just as good and a little less expensive.  I am down to one bottle of this sauce and not sure when I’ll get back home to visit again.  So I started making my own.

This is the recipe I use for my mustard based barbeque sauce:

  • 1 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • ground black pepper to taste

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the mustard, honey, brown sugar and vinegar. Season with black pepper. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over cooked pulled pork or beef. If you want more flavor, let the meat simmer in the sauce for about 30 minutes.

This recipe is for the vinegar and pepper based sauce I sometimes make too:

  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon dark brown sugar

In a saucepan, stir together the vinegar, red pepper flakes, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil. Stir in the ketchup and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

One last thing, I found a map of South Carolina claiming where the certain BBQ regions are.  I found this interesting.

Published in: on March 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out and About

I grew up around food.  I never had any desire to be in the kitchen though.  I couldn’t even scramble an egg until I was 18.  Ironically enough 10 years later I’m graduating from culinary school.

When you didn’t feel like cooking, you went out to eat, obviously.  One of the best places to go and usually with a large amount of the family was the Beacon Drive-In.  http://www.beacondrivein.com/ they have the best burgers in the world.  Everyone goes here, and I suggest if you ever make it to Spartanburg you have to try this place out.   It’s a traditional landmark in South Carolina and always will be.

If you’re traveling through and want something quick and absolutely scrumptious you must stop at Chick-Fil-A.  http://www.chick-fil-a.com/ Yes it is a fast food joint.  I know, you’re probably thinking gross, fast food.  It’s not.  They have the best chicken sandwich EVER!!  The chicken sandwich is a beautifully seasoned breaded chicken breast on a toasted buttered bun with two pickles.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  That’s it.  You don’t even need a condiment on this sandwich the chicken is so juicy and yummy.  It’s served with waffle fries and sweet tea.

There are many other places we all frequented.  One other one that stands out in my mind is The Dixie Drive-In.  It’s not an actual drive in like the beacon is.  But you go in and have a seat and order the Dixie Cheese Half and Half.  A beautiful built, fairly large cheeseburger served with half fries and half onion rings.  It’s to die for.  And the service isn’t your typical service.  You’ll get asked “What do you want?” versus “Hi, how can help I you?”

Published in: on March 10, 2011 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  

I am an Oregonian.  I have been since 2003 when I first got my driver’s license here.  I call myself that because this is where I live.  I will always however be a South Carolinian.  Even though I live approximately 2786.52 miles away, according to map quest, from where I grew up, my home will always be there.  You can take the girl out of the south but you can’t take the south out of the girl.

Good home cookin"

I grew up on your traditional southern dishes, such as fried chicken, collard greens, black eyed peas, hushpuppies, fried catfish and so on.  Many people hear southern food and they think fatty food, unhealthy food.  Well a lot of that isn’t far from the truth.  We love to fry things, in a LOT of oil.  I get great comfort from southern food.  It takes me back to my childhood.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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