Southern Cooking and Memories

Southern Cooking and Memories
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Today I am going to share some "Southern Cooking" and memories. When we first went to south Florida I missed my family. I am an only child. My parents left as house parents at a missionary school in Honduras at the same time. My mom and I have never been close and I longed for that. But oh, how I missed my grandma!
A dear lady in the small Mennonite church we attended saw that and introduced me to her daughter. Brenda and I formed a great friendship. Her first baby was born in October and mine in December. They invited us to all holidays at their house and we ate togeter as ladies at least once a week.

Before getting to the recipes, let me encourage you all to see who can not go "home to family" for the holidays. Invite them in and share with them. This wonderful Kemp/Blocker family taught me so much. It is important to always have someone to go to! I had them. I thank God for them.

Here is a wonderful dish they introduced me to.

Tomato Gravy and Rice

Ingredients:

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

(We used fresh tomatoes and cooked them down to about 2 cups)

1/2 cup onions, chopped

4 slices of bacon

1/4 cup green peppers

3 tablespoons flour

salt

pepper

Fry bacon in frying pan until done but not crisp, cut into pieces. Add onions and green peppers, saute until soft. Add tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix flour with enough water to make a smooth paste. Add this to the other ingredients stirring constantly until thickened. Serve over rice. Serves 4-6.

You can omit the bacon and use any meat available (sausage, ham, etc.), or you can substitute 2 or 3 tablespoons butter.

I will never forget the day this "Yankee" was handed a bowl of these. I had never heard of much less seen a boiled peanut. But soon we loved these and my kids beg me to make them.

Boiled Peanuts

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh, raw peanuts, in shells

10 oz. salt

1 gallon water

Preparation: Wash in shell freshly harvested raw peanuts in cool water. Put 1 pound raw shelled peanuts in a large pan.. Cover with 1 gallon of water & add 10 ounces of salt (more salt may be added for a saltier taste). Allow peanuts to soak 2 hours . Peanuts will absorb some of the water. It may be necessary to add enough water to replace absorbed water. Place a lid on the pot & bring peanuts to a boil. Boil covered for 1 hour or until tender. If more saltiness is desired, let stand in hot brine. Drain. Peanuts may be eaten immediately or they may be frozen (allow to completely cool & put in airtight containers) They will keep indefinitely when frozen.

Southern Grits

Now Grits were chicken feed to me but I had to learn to eat them. Brenda cooks grit every morning.

Grits are small broken grains of corn. They were first produced by Native Americans centuries ago. They made both "corn" grits and "hominy" grits.

Here is a recipe I like. In fact this is one we often cook on week-ends. John needs this with 2 eggs.over medium and thick sliced bacon. We have almost cut bacon out of our diet but still have this every once in awhile.

Fried Grits

Ingredients:

2 cups Grits,cooked

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 cup margarine

1/4 cup milk

3 eggs, beaten

oil

Preparation: Cook grits according to pkg. directions with 1/2 tsp. baking powder added to the water. Stir in 2 beaten eggs. Add margarine, flour, & sugar. Mix well. Cook 15 minutes more. Pour the grits mixture into a shallow baking dish to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerator overnight. Cut grits into squares of desired size & Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Beat 3 eggs well & add 1/4 cup milk. Dip squares in egg mixture & fry in hot oil in a large iron skillet until golden brown. Turn only one time. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Gravy is quite differant to me in the south. Here is one that was served to me early on when I came to the south.

Grits and Red Eye Gravy

Ingredients:

6 servings Grits

1/2 cup Brewed Coffee

Ham Drippings

Directions: Prepare 6 servings of grits as package directs. In iron skillet, cook country ham slices until browned. Remove from Iron skillet. Drain fat, reserving 2 teaspoons. Add 1/2 cup brewed coffee or water to reserved fat.

Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring in ham drippings from bottom of skillet. Spoon over hot cooked grits and serve.

One day when Brenda and her mother Joanne called me to come for lunch I had another first....Okra. Now my only experience with this had been awful! In Mennonite school we were in chef's club and she was teachinh us about food from areas in the USA. She took out whole okra out of a can and made us eat one slimmy and cold. needless to say I hated it. But this is good! When John and I married he asked me to fix this often. It is about the only vegatable he likes fried.

Fried Okra

Ingredients:

16 oz. pkg. frozen, sliced okra

2 cups oil

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup yellow corn meal

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

Preparation: Thaw okra. Combine beaten eggs & milk. Place thawed okra in milk & let stand for 15 minutes. Drain okra a small portion at a time. In a large freezer bag, combine flour, meal, salt, & pepper. Add drained okra & shake to coat well. Heat oil in a large skillet. Drop a single layer of coated okra into hot oil. Cook until browned turning only once with a spatula. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all okra is cooked. Serve while hot. You can also use fresh okra. Wash, remove ends & slice okra. Follow same procedure as for frozen.

Southern Fried Corn

Ingredients: 1 Tablespoon Bacon Grease

4-6 Ears Small White Corn

1/2 cup Milk or Cream

(Cream is used in creamier corn)

Directions: Here's the way Joanne taught me how to cook "Fried Cream Corn", hope you like it! Start with fresh corn on the cob, about 4-6 ears. White, small kernal corn is best. Shucking and clean the corn. Using a sharp knife and wood cutting board, cut the corn from the cob. Now technique is important here. Position the corn ear on it's end and slice the corn, off the cob by pushing the knife down, along the ear. Don't try to cut ALL the tender little corn morsels off with each cut, cut a third or so, at a time. Rotate the ear as you remove more layers. When you have cut all or most of the corn from the ear, using the knife's edge, scrape the ear to remove the last of the ear's remaining corn "stuff". Save all liquids.

Now, using an iron skillet (from your Granny) heat about a tablespoon of bacon grease, for flavor and frying ability, to a pretty high temperature. Don't set the house on far! Add all the corn stuff and fry up some corn. Add bacon grease, coarse ground pepper and salt to taste. Don't brown or burn the corn, just get it real hot, turn down the heat. Now add some whole milk or cream. Depending on how creamy you want the corn, use cream or milk. Add, to create some "creamy stuff". Turn down the heat and cook for a while, like 15 minutes. Vary the cooking length to make the freash and tender or cokked and creamy. When ready eat!

Here is another recipe Joanne cooked each time the family got together.

ZUCCHINI PIE

4 cups thinly sliced zucchini

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 to 1/2 cup margarine

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tbsp. dried parsley

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. basil

1/4 tsp. oregano

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups grated cheddar or jack cheese

Dijon mustard

Frozen or homemade deep dish pie crust

In a large skillet saute the zucchini and the onion in the margarine for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool and place in a freezer bag. Combine the spices in a bag and store till the day you prepare this dish. In a bowl, combine the eggs and the cheese and stir. Place the cheese mixture in a freeze bag. Freeze the zucchini and the cheese next to each other so that they will be easier to retrieve. Store the pie crust in the freezer. To prepare, thaw over night in the refrigerator. Drain any extra liquid from the zucchini before assembling. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large bowl combine the zucchini, cheese and spices, mixing well. Remove the frozen pie crust or assemble your own now. Coat the pie crust with a thin layer of dijon mustard and fill with the zucchini mixture. Bake at 375°F for 18 to 20 minutes. Important, let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with rolls.

Yes, Southerners really do eat fried green tomatoes; and they eat fried red tomatoes too. If you haven't tried them, you're in for a treat!

Classic Fried Green Tomatoes

4 to 6 green tomatoes

salt and pepper

cornmeal

bacon grease or vegetable oil

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2-inch slices. Salt and pepper them to taste. Dip in meal and fry in hot grease or oil about 3 minutes or until golden on bottom. Gently turn and fry the other side. Serve as a side dish.

Delicious with breakfast!

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 to 6 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

salt and pepper

flour for dusting

2 eggs, beaten

cornmeal or bread crumbs

bacon grease or vegetable oil

Salt and pepper the tomato slices; dust lightly with flour. Dip slices in beaten egg, letting excess drip off, then coat well with meal or crumbs. Fry in hot grease or oil until browned, turning gently (about 3 minutes each side). Keep warm in a low 200° to 250° if frying in batches.

Tomato Fritters

Take equal quantities of tomatoes (skin and mince fine, and strain them from their liquor) and green corn very tender; scrape it from the cob with a sharp knife; use the milk of this. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper. Add for a quart of the mixture two well-beaten eggs, one tumbler of sweet milk, and flour enough to hold the mass together. Fry in thick cakes in boiling lard. Note: 1 tumbler=1 cup (8 fluid ounces)


Click here for Donna's Tea Time recipes!

 

About The Author

Donna had the privilege of growing up in a Mennonite family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is married and lives in Georgia. Donna has 3 children and 3 grandchildren. She also writes a Column called Cooking with Don, which you can sign up for here and another list called Sites for Learning
 
 

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