Showing posts from May, 2015

Cane Pole Memories

When I was a child, perhaps nothing excited me more than fishing.  Even when the Atlanta Braves were having their miraculous winning years in the 1990's, the spectacle of Maddux, Glavin and Smoltz's artistry on the mound could barely pull me away from sultry evenings by the pond.  I did not have a dad around or any older male figure to instruct me on the finer arts of fishing.  I was in my late teens before I truly learned to use a spinning rod and lures.  My angling equipment of choice was the humble cane pole.  A length of cane between seven and ten feet, some light monofilament line of about the same length, a small hook and a cork or plastic bobber were all I needed for tackle.  A five-gallon bucket on which to sit and in which to bring home my catch, was my only accessory for bank fishing - I never had a boat.  A few worms dug in the morning dew, or caught crawling along after a rain was my only bait.  With that in tow, this skinny, southern kid whose skin would burn easi…

Southern Fried Bread

I've heard fried bread refer to to anything from Native American fry bread to pain de mie, to Yorkshire fried bread... even hush puppies. My family, being a rather volatile mix of Irish, French, English, Scottish and Cheraw Indian likely made all of the above and many of which i am unaware. My grandmother generally cooked two types, not including french toast. One was just called "flour bread". It was a simple biscuit dough made with self rising flour, milk and lard, cooked at a low temp on the stove top, in a seasoned or very lightly greased cast iron pan. You simply spoon it in like a big, thick pancake and turn it over to brown on each side. Once it is a medium brown with little black spots (much like pan fried chicken), it will be done on the inside. She would make this on mornings when she didn't have time to bake biscuits. The other, which was served at every dinner, was pan fried cornbread. This is just a medium/thin slurry of stone ground cornmeal, salt and w…

The Virginia Housewife

My favorite old cookbook - a timeless classic... the first cookbook published in America.  This book contains, among other wonderful things, the first southern fried chicken recipe ever published.  Here is the .pdf version for free from

Real Grits Basics

Here are my basics: 1) Buy only stone ground real grits. Never, ever purchase instant grits, quick grits or any grits that are the consistency of cream of wheat. As the late and brilliant Lewis Grizzard said (paraphrased), "Southerners only serve lumpy, unsalted, instant grits, without butter to yankees as revenge for burning Atlanta." 2) Salt the cooking liquid generously. 3) Use only real butter as your fat. The cooking ratio is 1 parts grits to 2 parts liquid. The liquid can be plain water, broth or stock. I always use plan water for breakfast grits, shrimp stock for shrimp and grits, chicken broth for cheese grits, etc. For a breakfast for two or three people, bring 1 cup of water to the boil and salt it to taste. Add 1/4th cup grits. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally to prevent lumps (stone ground grits rarely lump). Simmer until the grits have absorbed about 90% of the water (so they don''t dry out on the plate). Stir 1/3rd stick of butter into the pot. …

How to follow the blog

Some of the "gadgets" on my blog don't seem to be working.  The only sure way to follow the blog is to click “Join this site” at the top right hand corner.   Thanks for your patience as I get things worked out.  I should soon be able to finish with the technical stuff and get back to the food!

Please follow my blog

In the 24 hours or so since I have relaunched this blog, I have received a good deal of much appreciated praise. Some of y'all seem to really like it and that is tremendously gratifying.  However, no one has officially "followed" the blog as of yet.  500+ folks have read it... but none have committed to receiving the very occasionally update by email.  If you like my blog, please follow it.  I promise not to fill your inbox with anything but the very occasional new post.  Once I get a few followers, google will do a bit to promote the blog so others can find it.  So, this is somewhat necessary for success. If you wish, you can also"like" the Facebook page for my blog:  Either way, I'd truly appreciate it!  As I stated before, if 100 people follow my blog I will keep going and if 1,000 people follow it I will write a cookbook.

Supper At My Grandmother's Table - butter beans and field peas

I do not recall a time when butter beans and field peas (heirloom speckled butter beans and dixie lee peas) were not a part of supper at my grandmother's table.  The dinner meal usually included two meats, three or four seasonal vegetables (greens, okra, squash, etc) in addition to beans and peas, rice or potatoes, fried corn bread or fried flour bread, tossed salad or a platter of fresh, raw seasonal vegetables including sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, banana or bell peppers and celery, two or three desserts which may include home made cakes, pies, puddings, cookies (usually tea cakes) or ice cream, jams, jellies, preserves or honey (from my great-grandfather's hives, which were by the swamp and produced honey as dark as molasses) to be spread biscuits still hot from the oven, a variety of pickled vegetables, chow chows or relishes, usually some sausage or country ham on a dish on the stove, left over from breakfast and some fried fatback, left over from seasoning vegetables.  Ea…

My convoluted, unproven, Faulknerian theory of Southern Food

Southern Food is known as a regional style of cooking in America.  It is distinct.  It is often classified as ethnic - whether called southern home cookin' or soul food.  Newspaper and magazine articles extolled southern cooking in the early through mid-1900s as a distinct style of cooking.  Barbecue pitmasters, fried chicken cooks, biscuit champions, small country ham producers, the cake and pie recipes of countless southern ladies, a few colorful cajuns with big personalities and a knack for telling humorous stories and even the legendary Colonel in his white suite, became institutions.  In some ways, Southern food is more popular now than ever.
What, however, makes southern cooking unique?  The South is a collection of states that lie between the Mississippi River and south of the Mason Dixon Line, encompassing an area somewhat larger than the New England and Mid-Atlantic states.  The Southern states are at least as old as the northern states.  So, why is southern cooking distin…

Simple Bread

Simple Bread
My loaf in the picture is a traditional kneaded bread - it is only southern in that it is my original recipe and I am southern. 
It is just 6 cups all purpose, unbleached flour, 1 and 3/4 tablespoons salt, 1 and a half cups water, dough starter and one packet of instant dry yeast... the only real trick is the the dough starter. 
Each time I make a loaf of bread, I pinch off a handful after it rises. I put the raw pinch of dough into a 12 ounce jar, fill it with cold water and put it int he fridge. It will keep for a couple of weeks. So, the water in the recipe is actually the contents of that jar (I count the dough starter as part of the water). 
I just tossed all of that together in my stand mixer an kneaded for 10 - 11 minutes. It can be done by hand, but the kneading time would be more like 16 minutes. It is a very firm, fairly dry, barely sticky dough - like pizza dough. Form it into a ball and dust it with flour. Let it rise in a bowl at around 80-85 degrees for two hour…