Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Saturday Night Dessert

Here is what we made for dessert on Saturday night. You might have remembered reading about it here. We didn't make the Sock It To Me cake, just the ice cream part. And after sampling just a small, small bit of it on Sunday evening, it can tell you it was great!

Y'all come back now ya hear!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Southern Saturday Night Supper

Hey all! Keetha and I are so into it being summer down here despite the high temps and humidity (girls aren't the only ones who can have bad hair days!)! We decided that we'd celebrate the Summer Solstice with a tried and true Southern staple of veggies.

Now, first off, you absolutely know that if it's going to be a meal of veggies down here something MUST be fried! And of course, what better to fry than okra!

You can almost smell the oil frying in the skillet can't you!

Mmmmmmm! Trust us, they taste just as good as they look!

Along with the fried okra, we fixed (yes, I realized that I didn't use proper English here, but hey, nothing else would sound right!) some great summer squash with sweet onions. Basically, you just slice up some squash into small medallions and place into a black cast iron skillet with a chopped sweet onion. Add about 1 cup of water, top with four or five pats of butter, and then salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mix up to a nice hot simmer and cover. WOW! I'm getting hungry again just remembering how good it was!

Check out Keetha doing her thing! :-)

And just to top it all off, we have cornbread. Enough said about that!!!

Well, we sure enjoyed that wonderful meal. And trust me, no wine is good enough to pair with this meal, it was all sweet tea and Diet Coke.

We did have a dessert planned (and cooked), but we didn't have any last night. Keetha and I will try to share that experience a little later.

Y'all come back now ya hear!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Over at the Other One

How do you like your ribs? Dry? Wet? Not at all?

How about neighborhood joints with tons of character?

Come see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nothing Like It

There's not much I love like gathering with family, especially when food is involved. This past Saturday, Jeffrey and I traveled to Jackson, Tennessee to celebrate my niece's second birthday.

We sat around on the deck, talking, laughing, and carryin' on. I took photos of random objects:

We were making homemade ice cream, see. That's why boxes of Morton salt were setting around on the deck.

I loves me some homemade ice cream. My sister in law mixed up homemade banana ice cream.

4 eggs, beaten
3 cups sugar
2 (14 ounce) cans condensed milk *
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 dash salt
6 ripe bananas, mashed. Very ripe. The riper the better.
2 1/2 quarts whole milk (or enough to make one gallon of liquid in total)

* What is condensed milk? Anyone? We used sweetened condensed milk. The final product was a bit soupy, but still mighty tasty.

Beat eggs and sugar together.

Add next four ingredients to the ice cream maker and add enough homogenized milk to make 1 gallon liquid. (Or after adding what you've stirred up, add enough whole milk so that it comes to the fill line in the ice cream maker canister.)

Freeze in maker or churn until frozen following manufacturer's instructions.

We enjoyed ours with birthday cake.

What's your favorite kind of homemade ice cream?

The Pleasures of Homemade Ice Cream

During the summer, try to keep cool by thinking about the comforting, healing powers of homemade ice cream. Anything made of such pure, simple things like milk, sugar, and fruit has to be good. Toss in a hearty dose of family remembrances, a front porch and a tall tale or two, and you’re looking at a delightful afternoon.

Homemade ice cream reminds me of my grandfather, Daddy Bunk. One summer Sunday when I was about eight, he and my grandmother were down from Houston for a visit. We enjoyed a huge lunch after church and made ice cream with fresh peaches. We ate it out of white Styrofoam cups while watching Paper Moon (remember, with young Tatum O’Neal?). Eventually most of us took a nap, nodding off to the whir of a cool fan and the scent of ripe peaches.

Homemade ice cream also reminds me of Sunday afternoons; I don’t know if we made it any other day of the week. Watching Dad break the bags of ice was always the best part for Lan and me (besides eating, of course). Heaving the bags onto the back porch looked like great fun, and we never could figure out why the grown ups wouldn’t let us handle that job.

The making process seemed something of a mystery: chunks of ice glistening in the hot sun with rock salt from blue boxes poured over it and towels wrapped around. A lot of mechanical noise and an eternity later, homemade ice cream was magically produced from the cold cylinder, dripping with ice.

Our family always enjoyed rich pound cake, warm from the oven, with homemade ice cream. My grandmother’s favorite recipe, and the one we all use, is called Sock It To Me Cake, which we usually make without the “Sock It,” a combination of cinnamon, nuts, and brown sugar. The result is a very creamy, evenly textured cake baked in a Bundt pan. It surely complements every kind of ice cream known to man, except maybe those low-fat versions, on whom its richness and taste would be lost.

If you should happen to have ice cream left over, make ice cream sandwiches to have for another day. Spread about 1/8 cup softened ice cream between two chocolate chip (or peanut butter or shortbread or oatmeal – whatever you like best) cookies. Quickly roll edges in a shallow bowl of colored sugar crystals, chopped nuts, and/or colorful nonpareils. Wrap sandwiches individually in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. These look great and are real crowd-pleasers, especially if you have any youngsters around.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream
This recipe was given to my mother by Ginger Denson, a family friend from Cleveland, Miss.

8 pasteurized large eggs*
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 heaping tablespoons flour
dash of salt
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 12-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
8 to 10 peeled, pitted and sliced peaches
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla

* I've never used a pasteurized egg in my life. I always use just regular old hen eggs and it comes out fine. But if you're apprehensive about the raw eggs bit, by all means, go with pasteurized eggs.

Beat eggs until light yellow in large bowl. Mix sugar and flour together and gradually add to eggs; pour into ice cream freezer. Add milk to fill level. Stir in peaches and vanilla. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

For plain vanilla ice cream, also hard to beat on a hot summer’s day, omit the peaches and proceed.

Banana variation (my dad’s favorite): Mash 5 to 7 very ripe bananas and add to mixture in place of peaches. Proceed with recipe.

Sock It To Me Cake
Maybe not gourmet, but talk about good!

1 (19.25-oz) box butter-recipe cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup oil
4 large eggs

“Sock It,” which is optional:

3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a Bundt pan and set aside.

Combine cake mix and sugar. Add oil and sour cream. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Top with brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. Add remaining batter. (Or leave out the spices and nuts and add batter all at once.)

Bake for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Excerpted from Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern

Monday, June 9, 2008

Chicken Salad

For lunch on Memorial Day, we didn't - for once - get near the grill. Instead, we had pasta salad, pimento cheese sandwiches, and chicken salad sandwiches. This is about the chicken salad.

Most everyone has their own recipe for chicken salad and most everyone thinks that theirs is the best. I’m no exception. I like this version because it is simple.

Cook 3 or 4 bone-in chicken breasts in a big pot of water. Cut up a nice-sized onion and toss it in there, too, along with some celery if you have it. Season well with salt and pepper. While the chicken is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put about a cup or so – more if you really like pecans, like I do, or less if you don’t really care for them – on a baking sheet and pour a teaspoon or two of melted butter over them and shake them a little bit to ensure all the pecans have a coating of butter. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and sugar. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and coarsely chop. When the chicken is done, remove from water, let cool, and shred it.

Place the shredded chicken in a large bowl. Add about 4 chopped green onions (adjust that depending on how much green onion you like) and the chopped pecans.

Let me say this right now. I am not a mayonnaise fan. Like, at all. When I make Tillman a turkey sandwich, the child licks the mayonnaise off the knife, which, I swear, even typing that makes my stomach turn over. But one must have mayo for chicken salad so I just try to do this part quickly: get a big ole spoonful of mayonnaise (Duke’s or Hellman’s) and add to the chicken mixture. Stir it up good and add more mayo if you must. Try a little bite. You’ll need to salt and pepper it and perhaps add more chopped green onion.

That’s it. And I know many of you out there are shaking your heads and doubting me, wanting to add seedless grapes and who knows what else. Go ahead if you must. But seriously, just these few ingredients make a darn good chicken salad.

If you really want to blow people away, however, marinate the chicken overnight and then cook it on a smoker. People will almost get into fistfights trying to get to this stuff. Really.

Note: Sometimes I don't add the pecans until just before it's time to eat. Otherwise, they can get a bit soggy and lose their gorgeous crunch.

Recipe and babbling on and on about chicken salad excerpted from More Culinary Kudzu.