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Open Discussion of Southern Cooking - Page 3

post #61 of 88
You're undoubtedly right, Isbnso. The southern predeliction for pecans probably comes from availability.

But I prefer them anyway. Something about the oils in walnuts makes them much more likely to turn rancid and bitter, in my experience. So even it recipes that traditionally call for walnuts I'm likely to sub pecans.

And even without the rancidity problems, to me they just taste better.

Boiled peanuts: There is no middle ground. You either love 'em or hate 'em. I can't get enough of them, whereas Friend Wife won't let one across her lips.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #62 of 88
in MO we have tiny pecans that are sweet.....black walnuts that go rancid very very quickly, it's hard to crack and pick them, word around town is that you roll over them with your car then proceed to pick the meats out.

I grew up with English walnuts and an almond tree.....nuts are pretty dish specific around here.A new vender at Soulard Farmer's Market is selling boiled peanuts, spicy and plain. Pretty darn tasty, especially with that spicy ginger ale.


it'd be interesting to know the cooking differences between the various syrups:
cane syrup
molasses
sorghum
treacle
white and dark corn syrup
maple

viscosity has gotta come into play especially with the thinner maple, but several of the others have a similar thickness.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #63 of 88
Thread Starter 
Southerners and Cast Iron.

Cast Iron is yet another thing that is not itself intrinsically Southern. However, the South has maintained a more common tradition of cooking in cast iron than other parts of the US.

For frying and cornbread perhaps more than other things, cast iron is the go-to utensil.

My mom was not southern but a number of her preferred recipes were. She had plenty of rustic cookware but not much cast iron and so while her cornbread was southern in style she always cooked it in pyrex ovenware.

Heated cast iron brings out much more toasted corn impact for cornbread.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #64 of 88
I beg to differ. My feeling is that you're confusing "country" with "southern." They already do that enough in the south.

BDL
post #65 of 88
Thread Starter 
Do you think there are any specifically Southern uses of cast iron not commonly seen elsewhere?

What would you point to help others differentiate that?

It's been a while since I read the Fanny Farmer cookbook, which I consider a largely country cookbook, but it doesn't use cast iron explicitly like I see Southern cookbooks use it.

The cornbread is a more southern example I think than just country. While cornbread is cooked outside of the south, it's usually sweeter and cakier, and usually less crusty which the cast iron promotes.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #66 of 88
Not really. But I think there are non-southern uses -- like Dutch Babies.

The common use of cast iron all over the country -- including among the "Pennsylvania Dutch."

I can't point to many cookbooks recommending cast iron except for specific purposes like cornbread and fried chicken, because those aren't my kind of cookbooks.

The author of one cookbook which was pushed upon me, and which I don't have any more seemed to feel cast iron was fairly ecumenical.

Honestly, I don't regard either cornbread or fried chicken as particularly southern. They're dishes which fell out of the urban northern mainstream for awhile, but they were certainly everywhere else.

Perhaps. In my perambulations about this great country, such as they are and it is, I haven't see the great cornbread divide so much. I've certainly had cornbread cooked in cast iron outside the south. How many generations does a family have to live in South-Central before they're not from the south?

Perhaps, when the rest of the country was throwing its old cast iron in favor of newer lighter substitutes like aluminum and stainless steel the south for economic reasons and perhaps with some sense of tradition clung to more of its cast iron than other parts of the country. Perhaps. But not all that long ago, cast iron was one of the dominant materials for cookware throughout the country.

No offense, but the idea that pancakes weren't baked on cast iron griddles, cornbread not baked in those cute little corn-cob pans north of the Mason Dixon line, or that country-fried steak is southern-fried steak is simply absurd. Then there's aebleskiver irons. Don't tell me aebleskiver aren't American, I was a non-Danish in Solvang and I ate aebleskiver. Fifty-five years later, I took my granddaughter, the talented and lovely Ellie, to the same shop to watch me buy her dad aebleskiver so he could tear off a little bit and let her gum it (Ellie had no teeth at the time) from the pregnant granddaughter of the man who first sold aebleskivers to my mother to give to me -- and she didn't have a Danish accent.

Seriously -- there's all sorts of cast iron all over the country some of it for specific ethnic cooking that's not at all common in the South and some just for general cooking the way everyone did it.

A few posts ago you limited ethnic influences in "American" cooking to exclude Hispanic and Asian because they didn't enter the mainstream before the middle of the 19th Century. I don't get the rationale behind that rule, and I don't really get the logic behind this one. Your rules seem very ad hoc and arbitrary to me. Not that mine aren't.

BDL
post #67 of 88
Thread Starter 
I agree that cast iron has wide usage. I stated that up front that cast iron itself isn't intrinsically southern. Yet I see it emphasized in a cultural way that it isn't in other places. The cast-iron dutch oven is the state pot of Utah for basically that reason.

Which is not to say that other cultures don't have cultural uses for cast iron, just that there are uses emphasized by a specific culture that other cultures don't emphasize.

Okra is not from the south, can be found in cuisine all the way to Asia, yet it has a particularly southern use in fried okra and in gumbo.

Peanuts are not from China or Thailand but they are used in Chinese and Thai food in ways not emphasized elsewhere.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #68 of 88
:suprise: I have lost faith in you, Phil. Collard greens are my favorite vegetable. I am used to picking the medium-sized leaves off my plants and cooking them with mustard and sausage. I "discovered" collards at an Ethiopian restaurant where they were cooked with ancho-like peppers.
post #69 of 88
>just that there are uses emphasized by a specific culture that other cultures don't emphasize.<

Phil, I'd have to say that cast iron, as part of a cultural matrix, is more "country" than "southern."

I've lived in the Northeast and in the Midwest. Traveled and visited extensively in the West. And people in those areas use their cast iron in precisely the same ways as Southerners.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #70 of 88
I was fortunate enough to spend time all over France in the Seventies,, Almost all of The Country Inns that I went to had fireplaces. In the fireplaces was a large cast iron pot with a handle hanging on a hook. They all contained the same type of ingredients cooking for 2 to 5 hours. The aroma was great.This was a cassoulet. So even though it was not the South, nor was it only Southern France, they to used cast iron.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #71 of 88
We used to cook like that in the rural south, Ed. But we give it up once we got stoves and indoor plumbing. :lol:
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #72 of 88
Okra.....anyone who has lived in the deep south will find this humorous.

I have a dear friend that owns a restaurant here and grew up in Sacramento/SF.....cooked mainly on the west coast with french chefs and in DC. He and his wife use many techniques, mostly Ca. cuisine.....light fresh seasonal....plenty of veg.

Last week I was at an event and turned off my phone, got home and there were messages asking how to cook okra without it turning "slimey"......
I returned the call and said fry it or pickle it......smothered with tomato/onion/garlic/bacon/cayene has a tendency to be alittle slimed.....he'd been blanching to put on the Piccolo Fritto mixed veg plate. aka light batter fry. I've not laughed that hard in a long long time.


Aebeskivers, oh man, we love them .......raspberry jam and whipped cream!!!

Country and Southern.....interesting discussion. My grandmother was from the VA mountains and grew up in the early 1900's (born 1911) the oldest child of 11 on a small farm....she dropped out of school to help plow the fields with her father when she was very young. Her cooking is country. turnips, chard/kale have always been in her garden, crook neck squash......
New Port News VA is were she's lived for the past 60+ years.....not the south per se. So I'm thinking about her cooking and MO country cooking vs the deep southern food.....TN, MS, LA sorta, Ark sorta, AL........

Frequency comes clearly to mind. I've had the gaul to teach MS women farm owners how to make bisquits. They all had a median age of 50 and had made biscuits every morning for their husbands.
I started thinking about biscuits and white gravy.....back in 1978 I drove with my brother from Memphis to Salt Lake City for him to start college.....at that time I was curious about biscuits and cream/sausage gravy so along the route would order it at every stop (diners/truck stops etc) it was interesting to find it all along the way.
New Mexico is not really "the south", northern TX has more beef than pork so it's not the typical "south".....still there was biscuits and gravy at each stop.

Cornbread. Well, cornbread is found in most southern bread baskets.....not so much around the country. Grits on a breakfast plate end north of the MO state line. Hot Sauce on the dining room table is a standard condiment in the south, not so much in the "country homes" around here.

Long cooked beans are every where but black eyed peas are southern....field peas with snaps are southern.....
I can remember moving from Rancho Cordova CA to Jacksonville AR in the mid 1960's, asking for peas at the diner in AR and getting a mess of brown weird shapes. I looked at my mom trying to decipher what language these strange people were speaking.....peas were bright green, round and sweet.....trully rude finding out that most vegetables served in schools came out of cans and that children could be physically punished and that if you didn't have the good manners to "mam" and "sir" you were in deep doo doo. Nothing like being 7.5 years old and thrown into a culture shock.

So, BDL.....southern vs country.....lots of overlap but what do you see as the differences. Spice is probably the biggest difference. Ingredient specific? hmmmmm.....
had watermelon rind pickles last night with head cheese......
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #73 of 88
There is a huge emphasis in the South on using cast iron, especially for frying chicken and making cornbread. Particularly important is using heirloom or hand-me-down cast iron. We feel great pity for those who must buy new cast iron!

My own take on Southern cornbread: It should be fairly dense, not too fluffy, with a slightly coarse texture. If your recipe has equal parts flour & cornmeal, it's not really Southern. And absolutely NO SUGAR. Cornbread should not be sweet. I think it even says in the Bible (maybe in Leviticus?) that sweet cornbread is an abomination, and that any who partake shall be cast into the fiery pits of **** for all eternity.
post #74 of 88
I have never liked cornbread. I always wondered why it had sugar in it--I don't like it sweet. I guess I've never had the good stuff.
post #75 of 88
Down here we've got a name for cornbread made with sugar.

We call it "cake."
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #76 of 88
There has been a lot of discussion of "Southern" vs "country", but in the South, the types of cooking we have been discussing aren't just eaten in rural areas. Even in Nashville, Birmingham, Atlanta (which is rapidly losing its Southern flavor), Charleston and other urban areas, home cooks, cafeterias, casual dining and fine dining restaurants alike dish up traditional Southern or country or soul foods.
post #77 of 88
Amen to that!
post #78 of 88
I like snow more than I like humid heat, but I have got to visit Dixie some time. My one trip to the SE USA was a high school senior class trip to Orlando. Yes, I'm deprived.

On another note, I read that frying is a popular cooking method in the deep south partly because it didn't heat up the house as much as boiling, or using an oven. I wonder how much truth there is to that. Also, I have a friend from Nawlins who said that shrimp and crawfish are eaten a lot because they are cheaper than red meat. I never thought of shrimp as cheap, but I suppose they are a lot more reasonable on the shores of the Gulf than they are here.
post #79 of 88
shrimp and crab boils are outside.....no pots in a kitchen, the cayene would sufficate you.

shrimp, crawfish and crab are no cheaper than red meat......especially now.

syrup based pies are pretty southern, pecan and derby come to mind.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #80 of 88
Thread Starter 
Haven't heard of a derby pie. Would you explain further?

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #81 of 88
"Derby Pie" is a chocolate walnut tart. Some restaurant in Kentucky made a super-duper version, it became associated with the Kentucky Derby, got a name and so on, so forth. The current state of the myth is that these people were not only the first to ever put chocolate, walnuts and crust together in the same place; but actually invented all three of them. And whipped cream too.

You want to be very careful about believing origin stories on something that became popular awhile ago and had magazine articles written. The truth becomes obscured as the magazine supplied myth floods the internet. The one that really chaps my [tush] is the "origin story" of tri-tip and "Santa Maria barbecue" which Sunset put out in the sixties. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

In the case of Derby Pie, the family that owned the restaurant actually trademarked the name. If you want to publish a recipe -- even in a forum like this one -- you have to change the name to something like Kentucky Derby Pie to avoid an infringement. But like I said it's just chocolate walnut tart. Most "authentic" recipes don't even use syrup -- just butter, egg and sugar to hold the chocolate chips and walnuts.

I suppose it's more of a pie if you use a pie rather than a tart shell -- but a lot of these things serve better as tarts. Especially with something as icky sweet as this, it's nice to keep the filling thin.

BDL
post #82 of 88
I'm glad to hear that Derby Pie is not meadow muffins.
post #83 of 88
origination vs proliferation.

KY derby pie proliferates in KY......it may have originated elsewhere under another name or with a slightly different twist but they consume a whole lot of chocolate nut pie around that area.

Pecan pie. blankets the south in all it's glory. The recipes are on the back of Karo btls, community cookbooks, dog earred recipe cards. It's pretty scarce in other places.

Okra. fried okra is a southern thing, ditto gumbo and file powder. Try finding file powder in other parts of the US especially in neighborhood grocery stores.
Shoot try finding a restaurant that serves fried okra.

It's not that beignets are new.....beignets have been around in one form or another but the bayou is pretty site specific for beignets. Callas too.


* A few months ago I was poking around in a small Illinois town and started chatting with a 90+ year old german blacksmith. Got a tour of his shop and started talking hog butchering with him.....he has a closet that contains all the makings of hog butchering including ancient sausage recipes. But the piece d' resistance was the massive cast iron pan had to have been 20" across and at least 5" deep....his wife used to fry chicken, his 60 something year old daughters and granddaughters only wanna use non-stick. I've not been that covetous in an awfully long time.....even offered to fry up chicken in lard for him in exchange for the pan. The stories this man told were alittle sad in that he said Everyone butchered back in the day, Everyone had apple butter pots, then the church took over and they did it as a community, then it just gradually went by the wayside and now it's rare to find anyone making apple butter......or butchering for that matter. I hope the pendulum starts swinging back, maybe not as far as it was but at least to the point that it's lost totally.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #84 of 88
From this distance I have a favorite source--

Sunnyland Farms' orange-frosted pecans and turtles are out of this world.
post #85 of 88
>but in the South, the types of cooking we have been discussing aren't just eaten in rural areas. <

Laurie, I don't think anyone intended implying that these cooking styles were not used in urban areas.

Indeed, an awful lot of southern cooking can be found in Detroit and Chicago, because of the mass migration of southerners looking for better jobs. Indeed, if you really want genuine "southern" cooking, check out a church social in South Chicago.

We've been using the word "country" not so much to delinate areas, but to differentiate it from true southern. What?, we've been trying to determine, actually typifies southern cooking from the broader style found on the farms and rural areas of the whole country.

For instance, I used to work at a hunt club in Iowa. The owners wife cooked in the style most people think of as southern. But it's not. It's just country-style cooking.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #86 of 88
>In the case of Derby Pie, the family that owned the restaurant actually trademarked the name. If you want to publish a recipe -- even in a forum like this one -- you have to change the name <

I suspect you're right on this one. I just checked the few Kentucky regional cookbooks in my collection, and it's always listed as some version of chocolate-nut pie. The words "Derby Pie" do not appear in any of them.

My library has a pretty good Kentucky collection, and I'll check further, as my curiousity is aroused.

Kind of ironic. Everybody knows what Derby Pie is, until you go searching for a recipe.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #87 of 88
What you describe is, in Southern parlance, 'Sawmill Gravy". Family in Ohio use the term 'cream gravy'...but they never seem to get the same depth of flavor as true Southern sawmill gravy, in my humble opinion.
post #88 of 88

I was a cook in college due to the generosity of a local hotel

chain . I started as a busboy, became a counter cook and fry cook.

I worked for two restaurants at the same time, as a fry and prep cook.

I was taught the art of carving a round and  prepping a beef tenderloin.

I even made popovers. In my mind I was an amatuer that had a great opportunity.

 

Other than that I haven't cooked professionally since I was in my twenties.

 

I have had grits in Indiana and they were ok.

 

I find home recipes that my mother and grandmother used when they ran a local small

town restaurant rather interesting. Their roast beef recipe was simple and effective.

Flower and brown a pot roast in a greased cast iron pan. After that it was placed on reduced heat

with water and vegetables. As I remember after a couple of hours the roast was ready.

 

In discussion on grits and cornbread and cooked corn meal, there was one variation

of corn meal that I enjoyed. After cooking the corn meal, it was poured into greased

bread pans. It would be cooled for several hours.

Then the loaf of cooked cornmeal could be sliced like bread, and fried in butter. 

It could be served with jelly or a savory sauce.

 

Another interesting recipe was the prairie layer cake. It consisted of large pancakes

iced with jelly and stacked 3 to 4 inches high.  Again it was chilled before cutting

into cake slices.

 

Things have changed a lot since then.

Thanks for listening to the old guy.

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