There’s something poetic about sitting on your screened in porch under a ceiling fan shelling peas, shucking corn, or chopping collards when you live in the South. The summer heat seems to slow the pace of everything and I can appreciate that in a world full of rushing from one task to the next. Give me a radio and a basket of food and I’ll be on the porch all day.
When Time Inc. Books and NetGalley provided me with an advanced review copy of Todd Richards’s cookbook Soul, I was immediately pulled in by his passion for food and the celebration of his culture and its roots in creating the original Southern cuisine: Soul food. (If you’d like to read my full book review, please visit Roots & Reads.)
The chapters are divided by ingredients including collards, tomatoes, seafood, stone fruits, and melon. The recipes included evolve from American South traditional to a cultural fusion of ingredients to create unique dishes.
The most notable recipes in Soul for me are: Ginger and Collard Green Fried Rice, Hot & Spicy Zucchini Slaw, and Fried Green Tomatillos.
I wanted to share here with y’all my favorite recipe that I’ve prepared and taste tested so far!
Ginger and Collard Green Fried Rice from Soul: A Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards
Clean your collards well in cold water. Stack 4 leaves on top of each other and remove stems with a sharp knife, then shred the stems and leaves. Rinse again in cold water and drain well.
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium pan or skillet over medium heat. Break egg into pan and cook 4 minutes, gently shaking occasionally to entire egg doesn’t stick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before turning the egg over and cooking 2 more minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in pan over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, and ginger stirring occasionally until shallot is clear. Stir in rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin. Stir in the cooked rice and cover, simmering until rice is heated through. Uncover and drizzle with sesame oil. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.
Transfer fried rice to a serving bowl. Cut fried egg into strips. Top rice with egg strips then garnish with scallions, jalapeño, sesame seeds, and (optional) red pepper flakes.
Richards suggests serving this dish with: grilled seafood, grilled meats, poultry; spicy or citrus dishes.
My note: I used 2 teaspoons minced garlic because I didn’t have fresh garlic cloves. I used a 1/2 teaspoon of refrigerated ground ginger since I didn’t have fresh ginger. I also didn’t have a shallot so I used a quarter of a small Vidalia onion thinly diced.
Many thanks to Time Inc. Books and NetGalley for a digital ARC to review. Soul: A Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards is available in stores now!
Foster and Lela are kind enough to open their farm to visitors a couple times each year and we never miss a chance to walk the rows of vegetables, talk with them about food and animals, and take a hayride or two.
We grow a decent amount of our vegetables at home but what we don’t have room for, like corn, we purchase from Clyde’s Fresh Produce. I love that we’re able to purchase locally grown food, free of pesticides, from people who are passionate about serving their community. It’s also a bonus that we’re keeping money in our community by supporting local folks! If you live in the CSRA, you can purchase produce from Clyde’s online through Augusta Locally Grown, or find them Saturdays from 8am – 2pm at The Augusta Market.
The day we visited their farm in Grovetown, I grabbed a basket of peaches and a quart of strawberries before we left. I don’t think there’s anything better than the scent of ripe peaches and strawberries in the spring/early summer. I decided to combine the two in a quick skillet pie.
I think about Beverly Hills 90210 every time I eat a peach. You remember The Peach Pit, right? So much drama. Dylan foreverrrrr. Let’s hum the theme song while we feast our eyes on these gorgeous fruits…
I decided to use my double pie crust recipe because I was going to take the time to make a lattice pie crust. If you don’t want to do that, you can always freeze half your dough from this recipe to use for another pie at a later date. If you don’t do a top crust, just fold the crust over the filling at the edges and call it a crostata if that floats your boat. Either way, it’s still a pie in a skillet but the word crostata just rolls off the tongue.
Clyde’s Peach Berry Skillet Pie
Double pie crust
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup whole milk
1 egg, beaten
Whisk flour and salt together. Make a well in the center.
Pour vegetable oil and milk into the well and stir until combined.
Roll dough into ball on wax paper.
Divide in half.
Roll one piece of dough out between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4 inch thickness.
Remove top layer of wax paper and flip the dough into your 10.5 inch cast iron skillet.
Press dough about half way up the sides.
Brush some of your beaten egg on to the dough to prevent a soggy crust.
6-8 peaches in 1/2 inch slices
1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if huge)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
sprig of chopped rosemary, lemon balm, chopped pecans (all optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Add peaches and strawberries to a large bowl.
Mix in balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and flour.
Pour filling into pie crust.
Optional: add sprig of chopped rosemary, a couple sprigs of lemon balm, or chopped pecans over top of filling if you’re feeling fancy.
Either fold the edges of your pie crust over the filling or use the other half of the pie crust recipe to place over the top.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes.
Cool for 20 minutes and drizzle with honey before serving.
And here’s some photos from our visit to Clyde’s! Thanks to Foster and Lela and the family for a wonderful afternoon, we appreciate everything they do for our community.
Every spring I find a way to use the fragrant honeysuckle that climbs around our house. If I could bottle up that smell I would because it’s incredible. One year I made a Honeysuckle Breeze Cake by Hannah Queen and last year I made my own Honeysuckle Syrup for sweet tea. This year I decided to try combining sweet tea and honeysuckle into a cupcake. After tweaking the recipe a couple times, I feel confident enough to share it with you!
We started by collecting two cups of honeysuckle to prepare the syrup.
We put 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan and brought it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, we picked through the two cups of honeysuckle we collected, removing debris and pinching off green steams, then packed the flowers tightly in a pint mason jar. Once the sugar water was boiling, we poured it over the flowers in the jar and left it on the counter to cool. After your cupcakes have baked and cooled, you’ll strain the syrup through a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a clean pint mason jar. You’ll have a lot of honeysuckle syrup left over after making the frosting (yay!) and can store it in the fridge safely for a few weeks –if it lasts that long!
While the honeysuckle syrup was cooling, we started our batter. A dear friend of mine sent me her family’s tea cake recipe last year and I’ve since baked it several times. When I first had the idea for tea and honeysuckle cupcakes, her tea cake instantly came to mind! I have adjusted a few ingredient amounts and added tea, but her original recipe is absolutely the inspiration for this dessert.
Black Tea Cupcakes with Honeysuckle Frosting (makes one 9-inch cake or 18 cupcakes)
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons black tea, fresh brewed and strong (I use Luzianne)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups self-rising flour
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs one a a time, beating after each addition.
Beat in vegetable oil and vanilla extract.
Add self-rising flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition.
Once dough has just come together, add milk and tea.
Mix until batter is smooth.
Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 18 minutes.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. (see recipe below)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8 tablespoons of honeysuckle syrup (follow the link to simple directions or read above)
3 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
Cream the butter and honeysuckle syrup until light and fluffy.
Add powdered sugar a cup at a time, mixing slightly in between.
Add the pinch of salt and mix on low for several minutes until you reach the desired frosting consistency.
I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to test out several of the recipes in this book over the past month, including the one featured here. Catfish fried lightly in cornmeal with a tangy tartar sauce and a side of hushpuppies is a meal that will be well-received at most any Southern table!
“The fish fry is pretty ubiquitous across the South. What distinguishes my fry, though, is a light coating of oil, not a full deep dive (that’s reserved for the hush puppies served alongside). And since hushpuppies and tartar sauce are as classic a combo as Fred and Ginger, Mickey and Minnie, and Dolly Parton and wigs, I’m also offering up a special sauce.” -Ashley English
Cornmeal Catfish with Tartar Sauce Recipe by Ashley English from the book Southern From Scratch Serves 4
For the tartar sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tbsp coarse-grain mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
several dashes of hot sauce
For the catfish
1/2 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1/2 cup fine-grind cornmeal
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dash of hot sauce
1 1/2 lbs catfish fillets
Light olive or peanut oil for the pan
Hushpuppies, to serve (see my own recipe at the end of this post)
Lemon wedges, to serve
Make the tartar sauce. Whisk the mayonnaise, relish, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, and hot sauce in a small bowl until fully combined. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator until serving time and use within 2 to 3 weeks.
Mix the medium- and fine-grind cornmeal in a shallow dish with the garlic, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
Whisk the eggs with the hot sauce in a medium mixing bowl.
One by one, coat the catfish fillets in the egg mixture, then lightly dredge them in the cornmeal mixture. Set aside on a large plate.
Lightly coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with oil and warm over medium heat. Add the catfish fillets and cook in batches, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Add oil to the pan between batches when necessary, to prevent sticking. Serve immediately with tartar sauce, hushpuppies, and lemon wedges.
I remember many fish fry events when I was a kid. My dad would go fishing with his dad and brother and they’d usually bring home a cooler full and we’d spend the evening frying up the fish with hushpuppies. My dad was of the “go big or go home” variety when it comes to frying hushpuppies, so ours were always way bigger than you find in a restaurant. I try to keep mine around golf ball size to balance out a full meal.
Here’s how I make my hushpuppies
1 1/2 cups peanut oil
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup self rising yellow cornmeal mix
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 onion, diced well
1 jalapeño seeded and diced (optional)
In a cast iron skillet, add peanut oil to warm over medium heat.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper together.
Add onion and jalapeño to the mixture.
Add just enough whole milk to wet the batter completely and stir well.
Working in batches, drop teaspoons of batter into a skillet of heated peanut oil until browned.
Place hushpuppies on paper towels to soak up excess grease, then serve and enjoy!
I’ve been quiet around here but spring planting is finished and our seeds are beginning to sprout. We spent a lot of time expanding the garden at the beginning of the year so our growing space has nearly tripled! Most of our tomatoes and beans will be growing vertically to maximize the space so we’re really curious to see what this year’s harvest will yield! We’re growing a lot more beans and peas this year and trying a few new things as well.
I thought I’d share a few photos of the beans in different stages of sprouting:
It never fails to amaze me how you can plant a bean under a couple inches of dirt and more grow. It’s incredible to watch it happen.
I’ll have a garden walk through post up soon (and of course hen and goat photos because really, who can resist those?)
The dream begins in winter. December is a rush of celebrating with family, friends, food and gifts. I open my mailbox and every few days there’s a new seed catalog waiting for me. I slow down a few minutes each day to plan our garden. I forget to rush and overeat and overspend.
I browse randomly at first, taking in the photos. Then I start circling/highlighting and dog earring pages until eventually it looks like a student textbook.
Of course you can always browse the seed catalog online but I prefer the physical copy in my hands; it’s easier to compare and read notes on certain vegetables. It also signals the start of the growing season when they show up in your mailbox, which is my favorite part. If you visit the website you can request a free copy of their catalog and each year after you’ll get their updated catalog in your mailbox, too.
Basic seed catalog information:
Each catalog will tell you what type of seeds they offer: heirloom/non-hybrid, non-GMO, organic, etc.
Heirloom seeds are a variety that have been saved over several generations, usually passed down in families/communities. They are open-pollinated, meaning you can collect them each year and expect them to produce much the same the following year.
Hybrid seeds are cross-pollinated (usually labeled in catalogs as F1), meaning two plant types have been crossed and bred to produce a desired trait. These seeds will not produce the same each year or may not even grow at all so hybrid seeds cannot be saved but must be purchased new each year.
Non-GMO means non-genetically modified organisms. That means the seeds you’re purchasing were not created in a laboratory using genetic engineering.
Organic also means the seeds contain no GMOs and were grown without pesticides/fertilizers.
2. Most arrange their contents alphabetically and include sub-categories.
(example: peas may be listed by categories snap, shelling, snow, southern/cowpeas and tomatoes may be listed by color or if they’re determinate/indeterminate).
3. If you’re purchasing heirloom seeds, many companies will give you a history: where and when the seeds originated.
4. Seeds are offered in packs and there should be an estimate on how many seeds you’ll receive per pack.
5. Germination time (how long it’ll take for a seed to sprout) and time to maturity (how many frost free days you need and when to harvest) are usually included, along with how many hours of sunlight, soil type and watering instructions.
6. Disease/Pest Tolerance is useful information and generally included with plants known for issues like tomatoes.
7. Many companies offer live plants. You may order any time of year but live plants (example: apple trees, potatoes) will ship according to your climate zone.
8. Check to make sure the seed/plant is available to ship to your area. For instance, I had no idea until browsing seed catalogs that cotton cannot be shipped to three U.S. states, including my home state of Georgia and some states, like Virginia, require a permit to grow cotton.
I’ve found that even though we have a good stock of seeds in our pantry, I always want to try something new so we will swap seeds with friends (free seeds, plus you get to try something new!) and I usually order (…okay, always order) a few new things that catch my attention each year.
If you decide to save your own seeds, it’s pretty simple! You’ll want the seeds to dry out completely. When we save tomato seeds, we leave them on napkins up to two weeks before putting them all together in an envelope. Seeds that do not dry out will clump together and grow mold and then they are useless. Zero moisture before packing if you want success!
Envelopes, cute DIY packets, mason jars, and old (cleaned) coffee/tin cans all work just fine to store your seeds. Keep it labeled with the name and year and place in a cool/dry, dark space. We’ve kept our seed packs in dresser drawers and stacked in the back of the food pantry. Anywhere in your home that’s dark and doesn’t get too hot or cold will work.
Know your frost dates. Plug in your zip code to determine the first and last frost dates in your area. This will let you know the length of your growing season (I have a generous 271 days!) and a general time frame of when you can direct sow seeds and transplant your seedlings outdoors. (For my local people: I start my tomato and pepper seedlings indoors mid/late January and transplant them outdoors the week after Masters. There always seems to be one last surprise frost around Masters so the rule of 2nd week of April has never failed me yet!)
If this is your first year growing food, decide where you want your garden space and then note how many hours of sunlight that space gets each day. Most veggies you plant will need at least 6 hours of full sun each day in order to thrive.
Beans are great starter veggies. You can grow bush or pole beans; pole will allow you to grow up so you can maximize your garden space. They require very little work, just decent soil and watering. They do well in extreme high temps here in the south and as far as pests go, the beetles are easy to spot.
Tomatoes are the most popular food to grow but check out the types carefully (you need to stake/cage certain types while some are great in small containers and can conveniently be moved around for optimal sunlight). Look for info on disease resistance, heat tolerance, and size. You’ll need to check regularly for cracks on the fruit as well as hornworms (my arch nemesis!)
There’s so much additional information: how and when to seeds indoors, how to build up rich soil, harvesting your food, etc. Honestly, this is all a learning process. I still learn new things each year. I make sure I write down if something does amazingly well or completely awful to look into the variables of why (temperature being a main factor).
Have fun: check out different companies (there are so many!) and what they offer, order what interests you (it’s like a science project but without the poster board), ask local gardeners for input and try to keep notes so you can keep track of what worked and what didn’t.
Seed catalogs, planting and saving all give you something to look forward to when you’re in your long johns dreaming of warm weather.
I’ve been keeping my daughter busy with small activities this winter since the cold weather has set in and we’re not spending much time outdoors. I love that most of these activities take place around the kitchen table and they add excitement to the upcoming holiday for her.
Dried citrus can make a festive tree or window garland or even a potpourri satchel with a few spices added.
I read a couple different methods for drying citrus (oranges, tangerines, lemons): placing slices on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and drying in the oven at 250 degrees for 3-4 hours, or placing slices in a food dehydrator for 8-10 hours.
I decided the food dehydrator was the way to go! I cut an orange into thin 1/4 inch slices and placed them on two stacked drying racks and flipped the switch on just before I went to bed. Nine hours later I had perfectly dried orange slices. I wanted zero moisture left so I made sure they didn’t bend at all. If they are leathery, it means there’s still moisture remaining.
You want these to be Legally Blonde bend and snappable. Except, don’t actually snap them; that wouldn’t be pretty.
The citrus looks lovely on a string of twine wrapped around a Christmas tree or on fishing line hanging in a window. The sunlight catches in the slices and reminds me of stained glass!
You can mix orange/blood orange, tangerine, and lemon slices for variety.
Madeleines are probably my favorite treat to bake. All it takes is a few basic baking ingredients and a $10-ish madeleine pan to make a lovely cake-like cookie.
I regularly make lemon (my personal favorite), pumpkin spice, blueberry and honey madeleines but I was looking for something a bit more festive for Christmas when I found an image of deep red madeleines while scrolling on Pinterest. Swoon.
Looks like winter, tastes like summer. (I started thinking of the song Drops of Jupiter after I typed that because of the line “She acts like summer and walks like rain” and so I had to look up who did it. It was a band called Train. I didn’t realize they’re still making music. Do you guys remember that show Behind the Music on VH1? Hmm, this makes two posts in a row where I’ve mentioned something VH1 related. Weird. I don’t even think they play music anymore.)
Wait, where was I? Rosemary and strawberry blended together in the middle of winter?
Living in the deep South means I can wear shorts on a Monday in December and have a forecast for snow on Friday because we’re ridiculous like that. Since Georgia actually received some snow fall this week (not my area, thankfully) and I’m puttering around the kitchen in wool socks now, it felt like a great time to use up some strawberries we froze this summer and remember the scorching 90+ degree heat and humidity.
These cookies are beautiful, delicious with a unique flavor thanks to the rosemary simmered in butter, and you can dress them up several different ways!
As Andy Williams croons, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
I had to look up who sings that song because I just assume every Christmas song on the radio is sung by Bing Crosby. Or that one Mariah Carey did in the early 90’s that will apparently never go away.
So, Christmas= lots of baking. We usually make sugar cookies and lather them in icing and sprinkles but this year I thought it’d be fun to try gingerbread cookies.
The biggest issue folks seem to have is finding cookie recipes that won’t spread out when they bake. If I’m making cookies without a shape then I don’t really mind; if one cookie comes out the size of three, I can still say I only ate one cookie so there’s less guilt. That’s my pro baking tip of the month.
But when you’re working with cute cookie cutters the worst thing is pulling your cookies from the oven only to discover they have oozed into some unidentifiable shape.
I tested three recipes and did some tweaking to create this recipe and I can assure you that these cookies will hold their shape beautifully! The only problem you’ll have is making sure the legs don’t snap off when you remove them from the cookie sheet or while decorating… which is how I came up with the name Oh Snap! Gingerbread Cookies.
Oh Snap! Gingerbread Cookies (you’ll get about 24 gingerbread folks but that’ll change depending on size/shape of your cutter choices)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp lemon extract (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and whisk the first five ingredients together in a bowl.
Using a mixer, cream together the butter and and brown sugar in a separate bowl.
Add the egg and mix.
Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon extract (the extract is just an extra flavor touch but not necessary). Mix until incorporated.
Pour your flour mixture from step 1 slowly into the mixing bowl until dough forms.
Roll dough out on wax paper (or a floured surface) to 1/4″ or 1/2″ thickness.
Use your cookie cutters to create the desired shapes; carefully peeling and placing them on greased cookie sheets.
Bake 9 minutes at 375 degrees.
Transfer cookies (carefully, unless you’re going for the snapped limbs on your gingerbread people) to a wire rack to cool before decorating.
I guess it was around five years ago that the pumpkin spice craze began. Fall came and with it that year (and every year since): leggings, oversized sweaters and every food and drink item known to man suddenly flavored with pumpkin. Each fall the world suddenly has a sixth Spice Girl.
While pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, my husband won’t eat pie. Any kind of pie.
Just kidding. (But seriously, what a weirdo.)
What I’m trying to say is that if I make a pumpkin pie and I’m the only one in the house who will eat it, then I will eat it. All of it.
In one sitting.
Since this is the season of pumpkin flavored everything, I have plenty of options to include it in our Thanksgiving meal.
My brainstorming led me to remember some amazing blueberry muffins with a streusel topping a friend of mine gave me the recipe for last summer after Haven and I picked a ridiculous amount of blueberries, then while looking at waffle recipes (because we finally added a waffle iron to our kitchen appliances!) I found a recipe for pumpkin chai waffles and that made me think of a chai latte.
Then it hit me: why not put pumpkin and a chai latte into a muffin and top it with streusel?
I used the base for my sweet friend’s muffin recipe, added pumpkin puree with chai spices and topped it with a traditional streusel to create a Thanksgiving breakfast or after dinner dessert.
Pumpkin Latte Streusel Muffins makes 12 muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons olive oil (vegetable/canola oil will be just fine also!)
Chai spice mix:
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
tiny pinch of black pepper
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray your muffin pan with cooking spray before adding the muffin liners.
In your mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, milk, vanilla, and oil.
In a separate bowl, stir together all the spices for your chai spice mix, then add the flour, brown sugar and baking soda and stir together.
Add your bowl of dry ingredients to the mixing bowl of wet ingredients. Set your mixer to stir (or the lowest setting) until just combined.
Using a teaspoon, scoop the batter into the muffin liners, filling each about half full.
Make your streusel topping by mixing together the butter, sugars, and cinnamon until sugar begins to dissolve. Add flour a cup at a time and stir until you get a dry paste (like the consistency of wet sand).
Add streusel topping to the top of each muffin. Make sure you get lots of crumbs to cover the batter of each completely.
Place muffin pan in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.
Muffins are done when you stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean.
I chose to pop mine back in the oven under the broiler for 1 minute to give the tops a nice golden/dark brown coloring. Totally up to you if you want to do that. If you choose to, make sure it goes no longer than a minute or you will have some burned muffins!
Store leftovers in an airtight container and re-heat muffins for 10 – 12 seconds in the microwave.