Friday, December 30, 2005

Dinner at My House: Southern Food

I always come back from visiting family and want to cook up a storm. One of my southern uncles used to always worry about me up here with all these "yankees". If he could come over for dinner this week, his only worry would be that I didn't get the gravy or the greens quite right.

For dinner this week, it's comfort food. Here's what we're having for dinner at my house on Friday night!

**Cheese straws with treats as snacks before hand. At home it was always cheese and crackers before dinner with a few other treats from time to time. People trickle in afterwork, wind down, have a glass of wine, and chat.
** Iceberg wedge with Buttermilk Dressing. Before "Ranch", there was buttermilk dressing. I can't locate my mother's recipe so I'll use Grady Spears' from A Cowboy in the Kitchen: Recipes from Reata and Texas West of the Pecos.
**Bacon and Cheese Grits. Any recipe that starts with "first, fry one pound of bacon" is always a hit. I follow my nose on this but use Grady's recipe for guidance. The grits are cooked in chicken broth for a heartier flavor.
**Buttermilk Cornbread. No recipe for this one but my mother's. Which was her mother's. And possibly her mother's before that. Made with lots of buttermilk and poured into a pan of melted butter.
**Greens. Probably kale or napa cabbage with a strong vinegar dressing. Mine always comes out too soggy, so I'm going to use the recipe from Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe. She also has a cider vinegar dressing recipe I like.
**Ham with flour gravy. If I were frying the ham, I'd make Red Eye Gravy, but I'll make a white gravy instead -- with cracked black pepper.
** Pickles from Meganne's garden in Arkansas, chutney and port-wine, black pepper jelly from my own kitchen, soft butter, and even ketchup for the heathens in the room.
**Bread pudding with Whiskey Sauce. I like to make my bread pudding with praline pecans broken up inside so that they melt and a cream whiskey sauce cribbed from my hometown friend Meganne who cribbed it from a New Orleans chef she dated when we all lived in San Francisco.

With the exception of the missing pot of black-eyed peas, which I'll have to make on Sunday anyway, I'd say we have us a supper. I could fry chicken, but it makes such a mess. All these goodies served with beverages of choice and a big pitcher of sweet iced tea.

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