Many years ago when I went to Boston for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I got to experience my first ‘flower show,’ and what I didn’t know it at the time, flower shows are a big tradition in March in the northeast. Since I’d never been to a flower show, I really didn’t know what to expect. Flower shows are similar to a home and garden show in the South, but with lots of blooming flowers people can purchase. [Read more…] about Spring flower shows feature Alabama’s Redneck Rosarian
When you want a southern treat with a twist, try a sweet potato biscuit. Light, fluffy and slightly sweet, these nuggets of baked goodness are moist on the inside and perfect with country ham or jazzed up with brie and honey.
You’ll see middlins (rice grits) on lots of menus around South Carolina’s Lowcountry, where honoring African diaspora cuisine is a priority among the food community. Rice holds a special place in South Carolina history, for sure. The story of middlins, like so many other classic southern staples, is a humble one.
This was written in 2015- so my grandma would have been 101 today!
Southern girls can learn a lot from their grandmas. Today would have been my grandma’s or as we called her, ma’am maw Kennedy’s 98 birthday if she were alive. And how I wish she were.
My family and I moved to Opelika, Alabama, at the beginning of my third grade year, which was two and half hours away from Birmingham where my ma’am maw and granddaddy lived. Right after we moved my grandparents moved to Blount County, Alabama, Highland Lake area to live full time on the lake. Up until that time and when we stilled lived in Birmingham, my ma’am maw would take my sister and me to dancing school and she would sit and wait on us until our classes were over. Dancing she felt was something we needed to learn and we loved it. After we moved, of course, taking me to dance class was not an option for her and it was something I missed.
Being so far away mean that I would only get to see her at Thanksgiving and Christmas and summer breaks. Those summer breaks spent with my grandparents on the lake were something I looked forward to every year. We waterskied and swam, and soaked in the sun. When I was old enough I began getting up early with my ma’am maw (5:30 or 6:00 am) and would sit at the dining room table with her while she smoked and drank a six ounce bottle of Coca-Cola; after awhile, the cigarettes went away and the cokes were replaced with ice water.. I would listen to her stories about growing up and she would share her wisdom about life. I learned a lot from those early morning sessions and I probably picked up some of her wisdom. After the coke and conversation, she would go into the kitchen and roll biscuits to bake and cook me, my sister and cousins scrambled eggs and sausage.
Later in the morning we would swim and sunbathe until lunch after lunch, my ma’am maw would have us shell butterbeans or purple hull peas while her stories (soap operas) were on. Those beans would be for dinner after which, we all would go waterskiing. The next day this routine would start all over again and would last until Labor Day.
I loved the time I spent with her. She taught me tenacity, told stories about my dad and uncles, and would always give me advice about boys. One of her most famous lines about boys was “In my day, guys were like buses, one came by the corner every few minutes. So stop worrying about them.” And for the most part I took her advice. I miss those sessions with her and especially her advice she so lovingly gave. She died suddenly May 24, 1987, four days before my birthday. Even though time has passed, I still miss those early morning conversations and the advice she would give me.
To this day, I can vividly recall our early southern summer mornings, drinking coca-colas and talking about life.
Let’s talk about staples. Those must-have food items you can’t live without in the kitchen. Since I’m an Alabama cook, of course there is always bacon in my fridge.
According To Me
Did you know that when you cook down fatty pork with onions and jalapeños and add lots of other yummy ingredients, something magical happens? You get something more divine than bacon itself. You get Bacon Jam!
When you have Bacon Jam on hand, that means you have a little something extra special to add to your dishes when you want to make them fancy. I used some to top my Grit Casserole above, and I’m pretty sure I can never look back now! It adds a little punch of salty, sweet, savory and sour that’s seriously unforgettable.
It Goes On Everything!
I’ve used Bacon Jam on burgers, Brussels sprouts and for any last-minute appetizer I’m required to whip up for socializing. Just dump some on a block of cream cheese and go for it. You know, make it look pretty and buy some nice crackers, too, but you get the picture. I also love it as a vegetable condiment alongside chow chow. This stuff does wonders for peas, beans and it will change your mind about creamed corn. Oh, and steaks. Definitely smear this on that!
Although my recipe calls for jalapeños, it’s not super spicy. Just remember to deseed them, and once you cook the peppers down with the onions, the heat factor really mellows.
4 slices bacon, chopped (I like applewood-smoked)
1 1/2 cups Vidalia (or sweet) onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon of Creole mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cook the bacon in a large skillet or medium-sized pot over medium-high for heat 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onions and pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the sweet onions are caramel colored and the green onions are wilted.
Add the thyme, honey and mustard, stirring to dissolve.
Stir in the vinegar and cook for half an hour on low heat, or until it’s the consistency of jam.
Makes about two cups, and you can keep it for about three weeks in the fridge. It can also be frozen.