You know, Deb and I are both from Florida, born and raised. Both of our families have been involved in some type of agriculture for years. Growing up we didn’t have a whole lot, but we stayed fed and clothed, and we were happy most times.
We lived on our porches in the warmer months sitting and enjoying our rocking chairs, catchin what little breeze we could, to cool off some. Our porches were our social gathering sites as well.
When Deb and I built our home, one of the first decisions we made was to have a wrap-around porch, and today, just like in our childhoods, we congregate…on the porch! Nine times out of ten, you pull up to our place, and you’re greeted from a swing on our porch. It is the most used feature by far, at our place.
As children, most of the food we ate we grew. Our vegetables came from our gardens, a lot of our meat we raised, and many times our desserts were cobblers, or sweet breads, with the holidays bringing promises of pecan, sweet potato or pumpkin pies. Life was hard, but life was good!
Some were from the little peaches we could grow here, not as big and as flavorful as those Georgia peaches we all enjoy, but man, they sure would make a good cobbler. Our banana trees were the same way, smaller than store bought, but they made really good banana-nut breads, and we loved this growing up.
Blackberries we’d pick from a roadside fence line, or go out in the woods and pick them as we found them. We’d eat the oranges from the groves, plain, or make up large bowls of fruit salad, and we juiced them as well.
Again, growing up there weren’t a lot of frills, but we didn’t go to bed hungry either. Looking back now, these were the happiest times in my life. We were taught a work ethic, to be respectful of all people, but especially our elders. They were addressed by, “Yes, Ma’am, No Ma’am, or Yes, Sir, No Sir.”
Today many folks feel addressing someone this way is “belittling,” which for the life of me I can’t possibly figure out why! It is simply done out of respect….respect for their age, and their contribution made by them that influenced our lives. It is a good thing…not a belittling thing.
It’s so sad to see the teachings and goings on in today’s society, and for the life of me I see very little good taking place. Our schools have stopped teaching, and today are more into indoctrinating. Our media has sold us out too…today they report agenda’s and not the news.
We as a Country have a tremendous amount of work to do if we ever want to see our great Country restored to the ideals and principles laid out for us by the Founding Fathers. But enough about this, and these are my personal opinions, so who wants to hear that anyway?
Deb and I were brought up on our mainstays of Southern foods. Grits, mustard, collard or turnip greens, peas of all kinds, tomatoes, biscuits, pork and rice, or rice and gravy, okra, cornbread, and pecan pie, all good stuff.
Today we’ll be sharing a recipe or two from another cookbook Deb picked up just last week… “Screen Doors and Iced Tea…Recipes and Tales From a Southern Cook.” It was written by Martha Hall Foose, an executive chef of the Viking Cooking School.
It was published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York.
It is filled with recipes, stories, and helpful hints throughout the book. Since starting this column I have discovered the joy found in not just the recipes in these books, BUT the stories in these books. Cookbooks have evolved from just supplying recipes, but good, enjoyable reading.
If you haven’t taken the time to do so, stop in a good bookstore and check some of the cookbooks out. They not only tell stories, but supply much historical data as to the history of the different foods, and the people who supplied them to us. Again, many cookbooks today are very interesting reads!
Let’s get started with today’s recipes, okay?
We’ll start off with Double-Cut Pork chops, and who doesn’t like a Pork Chop?
Double-Cut Pork Chops:
- 4 double-cut pork loin chops
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- ½ sweet onion (like Vidalia or Walla walla), thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- 4 (1/4 inch thick) slices tart, sweet apple (like Granny smith or Winesap)
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple butter
With a sharp boning knife, cut a slit in the side of each chop, forming a pocket midway through the chop. Season each chop inside and out with salt and pepper.
Set a grill rack 6 to 8 inches above the coals or heat source and heat the grill to medium.
In a skillet set on the grates of the grill, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes or until the onion is very tender and caramelized; season with salt and pepper. Remove to a dish to cool slightly.
Rub the surface of the apple slices with the brown sugar. Insert one slice of apple into the pocket of each chop. Add ¼ of the cooked onion mixture to the pocket, too.
When ready to grill, you should be able to hold your palm over the grill for 3 seconds and there should be a light ash coating on the coals. Grill the chops for 6 minutes. Rotate the chops a quarter-turn and grill for 4 to 6 more minutes. Flip the chops and repeat. Cook until an internal temperature of 150 degrees is reached. Remove the chops from the grill and brush with apple butter before serving.
The Painter’s Black-Eyed Pea Cakes:
- 1 slice bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 whole garlic cloves, plus 2 cloves minced
- 1 pound fresh black-eyed peas
- ½ cup finely minced onion
- ½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped basil
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 cups panko or fresh French breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
**Serve with Comeback Sauce (recipe for this is below this recipe)
In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Add the whole garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute more. Add the peas and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain the peas and discard the garlic. Transfer half of the peas to a large bowl, and with a potato masher, or the back of a spoon, mash until a chunky puree.
Add the remaining cooked peas, the minced garlic, onion, red and green bell peppers, parsley, basil, cayenne, salt and cream. Mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
With damp hands, form the pea mixture into 12 patties, about ¾ of an inch thick. Set aside.
Set up an assembly line to coat the pea cakes. Put the flour into a shallow dish. Next to that dish, get out a small bowl, add the egg and buttermilk, and beat with a fork to combine. Next to the egg mixture, set a shallow dish of bread crumbs. Coat each cake on all sides with flour. Next, dip each cake into egg mixture, allowing the excess to drop off. Then, pat the coated cake in breadcrumbs. Coat all of the cakes and set them aside.
Set a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with newspaper or paper towels.
In a skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Working in batches, fry the cakes for 3 minutes per side or until toasty brown. Place on the rack to drain and cool. (If the oil becomes dark, pour it out of the skillet and wipe the skillet with a paper towel; add additional butter and oil before frying the remaining cakes.)
Serve the cakes with Comeback Sauce.
- 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade. ***see below this recipe
- ¼ cup salad oil
- ¼ cup chili sauce
- ¼ cup Ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 small white onion, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
In a food processor or blender, combine the Mayonnaise, oil, chili sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, hot pepper sauce, paprika, onion, and garlic. Process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Makes 1 pint.
NOTE: to lean this dressing more towards Thousand Island, add 2 chopped hard boiled eggs, and 1 tablespoon chopped capers, or sweet pickle relish.
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 2 cups vegetable oil
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, a blender, or the jar of mayonnaise maker, combine the whole egg, yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, and cayenne. Pulse several times to blend.
With the processor running at high speed, or while quickly dashing the plunger of a mayonnaise maker, very slowly drizzle in the oil, allowing it to integrate as added until all the oil has been incorporated.
As always….compliments to the chef!! Thank you again to Martha Hall Foose, and her fine book, “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea…Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook”