Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Good Ol Southern Meal--From Desert and Back

Here's a few recipes for some really good stuff we've been eating lately, including some hot weather cookies: the handy No-Bakes!

Desert First!

No-Bake Cookies

1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
3 cups oats (or leftover oatmeal from the morning)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (try almond butter, too)
1 tsp vanilla

Put the first four ingredients in a saucepan. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir. Add vanilla and oatmeal. Drop onto cookie sheets to cool.


Here's another standard of Southern Fare: Cornbread! This makes a rather coarse, grainy-textured bread and happens to be a gluten free variety, but not to worry. This recipe has won repeated blue ribbons at the Tri-State Fair. One proud recipient is our teen guest blogger, Margaret Ohmes. She was nice enough to share.

Margaret's Cornbread

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp honey (optional)
2 Tsp oil
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk*

*Even if you don't make butter, you can easily make buttermilk by souring your regular milk. Put 1 Tbs vinegar into a one cup measuring cup, top off with milk. Repeat for the 2 cups you need in this recipe.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 pan or a medium sized iron skillet (if you are baking in the skillet, I recommend preheating it while the oven preheats). Sift the salt, baking powder, and soda together and combine with the cornmeal. Mix the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until smooth. Turn into the greased pan and bake about 20 minutes. (15 minutes for corn muffins)

If you are adventurous, or even just too hot, you can use a larger skillet on the stove and "deep fry" the cornbread in flattened-out dollops. I use about 1/2 inch of oil and drop spoonfuls into the skillet and mash them. They come out a little like a rather thick psychedelic shaped tortilla.
Not to be left out are the veggies. Of course, they are fried. I use the same basic recipe for frying all of my veggies. My family favorite is:
Fried Okra
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 to 4 cups sliced okra
2 Tbs oil
Preheat oil in skillet being careful not to scorch it. Mix cornmeal with salt and pepper. Slice fresh okra into 1/4 inch coins. Stir okra into the cornmeal mix. Spoon okra into preheated oil. Stir occasionally. Cook until cornmeal forms a firm crust over the okra.
This completely eliminates the "slime factor" in okra. Like my mother's doctor discovered on immigrating from the Middle East to the Southern US, "Anything is good fried!"
...and no Southern Recipe compilation would be complete without the end of season or early season tomato recipe....
Fried Green Tomatoes
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 to 4 thinly sliced tomatoes
3 Tbs oil (preheated)
1 diced onion
Preheat oil in skillet but be careful not to scorch it. Mix cornmeal with salt and pepper. Stir tomatoes into the cornmeal mix. Lay tomatoes evenly into the oil. Cook for approx 1 minute a side or until the cornmeal forms a crust, turn carefully. Once the tomatoes are turned, toss in the diced onions. Remove the tomatoes leaving the onions to fry until translucent. If you are feeling decadent, toss in the remaining cornmeal mixture to absorb the oil and act as a garnish. Top the tomatoes with the still-sizzling onions.
In reality, I grew up with ripe sliced tomatoes available at nearly every meal through the summer. A fried tomato is a luxury. Also, if you are looking for a use for those green babies, any recipe that needs a little mellow sour touch might be able to use a shredded green tomato.
Finally, the main course is my basic crock pot barbecue recipe. I use this as the base and then get creative with the meats and the spices. I'm going to use a boneless, skinless chicken thigh in the recipe, but it works with breast meat as well as with a beef or pork roast.
Crock Pot Barbecue
4 to 5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 chopped onion
1 1/2 cup water
2 Tbs chili powder
3/4 cup ketchup or tomato juice
1 Tbs paprika
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup yellow mustard
Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
Dump it all into the crock pot. Use the low setting for 4 to 5 hours. Depending on the meat, you can serve it whole, sliced, shredded or pulled. This freezes well, too.
Now that you've made it all the way through the list, those cookies are probably cooled off enough to eat. They are really, really good if you freeze them first. Just saying.

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