Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to be a Redneck: Recipe Edition

I've been going through my cookbooks, and I had SUCH a hard time picking out what to share with y'all, because I could really make this post a 24 part series.  There are lots of things I am leaving out.  But I hope this will get you off to a good start, because food around here is seriously about being delicious.  Like Paula Deen says, I am not your doctor.  I don't pretend that any of this is heart healthy, allergen-friendly, organic or all-natural.  But I will promise that it is darn good, and sometimes, one needs to stop worrying about such things, make an Elvis special, and tear through it.  So in that spirit, I give you my favorite, most wonderful redneck culinary ideas.

Some of the best things I've ever cooked have come from the cookbook that my sweet grandmother made for me.  She wrote out all of my favorite recipes and organized them in a recipe binder.  It's one of my most favorite possessions - it has all of her best recipes written out in her neat little handwriting.

I have made this recipe as a perfect, simple go-to pound cake recipe.  It's delicious with some homemade cream cheese frosting, or you can even add a little lemon to the standard frosting recipe.  A few things you should know:  1) You really do need to start with a cold oven.  2)  Don't make any substitutions.  No seriously, buy the Crisco.  3)  It works best if you buy nice cake flour.  Swan's Down or Gold Medal are a must-buy.  Don't be using any cheapie flour, because texture is essential and I don't want your pound cake turning out all weird.  3)  Make sure you grease your pan all over with Crisco and then flour it, and shake it.  This is a terrible pain, but what is a worse pain is when your pound cake sticks and you are cursing the world.  4) Love, relish, and devour your cake.

Some of the best recipes come from little church cookbooks.  These two in particular are from the Mt. Gilead Lutheran Church cookbook, and I use them all the time.  The Dijon chicken is one of my all-time favorites, and it's one of my go-to recipes when I don't have time to make a big fancy meal for dinner but I want something truly yummy.  The Chicken 'n' Coke recipe makes a moist, awesome barbecued chicken breast that goes great with mac and cheese.

Besides my grandmother's cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks is Pit Stop in a Southern Kitchen, by Martha Earnhardt and Carol Gordon Bickford.  Yes, as in Dale Earnhart and Jeff Gordon's mamas.  It has every standby recipe you'd ever need for appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and even for what to do with that deer meat that I know you all have hanging around the house.  

I grew up eating gallons of oyster stew at my grandmother's house.  You buy the oysters in their happy little plastic container, you mix them up with milk and margarine (yes, I know it's bad for you, it's fine, you'll live) - and you have a delicious, warm supper.  Make sure you have some saltines to go with it!

When I was in college, I was in a sorority, and I think the main reason that I stayed with it was because we had a house where they fed us 2 meals a day, 5 days a week.  And Tom was our old hippie-with-a-gray-ponytail chef, and I swear he was intent on fattening all us sorority sisters up.  One way was with the Elvis special sandwiches.  If I saw that on the menu, you better believe I was trotting myself down to the sorority house and loading my plate up with six of them.  Also great for those days where you don't feel like eating anything after a long Saturday night out.  The King was a partier - I'm sure this is why he came up with such a delicious idea.

I first had these at our church ladies' Christmas party (along with some of the most delicious sangria ever, which is a recipe for another time and theme).  I must have eaten 25 of these delicious things, and I don't know how I made it through 23 years of life having never been exposed to these little glorious gems.  Make them for your next party, people will worship you like a goddess.

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