Here in the south there are some things that just define the culture...Some of those being the humidity (take note, southern women don't sweat, we "glisten")The dialect (hun-neh and pah-dun, included)and especially important, the food.
And be quite certain there "ain't" no one that can serve it up like someone's momma or grandmomma. Those of you that were not lucky enough to be born in the south can cook like one, with the proper instructions, mind you.
Today we are going to examine some of those essential and defining southern dishes. Pretty soon, you will be serving up a slice of cornbread and sweet tea like a southern belle.
Ok, almost....we still need to work on that drawl.
In the meantime....the food.
Every Tuesday on my recipe blog, Plates and Places, I will introduce you to the fine art of southern cuisine... that being SOUTHERN STAPLES.
Here is something I am really excited about....
Next week I will have the honor of attending the Neshoba County Fair, just outside of Philadelphia Mississippi. It is touted as Mississippi's Giant House Party.
In trying to explain the idea to my friend, High Mae, who absolutely did not want to go to a "fair" (because "I don't like the fair people"...) I told her, "Mae, It's an exclusive fair". She called it an oxymoron. To know the Neshoba, one can only attend...and then they can make any assumptions they want. BTW, High Mae IS going, like it or not.
The fair will kick off its 2009 season on July 24 and run through July 31. The fair was also recently featured (July 09) in the great southern decor bible, Southern Living Magazine. The fair becomes a giant house party when it is transformed from a field of red clay to a hustling and bustling temporary city-complete with a post office and zip code all it's own! Hundreds of 2 story cabins consisting of mostly bunk style sleeping encircle a racetrack where camptown horse races are a hot ticket daily. Children and Old timers alike make visits from cabin to cabin, where strangers quickly become like family. This ritual takes place from sun up to sun down....and continues well into the night with impromptu music jams. To acquire a cabin one must be extremely lucky, know someone, or have it passed down to you.
This year I was so lucky, I know "a friend of a my friend Sweetness". And I am IN like white on rye. And fleas on dogs. And well, you get the picture.
It's a good idea to take a dish, because in camptown you will quickly acquire friends with a potluck dish. And really, it's the southern way, ya know, to bring a dish to new friends and in the wake of dearly departed ones too. It really all comes down to the food.
I wanted to bring something that would transport easy, and would keep easily. And I thought of something that always made it to my plate at the annual Mother's Day Brown Family Reunion. Aunt Reba's marinated slaw.
This slaw needs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight for the flavor to develop, so plan accordingly.
Aunt Reba's Marinated Slaw
1 C Cider Vinegar
1/4 C Sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 C vegetable oil
1 small head cabbage, shredded
1 small white onion, halved and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 C shredded carrot
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard, celery seeds and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add oil. Cool until warm (a/b 30 minutes). In a large bowl or large resealable storage bag, combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and carrot. Pour the warm dressing over the mixture.
Cover and marinate, refrigerated for days.....but I guarantee it will be eaten up before that!