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Southern Holiday Traditions

Southern holiday traditions are probably a lot like holiday traditions all over the country or the world for that matter. They vary from region to region and family to family, but that’s what makes our own traditions dear to our hearts. We value them because they are ours and we share them with those we love most – our families and friends.

Most of our holiday traditions are a reflection of our family’s heritage, ethnicity and the place they lived. My Alabama and Georgia roots are what I think of as deep inland South. My ancestors were primarily farmers who lived off the land. Fruits and vegetables were dried and canned, meat was cured, nuts were gathered and root vegetables stored to get them through the winter. Since those were the things they had to cook, some of our traditional holiday favorites are deeply rooted in that soil. Recipes like jam cakes, pecan pies, country ham biscuits, sweet potato pie/casseroles, greens, cornbread dressing, cheese grits have all been part of my family’s holiday tables for generations.

For those of you who are rooted in Appalachia, the low country, or along the Southern coast, your traditional favorites probably take on a more regional flavor reflecting the seafood, game and produce from those areas of the South. I would love to hear about your traditional holiday favorites and how they reflect your family heritage.

Here is a jam cake that has been a Martha White Kitchen favorite for many years. It does take a little shortcut with the traditional caramel icing, by using brown sugar. But if you are a pro at making the traditional icing made by caramelizing white sugar, you should make that. And while you are at it, teach someone else to make it. That is an art that should not be lost.

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