What Do You Call Turnip Green Broth?

I know it sounds country (and it is!), but turnip green broth is best known as pot likker. It is beloved in the South, both as a country meal staple and a delicacy. Pot likker is the broth or liquid made by cooking greens. I have also heard the term applied to the liquid from cooking beans, peas and other vegetables, but in my experience, pot likker usually refers to greens.

My mother cooked with the seasons, so when summer produce was over, we moved on to turnip greens and collards. The puddle of green liquid left on the plate or in the bowl, just naturally called for another piece of corn bread to dunk or crumble in the broth. I love it the taste, but was surprised to learn many years later that an Inn in Virginia served pot likker as an appetizer or soup in their elegant dining room!

The cooking liquid for greens is simply water seasoned with pork or ham hock, salt and red pepper. However, it is the greens that contribute the unique, earthy flavor we love.

To take this delicacy one step further, my friend Robyn at Add a Pinch has a delicious Pot Likker Soup on her blog. She has graciously given me permission to share it with you. Thanks, Robyn!

And, of course, good cornbread is needed to complete the experience – you can’t go wrong with the classic Martha White® Southern Cornbread .

Sorghum Syrup – Heart and Soul

I have a soft spot in my heart for sorghum syrup. My mother grew up with sorghum on the Georgia farm where her father made it for the family. She loved it so much she shared that love with her children. As a child, I can remember a farm near where my grandparents lived in Alabama that had a sorghum mill. My husband Phil often talked about his summer job stripping sorghum stalks in West Tennessee. So we both had a history with sorghum and loved the flavor of this uniquely flavored syrup. We often sought out local sources to pour over hot biscuits.

Often referred to as molasses, sorghum is actually syrup. Molasses is made from the juice of sugar cane. Sorghum is made from the stalks of a cereal grain, ground to release the juice and boiled down into syrup.  Like many of our traditional Southern favorites, sorghum has been rediscovered. Several years ago, I was thrilled when a chef served a mixture of sorghum and butter with hot biscuits at the Southern Foodways Symposium. Now sorghum is being used as ingredient in dressings, marinades, sauces and as sweetener in many recipes. With Sorghum’s new-found attention, I’m hoping sorghum producers will find innovative outlets for their craft and be able to continue the sorghum tradition.

I can think of no greater tribute to sorghum than the classic Martha White® “Hot Rize” Biscuits – hot, buttered and topped with a drizzle of this deliciousness. If you’re not a sorghum aficionado, you owe it to yourself to find some and try it!

Great Chicken Salad: The Saving Grace of the Southern Hostess

In our small Southern town, most parties centered on holidays, birthdays, an occasional wedding, a baby shower or a garden club luncheon.  There were also covered dish dinners, family reunions and church suppers, but they were more communal gatherings – what we called “get-togethers.”

Chicken and pimento cheese finger sandwiches (with the crusts removed) were a favorite and could be found at many of these parties. We loved them! My mother froze any leftover sandwiches and toasted them for a special family treat. Ladies luncheons often featured chicken salad on a leaf of lettuce, a Jello salad and hot rolls.

As a child, I remember my mother’s chicken salad as a rather simple, but delicious, combination of her perfectly cooked and seasoned chicken, with finely chopped celery and mayonnaise. As time went on however, tea rooms and restaurants opened and chicken salad became a signature dish that featured additional ingredients. I can still remember how much I loved chicken salad with grapes when I had it for the first time.

When Phil and I were dating, we had chicken salad that was made with chunks of pineapple and toasted walnuts at a Nashville restaurant. It is still one of our favorite “go to” recipes. I often make it with rotisserie chicken and serve over salad greens for a quick and easy supper.

Chicken Salad Ingredients

Do you have a great chicken salad variation? If so, I would love to know how you make it.

Easter Sunday Sides

Easter Sunday traditions vary from family to family. For many, the day includes a family meal, but the time of the meal may vary depending on other Easter traditions. For some families, breakfast or brunch works the best with their schedule, while others prefer a big Sunday dinner.

When I was growing up, Easter Sunday always included my mother wearing a big purple orchid, the usual church service and a big family dinner. In later years, we sometimes ate out so my mother could enjoy dinner as she usually cooked for the entire family. I can still picture one Easter dinner with us all gathered around the dining table covered in a pink linen tablecloth set with mother’s best china and silver. That year the dogwoods were in perfect bloom. My mother cut a few branches and artfully arranged them as a centerpiece. It was simply beautiful!

The entrée for this meal was a baked ham with our favorite green beans, creamed corn, deviled eggs and gelatin salad. For this occasion, she often made soft, slightly sweet homemade yeast rolls. And of course a wonderful coconut cake.

Garlic Cheese Grits Casserole

No matter the time of day, meal planning can be tailored to fit your schedule. Ham, deviled eggs and a wide variety of side dishes work well for brunch or a mid-day dinner. For brunch, the side dishes might include grits like this delicious Garlic Cheese Grits Casserole recipe and for lunch, a corn pudding is nice. If you need a gluten-free recipe, Gluten Free* Cheesy Corn Pudding is the perfect choice.

Gluten Free Cheesy Corn Pudding

*Ensure all recipe ingredients are gluten free by referencing the ingredient labels, as products may vary. If uncertain, contact the ingredient manufacturer.

Alice Jarman and the Martha White® Test Kitchen

We talked recently about the history of Cohen E. Williams’ idea of starting a test kitchen. He realized that he had developed a loyal customer base for self-rising flour and corn meal, but knew there were many undiscovered uses for these convenient products in addition to biscuits and cornbread. In 1952, Cohen decided to start a test kitchen and hired Alice Jarman to be the first director.

Alice grew up on the family farm in Middle Tennessee. After majoring in home economics at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, she worked in the Midwest for a power company and later a major flour company. Delighted by the idea of moving back home, she accepted the challenge of starting The Martha White test kitchen.

Her first order of business was to develop more recipes using self-rising flour and corn meal. She soon had a delicious collection of recipes to share, perfect for pancakes, waffles, muffins, dumplings, cobblers and cakes.

Before the days of cooking shows on television, Alice and other home economists, located in cities over the Southeast, presented cooking schools to adult and youth groups. Recipe leaflets from home economics classes, home demonstrations and 4-H clubs were distributed to the cooking school attendees.

Alice’s charming personality and free spirit made her a favorite among Southern cooks of all ages. Her philosophy of developing basic recipes using ingredients that were available in most Southern pantries propelled her recipe leaflets to become collectors’ items.

It was my privilege to work with Alice for five years before she retired. I have to say it was an absolute joy and a wonderful learning experience.

Do you remember getting Martha White recipe leaflets or winning a 4-H baking contest sponsored by Martha White?  If so, I would love to hear you story.

Great Grits in the Morning – or Anytime!

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There may be no single food that stirs up more discussion than grits. Could it be the name? Gritty is not a word we usually associate with our favorite foods, but we didn’t hesitate to try polenta when it became popular and it’s essentially the same thing as grits. It’s my understanding that a lot of people have an unfortunate first experience with grits. Watery, unsalted grits sometimes served in Southern restaurants are not very good. (Think watery, unsalted oatmeal.) But cooked to a semi-thick, creamy texture with a little salt, they’re delicious. Southerners typically prefer to eat grits by adding a little butter and black pepper. However, some choose to add sugar for a sweeter rendition.

Grits are made up of coarsely ground corn. Most commercially produced grits have had the outside hull and germ removed from the corn kernel before milling. There are still smaller mills in existence that grind “whole grain” grits containing the bran and germ.

The Southern Food Revival has helped to upgrade the reputation of grits by serving them in creative new ways. When cooked, put in a loaf pan and chilled, grits can be sliced and pan fried. We’ve always simply called them fried grits, but served in a restaurant with rich sauce they are usually called referred to as grit cakes. The classic shrimp and grits has become a Southern favorite.

Many grit doubters have been converted once they’ve tasted flavorful dishes like this Maple Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole. Grits Cream is a wonderful pudding made with grits, cream, sugar and vanilla and is delicious topped with fruit or berries.

Are you a grits lover? I’d love to hear how you eat them.

Cheater Slow Cooker Pulled Pork BBQ and Martha White Corncakes

The following post was written by our friends, Mindy and R.B. from www.cheaterchef.com.

The best quality a recipe can offer is that it solves a particular problem. A few years ago, with that idea in mind, we wrote a book called Cheater BBQ: Barbecue Anytime, Anywhere, in Any Weather (Clarkson Potter 2008).

Cheater Pork BBQ Corncakes Carman Blog

The fun of an all-day (and sometimes all-night) barbecue smoking session isn’t always an option, and it isn’t for everyone. So, how can everyone make their own delicious barbecue anytime, anywhere, in any weather?

Well, you turn the steadfast rules of barbecue upside down and bring it all back into the kitchen. Swap the smoker for the low-and-steady heat of the oven or slow cooker and swap the wood chunks for all-natural liquid smoke. It’s that simple and works beautifully. What to serve during the January football play-off season? Why, a batch of Cheater BBQ pulled pork with cornbread or corncakes. Problem solved!

Years of kitchen barbecue later, we can say with confidence that the basic recipe for our Cheater Slow Cooker Pulled Pork BBQ is the one we make most often. Combine a simple dry rub, liquid smoke, and a pork butt in the slow cooker. No other liquids, no saucy ingredients added. The pork butt will exude plenty of liquid as it cooks and will magically develop a gorgeous crust. When it’s fall-apart-tender your pulled pork is ready to go in any flavor direction you like. Just vary the sauce, slaw, cornbread, and beans to create more meals that you can imagine.

For a traditional southern barbecue approach, we use the recipe on the Martha White® Self-Rising White Enriched Corn Meal Mix bag for perfect skillet cornbread, muffins, and corn cakes. We also love crunchy Corn Meal Waffles topped with barbecue and slaw. Barbecue served with a tangy/sweet sauce pairs nicely to sweet cornbread. Try Sweet Corn Custard Cornbread, traditional Middle Tennessee Corn Light Bread, or the super-easy pouch of sweet yellow cornbread mix.  A can of doctored-up baked beans is the necessary side dish at our house.

Taking the same slow cooker barbecue in a Tex-Mex direction, consider these favorite Martha White recipes like Mexi-Corncakes and BBQ Stacks, Easy Corn and Green Chile Spoonbread, Open-Face BBQ Sandwiches on Jalapeno Cornbread, or substitute the barbecue in Beef Fajita Stuffed Green Chile Cornbread. Everyone should have a Classic Tex-Mex Cornbread Supreme in the barbecue recipe arsenal.

This time make a big pot of pinto or black beans in your other slow cooker and add some fresh lime juice, chopped fresh jalapeno peppers, and cilantro to your favorite slaw.

We always look forward to leftover smoky barbecue for a weekend brunch. Crisp up the barbecue in a cast iron skillet and warm up the leftover spoonbread, cornbread, or corncakes. Or, make a pot of grits. Fry some runny eggs and serve it all together. You’ll never miss the bacon.

Cheater Slow Cooker Pulled Pork BBQ

1 (5 to 7-pound) pork butt or boneless country style ribs

¼ cup basic dry rub (equal parts Kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, and paprika or your favorite rub)

½ cup liquid smoke (no, that is not too much for this recipe!)

Put the pork butt in a large slow cooker (at least 5 quarts). Sprinkle the meat with the rub, turning to coat evenly. Add the liquid smoke. Cover and cook on high for about 6 hours or on low for 10 to 12 hour, until the meat is pull-apart tender and reaches and internal temperature of at least 190 F. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a rimmed platter or baking sheet. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat into strands with your fingers or two forks. It should shred very easily.

To serve the barbecue later, cover and refrigerate the meat when it has cooled. Pour the meat juice into a separate container and refrigerate. Before using the juice, skim and discard the congealed fat layer on the top.

To reheat the barbecue, place it in a covered casserole with some of the reserved juice and heat in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, or until hot.