Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday, a time celebrate your Irish heritage or just because you like to wear green and have a good time? However you celebrate, you can be sure we owe many of our favorite Southern traditions to the Irish who settled in the Appalachian region in the early 18th century. Creative and self-reliant, these settlers learned to live off the land and adhere to their traditions of food, music, crafts and storytelling. These hearty folk helped to create many of the traditions of the South we still celebrate today.
The history of any food is hard to trace, but we do know that the traditions of the British Isles, including Ireland, are evident in Southern cuisine. Quick breads like biscuits are one of the most obvious. Originally made with the most basic of ingredients – flour, shortening, buttermilk and soda, it is easy to see how closely related they are to Irish Soda bread and scones.
Traditional recipes for scones are hard to pinpoint as are traditional recipes for biscuits. Basically, a scone is made like a sweet biscuit, often including dried fruit. Sour Cream Sconesare a version of a scone made with self-rising flour. Butter, an egg and sour cream enrich the dough and currant adds a traditional touch. Country Soda Bread is a traditional version of this Irish favorite made with buttermilk and soda. We gave it a Southern twist by including some corn meal with the flour for a crunchy texture and rich grain flavor.
So much of traditional Southern home cooking is based on seasonal ingredients, eating food fresh, and preserving for later use. Meats were cured, while fruits and vegetables were canned, dried and pickled. The art of pickling was brought from Europe, and with an abundance of vegetables and fruit, it soon became a popular method of preservation in the South.
Pickling is basically preserving food in vinegar or brine, which act as a good carrier for intense flavors like herbs and spices. Southern pantries and basements often display a beautiful variety of pickled foods including cucumber pickles, pickled beets, beans, peppers, watermelon rind, okra and corn. Vegetables may also be chopped and combined to make pickled relishes.
In many Southern homes you will likely find a jar of pickles or relish on the kitchen table to add a powerful level of flavor to meats and vegetables. The spicy pickle relish with dried peas and beans, also known as chowchow, is a necessity in Southern kitchens.
Homemade condiments are a big part of Southern culture. Jars of pickles and relishes are a prized possession given to a good friend and should be considered a great compliment to the recipient.
Do you make pickles and relishes? What are your favorites and what do you eat them with?
There is nothing better than a good, old-fashioned Southern potluck. Gathering with friends and family amongst a bevy of dishes is just plain good for the soul.
While we can’t all physically gather around one table, today we invite you to pull up a chair to the second annual Martha White® virtual potluck.
If you haven’t heard, the 19th Annual National Cornbread Cook-Off is bringing back 10 past winners to compete against the best of the best. In honor of this All-Star competition, I am participating with 10 other blogger friends in a special edition potluck to share our all-star main cornbread dishes. I’ve linked to their blogs below, so make sure you check out their delicious creations. You may even win a prize!
The all-star dish I am bringing to the potluck is the BLT Cornbread Salad. This is one of my favorites because it uses cornbread in such a unique way. I think that’s also why it continues to be a hit at the potlucks I attend.
I hope you enjoy our virtual table today, and happy baking!
We are continuing our What’s In Your Pantry series for fall baking. I love this idea because it brings back sweet memories of my mother. She was a wonderful Southern cook who could always create a delicious meal, snack or dessert with ingredients she already had on hand. Rather than figuring out what she wanted to cook beforehand, she’d take inventory and cook with what she had.
It’s a great concept because it gives you peace of mind that you can come up with something in a pinch. Of course, you will usually have basic staples on hand. And if you keep a variety of Martha White® Muffin Mixes in your pantry, there are a lot of quick and easy recipes you can make.
With these ingredients and a few other kitchen staples, you can whip up Caramel Apple Muffins, perfect for the fall season and a crowd pleaser for any age. Adding a little sour cream and vanilla extract to muffin batter produces a rich flavor that complements the addition of chopped fresh apples. We topped the muffins with a salty caramel glaze made with caramel topping and a sprinkling of chopped salted peanuts.
You can have a batch of these ready in no time, just right for an after school snack or unexpected company.
I’m excited to tell you about some helpful tips to help you in your kitchen. We have a new series called “What’s in Your Pantry?”
We know no matter how good a meal planner and how good a shopper you are, sometimes you need a last-minute dessert, quick after-school snack or a homemade goodie for unexpected company. We want to show you what you need to have in your pantry to make delicious quick-and-easy snacks and desserts.
Now we’re assuming that you’ll have some kitchen basics like sugar, milk, butter and eggs. But it’s always nice to have an assortment of Martha White® Muffin Mixes on hand, too. They’re a convenient shortcut to a number of delicious recipes.
When my mother took me blackberry picking, it was an adventure. The blackberry plants grew wild among the weeds along old fence rows behind our house. Because there were briars, mosquitoes and Alabama sun to contend with, we suited up like bee keepers and trudged over to the pasture. Every summer she had enough blackberries to make several cobblers and enough jelly to last us through the winter.
Blackberry cobblers were our absolute favorites. Mother made them with flaky pie crust – bottom and top – baked in a large pan. Another easier version is made by topping the fruit mixture with rich biscuit dough.
And the easiest cobblers of all are made with a pour batter. Some recipes call for pouring the batter over the fruit. Others call for spooning the fruit over the batter which miraculously rises to the top and bakes up crisp, buttery and golden brown like this Lazy Days Blackberry Cobbler.
No matter what style cobbler you choose, just remember this is the time of year to take advantage of the fruits and berries at the peak of their flavor and celebrate summer with a fruit cobbler.
Tell me about your favorite cobbler flavors and styles.
Several years ago I was working on some recipes for summer entertaining and decided I wanted to include a bar cookie. First of all, let me just say that I’m a huge fan of bars. They are so easy to make. You don’t have to roll out, drop or shape the dough and they are baked in one pan. No endless batches in and out of the oven.
The other thing about dessert bars is that many recipes combine layers of complementary textures and flavors. I especially love the ones that have a buttery crust layer pressed in the bottom of the pan topped with a sweet filling, like lemon. The result is a bar with a salty, buttery, crisp crust topped with a sweet, tart, creamy filling. Delicious!
Lemon is a good summer flavor, but I’ve already shared a good lemon bar recipe. Lime seems to offer a uniquely refreshing flavor to many summertime recipes from key lime pie to a glass of cold limeade. So why not simply convert our favorite lemon bar recipe to a lime bar by using lime juice in the filling and macadamias in the shortbread crust? Key Lime and Macadamia Bars are one of my favorite summer desserts and I’m happy to share it with you.
Do you have a favorite bar cookie that you like to make?