What Would We Do Without Slaw?

Coleslaw is shredded cabbage with mayonnaise, vinaigrette or other dressing. There are multiple slaw options – Have you tried broccoli slaw? Other ingredients may include carrots, chopped onion, celery, or pickles. The truth is that almost everyone has their own personal favorite.

Whatever it is and however you make it, slaw is an integral and unique part of so many Southern meals. I personally love it with fresh vegetables. It provides just the right crisp, tart texture and flavor and is even the essential accompaniment to fried fish and barbecue. Many catfish restaurants give you a choice of mayonnaise or vinegar based slaw. To confuse the issue even more, some people order half mayo and half vinegar!

Oh, I can’t forget about mustard slaw, which also brings up the question of how you prepare the cabbage? My dear mother grated it on a hand grater, but most slaw today is shredded or chopped a little coarser.

With multiple versions of slaw and occasions to enjoy it, I will make the decisions a little easier and tell you how I make my favorite slaw. It’s simple – shredded cabbage and carrots (sometimes I cheat and buy the slaw mix in the produce section). My dressing of choice is mayonnaise with a little lemon juice for a touch of additional flavor and a sprinkling of sugar and salt.

This is my favorite version of slaw – how do you make yours?

Red, White and Blueberries

The 4th of July holiday is approaching fast.  Have you given any thought as to how you will celebrate this year – parades, picnics, fireworks or a casual gathering with family and friends? We want to take time to remember the significance of Independence Day and what it means for our Country.

No need to worry about a color scheme for this dessert as it’s been decided for you — red, white and blue. This is not a cake with a flag made from strawberries and blueberries, but rather a cool, creamy pie you can make in advance and chill until serving time.

Martha White® White Chocolate Raspberry Pie has an easy-to-make press-in crust made with Martha White Wildberry Muffin Mix, chopped almonds and butter. The filling is made with cream cheese, melted white chocolate baking chips, whipped topping and almond extract. It’s easy, cool and delicious! When ready to serve, top the pie with raspberries and blueberries for the perfect 4th of July presentation.


What Are Your Favorite Herbs?

My mother’s primary use of fresh herbs was to occasionally add mint to our iced tea, use dill for pickling or add a sprig of parsley for a party garnish – yet her food was always flavorful.  She did use dried herbs like sage in her wonderful cornbread dressing, a dash of cayenne in cheese straws and a bay leaf in some soups.

Her chicken and dumpling pies were seasoned with fresh onions, carrots and celery. The spaghetti sauce my sister makes has no herbs, just caramelized onions.

It makes me happy to see the variety of fresh herbs available in grocery stores and how many people are choosing to grow their own at home. The classic combination of fresh, ripe tomatoes and basil, the addition of chives to biscuits and, of course, all the Italian herbs have become extremely popular all over the country.

These Martha White® Parmesan Fresh Herb Muffins would make a great addition to your summer vegetable dinners or served in conjunction with a summer soup or salad. The recipe consists of Martha White self-rising flour and Martha White self-rising cornmeal mix.  This combination creates a softer texture than traditional Southern cornbread. The addition of Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, dill and/or parsley gives these muffins a distinctive flavor. Let your creativity flow by using any combination of fresh herbs your tastebuds find appetizing.

What’s your favorite herb enhanced recipe?

Strawberry Biscuit Cobbler

For as long as I can remember food has always been a big part of how I express love and kindness to my family. It feels good to make something special for them and be able to enjoy it together. Even better is getting to make those special dishes with a family member.

Growing up, food was a big part of my childhood. I remember my mom calling me into the kitchen and telling me it was time to learn how to cook. I was small and could barely see above the counter, but I pulled up a chair, stood on it and found my place. Cooking with my mother wasn’t the easiest, because she was definitely set in her ways, but I loved just being in the kitchen with her.

Everyone has special memories from their childhood. For me it has always been food and cooking. Food memories are the one thing that can be passed down from one generation to the next. As a mother of three, I too, am looking for ways to create similar experiences and memories with my own children.

When my kids were younger, my husband and I started an annual tradition of apple and berry picking. We live in North Texas, so we’re blessed to have several local pick-your-own fruit farms in the area. Each fall we pick apples and every summer we pick strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.

It’s so much fun driving out to the country, picking and eating the berries, loading up all of our goodies and heading back home. Berry picking is the one tradition that I look forward to every year.

Strawberries are my family’s absolute favorite, so we usually pick quite a bit. I store several bags in the freezer to use over winter, and the remainder is used to make jam, my Mom’s Strawberry Cake and our favorite Strawberry Biscuit Cobbler.

The biscuit topping in this cobbler bakes up golden brown with fluffy drop biscuits that are perfect for soaking up all that strawberry filling.  Serve this cobbler warm with a dollop of whipped cream.

What food traditions are part of your family?

2 lbs – fresh strawberries
1/2 – cup sugar
3 – tablespoons flour

Biscuit Topping:  
1 1/2 – cups Martha White® self rising flour
2 – tablespoons sugar, plus more for biscuit topping
4 – tablespoons cold and cubed butter
1 1/4 – cups cold heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Hull the strawberries, cut them into quarters, and place in an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch baking dish.

Make the filling using a small bowl. Mix the sugar and the flour together; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the strawberries. Toss the strawberry mixture lightly to combine, and set aside.

Make the biscuit topping in a large bowl. Combine all the dry ingredients; using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture to resemble coarse meal.

Add the cream and mix until moist. Spoon the biscuit mixture on top of the filling. It should be plopped on in clumps. You don’t want a perfectly smooth topping.

Sprinkle the biscuit topping with additional granulated sugar.  Bake 25 minutes or until the topping is lightly golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let cool until the juices thicken. Serve warm by itself or with fresh whipped cream.

Cook’s Notes: If you don’t have self-rising flour on hand, you can make your own.  For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 11/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine and continue with the recipe.


Evolving Christmas Eve Tradition

I love traditional celebrations – the ones that have been observed year after year. I think they help keep us grounded and in touch with our roots. On the other hand, when the observation of a tradition becomes more important than the original purpose, it’s time to move on. A tradition should not be celebrated simply because we’ve always done it, but because it has meaning in the context of our lives.

For many years when all of us were living at home, our Christmas Eves were spent preparing for Christmas Day. Making cookies for Santa, setting the table for Christmas dinner and hanging stockings in anticipation of a late night visit. Opening gifts on Christmas morning and a big family dinner were our traditions.

But as my brothers and sisters married and had families of their own, it got more complicated. Although we still had a big Christmas dinner, there were often a few missing who were expected other places. The big celebration at home with Mama evolved into a Christmas Eve party when we all gathered to open gifts, sing carols and enjoy a different kind of meal than we had ever had at our house. Little pimento cheese and tuna salad finger sandwiches with the crust cut off, fresh vegetables, chips, assorted cookies, cakes and pies. And always, Mama’s hot spice tea, that we inexplicably called Russian Tea.

That Christmas Eve party became a tradition that was just as beloved as what we had done for many years before, because it worked better for our family. It is a celebration of the evolution of our family because it works for us. That’s what family tradition is really about.

Make it Rich and Gooey for Bake Sales

The bake sale tradition has benefited many worthy causes, but figuring out what to take can be a challenge. Not just any recipe will work. It needs to look and taste delicious, without the need to be kept cool or made at the last minute.

There are a lot of good options, but rather than going through the “What am I going to take?” routine every time, think about creating your own signature bake sale recipe. Aim for one that is dependable, uses basic ingredients and is something you can make in advance and freeze. Of course, you also want it to be so good that folks look forward to it every year. With your recipe picked out and the ingredients on hand, you’ll be ready to bake anytime you get a request.

Moist and gooey treats are always popular, so try this Gooey Chess Cake for your next bake sale. It’s easy to stir up and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry. The caramel flavor from brown sugar and butter in this dense cake is so rich and delicious it’s sure to be a hit. And you can easily cut and wrap squares for individual serving sales.

A Day to Celebrate Love

We’ve talked a lot about family and holiday traditions – many go back generations, but Valentine’s Day seems to be more personal. Of course, there are the typical symbols – like hearts, flowers and chocolate, but the celebrations range from romantic dinners to children’s parties and vary greatly from family to family.

But how can you not embrace a day that celebrates love? Every Valentine’s Day when a big beautiful bouquet of 13 yellow roses arrives at my office, I am reminded of the first time I laid eyes on Phil Carman. Soon after college, Phil and I met at a neighbor’s house. We talked a while, but he was with some other people so I decided it was time for me to leave. He walked me home and the next morning I received a beautifully arranged bouquet of lovely yellow roses. So romantic.

A few years later after several moves and new jobs, we got married. Of course, we reminisce about how we met and the yellow roses. So every Valentine’s Day he sends a big bouquet of –long-stemmed yellow roses and since I work for Martha White – it’s a baker’s dozen.

I know it’s frivolous and I’m always the one who says it’s not about the presents, but it is a precious tradition to me. And he loves hearing that all my friends know who sends the yellow roses on Valentine’s Day. It’s still romantic.