Merry Christmas from Tennessee

Merry Christmas from Tennessee!

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Here’s a little South for your mouth! And some love from my kitchen to yours!

These are some recipes I have previously posted but one’s that seem highly appropriate for the holiday season. The 1st one is for Sweet potato biscuits, which are VERY good with county ham and hot pepper jelly.  

Biscuit making is one of those things that can be difficult for the poor folks who have never had the experience of growing up watching my Granny make them every day of the world. She could have make biscuits with her eyes closed, just by the way the dough felt. I loved to watch her tanned, farm-rough hands patting and rolling the white soft dough. She used a pet milk can that had the banding at the end cut off even, so it was sharp and cut the biscuits cleanly. It is the one thing I wish I still had of hers, she touched it everyday and I think my biscuits would be better if I could use it. The most important thing to remember is not to handle the dough too much. This recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits is fairly simple if you remember that. One of the first times I made these was for Ashley’s last Writers Meeting before she took off to L.A. California to seek her new life! I made them small more bite sized, Charlotte was here staying with me from Portland and Melinda had gotten here early for the party, as I am pulling out the pans of SP biscuits and setting them on the table  Charlotte and Melinda are grabbing handfuls of them and slapping butter on them, I thought to help me out, BUT NO…. they are stuffing their greedy little mouths with them, what clued me in was the obvious and loud MOANING noises coming from their direction. They were eating 2 for every 3 they buttered. Such great little helpers! Since I made a double batch of dough it was no problem, and we had plenty, so here’s the recipe, I would double it if I were you, unless there’s only 1 of you. As long as you put any leftovers in a sealed container and refrigerate them they do warm over quiet nicely, but you can’t keep the dough so cook them all! I have made these in a 1  1/2″ and a 3″ size and they are great both ways, the small ones cook really quickly. The only thing difficult about this is you have to bake off the sweet potatoes ahead of time, bake about 3 to 4 of them at 350 for about an hour or until them are mushy and running their brown sweetness out the cracks in the skin.

Preheat a 425 degree oven and put your rack in the center of the oven.

We are going to mix all the wet ingredients in one bowl and all the dry in another

DRY

1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons sugar

mix together

WET

1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potato

3 tablespoons of half and half, maybe 4

1/2 stick of salted butter softened

mix together

Put the wet into the dry, gently mix the dry and wet together, if its too dry add the extra tablespoon of half and half, put it out on a floured surface, sprinkle top with more flour, kneed it 3 times ONLY, this is a very wet and tender dough, it needs to be, barely roll it out to about an inch thick and cut your biscuits. Place them about 2 inches apart on baking sheet and bake them off until the are lightly brown. Eat them up with butter, and country ham and pepper jelly. Below is where I buy my shaved country ham they have the best country ham ANYWHERE, and they can ship it to you. My son’s best friend Adam was teaching children how to speak English in OMAN for a few years and I got some of this county ham for him when he was home one time for a visit, which he SMUGGLED into that country in his suitcase. He didn’t get caught and said it was so worth it! I can’t imagine living anywhere ham is not readily available. If you are ever in Murfreesboro, Tn.  go by and see this cute little store or go see their website, http://www.thehamery.com, As for the pepper jelly, a lady makes it locally here and also sells it from her website, http://www.marcyjams.com,  the Firecracker Pepper is my favorite, but if you love a lotta heat, go for the Strawberry Habanero, it’ll set you afire.  You gotta love a woman who is spreading southern goodness throughout the world.

The next recipe is near and dear to my heart, it is my Minner’ Cheese that can cure what ails you. If you have a cold it will clear out everything in a stuffy head, and cure a cough. I have made one modification which I will call a stroke of genius if I do say so myself.

Candies Minner cheese, and it goes like this,
1 8oz block of extra sharp white cheddar cheese, I like Cabot (don’t even think about the shredded kind it don’t bond together right) and then shred it.
1 7oz jar of diced pimientos (I like the Lindsay brand) drain them well!! like while you are shredding all that cheese.
2 tablespoons grated onions(use a small grater for this)
1 teaspoon grated fresh jalapeno (leave the seeds in it and grate away if you like it hot) but believe me when I tell you, it gets hotter the next day,
and then add 1 tablespoon of grated fresh red chili pepper (this is the modification)             a dash of ground red pepper and a dash of crushed red pepper (yes I know it sounds like the same thing but hits your tongue at different places)

Mix all that up real good
Then all you do is add about 2 tablespoons of DUKES REAL MAYONAISE
and mix all that in, you don’t want it too runny, it’ll slide off your sandwich, so go easy at first with the Mayo but if it seemed a little dry just add about 1/2 teaspoon of DUKES at a time until its right. It really doesn’t take very much mayo which is why you do that last, the grated onion is juicy and the pimentos are too.
AND YES use DUKES, its the best mayo ever, just take my word for it.
Now the important part
Get 2 big ole slices of white bread,
I like Merita (NO, whole wheat does not taste right) the bread needs to be innocuous the plainer the better.
Slather some minner’ cheese on it , make yourself a cup of hot tea or iced tea if its summer and ENJOY!!!

And lastly my favorite recipe for cornbread. For an event in my furniture business, Thelma and Nate, I put the cornmeal batter in mini muffin cups and served that with a wad of Minner’ Cheese on top. GREAT southern appetizer! Or with a big old pot of turnip greens and a pot of black eyed peas. I might need to make some now!

I am going to give you the recipe, it is good with soup, with black eyed peas, with any meal or by itself at 3:00 a.m. when you need a little something to tide you over until breakfast. YOU MUST DO IT EXACTLY AS I HAVE WRITTEN AND YOU WILL BE WILD OVER THIS CORNBREAD! I am going to even give you the brands I use because that’s important as well. If you don’t have access to these then please use the best quality you can find it only has 4 ingredients so it matters. Or come on down to the south and I’ll fix you some and send you home with some supplies.

Preheat Oven to 420 degrees (I know it sound’s hot, but this is a quick bread, they need hot and you want a crispy crust)

put 1 stick of salted butter(use real butter) in a 9″square or round pan, like a good heavy cake pan, if you have a 9″cast iron skillet you are gonna have an extra degree of wonderful, put it in that warming up oven to melt the butter. But keep an eye on it.

crack 2 large eggs (need I say fresh) in a med size ceremic bowl, I use Egglands Best eggs because they are the freshest I can find, as I no longer have a coop of my own, beat them up slightly with a fork.

Keep you eyes  on the melting butter, you want it to brown slightly and sizzle but not burn!

Add 1 2/3 cups of fresh WHOLE buttermilk to the bowl (Purity Milk in the yellow carton is what I use) don’t use the 2% buttermilk its not as good. Beat that in good, I use a long tine   fork.

Add 1 3/4 cup of White Lily Self Rising Buttermilk Cornbread Mix (flour is included in the mix so its lighter) it has GREEN writing on the front (they sell White Lily everywhere now so you should be able to find it, go ahead and get the 5 lb bag you’re gonna want to do this again) Mix that well until its smooth and thick about like pancake batter, if its too thick add more buttermilk. If it’s too thin add more cornmeal.

Check the butter, it should be browning and sizzling, if it burns throw it out and clean the pan and start again, burnt is gonna ruin the whole pan of cornbread. (yes I have burned the butter!) Once it has melted and browned carefully take it out of the oven, swirl it around the pan to coat the sides good and pour in into the bowl of batter, this is why you use a ceramic bowl, and it WILL sizzle when it hits, stir the butter into the batter good and pour the whole thing back in your pan.

Stick it back in that hot oven and it will rise and turn golden brown on top. As for how long you cook it, well… until it’s done. Generally about 15 to 20 minutes, but stoves vary so keep an eye out. Some folks (Nick) likes to turn his out onto a plate so the crust stays crisp, but let it cool a few minutes before you do that, this is really moist cornbread and you don’t want it to fall apart on you

Cut you a big old hunk, slap some butter on it, get a tall glass of cold sweet milk and sit by the window and watch the birds eat and play while your black eyed peas are cooking!

That is a good Saturday!

Merry Christmas Y’all!

Posted in Christmas in the south, fresh food, love and family, small farm, SOUTHERN FOOD, Southern Living, sweet potato biscuits | Tagged , | Leave a comment

7 Sweets and 7 Sours

As I sat eating my turkey sandwich on toasted Italian bread with Dukes Mayo and pickled beets on the side, I started thinking about when I was a young girl and lived at Granny’s house and how I heard that phrase “7 sweets and 7 sours” at all of the big dinners, or even Sunday dinners that took place at her house or at my Great Grandmother, Mimi’s house on those occasions. I realized how much those ” 7 sweets and 7 sours” added to the enjoyment of the meals.
Let me explain, “7 sweets and 7 sours” had everything to do with how good a cook you were, and how wonderful a hostess you were. All those little colored and cut glass dishes that are so pretty that you now see all the time in antique stores, this is what they were for. But the 7 sweets did not mean 7 desserts, it meant 7 condiments that were served with the main meal as a sidebar and enhancement to the main course. It meant exactly the same with the 7 sours. So… for sweets it would be pickled beets, pickled Holland onions, sweet pickles, sweet and hot chow-chow, pickled spiced peaches, sweet fruit chutney, and jams and honey, apple butter, cranberry sauce, or my particular favorite combination, blackberry or strawberry butter. For the sours it would be stuffed olives, dill pickles, pickled summer squash, pickled okra, pickled green beans, sour baby cukes, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, chopped up with white vinegar and salt, pimento cheese and chive butter are a few examples. Yes indeed, its a lot to aspire to. But damn it’s delicious.
But my thought is, why not do it on a less grand scale. And why not use some good pre-made (as in store bought) sweets and sours to add to the things that you make yourself.

Aunt Nellie’s pickled beets are one of my personal favorites. And Wickle’s Pickles are about the best sweet spicy store bought pickle you can get your lips around (they have a website if you live somewhere else besides here). Make up a few deviled eggs, they have become the darling of the new south “farm to table” appetizer course, and are on every menu I have read at high end restaurants in the past 2 years. Y’all know, pimento cheese is one of my personal favorites, and it is delicious on a cornbread or a biscuit. My recipe for it is on this blog, Feb. 2012. Pull out some good stuffed olives, or stuff some yourself with blue cheese or pimento cheese. A sweet friend named Jo’an from England has just gotten me started on Lindsay canned olives, they are not so salty and are just dying to be stuffed with something savory. Figs are just out of season but still available in some places, I love mine with a shard of Parmesan and drizzled with honey as an accompaniment roasted chicken and vegetables, it makes the whole meal taste better. Buy a few of those colored glass dishes, or use your Grannys, and have a little extra something with your food. These things aren’t a lot of trouble, they light up your taste buds and an everyday meal becomes just a little special. Hey I’m all about celebrating a little for almost no reason.

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Cake AND Pie and Granny

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Producing Food… planting food, tending food, harvesting food, preserving food, cooking food, that was my early childhood, running along barefooted behind my Granny. Learning everything she did by doing it with her, her talking me along, telling me why it was important to hoe the corn, why we needed to plant the melons closest to the creek, how some flowers bloom every other year, like Sweet William, but they came up anyway to add their green coats to the flowers around them. Why planting asparagus was worth the two year wait because it tasted of spring itself, cooked simple and quick especially with scrambled eggs. If I woke early enough I’d go to the hen house with her to gather warm eggs from under sweet hens who seemed to know their purpose was to provide for Granny’s family. She spoke to them as we went along, calling each by name, talking softly, as she did to me… late at night telling stories to help me sleep. Food was her life, feeding good food to her loved ones was her hard work each day, but more importantly it was her joy each day. And the family that gathered around her to tell stories and play music and share the lives they lived, that was her entertainment. Whatever we were eating, there was always something sweet at the end, a fruit pie or slice of cake or bread pudding make from leftover biscuits and eggs. Sometimes it was cinnamon apple jelly on a butter biscuit, or honey on cornbread, just a little sweet kiss to to close the meal and make the day brighter.

One of my fondest memories were the fruit pies that Granny made. I don’t remember ever having buttermilk pie or chess pie, didn’t have those until I was grown. Granny loved the tartness of a good fruit pie. Blackberry was my special favorite, maybe because blackberries were so hard to actually get to. Peach pies were made with the peaches off of Granny’s trees, and sometimes these two fruits ended up together in a pie or cake, because they came in at the same time. One of the things I have eaten all my life is a peach cake. Something most people have never heard of, or they think it is some kind of a layer cake with peaches as the filling. That actually sounds like something someone would make that had some time on their hands, beautiful and excellent but not something a farmer with corn to hoe would have time to make. Pies are quick, cakes usually not. But this one is very quick and so tart sweet incredible you will want to have it for breakfast the next day. You can make this with all peaches, you can make it with all blackberries or you can combine the two.

Deep Dish Blackberry, Peach Cake

4 pints of  blackberries rinsed (or 8 pints if you are just doing blackberries)

6 big peaches peeled and cut into 2″ chunks (or 16 if just peaches, if you’ve got small peaches use more)

1 stick of butter cut into small pieces

1/2 to 1 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet the fruit is or how sweet you like your cake)

1 tablespoon corn starch

Put all of the above in a deep buttered casserole dish and mix together, let it all get to know each other while you make the cake batter. I use an old Corning Ware deep casserole dish about 5 inches deep.

Yellow Cake batter for top,

1 1/2 plus 1/8 cup of cake flour sifted then measured

1  and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

scant 1/8 teaspoon salt

1 stick of butter softened

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole milk

sift flour baking powder salt into a bowl and stir together, sit aside

In a mixer beat butter until creamy add sugar beat on high until light and fluffy

Put mixer on low and add eggs 1 at a time and then egg yolk

beat in Vanilla

Add flour mixture at low speed in 3 additions alternating with milk in 2 additions just until mixed.

Pour batter over fruit and spread evenly, dot top with an additional 1/2 stick of butter

Bake at 350 degrees about an hour until top is brown and center is set, check with toothpick.

Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.

Yep! you’ll be eating this for breakfast the next day.

Keep leftovers if there are any in the refrigerator.

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Posted in Coconut Cake, fresh food, love and family, small farm, SOUTHERN FOOD, Southern Living, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LIVE!!!!!

The website is live
http://www.thelmaandnate.net

please visit us there and often, thank you!

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Coka-Cola and Lance Toasty crackers

My best friend, Keith and I took an early morning trip to a small town not too far from here to visit a man who is tearing down an old feed mill, old as in, over a hundred years old. We have started a new business, one we have talked about for years, making furniture. Not just ordinary furniture, but useful beautiful pieces from re-cycled wood and “burn pile” furniture parts and various things that most people throw away. I’ve always been a “use it up or wear it out” kind of a girl. I’ve never had the kind of money that would allow anything else. If you think about it, that philosophy has been kind of missing in this society, since about WWII. American prosperity has trashed our oceans, our landfills, our lives, our bodies. But I was so lucky to have been raised by my Granny, Thelma Eaker that lived and scrimped through that war and the rest of her life. So I generally don’t buy new, and if I or Keith can make it, I don’t  buy it at all. I really like old well made chairs and couches, so I taught myself to re-upholster. Seriously, not that hard. When was the last time you bought a couch for $200? I just got a 1950’s french made mid-century Walnut trimmed beautiful couch for just that, heavy as a Volkswagen. That’s because 65 years ago a real artisan took the time to make a beautiful piece of furniture, out of beautiful real materials. That’s what we want to do, but with up-cycled materials headed for the land fill or the burn pile. So early this morning we headed out to meet a man who thinks like us. Just one of the benefits of our new business, we get to meet people, really interesting good people who think outside the box.

So we take off for Carthage, 2 lane road, Keith is driving. That was kinda the first problem, we are like little kids we are so excited to be going on this adventure. So he is talking, I am talking about what all this guy has and what all we can make. And about 15 miles into the trip I get motion sickness.  So the last 5 miles into Lebanon I am barely holding on to the breakfast we had at 6:30. He pulls into a truck stop to let me drive. I am reeling from nausea. He runs in and get me a Coka-cola and Lance Peanut butter toasty crackers. The exact cure for the flighty stomach. I know, I know… Coka-cola is seriously bad for you, with the high fructose corn syrup but I only drank about a third and it is my cure all for icky stomach. A Mexican coke would have been so much better, it is made with sugar, but I didn’t have time to hunt one down. So feeling better we took off again with me driving. We are so excited to be doing this, sometimes we just look at each other and go “man we should have started this 10 years ago.” But things happen in their own good time.

I guess you have noticed this post isn’t exactly about food. But it is about all the things that feed my passion for food. My Granny Thelma, my husband Keith and my son Nate, and the love and joy I have for all these people. So wish us luck!! But this feels right, our journey is going in a true direction. Food is coming back next blog, I promised you cake and pie and you will get it.

In the meantime…stuff 025thelma_nate~     

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Macaroni (not pasta) salad

Summer to me is a tall glass of fresh iced tea, slightly sweet and a tomato sandwich. A tomato sandwich made with fresh white bread, Dukes Mayonnaise and a tomato freshly picked off the vine, perfectly ripe and juicy, tasting like the sunshine sweetness from which it was made, with just enough salt and pepper to bring out the tomato-ness of the whole thing. A sandwich you have to lean over and eat fast because the bread starts soaking up the juiciness as soon as you get it made. Thats summer to me. Tomatoes were plentiful on Granny’s farm, so much so that we gave away almost as many as we used. So it is not surprising that if I went to her and said, “Granny I’m hungry.” She would make me a tomato sandwich. And pour me a glass of tea that she had made that morning before the heat set in for the day. A tomato sandwich after a full day of swimming and sunshine in the summer heat is about the best thing on earth.

I’m guessing that is where this macaroni salad came from. I’ve never met anyone else who makes it this way. She probably made it up. Thats the way she cooked, making stuff up along the way. I recall very few recipes that were actually written down in her kitchen.

Macaroni salad, when I was growing up was a simple cold delicious salad, with a mayonnaise base. A meal by itself or a as side with a sandwich.  Basically the only dried pasta you could buy in the foothills of North Carolina back then was a simple macaroni and maybe a spaghetti noodle at the big grocery in Forest City. But the tiny grocery store that Granny went to, where my Uncle Arthur was the butcher, only sold Creamette Macaroni. We were of Scots descent with a little German thrown in so I never even had spaghetti at home until we moved to Tennessee. We ate what we grew. We grew a lot of tomatoes. We ate a lot of tomatoes. When I give you this recipe you are going to think “WHAT?” this is so simple, it can’t possibly be good. It is good. This is that first tomato sandwich of the season good. When you go into your own backyard and pick a perfectly ripe tomato warm from the sun, slice it thick, salt and pepper it really good and place it gently on some thick white bread that has been coated with a good mayonnaise, and you take that perfect first bite that is creamy and salty and sweet from the tomato, and the juice slides out of the corner of your mouth and dribblers off your chin good.

Grannys Macaroni Salad

Because it is so simple you HAVE to use really good ingredients.

Here are my suggestions,

Dukes Mayonnaise, the best mayo EVER!(Did you hear about the guy who wanted to be buried in a Dukes Jar? He might be my long lost cousin. And the Dukes people made him his own personal jar with his name on it to be buried in. Seriously this happened! Like not very long ago.)

Perfectly ripe tomatoes 8 to 10 of them, hopefully from your own back yard…but if not, your local farmers market, Bradleys are good, perfect combo of tart and sweet, or almost ANY heirloom variety. Forget grocery store tomatoes they are shipped green and gassed to make them turn red, and any flavor they might have had is lost when they are refrigerated. I won’t even eat a tomato in the wintertime, it just pisses me off. There is a part of Tennessee that grows very a sweet and piquant tomato that I used to buy in Knoxville and those were called Grainger County tomatoes, they were excellent.

Barelli Macaroni (yes I like it better than Creamette, it has little ridges that hold onto the creamy goodness), a 1 pound box, cook it in well salted water, salty like the sea, according to package directions. (yes,taste the water its the only way to tell)

Sea salt and black pepper

While the macaroni is cooking, cut up the perfectly ripe tomatoes in 3/4 inch cubes (leave the skin on it helps to hold their shape) and put them with their juice in the bottom of a large bowl, I just cut them over the bowl, salt and pepper them to taste. Add aprox. 1/2 cup of Dukes and stir to combine. Let them sit there while you are finishing the macaroni.

Now I am not an al dente kind of a girl, but in this recipe do slightly undercook the pasta, just right past al dente. But not mushy. Drain it well. Pour it over the tomato mixture in the bottom of the bowl, it will slightly warm the tomato mixture and the macaroni will absorb the tomato goodness. Let it sit about 1 minute. and stir it up. Add more salt and pepper and a dab of mayo if needed for the creaminess factor, but not too much, you want to taste those beautiful tomatoes. Get you a big bowl of it and a glass of cold iced tea. If you catch yourself in the mirror while you are eating, what you will see is a very happy person who looks like a mule eating briars, grinning like a fool.

Yes this is as good hot as it is cold, my mid-western husband who didn’t even like tomatoes when we got married can eat about a half gallon of this hot or cold. We have actually made a meal of just this, but it is wonderful as a cold side with grilled hamburgers or cold fried chicken on a picnic.

Just simple and good food.

Oh by the way this makes a bunch, like “Church Supper” bunch or relatives from out of town bunch, so if you are just a normal family you might want to cut the recipe in half.

 

Posted in fresh food, small farm, SOUTHERN FOOD, Southern Living, summer salads, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Chick, chick, chick….chick-in!

IMG_0966Lets start with chicken salad, one of my favorite cold salads served on a bed of crisp lettuce or on a sandwich made with crusty bread or a buttery croissant.

When I was a child, chicken salad was boiled chicken cooked in salted water, with celery and pickles and mayo, it was good and serviceable and made a nice little tea sandwich on white bread with the crusts cut off. In other words, kind of plain. Then I discovered chicken salad with grapes and celery, great on a bed of lettuce. But it kind of left me with the idea that it could be better. In my early 20’s I had to come up with some chicken salad that could be served on sandwiches for a bridal shower and I was thinking that grapes on bread wasn’t quite the thing, also I felt like the chicken needed more flavor. So I tried to think of a way to make it better. Chicken is a wonderful thing, it will absorb the flavor of what you cook with it. I was thinking first thing cook the chicken so it has more flavor, and instead of grapes use crushed pineapple, and for crunch use chopped pecans. I had made in my young past a particularly taste filled soup when I stewed the chicken with lots of vegetables and the chicken itself needed no additional seasoning, so I started there…

You can start with a whole chicken, or parts, or if you are really in a hurry boneless skinless chicken breasts. But the key is… you must cook your own chicken (stay off the canned chicken aisle at the supermarket that is for when your dog is sick), because it is chicken salad… right? So the chicken has to taste really good. And NO rotisserie chicken doesn’t work well either, I will give you a short cut at the end just be patient.

If I do a whole chicken I always throw in a couple extra breasts just to make it meatier and to get a better ratio of white to dark meat. But remember if you do a whole chicken you will have to pick the chicken, however this makes the best stock you have ever tasted so be sure to strain and freeze the stock.

Get the largest pot you own (you are going to need it), you also need a lid to fit that pot,

  •  1 whole chicken, plus 2 to 3 chic breast
  • Other things you need,                                                                                                                Dukes Mayonnaise                                                                                                                      2 cans Dole Crushed pineapple in its own juice                                                                        10 to 16 ounces of whole pecans (chop them yourself they taste better)
  • vegetables and spices listed below
  1. 8 carrots cut into 3″ pieces (don’t bother to peel them)
  2. 5 white onions cut in half then in quarters (3″onion aprox.)
  3.  8 cloves of garlic peeled slightly crushed
  4.  1/4 cup of whole peppercorns
  5. 5 dried bay leaves
  6. 3 tablespoons of dried rubbed sage
  7. 3 tablespoons of poultry seasoning
  8.  5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  10. 3 boxes of chicken broth plus enough water to cover chicken (next time you make this you’ll have the stock in the freezer)
  11.   At least 1 teaspoon of sea salt (you will be tasting it once the chicken is cooked (about 45 minutes into the cooking) to adjust the salt levels, you may need to add more.
  12. Throw all of that in a really large pot on high heat and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, perch the lid on it allowing some steam to escape and cook for aprox. 1 and 1/2 hours or until the chicken is falling off the bones. Basically what you are doing is infusing the chicken with all the flavors you want it to have without actually putting it in the salad itself. Keep the chicken covered with liquid adding broth or water as needed.

By the way no matter what I am making with chicken (casserole, soup,dressing) I use this method to cook the chicken, it is the secret to my Thanksgiving dressing and gravy, that and sautéed chicken livers, but I will be talking about that in October.

Once the chicken is done, cool it enough to get it picked good, getting rid of all the bones, gristle and skin. Strain the vegetables out of the stock and put the stock in freezer containers for the next time you make soup or chicken salad. Taste the chicken…it doesn’t need a thing, right?

Oh, by the way, while the chicken is simmering away, take the 2 cans of Dole crushed pineapple and strain them in a colander mashing all the juice out with your hands and paper towels.

Also chop about 10 to 16 ounces of pecans.

As for the sweet pickle relish, I highly recommend Wickles Pickle Relish (it is not made with high fructose corn syrup), its made the old fashioned way with sugar and peppers and cucumbers and spices in the great state of Alabama, where my best boyfriend, Nick lives. If you can’t get it where you are… here is their website http://www.simsfoods.com, you can order it there or just bug them to put it in your local store.

Now you have huge bowl of really tasty chicken, the rest is super easy. All the work is on the front end and seriously once you have this method down and start using it, you don’t even have to measure anything just throw it in the pot, so not really hard.

Take the huge bowl of shredded chicken and mixed in the well strained crushed pineapple, the chopped pecans, and then about a half cup of Wickles Relish slightly strained, taste it, if you want more pickles add more. You will notice that the mixture is already quiet moist with flavor. Now for the last thing, Dukes Mayonnaise, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup is all you need, we are looking for flavor here not drenching the flavor we already have with mayo. So add it slowly, let it still crumble a bit. Taste it, now you really understand why you made so much.

Get you a big old plate of the stuff (you know, just to make sure it really tastes good) and put the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve it with fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and crisp lettuce and ice tea.

My son really hates Mayonnaise, but he loves loves loves this chicken salad and it really doesn’t have much mayo in it.

Now for the short cut, use the braising method I described for boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4 maybe 5 will fit in a 12″ skillet) on Feb. 25th 2014, “Brazen Braising” and add in small pieces of the veg and spices I listed above omitting the salt until you can taste the broth. Once cooked, shred the breasts for the chicken salad, it doesn’t make as much and you don’t have the stock to put in the freezer and it doesn’t taste quite as good but its better than having NO chicken salad. Also cut back accordingly on the pineapple (use 1 can) pickles and pecans and mayo.

Next will be more salads and a dessert or two. Happy eating!

Posted in fresh food, love and family, small farm, SOUTHERN FOOD, Southern Living, summer salads, Uncategorized | 2 Comments