Friday, September 25, 2009

The Low Down on Cooking Country Cured Ham

Country salt cured ham.  Nothing says fall better than a great ham but they are getting more difficult to find.  The first issue is to find a reliable supplier.  In the South most local grocery stores and butcher shops have salt cured ham.  I find the Maryland north the supply begins to wane.  Smithfield country hams are consistent in quality and taste and can be ordered online. 
Overcooking the ham is the biggest mistake I see people make.  Country ham slices should be fried no more than 3 minutes on each side.  Anymore and it becomes shoe leather.  Be prepared for the extra salty taste.  I utilize country ham for breakfast and dinner meals.  Served up with grits, red eye gravy, eggs and toast and there is no better way to start your day.  For a quick dinner meal serve with rice, red eye gravy, lima beans and biscuits.  Always have plenty of sweet tea around. 
Making red eye gravy.  It's so easy it almost makes itself.  After you fry your ham add about 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon instant coffee to the hot pan.  Voila red eye gravy.  This is what we call a "grease" gravy - it's thin but packed with flavor. 

Hot Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits

My Grandfather used to make this for me when I was a child.  This is sweet - very, very sweet.  It's separate the men from the boys sweet.  It is not nutritious but it is delicious.  Good anytime you have that chocolate craving and ready in a flash.

1 can flaky buttermilk biscuits  ( I like Hungry Jack)
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of powdered chocolate
Milk - 2 to 3 teaspoons
1 teaspoon butter

Cook the biscuits first - the gravy will be done in less than 5 minutes.  
In a heavy saucepan.  Mix the sugar and chocolate together well.  Begin adding milk one teaspoon at a time until chocolate just does get wet enough to stir.  Put it over low heat and stirring constantly heat it until it just does begin to boil - (it will get thinner as it heats up).  As soon as it boils pour it in a bowl mix in one teaspoon butter.  Get your biscuits and start dipping.  If you're hard core open up the biscuit and pour that sweet hot chocolate gravy all over. 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

All Fried Pork Chops Are Not Created Equally - Quick and Simple Version

I find one of the best ways to buy pork chops is to buy a whole boneless pork loin and have the butcher but it into 1 1/2" chops.  I find good one's at Sams Club at very reasonable prices.

This recipe is for simple fried chops.  Quick easy and delicious.  Has a hint of heat - but only a hint. No oil is needed.  They come out moist and juicy on the inside with a nice brown sear on the outside. 

4 thick cut boneless pork chops
Pepper Blend  -  I use the kind you buy at the grocery store in the grinder.  Make sure it's a blend of peppers
                         and not just one kind of pepper corns. 
Garlic Salt

Coat one side of the chops in a light even coating of ground pepper,  then cover lightly with garlic salt.

Get your cast iron or non stick skillet HOT - then put the chops seasoning down in the pan and turn heat down to medium high.  Let is sear until clear liquid runs from top (about 7 - 8 minutes, depends on thickness or chops and how hot the pan is) then season the tops and flip them over.  Cook till juice runs clear again and remove from the heat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cast Iron Skillet

Well as you can see a lot of my recipes require a good skillet.  I highly recommend a cast iron one.  The biggest error people make with a new cast iron skillet is neglecting to "season" it.  All cast iron skillets with come with manufacturer directions on how to season.  If you don't season it - everything will stick to it.  Everytime you use your cast iron pan you should grease it when through.  Once done using it wash and dry - drying is very very important.  You can't leave it wet or it will rust.  Also NEVER NEVER NEVER use a steel wool pad - it will scrub out the seasoning.  Then spray with Pam, take a paper towel and rub in the Pam.  Some people don't wash their skillets - they clean them with salt and a bamboo brush.  I prefer good old soap and water. IF you can find one at a yard sale or auction buying a used pre-seasoned pan can save you a lot of work.  I keep several sizes - a large deep pan for frying chicken and such,  a large shallow pan for frying bacon, eggs and such, and a smaller shallow pan for frying small amounts. 
If you are cooking and have something that sticks to the bottom of the pan don't worry.  When you are done cooking and the food is out of the pan  - empty any grease - turn the burner on high - let the pan get good and hot - then pour cold water into the pan - use a spatula to loosen up any stubborn food and the pan will clean right up. 

Fried Okra - not that sissy breaded stuff

This is real Southern Fried Okra.  Not that sissy breaded stuff, but the good crispy and salty deliciousness that Southerns like.

Fresh or frozen cut up okra  -  the frozen stuff works but it's not nearly as good, and it has tops in it.  When choosing fresh okra go for the little guys.  More work to cut up but much more tender.
Cannola oil

Pour a enough oil in the bottom of a cast iron (or non stick skillet) so that you have slightly more than enough to cover the bottom.  Put over medium heat.  Add okra.  Fry until the okra is brown and crispy.  If you start out with a completely full pan of okra you will end up with about 1/2 pan when it's done.  It takes about 30 min. to fry down.  When it's done remove and put on a plate line with several paper towels to drain any remaining grease.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sit back and enjoy.   

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fried Corn - yummy yummy tastes like roasted corn

This is a southern staple.  It's quick, only messes up one pan, and has four ingredients.  Yet it taste like roasted corn on the grill that has cooked for hours. 

1 stick butter
1 16ounce package of frozen whole kernel corn

Use a cast iron skillet or non stick skillet.   Melt the butter.  Add the corn - do not thaw - add it frozen straight from the freezer.  Fry over medium heat until the corn begins to brown. Stir frequently.   Takes about 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper and enjoy.  What could be easier.  People like their corn varying degrees of brown so you might want to experiment to find what's to you taste. 

Melt in your Mouth Roast Beef and Gravy

Okay we are going to use of pressure cooker.  Pressure cookers are perfectly safe.  You can take a cheaper cut of meat and make it melt in your mouth good in a short period of time.  They produce a much better end product than crock pots and they are not left at home unattended. Usually a 2 quart cooker will handle any needs you have.  They are also easier and quicker than the great big ones. 

Roast - whatever cut you like
Carrots   4 to 6 - depends on how well you like carrots
Potatoes  6 to 8  - the small whole ones work best but you can use canned ones, or regular white potatoes. 
                            If you are using can potatoes don't put them in until everything is cooked.  Then once
                            you take the lid off for the final time - add the potatoes and leave the pot on the burner                                   until  they are warmed through.
1 Stick Butter

In the pressure cooker - melt one stick of butter.  Then add the roast and sear all sides till brown.  Pick up the roast and add the grate then add water - the amount will depend on the size of your roast and the pressure cooker.  The directions that come with your cooker will tell you how much water to add.  Put on the top and turn heat on high until the cooker starts to "spit".  Then turn the heat down to medium so the the cooker spits regularly.  All this information will be in your individual pressure cooker instructions.  A regular 2 pound roast takes about 30 minutes to cook. 

Take cooker off the stove and run cold water over it until the pressure releases.  Open the top carefully and add the cut up onions, carrots and potatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add water as needed.  Put top back on and bring the cooker back up to the cooking stage.  Cook another 20 minutes. 

Take cooker off the stove and run cold water over it until the pressure releases.  Serve over rice.  If you use bag rice you can cook it in the liquid left in the cooker. 

You can also take the pot liquor (water left in the pot) and make a gravy with it.  Mix 2 tablespoons flour in one cup of very cold water.  Stir until well mixed.  Set aside.  Take 2 cups of pot liquor and put in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the flour mixture and immediately take off the heat.  Stir until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lima Beans - the right way

Lima beans are easy to cook.  Fresh ones are best but frozen ones will turn out well too.  The key is patience and good seasoning. 

1 large package of frozen baby limas or fresh lima equivalent
Ham hock, side meat or streak of lean

Fill a large pot 2/3 full of water.  Bring to a boil.  Add in 2 ham hocks or a 2" chunk of side meat (fat back) or streak of lean.  Let it boil for 5 minutes.  Then add beans and turn heat down to keep the beans boiling softly - medium heat.  Let cook until the beans are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Add salt and pepper after cooking has completed.  Butter will not work as seasoning.  It doesn't have the flavors that bring out the best in the beans.  This method will work for green beans, lima beans, peas, corn, most vegetables.  You can find the meat in the ham section of your grocery store.  All three are equally good seasoning products. 

Country Style Steak and Gravy

Supper entree ready in about 30 minutes.

1 package of cubed steak (however many pieces you need to feed your family)
1 cup flour - all purpose or self rising, it doesn't matter
cannola oil
1/2 cut up onion
2 cups cold water

Take your thawed steak and cut it into the size pieces you like.  Set aside.
Cut up 1/2 onion into rings and set aside.

Pour cannola oil into frying pan - about 1/4 to 1/2".   Turn heat on medium and let it start getting hot.
In a plate mix flour, about 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons pepper - or however much is to your taste.

Take the cubed steak and coat it with flour then into the hot grease.  I usually fry 3 - 4 pieces at the time.  Watch them closely - they will stick if you aren't careful.  You want to keep heat at a low medium.  I use a gas stove so it's hard for me to tell you an exact setting.   Fry till brown on each side.  Remove from grease and place on a plate.  Do not discard the left over flour.  If you don't have enough flour just make another plateful.  While frying the last pan of steak throw in the onions and let them cook with the steak.  Remove the onions along with the steak to the plate after frying.

Once all the pieces are fried and removed - pour out grease leaving about 1/8" in the pan.  Enough to cover the bottom.  Then add three heaping tablespoons of the flour mixture left over from the meat into the hot grease.  Stir constantly until the flour & grease turn a deep brown color.  Then add 2 cups of cold water all at once.  Continue to stir as mixture thickens then reduce heat to low.  Add back in the meat & onions and let it all cook on very low heat for about 30 minutes.  If the gravy starts to get too thick add a little water to it.  Last add salt and pepper liberally.

This is great served with mashed potatoes or rice.  The gravy is thick and rich with flavor. 

A well seasoned cast iron skillet works best,  otherwise I would use something with a non stick coating.
This cooks quickly so be sure you have everything out, measured and ready to add in.  You can add more onion or none at all depending on your taste.  Same with the salt and pepper.  Keep your grease hot but don't let it get too hot - it needs to stay on a low medium heat where it's frying but not smoking.  You may want to use a splatter screen. 

Candied Tomatoes - sweet spicy side dish you don't want to miss out on

Candied Tomatoes
Let's start off the blog with one of my family's favorite side dishes.  Don't be put off if you don't like tomatoes try this dish and you'll be surprised.

(2) 16 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
(2) cups of plain granulated sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Add tomatoes and sugar in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat stirring frequently - about every 5 - 10 minutes - for approx. 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  The tomatoes will cook down to a very thick consistency and turn a deep red color.  Add plenty of pepper and approx. 1 teaspoon of salt just before serving.  The more pepper you add the more pronounced the spicy / sweet distinction in the taste. 
Serve as a side dish,  spoon over biscuits, serve over rice or mashed potatoes.  The possibilities are endless.
Our favorite is just using them as a side dish.  Let me know what you think. 


Hello and welcome to my blog. I am a southern girl who decided to share my many recipes with anyone who might be interested. I am known by family and friends to be an excellent cook. I will endeavor to share with you many of my family, friends and personal recipe creations. I believe in keeping it simple. So most recipes will not require fancy or expensive ingredients. I use everyday items you generally find at the grocery store. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Thanks for taking your time to read my blog.