Southern Style Cooking~by Jenny Baxter of Jennys Kitchen

Welcome Readers, There is probably no other area in the good ol’ USA that is more hospitable than the south. Everything I have ever seen, read or experienced has led me to believe that southerners with their relaxed and friendly nature, their expansive plantations, their slum neighborhoods with rundown houses, and simple lifestyles all welcome family members and friends to the comforts of home, hearth and the dinner table. The squeaky door of a screened porch, the grand entrance way to a mansion framed in Greek pillars, the lattice gate to a private garden, and the grand carved wood doors on a country church all welcome you to a gathering where fine southern cooking awaits you. The aromas of fried catfish, hushpuppies, collard greens, bar-b-cue ribs, fried chicken, corn bread, buttermilk biscuits, fried green tomatoes, coleslaw and sweet potato pie surround the guests as it drifts from the kitchen. Sipping Mint Julips, lemonade or iced tea on a summer day while sitting on the porch a spell in a rhythmic rocker whets one’s appetite and promises an unforgettable meal, whether it be served on gleaming china or a tin plate. So, in honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday I thought I would share some of my prized southern recipes so you, too, could prepare southern foods that will be the center of attention at your next get-together.
My first experience at cooking collard greens was when I lived in New York. It was Thanksgiving and I had invited three southern boys to join us. They were homesick and I wanted to give them a taste of a southern Thanksgiving. I made the mistake of treating the greens like spinach thinking they would be cooked within minutes. WRONG! My feast kept getting cooler and cooler as I waited for the greens to finish. These greens take at least 20 minutes to cook once all the ingredients have been placed in a large pot.
2 lbs. sliced collard greens
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 toes garlic
Ham hock or a ham bone with some of the meat still attached
½ cup water or vegetable stock
Crushed red pepper to your taste
Salt to taste
Remove the leaves from the collard green stems. Rinse thoroughly. Keep It Sensuously Simple (A food tip from Jenny) Stack the leaves about 8 at a time on top of one another and roll tightly. Slice into one inch strips. Continue until all the leavers have been cut. Heat the oil in a pot and add the garlic. Sauté until the garlic is soft. Add the greens and toss until they wilt. Add the ham, the crushed red pepper and broth or water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes until the greens are soft. Taste for salt. Remember the ham will be salty, so you should not have to add much. Remove the ham from the greens and cut the meat off the bone adding it to the greens. Serves 4-6
Fried Catfish
Wild catfish are bottom feeders, which makes their meat mild with a “swampy” taste. Farm raised catfish are surface feeders making their meat sweeter than channel catfish. I always thought the main reason for Cajun cooked catfish was to dispel that “swampy” taste. So you have the option before frying the catfish to leave it plain or rub the flesh with fiery Cajun spices.
4 catfish fillets
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne AND cumin
½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika (This is hotter than regular paprika)
Peanut oil
Pour the milk into a bowl. Mix the cornmeal with the herbs in another bowl. Wash and dry the fillet. If you have used a Cajun rub wash and dry them before rubbing them down. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip the fish in milk and shake off the excess. Then dredge the fillet into the cornmeal mixture again shaking off the excess. Fry until a deep golden brown color, about five minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel Serves 4
Well, it’s thyme to go.
Jenny Baxter
Jenny’s Kitchen