Whether for a wedding, funeral, dinner party or church potluck, Southerners know how to prepare awesome food, not that folks from other regions don't.
I'm from the Southwest, and we can throw down with the best of them. Southerners bring out the tried-and-true family recipes for their occasions, and they expect you to clean your plate.
"Did you get enough to eat?" And you are groaning from the plate you just cleaned. Cooking is love, and love is seeing you enjoy the homemade goodies.
Elyssa and I experienced this love throughout Allen's brief illness and funeral. Our friends wanted to make sure we were well supplied with food. Tables were laden with dishes from fried chicken to baked ham to casseroles and, of course, desserts.
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Yes, we were blessed, but the food didn't stop there. A friend and her husband, Terrie and James Walker, wanted to make sure we were taken care of last week. She came bearing baked ham, potato salad, sweet-and-sour green beans and a Gentilly cake from Rouse's. This woman knows us.
The ham was so big that I froze some and froze the ham bone to use in a pot of black beans later. Both daughter and granddaughter attacked the cake; nary a piece is left.
A friend of mine for about 28 years, Angie Jones, suggested that I share some of the recipes that were so good. "Does it sound bad to ask you to write about funeral food?" she asked. "Some of these dishes are great, and folks are asking for the recipes."
So, Angie, this one's for you and all our friends, Bridge Community Church family, Temple Baptist Church and Women of Wisdom sisters who brought their best dishes at our worst time.
Please don't think this column morbid because it
is not meant to be. Funerals, too, are celebrations of all things Southern.
Robin Killeen of Biloxi, Miss., founder of Women of Wisdom, says she can't cook, but she can make a mean spicy chicken spaghetti. Her husband, Pat, said that when they were dating, she made him and a friend this spaghetti. Then and there, he knew this woman from Picayune was not only pretty but could cook.
SPICY CHICKEN SPAGHETTI
1 whole chicken, livers and gizzards removed
16 ounces spaghetti
1 (16-ounce) brick Velveeta cheese
4 ounces Mexican Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 cans Ro-Tel
Boil chicken. Once done, remove chicken but save chicken water. Debone chicken and cut into bite-size pieces. Discard skin.
Add uncooked spaghetti to chicken water and cook about 9 minutes. Drain spaghetti, but save 1 cup of chicken/spaghetti juice.
Return pasta back to pot and add 16 ounces of Velveeta and 4 ounces of Mexican Velveeta. Once it melted on low, add 2 cans of Ro-Tel. Add more Ro-Tel if you like more tomatoes. Stir together and add chicken. Bake in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
-- Submitted by Robin Killeen
The recipe everyone wanted was Wanda Pillaut Bryant's carrot soufflé. Most thought it was sweet potatoes until she told them otherwise. A nice, sweet addition to a heavy meal.
3- 1/2 pounds peeled carrots
2- 1/2 cups sugar (Wanda cuts down on the sugar)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1 stick margarine or butter
Steam or boil carrots until extra soft. Drain well. While carrots are warm, add sugar, baking powder and vanilla. Whip with mixer until smooth. Add flour and mix well.
Whip eggs and add to flour mixture, blend well. Add softened margarine to mixture and blend well. Pour mixture into a 13-by-0-inch baking dish about half as full as the soufflé will rise. Bake in a 350-degree oven about 1 hour or until top is a light golden brown. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar before serving.
-- Submitted by Wanda Pillaut Bryant
Walker's green beans make canned French-cut green beans taste like something really good. Elyssa, my daughter, went back for seconds. These are easy to make, but give a twist to ordinary green beans.
4 cans whole or French-cut green beans, drained
Melt 2 sticks of butter and add:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Marinate overnight in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Last 5 minutes, add 1 package real bacon pieces.
-- Submitted by Terri Walker
Wanted: Pistachio cake
"I would like to have your recipe for pistachio cake. Will you send it to me?" Edna Herring of Gulfport said.
I have two recipes for pistachio cakes, one a pistachio ripple and the other a Watergate cake. Just shows how old these recipes are.
The ripple cake is done in a Bundt pan, the other either in 9-inch round cake pans or 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
Readers, if you have other recipes for a pistachio cake, please send them to me.
PISTACHIO RIPPLE CAKE
1 package yellow cake mix
1 (4-serving size) pistachio instant pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry preserves
Blend all ingredients except preserves in large bowl; beat at medium speed with mixer. Blend preserves into 1 cup batter. Pour half batter into a greased, floured Bundt pan. Spoon raspberry or strawberry batter into pan away from sides. Spoon on remaining half batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes and remove.
1 small tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package pistachio pudding
Milk to make thick frosting
Mix ingredients until frosting is thick. Spoon onto cake.
1 box white cake mix
1 package pistachio instant pudding
3/4 cup oil
1 cup lemon-lime soda or 1 cup ginger ale
1 cup chopped nuts
Mix ingredients and bake in 350-degree oven. For a three-layer cake, bake, 20-25 minutes; in a 9-by-13-inch pan, 35-40 minutes. Then ice.
1 box instant pistachio pudding
1 cup cold milk
1 small carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
Finely chopped nuts, if desired
Mix pudding and milk. When it thickens, fold in whipped topping and nuts if you like. Ice cooled cake and serve.
I want to say thank you to all my readers on the Coast and in Florida and co-workers who expressed their condolences about my husband. Your thoughts and prayers mean a lot.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and takes requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.