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A Column by the Editor
Helpful cooking hints offered to the "frozen chosen"
web posted October 9, 2006
COLUMN – I took the weekend off this week so today’s pages are a little lighter than usual. I took the time to get some much-needed rest, so I too am in a lighter mood. I began to think about a few things that might help some of our newer citizens, who refer to themselves as the “frozen chosen”, or northerners who have retired to our area. In addition to the column on Edgefield Etiquette, I thought explaining food in the south and other things might be helpful and humorous.
First of all, salt is mandatory in all cooking, almost anything can be cooked on a grill, most everything can be deep fried, and we eat jelly, not “preserves”, no matter what it is. “Pass the jelly,” counts as a request for all such items placed on the table.
Also, do not put sugar in cornbread. Cornbread with sugar is what we call cake. Down here we put the sugar in the iced tea. Tea in the south is to be cold and sweet. Sweet tea should be sweet enough that if you run out of syrup you can pour the tea over your pancakes as an alternative.
Vegetables are to be cooked until they completely limber and fatback, strik-o-lean, or other “fat meat” should be used when cooking any type of beans or peas for flavoring. But, not all vegetables are to be boiled, many are better when fried. Okra, squash, eggplant, green tomatoes, and potatoes are just a few. Yes, I said green tomatoes.
Coffee is called coffee not a latte, mocha-whatever, and never would a true southerner place whipped cream on top of a cup of coffee. Sugar is acceptable but should be avoided. Sugar, as I stated, belongs in the iced tea and cake.
Some cooking terms might also be helpful for our new neighbors. “A mess of” is used when one is cooking an abundance of food. “We’re cookin’ up a mess of peas,” is perfectly acceptable terminology. The same holds to “fixin”. To wit, “I’m fixin’ to cook up a mess of corn,” is a proper way to inform your neighbor you are preparing to cook a mass quantity of corn.
Frying is very popular in the south, especially when it comes to chicken. We do not bake chicken; we fry it, and for God’s sake, leave the skin on. Taking the skin off the chicken is like having instant grits in your pantry.
We eat biscuits or rolls, not croissants. The only good thing that ever came to the south from France is the bikini. And often times a true southerner does not even need that.
Most every southerner has been skinny-dipping. Skinny-dipping is swimming naked, in case our new neighbors did not know. But do not confuse being naked with being nekkid in the south. Naked means you have no clothes on. Nekkid means you have no clothes on and are up to something. But I digress.
Save all drippings (left over grease from bacon or other fat meats). This should be done by straining the leftover drippings into a jar that sits on the kitchen counter. The larger the jar used to house the drippings, the better a cook one is thought to be. Think of it as stripes, ribbons, and medals on a military uniform. These drippings are used to fry eggs, flavor vegetables while cooking, or to be added to gravy.
Gravy, in most of the south, is considered a food group and should be included at all meals.
In addition, grits take hours to cook, not minutes. In the South it is considered blasphemy to have a box of instant grits in your pantry. Real salted butter, not margarine, should be used in the cooking process. Also, breakfast ham is called country ham (a salt cured ham) and must be served with red-eye gravy, which is also used as a condiment for grits.
Some vegetables names can be confusing in the south, such squash. Squash can also be used as a verb as in, “I squashed that bug”. Also, not all bugs are bugs. Bugs are any insect that cannot be used as bait while fishing. Bait should be collected whenever possible, but that’s for another column.
Lettuce can also be used to ask permission for a group activity as in, “let-us” pray before a meal. And yes, we pray before we eat, at home and in public. Artichoke can also be used as a verb while discussing politicians, “I ought-a-choke” (insert the politician’s name here). Ketchup is used to describe doing work you are behind in to get up to date. Cantaloupe can also mean you are unable to run away to get married at this time. I won’t venture into melons and coconuts.
I hope this is helpful to some of our new “frozen chosen” neighbors as they adapt to life in Edgefield County and the south as a whole. I am working on a column on terminology used in the south that might also be useful during their assimilation.
Do not forget to visit the Country Cooking Section for local recipes.
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WEBNEWS – Send in your favorite or favorites. There is no limit to the number of recipes you can send in. With the Editor’s wife being the driving force behind her own personal section, help her create an exchange of local favorites, home cooking, grilling, sauces, and deserts! Send in your submissions here.