Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Roast of a Chicken

A few weeks ago I signed up for a blogger's game of Recipe Telephone put together by FoodBlogSouth, an organization that hosts an annual conference of food bloggers in Birmingham, AL (yes, I will be going in 2013!). The idea is based on the old game of "Telephone," in which someone in a group starts a secret, and as it gets passed from person to person miscommunication naturally occurs and the ending message is completely changed. Hilarity ensues. In Recipe Telephone, FoodBlogSouth published a roast chicken recipe, and passed it on to the first blogger in the series with instructions to change, add, or omit 3-5 ingredients. The next blogger took that recipe and did the same. And so on. Counting the very first recipe, I am number 5.

The blogger who preceded me is none other than Nancie McDermott, the author of my two favorite dessert cookbooks: Southern Cakes and Southern Pies. I have already referred to these books many times on my blog. Yeah, I think she's completely awesome, but whatevs. When I saw my name and blog title on her blog, I definitely did not squeal. Loudly. Or make every person who passed my office door come in to see. Or go to everybody else's office to make sure they had heard. Nope. Didn't do any of that...

Not me (Bus-ted)

At any rate, here we are and it's my turn. Ms. McDermott posted a scrumptious-looking Thai-inspired roast chicken, but as it was my first ever whole roast chicken I decided to keep it simple. Well, except for lighting the thing on fire. But...we'll get to that. 

Roast Poulet, en Flambé
With Roasted, Toasted Sunrise Medley Potatoes

Friday, December 14, 2012

Persimmon Pie

 No fancy musings this time, just good ole fashioned recipe-in'. Persimmons are a seasonal delight, very sweet and delicious. Why there is even one person who doesn't like them is beyond me, although I have been told that some "people" don't like chocolate. People. Allegedly. Seriously, though. No beating around the persimmon tree. This recipe comes from Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott. I've also made the sweet potato and pumpkin pies from this same book...all to die for.

Should you find persimmons as irresistible and more-ish as I do, here are a couple of other great recipes:

Two Peas in Their Pod-Persimmon Cookies

The Pastry Affair-Persimmon Cake

Persimmon Pie with Homemade Crust

Couldn't Have Said it Better

"It's already 95 degrees outside. Mississippi got the most unorganized weather in the nation."

The Help

Kathryn Stockett


Night before last there was a freeze. By tomorrow it'll be in the seventies again. Welcome to Mississippi, where we keep two seasons' worth of clothes and linens at the ready from                 October 1-January 10.


Actual Weather Report

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What's a "White" Christmas?

The traditional idea of Christmas doesn't really apply to the Coastal South. We have no snow, and therefore no snowmen, thermal underwear, red noses, or real reasons for hot beverages. And, since people originally used their actual footwear for decor, those wool stockings on the mantle are also kind of pointless. So is having a mantle and fireplace, for that matter.

And yet.

And yet for generations we've ignored all these practical points and forged ahead with Hallmark's idea of what Christmas should look like. When it's 72 degrees outside we paint our windows with "frost" and stand up inflatable snowmen and guys dressed in ski gear in our front yards. We blatantly ignore the weatherman and bury ourselves in totally unnecessary scarves and boots, then proceed to sweat all day long. We ship angular evergreens all the way from freaking Canada so we'll have the "right" kind of tree. We abandon iced coffee.

Y'ALL. Why are we doing this??

Let's just stop and think for a minute. What if the coastal South (the chunk I'm thinking of is east of Texas and south of Jackson, straight across from Shreveport to Savannah) had developed without any influence from the rest of the country? How would our holiday traditions be different? Here's a couple of ideas:

1.  Timing
Christmas as we know it functions to break up the bleak gee-will-I-die-from-exposure-this-time? feel of the winter in places like Russia, England, and Fargo, North Dakota. Winter is sucktastic, Christmas helps folks forget that for a while.

Based on this logic, in the isolated Coastal South of my imagination we wouldn't celebrate anything major in December. I would never, ever, ever need a party to make me feel better about the winter here. On the other hand, our summers are sent directly from the devil himself, and we do die from the heat sometimes. So THE annual holiday would actually be more useful on or around July 30. Just think: we could complain about how "we haven't even gotten through Memorial Day and they're already advertising Christmas gifts!" Etc.

2. Decorations
Really, y'all? Snow? Ok, ok. We do see "snow" every couple of years. For one day. In late January. But is the dirty film of ice that patches on the ground and melts with the dawn really what the songwriters had in mind? I don't think so. It's rarely even consistently cold by December 25. So nix the snow. Ditto snowmen (unless ironically dressed in bikinis), Santa's fur/wool suit, and reindeer. Just use regular deer. Or alligators. Here we go, "local flavor" Santa: same dude, in khaki shorts, being pulled through my yard by a disgusting amount of possums. Wait. I may have actually seen that guy...

Definitely an improvement

 3. Expectations
I think it's high time we all accepted two things about living in the Coastal South: first, the summers are going to be 300 degrees hotter than you're anticipating. Every year. And you'll feel like you're breathing underwater. Second, the winter is never going to "look at lot like Christmas." At least not Christmas in Boston. So let that be ok. We don't have to be the Southern version of a Northern Christmas. While we'll certainly keep the stuff that fits, let's work towards finding our own overall rhythm of the holiday. 

Here's some ideas to get us started: 

Christmas on the Bayou
It's nothing to be on the water in December around's not cold. Can I say that enough?

Christmas at Beauvoir

Christmas at the Jefferson Davis home of Beauvoir displays gorgeously lighted live oaks, the true Coastal South Christmas tree. Can't find them anywhere else!

Winter Wonderland Christmas- Over 40,000 Christmas lights & decorations encompassing over three acres
 Don't let that guy's suit fool you. He's either got a "fur" coat made of jersey or he's .2 seconds from heatstroke. 

Exhibit A under "Silly Things We Think We're Supposed To Do at Christmas"

What do y'all think of my assessment? I swear I'm not trying to be a humbug. I just don't believe that no snow = no go. What other ways can we make Christmas a more local event?