American, regional (Southern)


The Jennings Sisters’ Boiled Custard

  Stir and chat. Chat and stir.   That is all you need to know to make a good batch of boiled custard. That and to completely disregard its name. If you bring boiled custard to a simmer, let alone a boil, you will have a lumpy scrambled mess on your hands.   The term […]

Baked Green, and Not-So-Green, Tomatoes

One evening, I burnt the tip of my left index finger while frying green tomatoes in a cast-iron pan. Instead of using a spatula to flip the cornmeal-dusted rounds, I got right in there, with my fingers. Now, a week and half later, the spot looks like the veneer on an old piece of furniture, […]

Okra—Now and Then, Again

It was inevitable that I would to learn to how to prepare okra right about now. But that’s exactly how I knew it would be back when I planted okra seeds in my garden plot earlier this summer. That’s one of the great things about having a garden: it forces you to deal. If there is a […]

Smothered Cabbage

Last weekend, when looking for a recipe to smother an unruly head of overwintered cabbage into delectable submission, I came across these can-do words in Mary Randolph’s book The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook:   It will much ameliorate the flavor of strong old cabbages, to boil them in two waters, i.e., when they are […]

Overwintered Mustard Greens

  Overwintered mustard greens. Lovely sounding, isn’t it? I love what those three words evoke: a food with a stand-up-and-take-notice personality and a patina of flavor possible only after enduring hardship—the freezing depths of winter.   Right about now, you might find OMGs featured on the menu of some season-driven, farm-to-table restaurant in some food-lively […]

Leap Year Black Walnut Parsley Pesto

  Usually, black walnuts are folded into fudge, cakes, pies, ice cream, and other sweets, where their wonderfully pungent and earthy flavor off-sets cloying sweetness, and where sweeteners round out some the nut’s sharper notes.   But, when eaten out of hand, the flavor of black walnuts, America’s own native nut, can be something to […]

Bloody Butcher Cornbread—The Official Bread of Halloween

  Owing to its phenomenal flavor, striking blood-red color, suitably macabre name, and Old Dominion pedigree, I name Bloody Butcher Cornbread the official 2015 Virginia State Bread of Halloween.   Even though not as commonly associated with Virginia as, say peanuts or ham, Bloody Butcher corn traces its roots directly to the state, where the […]

Holly’s Cow Peas — Authentic Country Cooking

It’s honest, simple food that speaks plainly of its origins, its parts, and aspirations. It’s the humblest of food that fit for a king, and it’s startlingly delicious.   Like Hank William’s “Lost Highway,” it’s direct and from the heart; it cannot tell a lie. Like the vernacular dogtrot house or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling […]

Bean Cuit

  I wrote this post more than a month ago, when green beans were still plentiful. Then, before I had a chance to put the finishing touches on it, I got a story assignment, my first since moving to Richmond. (It’ll be published in the November/December issue of Edible Richmond Magazine). Of course I fell […]

Succotash—More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Succotash is a perfect subject for this posting, my first on the foods of Virginia. You could argue that no dish is more Virginian than succotash, going way back, as many claim, to the Powhatan Indians, a tribe that lived along the eastern shore of what is now called Virginia. And it’s the dish that […]




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