Archive for the ‘Sides’

Smothered Cabbage

May 06, 2016
By Holly Jennings

Overwintered cabbage, refusing to be contained it its square-foot home

Overwintered cabbage, refusing to be contained in its square-foot home

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 half done, to take them out, and put them into another sauce pan of boiling water.


Boy have I got one of those, I thought to myself.


The specimen I had in mind to test Randolph’s method was eight months old, and had been growing in my garden plot since last summer when I direct sowed some Early Flat Dutch cabbage seeds, hoping for a late fall harvest. I misjudged timing and gave the poor dears too late of a start to reach their cabbage potential before the first frost came—even though in Richmond, Virginia, that can be as late as late October. When it was time to prep the plot for winter, they were just one-tenth of their cabbage selves, but I didn’t have the heart to (more…)

Succotash—More Than the Sum of Its Parts

August 23, 2015
By Holly Jennings

Succotash #1

Two versions of Succotash (#1 in the foreground)

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 made me feel at home here during my first summer living in Richmond.


Last August, heading home from the Richmond airport on Route 5, past vestigial farm fields sprinkled among small businesses and light industry, I spied a tented farm stand on the left side of the road. After doing a quick maneuver, I pulled in next to the table of colorful produce.


“Do you add tomatoes to your succotash?” asked the farmer, as soon as I’d made my selection of tasseled ears of corn, shucked fresh lima beans, and bright red tomatoes.


Her question caught me off-guard. I hadn’t given the dish much thought, perhaps not since (more…)

Pretty Little Pink-eyed Peas and BBQ Across Two States

August 02, 2011
By Holly Jennings

It’s time for Pink-eyed Peas! Pink-eyed Peas! Pink-eyed peas?

Who ever heard of pink-eyed peas? I hadn’t, before taking a trip to Alabama last month, and none of my Northern friends or family members has either. But down south locals are eating them with some smoky, salty pork goodness and, depending on who you talk to, some pepper relish on top and a slice of cornbread on the side.

Cousin Deonna’s Perfect Mac & Cheese

July 23, 2011
By Holly Jennings

Mac & cheese is a classic side for barbecue, which of course it not the same thing as grilling, the subject of the current DCCC book (Global Grilling by Jay Solomon.) But there are some dishes in the book, burgers and baked beans, for example, that would go fabulously with an all-American mac & cheese.

This is my cousin Deonna’s recipe, which she made for multitudes of aunts, uncles, and grandchildren at one of our family reunions. It is perfect, neither too saucy nor too dry, and it tastes like the best of all the mac & cheeses you ate as a child, rolled into one. (You will be able to relate to this if gourmet four-cheese versions, such as those embellished with lardons and garnished with fresh herbs, were not the stuff of your mom’s or grandmother’s kitchen.) As soon as I tasted it, I had a sneaking (and sinking) feeling that Velveeta was involved, which turned out to be the case. Deonna says it is the only recipe she makes that uses Velveeta. Here it gives a flavor and, most importantly, a velvety texture that many of us have come to associate as characteristic of quintessential mac & cheese. But before 1927, when Velveeta became Velveeta, this wasn’t so. I am determined to find a Velveeta substitute to create a mac & cheese that mimics the classic taste of Deonna’s recipe as closely as possible. It may be a fool’s errand, since comparing a food product with, well, food, is like comparing apples and oranges. How close can I get? I don’t know (Deonna, for one, is skeptical), but I like the adventure of it all.

First step: try this recipe to see just how perfect it is, and then please let me know if you have any ideas for Velveeta substitutes. (The photograph shows me making Deonna’s recipe at home. My boyfriend quickly grabbed a camera to document me using Velveeta, for all the world to see. Notice his strategic positioning of the Velveeta box. He labeled the photo “busted.”)

No wait. First of all go to Saveur magazine to vote for the recipe. If I win, I plan to donate the prize (a gift certificate to Sur La Table) to a culinary program for under-served kids. (more…)