It’s December 29th. You’ve only got a corner or so in each casserole dish left to scrape at and that new gym membership doesn’t start until January 1st. Why waste away early? Sharpen those knives, pound that meat mallet, and get in one last real meal before the new year. After flipping through some of the best recipes from UNC Press cookbooks, I’ve selected an eclectic and mouth-watering menu for you to enjoy:
Southern Fried Oysters (from Marion Brown’s Southern Cookbook)
Ingredients: 1 qt. large oysters (drained), Cracker Meal, 3 eggs mixed with 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tbsp. baking powder
Preparation: Drain oysters; coat them with cracker meal. Dip each oyster in egg and water mixture. Have another dish of cracker meal mixed with the salt and baking powder. Dip oysters in this and fry in deep fat (yum!) about 5 minutes.
Marion Brown calls these “light and wonderful.” Enjoy!
THE MAIN EVENT
For this, we turn to two culinary legends of North Carolina: Mildred Council (better known as Mama Dip) and Bill Neal
Okra and Ham Purloo (from Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking)
Ingredients: 3 slices bacon, 1 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper, 1 cup thinly sliced okra, 1 garlic clove (chopped), 8 ounces country ham (cut into matchstick shapes 1 by 1/4 by 1/4 inch thick), 1 cup eggplant (peeled and cubed), 1 14-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes (chopped, with juice), 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 cup raw long grain rice, 2 cups water
Preparation: Preheat oven to 400F. Chop the bacon and render it over medium heat in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven until it browns at the edges, but is not crisp. Stir in onion, pepper, and okra and saute until just wilted. Add garlic, ham, and eggplant and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, rice, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Shake the pan well to distribute the ingredients evenly and place on the middle level of the preheated oven. Immediately reduce heat to 325F and bake for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Serve as a main dish, not as an accompaniment.
Pair this tasty mix of vegetables and meat with…
Hot Water Cornbread (from Mama Dip’s Family Cookbook)
Ingredients:2 cups cornmeal, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 cup boiling water, vegetable oil for frying
Preparation: Mix all the ingredients. (Simple enough, huh?) Heat the oil over medium heat in a 10-inch frying pan. Drop two tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil for each patty and then fry until brown on both sides. To make a hoecake, instead of patties, spread the batter over the whole skillet and brown on both sides.
That is nowhere near enough food for our Anti-New Year’s Resolution Menu. Let’s see…
Scuppernong Grape Pie (from Sweet Carolina by Foy Allen Edelman)
Ingredients: 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust, 1 pint scuppernong grapes, 1 cup sugar, 2 egg yolks, 3 tbsp. milk, 2 egg whites, 1/2 cup sugar
Preparation: Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the grapes in half and remove the seeds. Combine the sugar, egg yolks, and milk. Blend until smooth. Add the grape halves and mix until well incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes. To prepare the meringue, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Continue beating as you add the sugar. Spread the meringue over the pie. Return the pie to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown.
Now, for the second dessert. Okay, okay…I’m absolutely kidding. Do keep in mind you could throw in a salad of your own creation, but then again, you could just save all that for 2010.
HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at UNC Press!