When cooking “Southern Food” everyone has their special secrets. Usually, if you ask someone what the ingredients in their recipe, they state “a little of this” or “a little of that” and that true! My son and grandchildren are always calling me to say “mother or grandmother what ingredient did you leave out of the recipe that you gave us, we made it and it doesn’t taste the same as yours! I usually say oh, you must mean the “little of love” that I added. They laugh and say that “it’s more than love,” When I cook, I’m always adding a little white sugar, brown sugar, or fresh ground nutmeg to many items that I make. My mother always put a pinch of sugar in all her vegetables dishes that she made, and it truly made a diffence. Any cooked tomato recipe also needs a pinch of sugar! I guess that is what southern cooks would say that the sugar represents “love,” the sweetness!
Another difference in my southern cooking is that I do not use salt except in baking goods or grits. Many years ago, my husband developed high blood pressure and his doctor told him to quit using salt so I starting substituting salt with fresh ground pepper and fresh herbs to take the place of salt and they make your food taste much better plus you gain great health benefits. One can really taste the goodness of the fresh vegetables and meat dishes! We do not miss the salt at all. When we have relative and friends down to visit, one of the first things that I remind them is I don’t put salt on our food or put a salt shaker on the dining table. If they want salt, after tasting my cooking, they have to ask for it! My cornbread recipe is over 60 years old and my family will fight for the last piece. My home made chili recipe is just the same not a drop left in the pot, they lick it clean! Plus my chili is gluten free and you cannot even tell!
Several other items that I do not use in cooking are garlic and onions. I have asthma and they both irritate my condition, whether I eat or even smell them. My substitute is freeze dried chives. When watching T.V. cooking shows, I’m totally shocked at all the garlic and onions the chiefs use. It’s like that they cannot make a single dish without either one! You can always flavor your meals with celery, carrots, or parsnips instead of garlic and onions. Many foods are better the simpler that they are made. I don’t even remember anyone in my Southern family using garlic. My mother’s family was farmers feeding from the earth with produce or animals that they raised. Mind you, they were my parents, grandparents and great grandparents!
If you like this blog, I will start putting pictures and recipes up of the food I make. My next blog is going to be on gluten free food and cooking gluten free. I will also talk about the disease.