By Andy Bedwell
The food we Southerners ate as children nourished our souls as well as our bodies. I still have fond memories of waking up to the aromas of bacon, eggs and grits. There is nothing any better than looking forward to fried catfish with the whole family for dinner.
While we still enjoy the same basic foods today, menus and styles of cooking have changed to accommodate our busy lifestyles and our increased concerns in nutrition. For example, instead of frying the catfish, try grilling it and serving it with a delicious garden salad.
Oven Garden Vegetables
I use a large roasting pan with maybe 2-inch sides. Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Not too much, just to cover. Slice any vegetables that you like in large pieces and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle a little water on top and mix. Then cover the vegetables with self-rising flour and mix well. Throw the vegetables in the greased pan and place in a 450-degree oven until you can see brown on the bottom of them. Turn them over using a spatula, and bake until they are as brown as you prefer. When they are brown, drain on paper towels. Salt as you like.
My family loves vegetables served this way. They are much healthier for you than frying in all of the grease that you must use. And what is so great is that they taste wonderful.
Squash and onions together
Onions (so good with a steak)
Green tomatoes (chopped with onions, okra, squash)
Just put together the vegetables that you prefer. What I love is that it is so easy to prepare this way, and you can also feed a crowd.
Andy’s Note: I just thought I would share this with all of you. I am also trying to remember my everyday meals that are not written on paper. I am so hoping that some of these recipes will help and encourage beginning cooks.
Ripe Tomato Relish
20 real ripe tomatoes
7 hot peppers
4 large onions
2 ½ tablespoons salt
3 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
Chop vegetables real fine. Mix together and cook for three hours or until thick. You must simmer this on low heat, or it will stick on the bottom.
Andy’s Note: After 24 hours, I freeze this relish. When you take this out of the freezer, it is so red and pretty as the day that it was made.
Elizabeth’s Pickled Okra
Use the smallest okra for your quart jars. You want okra to be real tender. To a quart jar of okra:
2 cloves of garlic
1 hot pepper
2 teaspoons dill seed
3 cups water
3 cups vinegar
1/3 cup canning salt
Let water, vinegar and salt come to a boil. Pour this hot mixture over okra in quart jars and seal. This needs to water bathe in the jars for 15 minutes.
Andy’s Note: Elizabeth Carter was a good friend of my sweet sister-in-law, Ruth Bedwell. I discussed food and recipes with her for years. Everyone that I have given this pickled okra have always said it is the best that they have ever eaten. Elizabeth was a great cook and a dear friend.
Peanut Butter Drops
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup margarine
¾ cup flour
½ cup milk
2 ½ cups Rice Krispies
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a saucepan, combine sugar, margarine, flour and milk. Bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoon on wax paper and cool.
Andy’s Note: Lou Lee was a wonderful lady and also a wonderful cook at Eastside Presbyterian Church. At many of our social events she brought these wonderful Peanut Butter Drops. I can just see all of those wonderful ladies in that kitchen at Eastside. Memories, memories!
Happy Garden Cooking, Andy Bedwell
“Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell” can be purchased at Alabama Gift Company in Downtown Gadsden and at the Messenger on Rainbow Drive.