Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell – Vegetables and sides

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I believe the best cooking comes from our mothers – simple, fast and good tasting! This week, I’d like to list some “sides,” or vegetables, as we call them. Only in the South is macaroni and cheese considered a vegetable. I have heard from several Southern restaurants that the vegetable plate (choice of four vegetables) is by far the most popular item they serve. They offer everything mom used to make and more, usually about 18 selections at one time. The list consists of old-fashioned vegetables, side dish favorites and a few traditional dishes from my childhood. My sister and I have found that the sides are so wonderful that it is very difficult to choose only a few.

Real Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds of red potatoes
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the potato skins well. Do not peel. Cube the potatoes into chunks. Bring to a boil and add one tablespoon of salt. Add the potatoes and boil until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Return the potatoes to the warm pot and mash using a potato masher (or a mixer at low speed). If using the mixer, do not overbeat or the potatoes will be gluey. Add butter and half-and-half and blend well. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Andy’s Note: The biggest secret to successful and delicious mashed potatoes is boiling the potatoes in salted water. This makes the true potato flavor pop. If you use this recipe exactly every time, you will always have perfect potatoes. I usually use a five-pound bag of potatoes and then use leftovers for potato patties. It seems as though I am always doubling a recipe.

Squash They’ll Eat!
1 cup mayonnaise
1 large red onion, chopped
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds yellow squash, cooked, drained, mashed
1 sleeve crumbled butter crackers orFrench-fried onions.
Combine the mayo, onion, cheese, eggs and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the squash. Pour into a greased two-quart baking dish and top with crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Andy’s Note: This recipe is delicious! Of course, I always double it so that it will fit in a 9×13-inch pan. The yellow squash in grocery stores right now are beautiful.

Macaroni and Cheese
1 (12 oz.) package elbow macaroni
1 ½ sticks of margarine, melted
1 (12 oz.) Pet milk
1 teaspoon oil
1 lb. Velveeta cheese,cut into cubes
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
Cook macaroni by package directions. Combine cubes of cheese, soup, Pet milk and melted margarine and spoon into lightly greased 9×13-inch casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Andy’s Note: What can I say? This is quick, easy and good!

Happy vegetable cooking, Andy

“Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell” can be purchased at The Messenger newspaper at 1957 Rainbow Drive.

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