Summer Staples of the South
Here in the South, summer is all about eating fresh and local.
It’s summer in the South and that means some of the best days of eating are here. Garden fresh fruits and vegetables, family gatherings, lazy days spent on the river or at the beach all bring about the sharing of food—delicious food.
As we all know, certain foods and the preparation of them are regional. Here in the South, summer is all about eating fresh and local. Juicy watermelon and peaches, vine-ripened tomatoes, barbecue and potato salad, they are all staples of the South—the foods in which memories are made. Welcome to the South…now let’s eat!
If you haven’t acquired a taste for boiled peanuts, you’re missing out.
No drive through the country is complete without a bag of
fresh boiled peanuts. Make a big batch this summer and enjoy them all year long!
5 pounds Raw peanuts, in shells
¾ cup Salt, per gallon of water
Water to cover
Wash the peanuts and place them in a large stock pot. Add water in gallon increments to cover the peanuts. Add ¾ cup salt per gallon of water. Bring the water to a boil. Let the peanuts boil for 3 hours. Taste the peanuts; if they are not salty enough for your taste, add more salt. If you would like the peanuts to be softer, return the water to boil and cook until they reach the consistency you desire. Can cook up to 4-5 hours.
Drain peanuts once they reach preferred consistency. Peanuts can stay in the refrigerator for a week or frozen in freezer bags up to one year. If you find your peanuts are too salty, rinse in cold water. Serve hot or cold.
Nothing says summer quite like ripe red tomatoes and nothing screams Southern like a fresh tomato sandwich on the softest white bread you can find. My Uncle Charlie used to put so much pepper on his tomatoes you could hardly see the red. Duke’s Mayo is a must here—it just goes with tomatoes better than the rest.
1 loaf, Fresh white bread
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash tomatoes, dry and slice into thin rings. Get two pieces of bread to make sandwich. Spread mayo on both slices. Add desired amount of tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
This is a recipe I modified from a more difficult recipe that required making your own rub and sauce. This is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious—moist and flavorful!
Elizabeth’s Slow Cooker BBQ
Bone-in Boston butt—one that will fit in your slow cooker
½ jar or so McCormick’s Grill Mates Sweet & Smoky Rub
2-3 cups Apple cider
1 bottle of Beer (I usually use a dark or imported beer, but any is fine)
About 20 or so whole Peppercorns
4 Bay leaves
4 cloves of Garlic, peeled, left whole, and smashed with the side of the blade of a knife
1 medium Onion, peeled and quartered
Canola, vegetable or olive oil
BBQ Sauce of choice (I use Sonny’s), use your favorite
Trim most of the fat off the Boston butt, but don’t cut so close that it takes meat off. One side is usually very thick with fat. Cover all sides of the roast with the rub. Pour enough oil to barely coat the bottom of a large skillet. Brown pork on all sides, including ends, over medium heat, adding rub as needed. I just hold it and turn it with my hands. Don’t pierce it with a fork to turn, because then the juices run out. Transfer pork to the slow cooker. Pour in 2 cups of apple cider and the beer. Add peppercorns, bay, garlic and onion. If there is enough room add more cider. Cover, and let the slow cooking begin. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour on high; continue cooking for 7 hours on low. Remove pork from slow cooker. Shred pork using two large forks, mix in BBQ sauce to taste or offer a variety of sauces and just let everyone add their own.
My mother’s potato salad combines simple ingredients and may not be fancy or gourmet compared to today’s standards, however, I have never tasted any better.
Mom’s Potato Salad
Peel potatoes and cut into small cubes. In a large pot, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water. Turn heat to medium-high and let boil for 18-20 minutes. Test with fork for tenderness. Potatoes should be firm enough to still hold their shape. While potatoes are cooking, boil eggs for 10 minutes. Once cooked, drain and rinse in cold water. Once potatoes are done, drain them in colander and rinse with cold water. Put potatoes in a large bowl. Peel and chop the eggs and add to potatoes. Add mustard, mayonnaise, relish, salt and pepper. Stir. Add paprika, if desired. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
8 Potatoes (preferably Yukon Gold)
4 Eggs, hard-boiled.
½ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Yellow mustard
¼ cup Pickle relish
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. Paprika (optional)
With the first day of summer comes a crashing wave of cravings for watermelon. Made of 92% water, watermelon is one of those fruits that help you hydrate. In addition, it is sweet, delightful and fun to eat—definitely a summer staple of the South and every outdoor picnic or gathering.
Did you know watermelons float? We used to put the watermelon in the water under the walkway of the dock. The confines of the walk kept it from floating away, and by the end of the day, the watermelon was a nice cool temperature perfect for eating! While we love it just plain—maybe sprinkled with a little salt—here is a nice recipe to use up your leftover melon.
Pick a Good Watermelon... It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Look the watermelon over. You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.
2. Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for it's size. Watermelon is 92% water, most of the weight is water.
3. Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
Jamaican Rock Lobster Tacos
You don’t have to order lobster out to enjoy a fabulous meal. Try this chic, tropical take on fish tacos. Or, when in the Lowcountry, where fresh shrimp abounds, replace the lobster with sweet, local shrimp!
2 cups Watermelon, cut into ½ inch cubes 4 tails Rock lobster tails, cooked 2 Avocados peeled, cut into ½ inch cubes 2 Papayas cut into ½ inch cubes ½ cup Cilantro, fresh, coarsely chopped ½ cup Fresh lime juice 1 Tbsp Jerk seasoning 1 dash Salt and pepper, to taste 1 head Iceberg lettuce, shredded 1 ounce Coconut, shredded
Cut tails in half lengthwise, remove vein, cut into ½ inch slices (If using shrimp, boil or steam shrimp, peel and dice). Combine lobster with watermelon, avocado, papaya and cilantro. Pour lime juice into small bowl and slowly whisk in jerk seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour over lobster mixture and refrigerate one hour, stirring occasionally. Place in soft taco shells on a bed of shredded lettuce, sprinkle with coconut. Enjoy!
Living in the peach capital of the world, summer is not complete unless you’ve enjoyed the luscious juiciness of a delicious, ripe, Southern peach. I’ve always loved peach cobbler, however this was the first time I ever made it. It was soooo good…you have to make peach cobbler at least once this summer.
½ cup Unsalted butter
1 cup All-purpose flour
1½ cups Sugar, divided
1 Tbsp.Baking powder
Pinch of Salt
1 cup Milk
6 cups Fresh peach slices
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
Ground cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish in the microwave on low heat. Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).
Bring remaining ½ cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool with vanilla ice cream.