Tag Archives: cooking

103. Banana Pudding–Over-Ripe Fruit at Its Best

3 Apr

Southern banana pudding by Evil Shenanigans

One of the perks of being the child of a Southern Baptist preacher (besides, of course, having your most embarrassing childhood antics immortalized in sermons) is that folks occasionally show up at the house with food.

I would never admit to rating congregants based on the quality and frequency of their culinary gifts. But if I were to do such a churlish thing, the winner would be Donnie of the aforementioned chicken and dumplings. First runner up in the (imaginary, y’all) savory category goes to Vicky J.’s lasagna and garlic bread. However, Vicky takes first prize in the dessert category. “There’s a dessert category?” Does bacon come from pigs? (Surely, no one will argue that bacon can also come from turkey. That’s not bacon. That’s a travesty!)

Yes! We have no bananas...

Anyhoo, Vicky breezes past the competition with her banana pudding. Those of y’all who’ve never had banana pudding may be wondering how such a dish could ever win (an imaginary!) dessert contest. There’s not even chocolate in it, and nary a nut to be found. You might think of pudding as something only old folks, hospital prisoners, and people lacking tastebuds would eat. Oh, no. You’re probably thinking of banana-flavored pudding (or more often, chocolate-flavored, still no nuts).

Banana pudding is an entirely different creature. First of all, it starts with actual bananas. Not just any old bananas (or worse, new!). They should be slightly riper than you’d like with cereal, but nowhere near banana bread territory (or smoothie for Seattle folks). The other key components are pudding and Nilla Wafers.

Pick the middle one.

What makes Vicky’s banana pudding so delectable is that she has the optimal balance of ingredients. Some folks are stingy with the wafers. Some skimp on bananas. But Vicky’s banana pudding features an abundance of everything so that every time you dip the spoon, you get pudding, banana, and wafer all at once. (Anybody who eats with me on a regular basis has likely noticed that I’m a big fan of the “perfect bite.” It takes a bit longer to eat in this persnickety manner, but it’s worth it.)

When I went down to Memphis to welcome my newest nephew, Eli, my sister gave me a very important assignment (and if y’all know Jenna, you know how fond she is of giving assignments). She had Paula Deen’s banana pudding recipe and wanted me to whip up a batch and bring it to the hospital so she wouldn’t be forced to ingest institutional chocolate-flavored pudding or worse, green-flavored Jello.

One of the steps in Mrs. Deen’s recipe is to mix together a block of cream cheese with a can of sweetened condensed milk. I was tempted to stop right there and eat the whole bowl, but I feared the wrath of my sister and thus persevered.

Rather than use the traditional Nilla Wafers, Paula goes all fancy (and spendy) using Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies. I’m not sure they’re an improvement, but my tastebuds are heavily influenced by nostalgia, so I could be wrong. I’ve also heard of banana pudding made with Nutter Butter cookies, but haven’t tried it because I’d hate to end up on A&E’s “Intervention.”

While I’d never turn up my nose at Paula’s banana pudding, I’ll note that it IS made with boxed pudding mix (though thankfully NOT banana-flavored). I’ve tried my hand at a variety of banana pudding recipes over the years and my favorites are the made-from-scratch variety. Like my PerfectBite™, homemade custard takes a little more work, but it’s worth it. The next recipe I’m trying is from Evil Shenanigans, pictured at top.

What’s your favorite banana pudding recipe? Or if you don’t cook, where’s the best place to order it?

101. Cream-of-Something Soup

27 Mar

I don’t know whether or not anyone has ever heated up Campbell’s cream-of-anything soup and actually eaten it straight. In a bowl. Maybe with some bits of saltines (or oyster crackers for the fancy folks). I, for one, have never done this. Nor have I witnessed it or even heard urban legend-ish tales about people who’ve done it. See, where I come from, cream-of-whatever soup isn’t actually soup. It’s an ingredient. I mean, you might as well dig in to a bowl of flour or down a shot glass of butter.

So how did cream-of-something soup become such a Southern staple? In a word: casseroles. I’m pretty sure casseroles existed before canned soup, but I can’t imagine how. Surely folks didn’t make homemade soup and then toss some combination of chicken and pasta or green beans and crispy onion rings into a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish to make a casserole. I mean, if you’re making homemade soup, well, wouldn’t that be considered a meal unto itself? And now that I’m thinking about it, how on earth did folks make green been casseroles before they started selling those onion rings in a can? Maybe some of my more seasoned readers can shed light on this mystery. I’d hate to have to do research, and by “research” I mean check Wikipedia.

If you’ve ever been to a dinner on the ground (or the non-denominational event known as a “potluck”), you’ve likely seen all manner of casseroles, most of which involve chicken. If there’s anything Southerners like almost as much as fried chicken, it’s casseroled chicken. But we don’t stop there. We’ll happily eat casseroled vegetables, too, as long as there’s cream-of-something soup involved (and also meat of some sort). And, of course, there are dessert casseroles, but thankfully, they’re mostly soup-free.

I can see now that the topic of casseroles is far too broad for one blog post (seeing as I was about to expound on the sweet potato casserole marshmallow vs. crunchy pecan topping dispute), so I’ll stick to discussing only those involving cream-of-something soup.

One time, a friend was telling me about one of her relatives who became quite indignant upon arriving at a potluck and discovering that someone had “stolen” her recipe for chicken and rice casserole. I said, “You mean that same chicken and rice casserole that every Southern person has known how to make since birth?” She said, “Precisely.”

For the benefit of folks who don’t have the recipe embedded in their DNA, here is my mom’s version, which she credited to one of her sisters. Apparently, providing vague directions is a genetic trait.

Chicken Dinner (Geneva)

Chicken breasts

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 large onion, chopped

1 stick butter

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

1 1/2 cans water

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and place in a large baking dish. Place chicken breasts on top and pat with butter. Bake at 325 for 3 hours.

I have made this dish many times over the years, but have yet to produce anything that tastes nearly as good as my mom’s version. It might have something to do with the vague directions or my inability to wait three hours for dinner to cook. Then again, it might have to do with all the tinkering I’ve done trying to make it healthier and/or a smaller serving size.


I do not recommend:

Using 98% fat free cream-of-something soup

Using only the cream-of-chicken soup

Using only the cream-of-chicken and cream-of-celery soup

Using skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Omitting the onion

Using only ½ a stick of butter

Adding way too much salt

The last time I made this, I followed the recipe (such as it is) exactly (except for jacking up the oven temperature to 450 or so). Still wasn’t as good as mom’s, but better than any previous attempts. And for the first time ever, I had half a casserole in the freezer. It was almost like having funeral food, except nobody had to die. Yay!

I’ll have more to say on casseroles later, but I just have to tell y’all that during my time in Seattle, I’ve attended not one, but TWO casserole potlucks. Which is two more than I’ve ever attended in the South, but I reckon that’s because at Southern potlucks there’s no need to add the word “casserole” to the invitation. It’s implied.

What’s your favorite use of cream-of-something soup?

Photo Credits:
Cream of mushroom soup ad available from Bamboo Trading, Chicken casserole from Campbell’s, Cream of chicken soup ad available from A Glass Collector.

82. Rotel Dip–Just Add Fritos

1 Mar

Seeing as this Dixie delicacy has come up in conversation here in Seattle twice in as many weeks, I reckon I’d better get to writing about it. (And folks think I’m not hip to the zeitgeist.)

The folks who make the dip’s title ingredient (diced tomatoes and green chilies in a can) call it “RO*TEL” but I don’t believe in adding asterisks to names. Also, for most Southerners the “dip” is implied, so I will stick to the vernacular and henceforth refer to the dip of cheesy goodness as simply “Rotel.”

Rotel is about the easiest dip you’ll ever make. Even my six-year-old nephew could do it, if he were allowed to cook with actual heat. For now, he is content with such concoctions as “Chocolate, Cheez-its and Applesauce Delight” or “Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Water Surprise.” What do you dip in Jackson’s dips? He recommends chocolate.

Here’s the recipe for Rotel: Take a brick of Velveeta and add a can of Rotel. Heat and serve. We also like to doctor up the dip with some ground beef or sausage (pre-cooked!!). And it’s best to make Rotel in a Crock-Pot so you can keep it warm. Cold Rotel is frightening, my friends. Just remember to turn the heat from high to low before guests arrive. There’s nothing worse than lifting a lid off the Crock-Pot to discover a crusty, burned cheese-like substance. Well, except being the one who has to clean that mess up.

With the pasta sauce!
Sure, that makes sense.

A few years ago at a Christmas party, I encountered Rotel in which the traditional Velveeta had been replaced by CREAM CHEESE. WHY didn’t I think of that? It would have saved me hours spent on grocery store scavenger hunts trying to determine where they’d stashed the Velveeta. You’d think they’d put it in the dairy case with the rest of the cheese, but I think store keepers have this sadistic need to remind folks that Velveeta is a “cheese product,” not actual cheese and therefore does not require refrigeration. Honestly, if I hadn’t grown up eating Velveeta, I don’t think I’d touch the stuff. And now, thanks to cream cheese, I don’t have to.

Ok, then, moving on to what all may be dipped in Rotel. I, myself, do not stray too far from the classic Fritos (though I prefer the newfangled “Scoops” variety, which greatly improves the dip to chip ratio). Some folks prefer tortilla chips, which are fine (just not as good as Fritos). There might even be some folks tempted to dip crudités in Rotel. But who invited them?

Potato chips and Rotel are an iffy combination. To my mind, most potato chips are too flimsy to stand up to a meaty Rotel, but could probably handle the cheese-only variety.

Whatever you do, don’t serve Rotel with Cheetos or any off-brand cheese puff. This is overkill. Also, Doritos should be avoided, if at all possible. In an emergency, you might could get away with the nacho cheese flavor, but Rotel plus “Cool Ranch” is a recipe for disaster.

Photo Credits: Rotel and Velveeta pic by Adam Kuban, Flickr Creative Commons, Velveeta in pasta aisle pic by Frazgo, Flickr Creative Commons

80. Community Cookbooks (The Braille Version of Food Porn)

26 Feb

In a world of celebrity chefs, popular food bloggers and recipe sharing sites, y’all might be surprised how many Southerners still consult rinky-dink, fund-raising cookbooks put together by their local church or community organization.

Not even the Baptists consider perusing food porn a sin, nevertheless, you will find none in the pages of these DIY spiral-bound cookbooks. What you will find is good, old-fashioned recipes handed down through generations of Southern cooks. While some folks had the good fortune to work alongside grandma, learning how to make fried chicken or caramel frosting, many Southerners (myself included) did not. With these books we can at least learn how to make SOMEbody’s grandmother’s famous chicken and dumplings.

In “Florence Favorites” compiled by folks at the First Baptist Church in Florence, MS, you’ll find recipes like:

Mama Hazel’s Texas Nut Bread
Tristin & MeMaw’s Cookies
My Mamaw’s Oatmeal Cookies
Granny’s Rolls
Aunt Eloise’s Coconut Cake

And, of course, you can’t put out a local cookbook without adding at least one of these gems:

Recipe for Happiness (Page 82, if y’all are following along)

2 heaping cups of Patience
2 handfuls of Generosity
1 heart full of Love
dash of Laughter
1 head full of Understanding

Sprinkle generously with Kindness. Add a dash of Faith. Mix ingredients well. Spread over a period of a lifetime and give large portions to everyone you meet.

Contributed by Cindy Godfrey

I think her portions might be a bit off. What Southerner only adds a dash of laughter? What Baptist only adds a dash of faith? I think Cindy should have added a caveat: Your results may vary.

The amaretto's thataway!

When my sister was flipping through the book, she noticed a page where one of the recipes had another recipe glued on top of it. Obviously, a post-printing correction. But what could have gone so wrong that every copy had to be corrected by hand? They used industrial strength glue that couldn’t be peeled off, but if you squint, you can see that “Tropical Fruit Slush” covers a recipe for “Amaretto Punch” contributed by Janie Cook, who is obviously a heathen trying to sneak demon liquor into a Baptist cookbook! The nerve!!

I love how these cookbooks have 8 or 10 recipes with minute variations for Southern staples like corn bread or pecan pie. Have they no editors? At least the Baptists filtered out the racy Southern recipes for “Better than Sex Cake” or the dessert folks call “Sin,” which turns out to be the exact recipe of the dessert my family calls “Chocolate Stuff.”

Lazy Man, take note: THIS is a peach pie!

Sometimes the recipes don’t offer much in the way of explanation, such as:

Lazy Man Peach Pie

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
milk (to form dough)

Stir peaches into dough (part of juice). Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

The person who contributed this one was indeed a Lazy Man, but I suspect he might be a Drinking Man, as well.

The original Bells Best features a section toward the back cryptically called “Men’s, Microwave.” It ranks just about “Salads” and “Vegetables.” Probably the sections are in alphabetical order, but it seems a little suspicious to me.

Best I can tell, “Men’s, Microwave” features recipes contributed by men, along with three microwave recipes that nobody could figure out what to do with (Microwave Fudge, Hamburger Vegetable Medley, and Microwave Rice).

The men’s recipes include such delicacies as: Hobo Casserole, Deer Meat Supreme, Fried Crappie, Dump Cake (which tastes better than it sounds) and, inexplicably, Quiche.

A couple of years ago at Christmas, my nephew Jackson gave me a cookbook called “A Child’s Plate” that was a fund raiser for his kindergarten. One of the main recipe contributors was my sister, Jenna, who included dishes we learned from our mom and our two wonderful sisters-in-law, Karen and Kay. I have to say that I’m proud to see our family’s recipes printed in an actual cookbook. Even if it is one of the low-rent, spiral bound kind.

Photo Credits: 1. My paltry collection of community cookbooks, 2. “Devil’s Punch Bowl” by Aura Beckhofer-Fialho, Flickr Creative Commons, 3. “First Prize Peach Pie” by Alanna Kellogg, Flickr Creative Commons, 4. The cookbook that made my family famous.

Do you have any community cookbooks on your shelf? Which ones? Do you still use them?

76. Pralines (Don’t Even Think About Adding Walnuts)

22 Feb

That about sums it up...

First, let me specify: I am writing about PRAW-leens. I’ve never eaten anything called a PRAY-leen. Most especially, not a PEE-can PRAY-leen. In fact, I can’t believe I just wrote that. Now I have the word “PEE-can PRAY-leen” stuck in my brain in the manner of a Barry Manilow song. Oh, wait, now the phrase has been usurped by “Mandy.” ACK!

Recently one of my readers (who just so happens to have two first names) asked about a good recipe for pralines. I’ll be sharing one in this post, but first I’m going to sing the praises of one of the world’s greatest candies.

Pralines represent three of my favorite food groups: Butter, sugar, and nuts. Not necessarily in that order.

I dare anyone with a sweet tooth to walk by Aunt Sally’s Pralines in the French Quarter of New Orleans without stopping in to sample a warm praline. Caution: like heroin, pralines can be addictive after the very first taste. However, unlike heroin, you will not end up emaciated after prolonged use. Quite the opposite, actually.

Fortunately, Aunt Sally’s website features a 1-800 number “praline hotline.” Which I reckon is a lifesaver for those experiencing a praline-related emergency.

If you’re looking for an immediate fix and can’t find a nearby purveyor of pralines, you could stop by Baskin Robbins for a scoop of Pralines ‘n Cream ice cream. The downside: you won’t be able to appreciate a praline in its singular glory. The upside: hello! Ice cream!

One of the best parts of Christmas for me was the smorgasbord of candies my mom always used to make: toffee, coconut balls, white fudge, haystacks, and pralines. Even when she wasn’t able to stand for long, she’d pull the folding kitchen ladder up to the stove to sit and stir. And if she didn’t have the stamina to tackle everything, she’d insist on making pralines because they’re my brother Mike’s favorite.

It wasn’t until after my sister and I took over the candy-making role that I truly appreciated what a GIFT my mother had given us all those years. Candy making is a time-consuming, frustration-producing, often-disappointing pain in the ass. The only fuel that enables one to power through a marathon sweet-making session is love. (Of candy itself and/or the folks you’re making it for. In the South, it’s usually both.)

I have never attempted praline-making myself, but if you want to give it a shot, here’s my mom’s recipe:

Pralines

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 small can) evaporated milk
1/2 stick butter
small pinch soda
1 T Karo syrup
1 t vanilla
1 cup pecan halves

Cook sugars, Karo, milk and soda to soft ball stage or 235 degrees. Remove from heat and add butter. Return to heat until butter is melted. Take off stove and add vanilla. Beat until it begins to thicken. Add nuts and place in little patties on waxed paper.

Bonus: You’ll find the recipe for the scrumptious looking pralines pictured above at Dixie Caviar.

Note: If you’ve never attempted candy-making, these candy-making tips may help you avert disaster.

Photo credits: Southern Candymakers sign by Wally Gobetz, Flickr Creative Commons, Yummy plate ‘o pralines courtesy of Dixie Caviar.

What’s your favorite traditional Southern treat?

48. Being Neighborly.

2 Nov

Boy, did I witness Southern hospitality in action when I was in Memphis helping my sister with her new baby, Eli. The folks in her neighborhood were kind enough to set up a feeding schedule for the adults (me, Jenna, and Shawn). Every other night, someone from Jenna’s subdivision took over dinner duties, bringing us homemade meals that were ready to heat and serve. There are few pleasures in life better than eating a home cooked meal that you didn’t have to cook yourself. Especially after a few days of hospital vigils fueled by fast food.

My sister had major complications shortly after coming home and had to go back into the hospital for several days, and her neighbors shifted into high gear. Not only did they keep the meals coming, they also helped me in my new role as single mother of two. One of her neighbors kept Eli for about four hours each day so I could get some work done (or sometimes just a shower and nap).

I should also mention that Jenna’s not-so-nearby friends showed up with food and to help out with the kids, too. But I was really floored by the concept of neighbors who were so, well, neighborly. That just doesn’t happen here.

Off the top of my head, I can tell you the names of three of my neighbors: Ruth, next door; Vern, two doors down; and Bill two doors down on the other side. I’ve never actually met Bill, but Geoff has talked to him quite a few times. I think he got to know him when we needed to park a concrete truck essentially in his yard in order to repair our retaining wall. But I digress.

When I’ve been incapacitated, none of my neighbors has brought me so much as a donut from Safeway. And, to be fair, I have not made deliveries to their doors either. Now that I think about it, Geoff did pass out plums in the years before the invention of Plummy Yummy.

The sad truth is, Geoff is far more neighborly than I am. If he sees somebody struggling with an unruly couch, say, he’ll go out and help them. But then he will also run off people trying to pee in our yard or smoke crack in the driveway. Actually, he’s not so much neighborly as vigilant. I should note that his office window faces the street.

Even though we don’t often interact with the neighbors, we know them by pet names such as “Bandana Boy,” “Little Crazy Guy,” “Grill Boy,” “Purple Smoking (not crack) Lady,” “Sunshine Boy,” (note: only one of these boys is actually a juvenile) and my favorite, “Greenwood Man.” Geoff also names the squirrels, but that’s a whole nother story.

One time Walter, who used to live next door, dropped by to let me know that he’d hit my parked car. I thought that was right neighborly of him.

This one goes out to my sister’s neighbors:

I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we’re together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

If so, bring over more of those chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. Thanks!

Are your neighbors naughty or nice?

34. Grits: It’s What’s for Breakfast

29 Mar

I cannot remember being introduced to grits. No Southerner can. Grits are just part of our lives, natural as breathing…or bacon. But when people learn that I’m Southern and ask if I eat grits, I can’t help rolling my eyes. On the one hand, duh. But on the other, who cares?

For the record, yes, I eat grits. But they’re really not that big a deal. No Southerner I know likes them half as much as people think we do. If there are grits connoisseurs out there, I’ve never heard of them. I’m tempted to Google and find out. But again, who cares?

College kids might make a meal out of grits when running low on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or Top Ramen, but for the most part, they’re a side dish. A breakfast side dish at that.

Still, folks are curious about our grit-eating tendencies, so here goes:

1. Nobody eats plain grits. They are quite bland and require much doctoring to become anywhere near palatable.

2. Southerners do not add sugar to grits. I can’t really explain this because Southerners tend to have raging sweet teeth, but some things are just meant to be savory. See cornbread.

3. Cheese grits are made with American cheese. Don’t try to go fancy and use cheddar. It just doesn’t work. If you can’t bring yourself to purchase a hunk of Velveeta, Kraft singles will do in a pinch.

4. Meat isn’t mandatory (surprise!), but I’ve yet to meet a bowl of grits that couldn’t be improved with a healthy sprinkling of bacon or sausage.

5. Instant grits are just wrong. Especially the “flavored” varieties: bacon, ham and cheese, red eye gravy, etc. If you live outside the South, don’t worry, you’ll never encounter “flavored” instant grits, unless you consider “plain” a flavor.

6. If you move away from the South, make sure you have a reliable grits connection. I’ve made some valiant attempts with locally available grits, but was inevitably disappointed.

I introduced Geoff to the sub-standard grits with the caveat that they were sub-standard. He heaped some leftover chili on top of them and pronounced them “not that bad.” Yes, chili. On GRITS. Four (gritless) years later, I’m still dumbfounded.

p.s. Last night I had some cheesy grits off the “New Orleans” menu at Coastal Kitchen here in Seattle and am loathe to admit that they were quite possibly the best grits I’ve ever had. However, my Authentic Southern Food snobbery was vindicated by the fact that A. The grits were served as a DINNER side dish and B. Two portions of their attempt at pig, “Miss Em’s Pork Dinner,” went home in a doggie bag for my friend Karen’s dog.

p.s. #2 Two years later, I’m amending this to say that I have A. found a decent grits supplier in Seattle and B. successfully made grits with cheddar cheese.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy grits?

31. Meat-flavored Vegetables for any Occasion

10 Mar

green bean bundles. yum!

Before I took up with a vegetarian, I had no idea how meat-centric Americans are, Southerners in particular. While I’ll never be one to turn down fried chicken in lieu of mashed chickpeas, I do find myself wishing that more restaurants would consider herbivores when menu planning, if only to increase my date-night dining options. There’s only so much Thai food a girl can eat.

And if it’s tough finding veggie choices in Seattle, Lord knows how scarce they are in Mississippi. Last time I checked, the hippie food options at Kroger were 1. Two types of tofu 2. A few cartons of soy milk and 3. Some vegan cheese-like substance. Yum!

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll find plenty of vegetables choices in Southern restaurants (mac and cheese being one of the most popular). But most likely, these veggies are flavored with one of Southern folks’ favorite spices: pig. They will also be so overcooked that they no longer resemble a vegetable in any way, but that’s a whole other story…

Our secret ingredient in baked beans? Bacon. Black-eyed peas? Ham hocks (also known as “pig legs”). Collard greens? Bacon grease. These days, potatoes are mostly fried in vegetable oil, but you never know when the deep fat fryer is full of lard.

Even if a vegetarian successfully dodges the hidden meat in a Southern meal, he’s not home free come dessert time. What’s that lurking in the pie crust, cookies, frosting? Lard. It’s so versatile!

I don’t want to scare y’all into thinking that every food you encounter in the South is fork-deep in pig fat. Much of it is not. Just steer clear of entrees, vegetables, salads, appetizers, and desserts and you should do fine. I’ve never once heard of meat-tainted sweet tea. So drink up!

p.s. If you want to experience the ultimate sweet/salty, meat/vegetable Southern delicacy, make yourself some green bean bundles. This recipe is pretty much the same as mine, though the soy sauce is a new addition. I HIGHly recommend lining your baking dish with tin foil, unless you want pyrex soaking in your sink for a week. And whatever you do, don’t try to healthy up the recipe with turkey bacon, splenda, and light margarine. Unless you want the villagers coming after you with torches.

What’s your favorite meat-flavored vegetable dish?

1. Paula Deen, The Queen of Southern Cuisine

11 Sep

51aDhvNeWLL._SL500_AA280_Paula Deen is kinda like the Martha Stewart of the South. Except that she skips all the crafty-ness and gardening hoo-ha and goes straight to what matters: snacks. Besides which, Paula’s recipes are generally easier to prepare than Martha’s, seeing as how they rely on Southern staples like cream-of-whatever soup and Cool Whip. Oh, and butter. Before you start following Paula’s recipes, you might want to go out and get yourself a cow. Eliminate the middle man.

If you go to any sort of social gathering in the South, you’re likely to encounter at least one or two of Paula’s dishes. Are women hovering over a certain casserole dish with forks in hand making noises that are not usually heard at Baptist potlucks? There’s your clue. Grab the nearest utensil and join in. Knives are handy for clearing a path.

Aside from her concoctions of buttery goodness, I think what folks appreciate about Paula is that she maintains her sense of humor whether she’s accidentally losing her pants in front of a crowd or creating mixer mayhem on Oprah. She’s downright unflappable, y’all!

What’s your favorite Paula Deen recipe? Oh, and how much butter is in your house right now? I keep a minimum of two pounds myself.

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