Spiced Pumpkin Soup


3 TBSP butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp parsley
½ tsp salt
1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup brown sugar (I sometimes add a bit more—to taste)

Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (optional add or replace the crushed pepper with cayenne)
Melt butter and sauté onion and garlic, until softened. Add spices. Add pumpkin and broth. Cook for 15 minutes. Add evaporated milk and brown sugar and cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and adjust spices and heat (if desired). Note: Adding a little more brown sugar and evaporated milk will round out the heat from the spices.
This soup is better if it is blended in a food processer or blender, but I confess that I am lazy about 50% of the time and don’t blend to make it velvety smooth.

Bon appetit, y'all!




Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

(are great for an appetizer or a main course)


Shrimp
Bacon
Butter
Barbecue sauce (I use a Thai chili sauce)
Peel shrimp and set aside. Cut bacon strips in half and cook in microwave for approximately 1 minute--just until strips are heated completely through and begin to firm up. Melt 2 Tbs butter in a cast iron skillet. Wrap peeled shrimp with bacon (if needed, bacon can be secured with toothpicks that have been soaked in water). With a pastry brush, apply sauce. Broil on high for a few minutes (depending upon size of shrimp), just until shrimp turn completely pink and the bacon begins to brown. Do not overcook or shrimp will become tough. Ladies, I like preparing these ahead of time and asking a big, strong man to grill them for appetizers (It gets them out of your hair before a dinner party--shhhhh!)

Bon appetit, y'all!
                                                            


Braised Cucumbers


1 large English cucumber
1 tablespoon butter
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon (juiced from lemon) 
1 pinch dried mint (I used dill)
(mint for garnishing)
Peel cucumber. Cut into quarters and then into 1 inch pieces. Melt butter in a pan and add cucumber. Cover and cook about 5 minutes on medium heat. Stir in salt, lemon, and dill. Cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Backstory: I watched Julie and Julia again the other night, and in the movie, Julia Child raved about eating braised cucumbers in Paris, calling them "revolutionary." Needless to say, I HAD to try them. Cooking them transformed the flavor. They were delicate, yet had a punch!
Spoiler Alert: My non-vegetable-eating husband didn't care for them. He doesn't know it yet, but I'm cooking them again anyway!
Bon appetit, y'all!
                                                      


Pasta Salad (a' la' Vicki)

1 box shell macaroni
1 large jar pimento (small dice)
1 bell pepper (diced small)
6 boiled eggs (diced)
1 & 1/2 cups Hellman's mayonnaise (Not using Dukes mayo is heresy in the South, but using Hellman's actually makes a difference because it is a bit more delicate.)
salt & pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool. Add diced pimento, diced bell pepper and diced boiled eggs. Stir in mayo and add salt and pepper to taste. Okay, here's the trick. Add quite a bit of salt and pepper. I keep tasting to make sure it's just right.
Okay, the pic isn't the greatest because I used my phone, but it is actually VERY colorful. It is an original recipe, and I always get compliments when I make it for friends.
Bon appetit, y'all!
                                                                  



Boiled Peanuts 

Raw peanuts
Water
Salt
Wash peanuts. Place in pot much larger than the amount of peanuts to boil (so that you may stir easily). Barely cover with water. Add enough salt until the water tastes like the ocean (very salty--almost too salty). Boil for 35 minutes (I like mine a tiny bit al dente). Stir occasionally. Turn off heat and continue to "taste test" the peanuts until they are perfectly salty.  Remove from the pot with salty water. Serve fresh. Or freeze. In the South, boiled peanuts is like Southern caviar. I serve these as an appetizer for barbecues; however, they are perfect anytime!  
Below is a pic of the carnage. And, yes, peanuts and beer do go together!
Bon appetit, y’all!

Mushrooms Charleston
(an appetizer)
1 lb container of medium mushrooms (washed and dried)
4-5 TBS butter (divided)
¼ cup chopped bell pepper (very small dice)
¼ cup chopped yellow onion (very small dice)
1 ½ cups soft bread crumbs
½ tsp salt
½ tsp thyme
¼ rounded tsp turmeric
¼ tsp pepperRemove stems from all mushrooms and finely chop enough stems to measure 1/3 cup. Melt 3 TBS butter in skillet and sauté chopped stems, bell pepper and onion approximately 5 minutes until tender and turn off heat. Stir in remaining ingredients (except the 1 TBS butter). If mixture is too dry, add 1 more TBS butter. Melt an additional 1 TBS butter in shallow baking pan. Fill mushroom caps with stuffing mixture and place filled side up in baking dish. Bake 15 minutes. I always serve these on the pictured pheasant platter that my dear friend Margarite Carpenter gave me years ago. And it had been in her family for many years before that. Though she is gone, I remember her fondly and everything she taught me as a cook each time I use the lovely tray. She and the platter remain very special to me.
Bon appetit, y'all!

Southern Shrimp Chowder
(Adapted by Vicki)
¼ pound lean salt pork OR use very thick cut bacon (¼ -inch dice)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ cup green pepper (1/3-inch dice)
3 cups boiling water
2 cups potatoes (½ -inch dice)
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves
½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
1 ½ pounds shrimp (shelled and washed)
In large pot, fry the salt pork (or thick bacon) until crisp over medium heat. Add the onion and green pepper and sauté until tender. Pour in water. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Bring slowly to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.
Add the shrimp and parsley and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Remove bay leaves.
Bon appetit, y’all!

These things go so fast, you won't have an

opportunity to take a photo!

Southern Fruitcake Bars


1 lb chopped dates
1 lb chopped pecans
1 lb shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
Mix chopped dates with sweetened condensed milk. Stir in pecans,

coconut and eggs. Divide mix in half and place in two 9 X 11 baking pans (that have been sprayed with cooking spray). Bake at 250 for 55 minutes. Let cool and cut into small squares (2” x 2”). Oh, the reason for the pic of the silver platter is that they disappeared so quickly I didn't have a chance to photograph them!
And now you can thank me.
Bon appetite, y’all!

Lowcountry Crab Dip


Drain 2 cans crab meat (or use approx. 3/4 cup fresh crab)
Marinate in 1 1/2 TBS lemon juice and 1 1/2 TBS Worceshershire
Sauce while preparing the remainder of the dip.
Mix the following:
Finely mince 1 1/2 TBS onion (If onion is not strong, use more).
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pkg. cream cheese (room temperature)
3 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Add mixture to the marinated crab meat, chill and serve with Club Crackers.
Bon Appetit, y'all!


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies


1 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Mix:
2 cups a.p. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups blended oatmeal
Cream butter and sugars; add eggs and vanilla; mix with flour/oatmeal mix; add chips and nuts (if desired).
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. I made these for our last visit to Uncle Montey's Farm on the Black River for the Nexen's Annual Oyster Roast and Barbecue, and Emily Nexen requested the recipe, so, Emily, here it is!
Bon Appetit, y'all!


Shrimp and Grits


The Signature Dish in Bikers and Pearls (recipe serves 4)
5 slices bacon (cut across into ½ inch pieces)
1 stick butter
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
¼   cup Vidalia onion (purple or yellow will substitute), small chop
¼ cup spring onion (cut some extra for garnish), cut into ¼ inch rings
¼ cup bell pepper, small chop
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs peeled shrimp
3 cups evaporated milk
Water
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 Tablespoons sherry
Regular or “Quick” grits (never instant)
Salt and pepper
Garnish with parsley and spring onions (or basil)
Grits—“Regular” or “Quick” (begin to cook before starting the shrimp & gravy) Grits—Cook according to package directions for 4 people; however, replace 1 cup of the water with evaporated milk. Add the remaining butter (1/4 stick) at the end. Tip: Constantly stir grits to ensure they stay smooth. If they get too thick, add more evaporated milk and/or water. Cook on low and 5 minutes longer than package directions for “quick” grits. If using “regular” grits, cook for 30 minutes longer than package directions on very low temperature. Do NOT use “instant” grits. If I have LOTS of time I use “regular,” but the “quick” are nearly as good.
Shrimp & Gravy—In a cast iron skillet, fry the cut bacon until crispy (don’t drain). Add ¾ stick of butter and melt. Sauté Vidalia and spring onion, bell pepper and garlic until very soft over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly until flour just begins to turn color (very light beige). Add 1 cup water, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup evaporated milk. Add salt and pepper to taste (approx. ½ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper). Add Worcestershire sauce and sherry, stirring until well blended. Finally, just before serving, add shrimp. When temperature returns to medium, cook for 2 minutes. Cooking longer will make the shrimp tough.
Fill a plate or shallow bowl with grits. Spoon shrimp and gravy on top. Garnish with parsley and spring onions (or basil).
Bon Appetit, y’all!



Living Southern


What does it mean to be living Southern? It is a style, a flavor, a scent, a feeling. To live Southern is to live more slowly, more deliberately. To give my readers a sense of what my "Southern" is all about, I'm sharing some of my favorite recipes and places. I hope you'll come to visit the Lowcountry of South Carolina--or at least--try one of my recipes to get a taste of the South!


Author of Authentic Southern Fiction 

Vicki Wilkerson


Southern Writer Fiction Author