Being from Kentucky, I take a lot of crap about the stereotypical Southern food: chitlin's, casseroles and so-called "salads" that don't seem to contain vegetables. For years, I've apologized.
But after spending a few days with my Southern family over Thanksgiving, it finally dawned on me: they're delicious. And the part that appeals to the budding cook in me - they're easy.
I had a lot of fun looking over old church cookbooks, packed with recipes for things like Coca-Cola cake and strawberry sour cream salad. Not everyone is ready for those.
But try this one on for size:
Aunt Janice's Cranberry Salad
1 can whole cranberry salad
1 c. sugar
1 packet cranberry gelatin
1 c. water
1 can pineapples, diced
14 large marshmallows (thank me later)
1 c. chopped walnuts
Dissolve gelatin in water on the stove, add sugar and marshmallows. Stir vigilantly until it's all dissolved. Add pineapples, canned sauce and walnuts. Pour into a casserole dish and allow to gel. Overnight is best.
This was the best cranberry saald I'd ever had, and I'm one of those lunatics who likes the canned gel stuff.
For my part, I tried a recipe for green bean casserole, with fresh beans, beschamel sauce, sauteed mushrooms and panko-crusted onions. I got it from Alton Brown on the Food Network:
Funny that even with the half and half in the beschamel, it still winds up being lower-calorie than the processed version, due to lack of those horrible French onion things.
The recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet, but I made do without one. I know, what kind of Southerner am I? And yes, you really need Panko bread crumbs.