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Local Flavor

Southerners have long had a love affair with food. Thanks to movies, tv shows, and the Food Network, people all over the world are familiar with typical Southern fare like Coca-Cola ham, fried green tomatoes, and of course, fried chicken. I love to cook, and nothing makes me happier than to see my family and friends gathered around a dinner table enjoying my efforts.
I have a feeling I’m not the only one. Food makes most people happy. Here in the South, everything we do revolves around food, in one way or another. It’s just another way to show love and affection to our loved ones.
I grew up surrounded by marvelous cooks. I was lucky enough to be taught by the best. I learned how to make meat loaf and cornbread from my mom, baked pork tenderloin and creamy potato soup from my stepmom, sweet tea from my grandmother, and how to bake scrumptious cakes and pies from Thelma, my great-grandmother’s longtime cook. I’ve picked up recipes and helpful hints from other family and friends, as well. I have over 60 cookbooks, some dating back to the early 20th century (the yellow Bell’s Best is my favorite) but I confess that I refer a lot to the internet, when I want to look up recipes.
With this column, I plan to try something a little different. Don’t be surprised if you are approached by some lady asking what your favorite dish is, and if you’d be willing to share the recipe. On that note, I’d like to start the trend by sharing a couple of recipes I learned from two of my biggest influences, my mom, Wanda Harrington, and my stepmom, Sherean Harrington. I hope you enjoy them!

WANDA’S SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

3-4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked until tender. Drain.
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter (or margarine)
1/2 scant teaspoon Allspice
1/2 (or more) teaspoon Cinnamon, according to taste
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add butter to potatoes and let melt. Whip into potatoes and then mix in rest of ingredients, adding eggs last. Pour into a casserole dish that has been sprayed with Pam and cover with topping.
Topping: Combine 1-2 cup brown sugar with 1 cup pecan pieces. In a small skillet, melt 1/4 cup margarine and add pecans and brown sugar. Cook until bubbly and liquefied, almost caramelized (if it hardens, just add a bit more butter and brown sugar and set it briefly back on the heat to melt). Spread mixture while hot over entire surface of potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until set.

MAMA ‘S MEAT LOAF

Mix together
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
½ (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 egg , beaten
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Form into a loaf. Place in a baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Combine
½ (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
Pour over meatloaf and bake 1-1/4 hours longer, basting occasionally.
Serve meatloaf with sauce.

SHEREAN’S PORK TENDERLOIN

Boneless Pork Tenderloin (2 ½ to 3 lbs)
Seasoned Salt
Pepper
3 packages of McCormick’s Pork Gravy Mix
6 cups water
In your baking dish, combine the gravy packets with water. Rinse tenderloin then liberally season it with salt and pepper. Put into baking dish on top of the gravy mix. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting meat up. I leave it sitting in the gravy and serve it with mashed potatoes.

SHEREAN’S FRESH APPLE CAKE

1 ½ cup vegetable oil
2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups chopped apples
Chop apples and set aside. Measure oil into mixing bowl and add sugar and eggs. Beat until creamy.
Sift flour and measure. Sift again with salt, soda, and baking powder. Add a small amount of flour mixture to creamed mixture. Beat well after each addition. When all the flour has been added or when batter becomes very stiff remove mixer. Fold in chopped pecans and apples. Spread evenly in a 9 x 13 cake pan (lined on the bottom with parchment paper) at 350 for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in the center. comes out clean.

Hope was born in Houston, MS, and was brought up with a great appreciation of good home-cooked Southern food.  A regular contributor to The Packet (she creates the Packet Puzzles each week); she is looking to stir things up by combining her life-long passion for cooking with her love of meeting new people and sharing delicious recipes. Join her as she shares a little “Local Flavor” with some of the best cooks in the Golden Triangle.

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2 comments

  1. lindajagg@yahoo.com

    Hope I am so proud to see you doing this,you have awesome refrences for this colum, enjoy girl

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