Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: And On The 8th Day God Made Sweet Tea

Stories From The Carolina Coast: And On The 8th Day God Made Sweet Tea: Is there anything more southern than sweet tea? This house wine of the south is served to guest from trailer parks to the governors ma...

And On The 8th Day God Made Sweet Tea

      Is there anything more southern than sweet tea? This house wine of the south is served to guest from trailer parks to the governors mansion. Now I'm not talking about that faint flavorless liquid found at banquet halls and restaurants all over world. The one where they have to add ice to improve the flavor, with a color so faint that you would need a scientific instrument to discern a difference in hue from the water from which it came. No i'm talking about good ole meal in its self, send a diabetic into a coma, more addicting than crack sweet tea. When I worked in the recreation dept. at Kiawah Island I use to turn on northern interns who were trying to work their way towards a degree to the addicting nectar . Like a drug dealer ,I'd give them the first glass for free and watch as they were reduced to begging and bartering  for a refill,  as the cravings for a second glass filled their heart and mind with an unquenchable desire and love for The Souths elixir of love . I often wonder if any of them were ever stopped at customs at the Mason-Dixon Line on their way home at the end of the summer season . Two cases of Liptons and a five pounds of Dixie Crystal, trying to get back into Ohio or Michigan.
      The great South Carolina band Craven Melon once wrote, "On The Eight  Day, God Made Sweet Tea" and to this there can be no argument. People often accuse Southerners of moving, talking or acting slow, and maybe its true.  I've heard this blamed on the oppressive heat and humidity that are part and parcel of our glorious summers, but I have another answer. Just maybe its a three hundred year old secret, passed from father to son and mother to daughter from Virginia to Florida,Charleston to El Paso. Maybe we understand just a little quicker than most, and act on that knowledge before the rest of the world and in doing so finish early, and speak slow, as to measure the words and not divulge our regions greatest secret. It's all just a ploy to spend more time with family and friends and have just one more glass of that Southern Heaven.

PS and A Big PS: I might be stripped of my Southern citizenship for this but in the interest of world peace  I will now for the first time pass along my aunt- Miss Alene's  recipe (for those of y'all that don't know , calling an older relative mr. or miss is an added degree of respect).

  Six regular tea bags
  Two and don't skimp this cups of sugar this is sweet, not iced tea there's a difference
   (Charleston Tea Plantation Tea is Best ,Liptons if you can't find it)
   Tie strings on bags together, pull the bags out by the strings as not to rupture.
   Add all ingredients this is important and bring to a boil.
    Boiling the sugar kind of caramelizes it as and changes the taste of the tea
    Let steep (cool) for fifteen minutes
    Fill a gallon pitcher with ice then pour in tea
    Add Lemon no more than a slice, it will turn into lemonade with anymore
     I prefer to add a 1/2 slice in the glass when I feel the need.

Pour yourself a glass, crawl into a hammock  and do little to nothing and then start making plans to conquer the world,,,,Southern Style

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too o...

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too o...: I had the honor to spend a few years in and around New Orleans, pronounced "Nawlins" by the way, in the late 80's early 90's. I ...

Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too or My Mouths on Fire But I Can't Stop Eating

       I had the honor to spend a few years in and around New Orleans,  pronounced "Nawlins" by the way,  in the late 80's early 90's. I came away with a great admiration for the area, the culture and especially the food. I was taught how to eat Mud Bugs by a young Tulane student. She showed me how break the  tail from the body of the Crawfish and then "Suck the Head" before eating the mini-lobster meat hiding in the tail. We attacked the 3 foot high pile of crustaceans along with 200 of our newest Mardi Gras friends as we waited for the Crew Of Wrecks Parade to begin its winding journey, through the streets of the Crescent City. Covered in Crawfish Juice and Dixie Beer I had the Time of my  life as I savored every sight,  sound and smell  during my first festival and what and education I got that night.
     Being from the South and the Lowcountry I am no stranger to great Southern Cuisine. Fried chicken, barbecue (Mustard Sauce , Maurice Bessingers of course), rutabagas, collards, and  shrimp and grits are preached  in the kitchens of homes in Charleston and embedded in our collective psyche  from the time were born  as much as saying m'am or sir or holding the door for a lady.
       One of the main differences between Cajun food and the rest of the south is the heat to which it is served. Now I'm not talking about temperature of the food as measured by a thermometer , but rather the quantity of pepper, tabasco sauce, or cayenne used in just about every dish, even the sweet tea seems to have a little kick.  I learned over time not only to like,  but grew to love and crave whats been called the cajun trinity, of garlic, onion and cayenne pepper. To the point where I have put hot sauce on potato salad.
     Like the smugglers who brought back the first silk worms from China, or tobacco from the new world I managed to spirit away the recipe for what could be the very touchstone of cajun cooking, Blackened Seasoning. This is not for the faint of heart or those who think paprika is too spicy. My first encounter  with this ethereal concoction  was at K-Pauls when I ordered Blackened Redfish (Spot Tail Bass) and I immediately fell prostrate and  gave myself heart and soul to its worship. While the seasoning gained fame on fish it is equally as good on beef and especially chicken. Now tempting the fates and risking reprisal from the cajun food police, I am now going to pass along this well guarded secret of the Creole Coast.
                                                    Real Blacken Seasoning
       First you need an 8 ounce container with holes in the lid big enough to shake oregano through.

        1.     2 Tablespoons of Paprika
        2.     5 Teaspoons of Salt
        3.     2 Teaspoons of Onion Powder
        4.     2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
        5.     2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
        6.     2 Teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper
        7.     1  1/2 Teaspoons of  White Pepper
        8.     1  1/2 Teaspoons of  Black Pepper
        9.     1 Teaspoon of Dried Thyme
       10.     1 Teaspoon of Oregano

                 Shake well before using

     HOW TO USE:  Lightly coat meat with olive oil then cover,,,I mean COVER  with seasoning until you can't see the color of the food.  Cook,,,,,Grill, Hot Cast Iron Frying Pan, Bake In Oven. It doesn't matter it's all good. Great with New Potatoes, Red Rice, You name it.