Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer in the South: A Dinner Idea from my Childhood

When I was growing up, there were times when food had a real impact on me. Things someone might have thought nothing of but meant a lot to me and stored in my heart. Also, I was influenced and my family has been blessed from that as well.

Just a small scattering of these memories:

* A doctor giving me a tootsie pop  and being nice enough to give me more for my sisters when I asked him. I remember Mom and I walking up to the door of our home and opening the door to my sisters and being able to hand them my sweet "gifts" ... it made my entire day and I was only around three years old but still cling to that moment.

* A less warm memory I've used to make sure I always try to make sure no one at any age has to feel bad in any way when eating at my table. My mother was working a full time job and paying good money (so it was skimmed from other areas ... like extras, entertainment, and so on even) to a woman who lived a few homes down from us. She had a school aged child and she worked it out with mom to allow us to come there in the mornings to eat breakfast with her son and then we'd all walk to the school bus together. Mom had to leave a full hour before we caught the bus to get to work on time and it was the first time we had stayed with someone in the mornings so it was already an adjustment.
Anyway, the woman was very nice to mom but as soon as she left... she would stop smiling and she would give us like 1/2 of a piece of bacon and a tiny portion of eggs and maybe 1/2 of a piece of toast but would give her son a full plate and allow him to have seconds or thirds if he wanted them. I remember how bad I felt... my 10 year old heart didn't understand why someone would act that way. My seven year old sister and I just thanked her and eventually we moved. Even if we are very low on food to this day, I will offer any portion we have on our plates to those eating with us... or more. It was a sad time for me but good came of it!

* My grandaddy used to fry apple fritters in a skillet. Nothing compared to them... nothing. They were comfort at it's finest. To this very day, I've never tasted one that came anywhere close to his. He made those or fried eggs with toast or canned biscuits and a few other things in his little kitchen. It was in that little kitchen that my uncle showed me how to hold my fork properly when I was very young and it was there my aunt showed me I could definitely like the white part of the egg along with the yellow if it was cooked this way and cut that . . . and she was right!

* An older woman who was the best homemaker I had seen other than my own dear, mom --- cooked like no one I had EVER been around. The best of the best baking and everything was always served so well. We had blueberry or strawberry pancakes (or plain pancakes) with blueberry and strawberry syrup and I could not EVER get enough of these! We had homemade pound cake served with heated milk and vanilla extract poured over it in a bowl (my most comforting food memory ever, perhaps) and so many things welcomed me in a culinary and homey way from her kitchen and breakfast room nook.

* One meal we had growing up that I was weary of when I first saw it but fell immediately in love with was fried potatoes, crowder peas with ketchup and mustard zig zagged on top, and homemade biscuits with butter. All of that and sweet, iced tea.

The latter was the inspiration for our meal last night!
We had a skillet of fried potatoes and Vidalia onions (DIL request) and a skillet of fried potatoes without onions . We also had a skillet of fried potato peelings bec my son started eating them in Italy or Afghanistan and loved them and we have fallen for them here now! Very delicious.

We also had field peas (crowder peas) from a can and cheddar bay biscuits ... kind of like the copycat Red Lobster biscuits but a world and more better!

This was served with our canned pickles and iced, sweet tea with lots and lots of lemon slices for those of us who LOVE lemon in our tea!

Our changes? LOTS more shredded cheese, buttermilk in place of milk and then a splash or two of milk to make it easier to stir and scoop. Small cookie scoops and less cooking time.

The topping: We added a few cloves of pressed garlic and a lot more butter! ALL ages loved these and after three cookie sheets were slid onto plates --- four tiny biscuits were left.

Todd Wilbur Reveals the Secrets to Great Restaurant Dishes
Order an entrée from America's largest seafood restaurant chain and you get a basket of some of the planet's tastiest garlic cheese biscuits served up on the side. For many years this recipe has been the most-searched-for clone recipe on the Internet, according to Red Lobster. As a result, several versions are floating around, including one that was at one time printed right in the box of a baking mix.
The problem with making biscuits using a baking mix is that if you follow the directions from the box you don't end up with a very fluffy or flakey finished product, since most of the fat in the recipe comes from the shortening that's included in the mix.

On its own, room temperature shortening does a poor job creating the light, airy texture you want from good biscuits, and it contributes little in the way of flavor. So, we'll invite some cold butter along on the trip-with grated cheddar cheese and a little garlic powder. Now you'll be well on your way to delicious Cheddar Bay. Wherever that is.


2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
¾ cup cold whole milk

4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

Bush on Top:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes

½ teaspoon garlic powder

pinch salt


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don't want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.

3. Drop approximately ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

5. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Recipe courtesy of Todd Wilbur, "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2," Plume Books.
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