As much as I love muscadines, I’ve never been a fan of a muscadine hull pie. I must admit, I’ve only tried a couple of slices, which weren’t all that bad, just not all that good either. It’s the concept that didn’t really appeal to me: squeezing the pulp and seeds out to cook down the skins of the muscadines to make a pie out of them?
Of course, I believe the idea came from what Southern cooking is best known for: making something delicious out of what you have on hand! Many folks make jelly out of muscadines, using only the pulp, leaving the skins behind. I’m sure what happened was some smart Southern woman decided she had worked too hard separating the skins from the pulp to just throw those skins away, so she made a pie out of the muscadine hulls! The idea must have caught on, because there are multiple variations on the same basic recipe. Now, I’m all about creatively repurposing leftovers, but since I don’t have to separate the muscadines by hand to make jelly, I’m certainly not going to do it just to make a hull pie!
Recently, a magazine contacted my husband, Chris, and asked for a recipe using muscadines with apples for a special piece featuring apples in North Georgia. Of course, he turned to me and asked, “Any ideas?” Although this was during our harvest season and fresh muscadines were abundant, I thought how much easier it would be to use one of our products made from muscadines that are available year-round. My favorite muscadine product is Paulk's Pride Muscadine Sauce. Maybe I could even combine it with apples to make a modern version of a muscadine hull pie?
So, I did what any good Southerner would do - I invited my best friends over for dinner and got to work! Chris took care of grilling steaks and vegetables I marinated while I chopped apples and made homemade ice cream. At least we’d have something delicious if the pie was a flop! After dinner, I proudly uncovered my creation and began to slice and serve it to raving reviews. Roxie declared it the best pie she’d ever eaten! Good thing, too, because I had to email the recipe later that week!
Paulk’s Pride Muscadine Apple Pie recipe was printed in the Fall 2017 issue of Georgia Connector magazine and is also available at www.paulkspride.com.
We’ve also made it into one of our Southern Mercantile recipe cards if you’d like to print it!
I sure hope you enjoy Paulk's Pride Muscadine Apple Pie as much as we have - we even served it in our Cafe during "Muscadine Week" in September!
Almost every southern cook I know has a recipe box or binder full of cards and slips of paper collected over the years from family, friends, and magazines. This is in addition to a cabinet full of cookbooks - from beautiful glossy picture-filled hardback books to spiral bound paperbacks filled with covered dish supper favorites and the name of the cook. My Mama had a dark wooden recipe box with a cornucopia painted on the top. She would pull it down from the cabinet above the stove, and we would know something delicious was about to happen in that kitchen.
When I got married, I received a recipe box, a couple of binders, and plenty of blank recipe cards. At the time, I had no recipes of my own to write on the cards and put in the binders or box! My mother-in-law gave me an old binder full of her and her mother’s recipes. This binder has become precious to me. Over the years, I have learned to make a few of those recipes, including my husband’s favorite - fresh peach cake for his birthday. (I shared this recipe in my blog Peach Cake.)
Last year, my Mama gave me the sweetest birthday present - her wooden recipe box! She included the card for my favorite meal as a child - Chicken Spaghetti! She’s also been working on typing up her other recipes to add to my collection. Of course, those in her own handwriting are the ones that are so dear to my heart. I have such sweet memories and feelings of home every time I look at that box.
Now that I have learned how to cook, I have lots of recipes in my everyday repertoire, and love gathering more. My problem is I have not organized all those recipes. I have a shelf full of cookbooks I’ve collected and lots of recipes scribbled here and there, but I don’t really have a system to organize them all. That’s one of those goals I’ve always hoped to get done, but never have! So, I’m trying to get my act together now, starting with our favorite recipe box from Rifle Paper Company. Choose from three different designs to match your kitchen and personality. We also have a cute Berry Basket Recipe Box you may prefer with its open top. And, all our recipes in the Recipe Archive are available in a printable format perfect for 4”x6” recipe cards to fit!
I look forward to organizing all my recipes - both old standbys and new favorites. Of course, I will still use recipes found online and in cookbooks; but, there is something nostalgic about reaching for a full recipe box. You can almost feel a connection to the cooks who have shared those recipes with you as well as the many southern cooks who have come before. And, what a wonderful gift for those who will come after us. One day, perhaps I can pass on a full recipe box to my daughter-in-law to help her become a great southern cook.
In honor of Mother's Day this weekend, I thought I would share one of my Mom's favorite recipes! There are two dishes that come to mind when I think about her; Sweet Potato Souffle and Buttermilk Salad. Both of these dishes seem to make it to every family gathering or holiday meal--usually per request of one of my cousins! Since summer is upon us, I thought I'd share her sweet and simple Buttermilk Salad Recipe.
Since my mother has made this recipe my whole life, I've never had to! She let me borrow her coveted Big Creek Church Cookbook for me to attempt it myself. This book has been well loved over the years, with paper clips marking her favorite recipes.
All you need are four simple ingredients to make this refreshing treat. In our family, this "salad" is a part of the meal, not dessert. Although it may look deceiving, this definitely pairs well with fresh peas and cornbread.
It wasn't until I started to make the recipe that I realize my Nana was the one who submitted this selection! Come to find out, Nana made this for her family and now my Mom carries on the tradition.
It only takes a few minutes to whip up, but you must let it set up overnight. My mom likes hers to be extra fluffy, so she uses 16 oz. of Cool Whip rather than 8 oz. If you think you'd like it to be tart, use two cups of buttermilk. If not, just use one!
If my mother had made it, it wouldn't be so lumpy. If my mother had made it, it would be a little fluffier! Some things are just best left to Mom.
I am so thankful to come from a long line of women who love to cook and serve. If you'd like to reminisce with us about our Mothers a little more, check out our Mother Memories blog! I hope you'll try this recipe as well as some of the others we've shared. Don't forget, you can always check out our Recipe Archive when you are in need of a new one to try!
With Easter around the corner, I started thinking about what recipe to share with y’all. A couple of years ago, I wrote about Deviled Eggs. You can even find our Blue Cheese and Bacon Deviled Eggs Recipe Card in our Recipe Archive.
One of my favorite desserts has always been carrot cake. I mean, what better way to get your veggies than in dessert? Apparently, carrot cake has been around for centuries in Europe. Carrots were used to sweeten the cake instead of sugar, which was much more expensive. It became popular in the 1960s-70s in the United States. As is the case with so many things, here in the South, we’ve perfected carrot cake and made it our own. I’m not sure if carrot cake is a traditional Easter dessert for everyone, but it certainly is in my southern family!
I’ve seen carrot cakes decorated with cute little carrots made from marzipan or icing, as well as some that include candied ginger for a little extra zing, but my favorite is generously iced with the perfect cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with extra pecans or walnuts on top! Of course, like any cake, it’s imperative that carrot cake be moist. There’s not much worse than a dry cake. I enjoy a glass of milk with a piece of cake, but I don’t want to need the glass of milk to wash it down!
This recipe is precisely that perfect balance of moist cake and sweet, creamy frosting. Brenda, Roxie’s mother, created this cake for Terry, Roxie’s father, after he went wild over the carrot cake at the Smithsonian Museum restaurant one summer. She tried different recipes, then put together a patchwork of a recipe by combining parts of several to come up with the one Terry thought was wonderful. Terry likes to see and taste what is in the cake, so the pecans aren’t chopped very fine. Using crushed pineapple helps keep the cake moist, and Brenda is known for ensuring there is plenty of frosting to go with each bite of cake. She also saves a step and a bit of time by freezing the grated carrots when they’re close to going out of date, so she can be ready to make a carrot cake whenever she wants.
Click here to go to our Recipe Archive to find the Carrot Cake Recipe Card to print! We’d love to know if you use Brenda’s Carrot Cake recipe this Easter or any other time, for that matter! Take a picture and tag us on Facebook, so we can celebrate with you! If you have any other tips or ideas for Easter, feel free to share those with us, too!
As I sit here contemplating how to begin this blog, I find myself struggling with the syrupy sweet words I am accustomed to using. Today I do not feel syrupy, but rather very heavy. If you live in our area or have been watching the news, then you are aware of the tragedy that surrounds us. We experienced terrible weather this past weekend which resulted in multiple tornadoes that destroyed countless homes and claimed precious lives. I find it hard to concentrate on my work, carry on small talk, or even drift off to sleep at night. I wonder what I can do to ease the pain and loss of the families in our surrounding counties. I am overwhelmed by the many needs but oh so grateful for the ones who have sprung into action. What I do know is the needs that these areas are currently experiencing and I can start there. I will do what I can to support these families and I will stay informed in the days, weeks and months to come. If you too are interested in donating to the families who have been affected by these storms, I would encourage you to find the nearest collection location and give. A little goes a long way.
Something special happens when you invite someone into your home for dinner. I believe that same magic is present when you bring food to their doorstep. Preparing and cooking a meal takes time, it takes thought, it takes love. A casserole has the ability to minister to someone where words can't reach.
Here in the South, it is customary to deliver a casserole to someone when certain life events take place. (Deaths, births, sickness etc.) Whether the event is tragic or filled with joy, sending food their way is an opportunity to communicate that we care and are willing to help in a time of need.
I believe cooking and baking to be one of my love languages. I blame it on my Southern roots as well as generations of good cooks and caring women. I love having people in my home and at my table. We share more than food--we share life.
Only recently have I started this venture in loving people through food. Now that I am married with a home of our own, I find joy in filling the freezer with delicious casseroles (to make dinner for a hectic night easier, or to share with others). This Christmas I decided to make lots of cookies and casseroles to share. When choosing a casserole, I decided on one of our favorite dinners: Chicken Pot Pie. Who doesn't love Chicken Pot Pie?! I found a recipe last year on Pinterest from Lovely Little Kitchen that we just love.
After tweaking it a bit, I have finally perfected it for us--and for freezing! I would like to share this recipe with you, in hopes that you might share it with others!
Wrap casserole with saran wrap to ensure that it is sealed.
Cover with tin foil, labeling what it is.
*I like to use cute labels, making sure that I give clear directions on how to bake, if it is a gift.
If baking straight from the freezer, uncover, remove saran wrap, and place the tin foil back over the casserole.
Bake at 400 degrees for an hour, or until bubbling.
Be sure to remove the tin foil during the last few minutes of baking to brown your crust!
If thawed, just follow the directions on your recipe card!
*I found that I like to cheat and use canned biscuits to make my crust, but you can use any type of crust you like! This dough works well with freezing, so if you change it up, I would just suggest that you do a little experiment before gifting it!
**Also, if you are having trouble weaving your crust, here are a few helpful tips at Gimme Some Oven!
Sometimes showing love to those around you looks like making a plate of food and taking it to the widow next door. Sometimes it looks like dropping off baked goods at your local DFCS office. Sometimes it even looks like buying canned goods for a local shelter. There are so many ways to love the people right around you, and often times we are too busy to notice.
Though feeding people may be one of my love languages, what is yours? You don't have to bake a casserole to show someone you care--that's just one idea! This world is desperate for love and attention, and if we don't show it to them, they will search elsewhere.
I heard Jen Hatmaker once say that your physical neighbors were not placed there by chance. We were chosen to live alongside one another and care for each other--and if we can't love those directly around us, how can we love the world?
Though you may not be able to reach out to the tornado victims I mentioned in the introduction, I would like to challenge each of our readers to think of someone in your community who may need a little love. Whip up this Chicken Pot Pie, bake a few slice-and-bake cookies, or take them a vase of flowers. Let's consider what others around us may being going through and let them know we care. In the busy-ness of life it is often easy to miss opportunities to love--so let's make one.
The Southern Mercantile was thrilled to be a part of the annual "Mistletoe Market" this year in Perry, GA. We had a blast getting to set up a mini Southern Mercantile store. Here's our finished product, what do you think?
It was so much fun to fill our little space up with all of our favorite things!
We introduced our favorite soaps in our favorite scents. These shea butter soaps from France feel like such a treat! Who can go wrong with lavender, white gardenia, sage and mirabelle. These soaps are now available in the store and they make a perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer! Click HERE to shop!
We had the opportunity to meet new people and make some new friends! We served our special "spiced percolator punch" as a special treat to those who stopped by. It was such a hit, we're sharing the recipe below!
Our Maileg bunnies, angels and mice were a huge hit! We have restocked our "Littles" category and they are all available now!
One of the highlights of the weekend was getting to meet James Farmer! We just love all of his books and have carried them in the store for years. You guys can nab one of your own by clicking HERE!
Next weekend we are headed to Jacksonville, FL to participate in the "Vintage Market Days of Jacksonville". If you are in the Jacksonville area drop by and visit with us! We'll be hitting the road to some new places in the new year, so we'll keep you posted on our schedule. If we're ever in your neighborhood we would love to meet ya!
Hot Spiced Percolator Punch
(makes 22 servings)
Be sure to join our Recipe Club to have access to all of our wonderful recipes!
Born and raised in the South, Sweet Tea was served at every meal. There was this unspoken understanding that everyone wanted tea--so there was never any need to ask your family members or guests what they wanted to drink with their meal. Sweet tea was what I knew to be the beverage of choice, and it has remained so throughout my life.
I learned to make tea at an early age, due to how often this task had to be done. After moving off to college, I continued my weekly tea making. To my surprise, not everyone knew how to make sweet tea! So, just in case your tea making skills are a little rusty, here are a few tips on making perfect, southern sweet tea.
The first, and possibly most important, tip is in choosing the right tea bag. We believe in using Lipton tea bags, they just taste the best! You can purchase one gallon tea bags or family size tea bags--either will work fine!
Now that you have the main ingredient, let's make sure you have the most important: sugar! In our opinion, perfectly southern sweet tea takes two, yes TWO, cups of white granulated sugar.
Now, boil water on the stove in a tea kettle or pot. Measure out two cups of sugar and go ahead and put that into your gallon-sized tea pitcher. Once your water is boiling, turn it off and immediately pour it into your pitcher along with EITHER one gallon tea bag or two family size tea bags. Give your pitcher a stir dissolving the sugar and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove your tea bags and finish filling up your pitcher with cold water. Give it a good stir again and place your tea in the refrigerator until cold. Serve over ice with the option of fresh cut lemons!
**Helpful Tip: If you are a busy bee like me, I have a convenient alternative to the normal tea making process. You will need a large microwave safe measuring cup, mine holds 8 cups. Fill with water and your two family size tea bags. Pop it in the microwave for 7 minutes--and wallah! You can let the tea sit up to 20 minutes in the microwave before mixing up your tea and sugar. This works well for me when I am doing chores all over the house and not necessarily in the kitchen to watch for the water boiling on the stove. When you are ready, pull out your freshly steeped tea and mix in a gallon-sized pitcher with two cups of sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, finish filling the pitcher with cold water.
Don't you love the mid century mod glasses in the photographs? We have two sets available in the store! Click HERE to take a look!
Shop our favorite Sweet Tea themed products below!
Even though I was raised in a small, rural area in the south, I never learned the art of keeping up a garden or canning and "putting up" vegetables. My family traveled a lot in the summers and I didn't have a grandma to teach me those important southern traditions.
When I moved back after college I turned to my friend Mrs. Carolyn for a little help! I have known Mrs. Carolyn my entire life. She was the secretary at the elementary school where my parents taught and our families have been long time friends. When my dad was opening our shop and cafe 13 years ago, he called on Mrs. Carolyn to help in The Cafe. She has been with us ever since! She lovingly tends to our Cafe guests every Tuesday and it is her pimiento cheese recipe that has become famous in our little town.
Carolyn and her husband always kept a summer garden. Several years ago she let me come out and pick peas with her. We took our peas to the local canning plant to have them shelled and then she helped me blanch and bag them up to freeze them. One summer she helped me with okra and this summer I got a lesson in canning her delicious sweet pickles!
We have decided to share her secrets with you, with her permission of course. :) The pickle process takes a few days to complete, so be sure to have a little time on your hands! Here is your peek into Mrs. Carolyn's pickle making methods.
What you will need:
Give them a good wash and set aside.
Once all of your cucumbers have been cleaned, begin cutting! You will want to cut off the ends of the cucumbers and discard them.
Try to cut your cucumbers as uniform as possible to keep your pickles looking and tasting consistent!
Cutting is the step where you may want to recruit a little help.
Mrs. Carolyn follows along with the directions on the Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime package for the basic measurements. (She adds a little extra here and there to get them just right.) When you begin the "liming down" process, make sure that the bowl or basin you are using is not made of aluminum because of the reaction that could take place with the lime.
Sprinkle one cup of Pickling Lime over your freshly cut cucumbers.
Now begin filling your basin with water to ensure that your cucumbers are covered.
Make sure to give them a good stir so that the lime distributes evenly throughout the water. After "liming your pickles down", let them sit overnight, stirring occasionally (otherwise the lime will settle to the bottom).
The next day, you will want to begin the rinsing process. To ensure that you wash all of the lime off of your cucumbers, you will need to rinse them multiple times.
Using a colander, rinse your cucumbers off and rinse out your basin. Place the cucumbers back in the basin and cover them with water again. Let the cucumbers soak in the clean water for one hour. Repeat this step two more times!
After you have soaked the cucumbers in clean water three times (at one hour each time), drain them again with your colander. Rinse your basin and place the cucumbers back in, covering them with ice water this time. Mrs. Carolyn let her cucumbers soak in ice water for three hours before moving on to the next step.
Now it is time to get your pickling spices ready. You can use a piece of an old (clean) t-shirt, as Mrs. Carolyn has done, or even pantie hose! Tie up your spices so that they are not loose in your pickles. We used two tablespoons of spices, tying up one tablespoon per bundle.
Now it is time to bring your vinegar, sugar and spices to a boil. (Not in aluminum!) It is important that your cucumbers go straight from the ice bath into the boiling mixture. This gives them that special crunch!
You can follow along with the recipe on the Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime package, or do what we did! Mrs. Carolyn's pickles are perfectly crispy, sweet and tart--so her version is a little different. We ended up using one whole gallon of white distilled vinegar. *This is where experience comes in. She knows what to add by simply looking at it!
We also used eight pounds of sugar.
We even had a special guest show up to help! Abi is one of Mrs. Carolyn's biggest fans.
Keep stirring as your vinegar begins to boil. You will want to stir as the sugar dissolves.
Once the sugar is dissolved and the vinegar is boiling, carefully add in your cold and drained pickles!
Mrs. Carolyn added more vinegar than is stated on the Pickling Lime Package to ensure that her pickles would be covered.
Give them a stir and wait for the vinegar to come back to a boil.
Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn the stove off and let your pickles sit over night.
The next morning, bring your pickles to a boil one more time. Let them boil for 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally.
As your pickles cook, they will darken--this is the color you are looking for!
While your pickles are boiling, get your clean jars, lids and rings ready. You will need to boil a little water in a separate pot to drop your lids down in. The rim around the lid will need to be heated in order to seal on the jar correctly.
Begin filling your jars once your pickles have boiled for 30-45 minutes.
Make sure that your pickles are submerged in the liquid by pressing them down with a spoon. You want to ensure that you have enough liquid in your jars to prevent any from going bad.
Be sure to wipe the rim of the jar clean before placing your warmed lid on top. You will want to get rid of any sticky liquid that may have gotten on the outside of the jar.
Screw your ring on as tight as you can and set the jar aside.
Mrs. Carolyn likes to leave her pickle filled jars sitting on the counter while she waits to hear the jars seal with a "pop"! (Although Mrs. Carolyn does not process her pickles, it is recommended that you process your jars of pickles in a water bath for at least ten minutes to prevent any presence of bacteria.)
The best part about pickle making (besides the outcome) is all of the "waiting" time. That gives us plenty of time to chat!
Once the lids on your jars have "popped", you are ready to enjoy your pickles for months to come.
We hope that you have enjoyed this glimpse into a classic Southern kitchen. We'd love for you to give pickle-making a try yourself, and let us know how it goes!
We have a few things over in the store that you might find helpful if you do decide to make a batch of pickles of your own! Purchase a Canning Kit to dress up your jars or an enamel basin to make the liming and soaking process a little bit easier!
One of my favorite things to do is to make a pretty cake. I love the art of baking, and I love the art of decorating! A simple yet showy cake that wows the crowd is an ombre layered cake. This cake is fun because from the outside it appears to be plain Jane. When it is cut, you have a surprise! This cake is great for a baby shower, Valentine's Day, birthday parties .... with so many color options it is sure to be a winner.
For this cake, I choose my favorite cake recipe, making one and a half batches (for a larger layer cake). You will make your recipe of choice as usual, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure a smooth mixture.
I like to use AmeriColor Gel Paste-Food Color. You can pick it up at any craft store--you might as well get a few different colors to have on hand because you'll love it! Gel food coloring comes in an array of vibrant colors and it holds that color in baked goods better than traditional food coloring does. It is beautiful when used in frostings and it also works well with fondant! I mad ethis particular cake for a baby shower. The couple is having a little girl so my color choice was simple: soft pink.
Ombre--having colors or tones that shade into each other in which the color is graduated from light to dark.
Light to dark--that's the idea! I call this cake simple because rather than having to split the batter before you color it (like a rainbow cake), you just color it a little at a time in one bowl!
Once your batter has been mixed and is smooth, begin by adding one or two drops of coloring to your bowl. Turn the mixer on, then stop it to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again until it is evenly incorporated. Now your first and lightest layer color is ready. You will want to come up with a measurement for the amount of batter used in each layer so that they turn out (somewhat) even. Dip the decided amount of batter into a pan and set aside. Now, go back to your bowl of batter and add one or two more drops of color. Turn the mixer back on until it is evenly incorporated again (scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl ensures that the batter is evenly colored). Dip up your next layer and move on to the next one! Repeat this process until you have used all of your batter dipping up the desired number of layers.
You want to be sure that you add enough coloring to each layer that a difference can be noticed, but not so much that you can no longer make the layers any darker. This happened to me on the last layer--soft pink can only go so dark! I ended up adding a tad of red and all was well. Just be aware of that tiny detail when you start!
Once all of your layers are baked and cooled, begin with your darkest layer on the bottom. Continue icing the cake as usual, stacking the next darkest layer. Once your cake has been iced between each layer, admire your beautiful work before you cover it up! It should be stacked lightest to darkest from top to bottom. Ice the outside of the cake and call it a day. You are sure to please the crowd with this sweet and simple creation.
With the Super Bowl coming soon, I thought I’d pass along my idea of a “super bowl.” My family started making “super bowls” a couple of years ago, after I was inspired by Real Simple magazine (February 2014 issue). It’s an easy dinner that uses up leftovers (yay! clean out that fridge), and makes even picky eaters happy (because they pick what they want). Basically, everything goes into a bowl, then is topped with salad dressing or oil and vinegar. That’s it!
Here’s the way our family celebrates a “super bowl”:
1. Choose a starch or grain:
rice, couscous, quinoa, pasta
2. Choose your salad greens:
spinach, kale, romaine, arugula
3. Choose your protein:
chicken, steak, beans, eggs
4. Choose your toppings:
bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, nuts, seeds, capers, jalapeno or banana peppers, mandarin oranges, berries, cheese (especially feta, blue, or goat cheese), herbs, green onions
5. Choose your dressing:
Ranch, Blue Cheese, or Oil and Vinegar (I love to use flavor-infused oils and vinegars from Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company and Oliver Farms.
Keep in mind, this is not a recipe; it’s just a guide of our favorite options. So, if you want to change things up, by all means, go ahead! I typically make sure that my family has at least 1 protein, 1 grain or starch, and 2 veggies in their super bowls. I literally clean out the refrigerator and use up leftovers like stir-fry or salad, but I also offer some thing they haven’t seen on their plates that week, such as boiled eggs, nuts, or seeds. It’s interesting to see the combinations everyone comes up with!
Do you have a favorite way to use up leftovers? We’d love to hear your ideas! Share this post with your friends, so we can hear how they make leftovers new too!
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