Recipes and Stories

6 March 2017: Of Leftovers and Creamed Tuna

March 6, 2017

Tags: Creamed Tuna, Classic American Cooking, American Cooking, Canned Tuna, Leftovers

Old-Fashioned Creamed Tuna with Noodles
So much contemporary food writing, my own included, focuses on the importance of freshness: Using the best ingredients that our budgets will allow; taking the time and care to select the freshest, choicest things that we can find; using care in the way we store and use them. It would be nice if our cooking could always be like that. But more often than not, our day-to-day cooking is (or should be) more about not wasting what we’ve already got on hand.

Far too many people on this planet—no further away than our own neighborhoods—are hungry. No, using up that food instead of throwing it out isn’t helping those hungry people. But to squander still edible food just because it’s not at its absolute peak is self-indulgent and irresponsible. (more…)

5 July 2014: Pan Broiled Hamburgers

July 5, 2014

Tags: American Cooking, Pan-Broiling, Pan-Broiled Burgers, Oven-Roasted Sweet Corn

Independence Day Supper without a grill: pan-brioled hamburgers, oven-roasted sweet corn, sugar-snap peas, and French potato salad
Because we don’t have a grill and a huge pecan tree shades our back yard, making it an ideal nursery for mosquitoes, I don’t cook outdoors at home. So, grilled burgers and corn on the cob, the traditional offering for Independence Day, have to be cooked indoors. I pan-broil burgers and steaks, and it’s actually a lovely way to cook them. (more…)

10 April 2013 Strawberries and Bourbon

April 10, 2013

Tags: Historical Southern Cooking, American Cooking, Strawberries, Bourbon

Spring in a bowl: strawberries macerated in bourbon and lemon
It’s usually a mistake to assume that someone who looks back to history is somehow bound and gagged by the past. Yet, the prejudice is commonplace, and seems to be especially prominent in the culinary community, where so-called “cutting edge” trends whiz past at light speed, seemingly leaving us dusty old historians behind to stew in our own marmite. (more…)

27 August 2012: American Ragù

August 27, 2012

Tags: American Ragu, American Cooking, Historical American Cooking, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Pasta, Spaghetti

American Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
If you are of a certain age, you remember it simmering for hours on the back of the stove, thick with tomatoes, redolent of garlic, oregano, and sometimes an adventurous splash of wine, filling the house with its rich aroma. It came to the table ladled thickly over a bed of fat, slightly overcooked spaghetti, dusted generously with grated cheese that came straight from a green can. (more…)

21 May 2012: Blueberry Crumble

May 21, 2012

Tags: Crumbles, Blueberry Crumble, American Cooking, Historical American Cooking, Merideth Rasplicka

An Old-Fashioned Blueberry Crumble, photographed by Timothy Hall
Here in Southeast Georgia, the early blueberries from Florida and the southernmost end of our state are already coming to the market. Though blueberries are one of my favorite fruits, I can usually resist the earliest ones: picked a bit unripe and shipped in from South America or even South Florida, they’re almost always a disappointment. (more…)

Blueberry Crumble

July 7, 2011

Tags: Blueberries, Southern Cooking, American Cooking

Sunday Dinner Blueberry Crumble (Photo by Timothy Hall)
Among my favorite and most cherished memories from childhood are those big, leisurely Sunday dinners that we had after church, when we actually ate in the dining room and used the good china and silver.

There were never fewer than three side dishes and always a dessert (most often banana pudding)--which marked it as a special occasion at my mother's table, since a sweet at the meal's end was not a given in our household.

Now that I am the one who gets up early on the the "Day of Rest" and does the cooking, I appreciate more the effort that my mother put into making it seem leisurely. However, it remains among my favorite meals, both to make and to eat.

Whether it's the traditional Southern roast and plethora of sides from my childhood or a simple frittata with hash browns, the challenge, for me, is that obligatory dessert at the end. Sweets are just not my thing.

Happily, blueberries are in season and over this past holiday weekend, there happened to be a couple of pints on hand. Sunday's dessert was a snap to make, because nothing is simpler, or better, than a blueberry crumble, and this one may well have been the best I've ever made.

For the fans of my Facebook page, who were drawn in by Timothy Hall's handsome picture, here's how to make one of your own.

Blueberry Crumble

Serves 6 to 8
3 pints blueberries
¾ cup sugar
Salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 lemon
7 ounces (about 1½ cups) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 ounces (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) unsalted butter

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375° F. Wash, drain, and pick over the berries to remove any stems and blemished fruit. Put it in a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl and add the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Grate in the zest from the lemon. Toss well, taste a berry, and if they are not very tart, halve the lemon and add a squeeze of lemon juice, as needed.

2. Lightly butter a shallow 2 quart casserole and pour in the fruit. Wash and dry the mixing bowl, put in the flour and brown sugar, and toss until well mixed. Add the butter and cut it in until the mixture resembles course meal, with lumps no bigger than very small peas. Sprinkle it over the fruit.

3. Bake until golden brown and the filling is bubbly in the center, about 45 minutes.