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Recipes and Stories

18 November 2019: Early American Bean Soup

Early American White Bean Soup

 

It never pays to get carried away and overthink things in the kitchen.

 

When the weather finally turns cool, nothing warms and comforts quite as simply or completely as a hearty bean soup. The ingredients are inexpensive, the method is artless and requires next to nothing in the way of skill from the cook, and virtually the only way to mess it up is to walk away from the pot and forget it long enough for it to boil dry.

 

And yet. When I dug up one of my recipes from an old newspaper column to make a shopping list for a pot of bean soup, instead of finding simple directions for a simple dish involving one pot (as it should be) was confronted with an unnecessarily complicated operation requiring two pots and a layered sautéing step that was supposed to "build" the flavors but in fact didn't contribute enough to those flavors to make it worth the trouble. Read More 

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8 October 2012: Mushroom Soup

Thick, rich Mushroom Soup made with both fresh and dried mushrooms and broth, cream is only added as a garnish at the end

After my recent newspaper story on fall mushrooms, several correspondents asked about a good recipe for mushroom soup, since one wasn't included in the story. I went looking to see what might turn up in some the early American cookbooks in my collection, and to my surprise, found only this simple recipe in The Carolina Housewife: Read More 

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2 April 2012: Poke Sallet

Poke Sallet sauteed with Spring Onions and Bacon Lardons, served here as Mrs. Bryan would have done, with poached eggs

Under the deep-green shade of the old camellias in my back yard, one of the quiet miracles of spring is unfolding: a thick, luxurious stand of new-green poke shoots. This lovely wild green, once a defining element of spring’s table for country folk all across the South, is a real piece of Southern lore, and has been turned by popular culture into an object of derision, a symbol of ignorance and raw poverty.

It is none of those things to me. Read More 

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