My mother grew up in the South and always talked about how everything food-related involved butter and gravy. I was curious about where some of these "comfort foods" came from. Here is a selection of yummy recipes for a southern-inspired meal with a vintage twist of delicious history. 

 ( 1 )  Old - Fashioned  Mint  Julep

The exact origins of mint juleps are unknown but are thought to have first been described in 1803 as a drink that Virginians regularly drank. Many contemporary mint julep recipes call for whiskey, however a recipe that dates from approximately 1862 specifies the use of brandy or cognac. 
Did you know? Mint juleps have been dubbed the official drink of the Kentucky Derby!

  • 1 Cup brandy or cognac
  • 1 Ounce Jamaican rum
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Several fresh mint leaves
Step 1:Dissolve one tablespoon of white pulverized sugar in two and one-half tablespoons of water.

Step 2:Take two sprigs of fresh mint and press them well in the sugar and water, until the flavor of mint is extracted.

Step 3:Add one wine glass of Cognac brandy, and fill the glass with fine shaved ice, then draw out the sprigs of mint and insert them in the ice with the stems downward, so that the leaves will be above, in the shape of a bouquet.

Step 4:Arrange berries, and small pieces of sliced orange on top in a tasty manner, dash with Jamaican rum, and sprinkle white sugar on top.

Step 5:Place a straw (across the top of the glass), and you will have a julep that is fit for an emperor.


( 2) Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies are basically a deep-fried dumpling made of cornmeal. There are many stories surrounding the creation of hushpuppies. One story goes that when hunters and trappers were out on the trail for days at a time, they'd cook up these dumplings and feed the leftovers to the dogs to keep them quiet or "hushed". There is another story that confederate soldiers would cook up these cornmeal cakes around a campfire. If they detected Yankee soldiers approaching, they could quickly throw their dogs some cakes to keep them quiet.

  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • egg, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup water


Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, egg, salt, baking soda, milk, and water. Mix until batter is smooth and free of any lumps. Batter should be stiff (if batter is too dry, add milk; if batter is too thin, add cornmeal).

Step 2: In a cast iron skillet or a large heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil to 350° F or until a small amount of batter dropped into the hot oil sizzles and floats. Do not let the oil get too hot or the center of the hushpuppies will not cook thoroughly.

Step 3:Using two spoons, push a small amount of batter into hot oil (370° to 380° F). After about 10 seconds, hushpuppies will float to the top and begin to brown. Fry for approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown all sides.

Step 4: Remove from oil and place hushpuppies on paper towels; continue cooking the remaining batter (fry in small batches, adding 4 to 6 hushpuppies to the oil at a time). NOTE: They can be held in a 200° F oven until serving time (approximately 30 minutes). Serve hot.

Makes 2 dozen hushpuppies.


 ( 3 ) Creole Jambalaya

Here's the main dish: Jambalaya! Jambalaya originated in the Caribbean islands. A mix of Spanish, Native and African cultures all had a part in the creation of this dish as we know it. It is said that the creation of Jambalaya was based on a Spanish dish called Paella. Since Paella calls for Saffron, and early settlers lacked such a commodity, they replaced saffron with tomatoes. The first Jambalaya recipe was printed in 1837 in New Orleans. The name is supposed to have derived from the The Atakapa tribe of the region with an original word sound of "Sham, pal ha! Ya!" which means "Be full, not skinny! Eat up!" 
I found this lovely scanned image of an original creole jambalaya recipe below...


 (4)  Sweet   Potato  Pie

This southern dessert recipe owes its origins to African culture. Yams were a popular produce (and still are!) in Africa. It is said Africans brought over in the slave trade introduced white settlers to the sweet potato and eventually it transformed into a pie, similar to a pumpkin pie. Many recipes were handed down from generation to generation, so there are plenty of variations. Add whipped cream for an even sweeter and festive look. The recipe below includes orange peel, but you can do without the orange if you wish.

  • 3 small to medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 stick of butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of finely grated orange peel (don't leave out)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar 
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Step 1:Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Clean and rinse sweet potatoes. Place into deep cooking pot and boil until tender. Drain and remove skin. OR you could bake potatoes in oven until fork tender. 

Step 2:Place mashed potatoes in large mixing bowl. Add eggs and butter. Blend for 2 minutes with electric mixer. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and milk. Continue beating then add cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel, and vanilla. Blend well.

Step 3:Prick bottom and sides of thawed crust with fork; sprinkle lightly with 1 teaspoon sugar. Place pie crust in over for 5 minutes or until crust rises or is lightly browned, let cool. 

Step4:Pour pie mixture into pie crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate.

Yield: 12 to 14 servings for 2 pies.



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