Gary Henry Fixes His Favorite Foods
Cooking Up the Blues
SouthernBeans.com replaces our previous OldSouthernRecipes.com, but old tagline is still apropos: Basic Food Traditions of the Deep South. Here you will find three things:
- Essays. Thoughts on Southern customs and food traditions by Gary Henry.
- Photography. Images from a lifetime of traveling on (mostly) Southern roads.
- Recipes. Recipes for iconic Southern foods, with lots of commentary.
Some, if not all, of the foodways of the South need to be preserved and honored as folklore. But I’m not a historian; I’m a foodie. I love this kind of food. So join me on this journey. Glad to have you along!
Gary’s (Ridiculously Opinionated) Way of Cooking
There are fancier cornbreads than this, no doubt, but this one is the real deal, believe me. This is the kind of staple, everyday cornbread that working-class Southerners used to eat all the time. So go get yourself a new ten-inch iron skillet and consecrate it solely to making this cornbread.
Pinto beans (as well as other dried beans) are a marvelous comfort food, and they’re also extremely nutritious. There may be no other food that comes closer to being a complete source of nutrition. In fact, some cultures in the world live on beans like these, with little else to eat.
There is a widespread myth that Southerners boil or seethe their green beans so long that they turn into mush. But any good Southern cook knows that too much water or too much heat will prevent the beans from reaching their maximum flavor and texture.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Talk about a versatile and widely enjoyed side dish! Roasted sweet potatoes are a guaranteed guest-pleaser. And since you can go in the direction of either sweet or savory, they match up well with almost anything else you plan to put on the table.
In the soul-food world, turnip greens are iconic (as are collards), loved by nearly all who appreciate the foodways of African-Americans. And with this recipe, the “pot likker” that is created is one of the most sumptuous, soul-satisfying parts of the experience.
Cole slaw almost has no independent identity, unfortunately; people only think of it as a nice accompaniment, second-fiddle to some star attraction like barbecue. But just give me a tangy cole slaw, a bunch of saltines, and some sweet tea, and I’m good to go.
Cucumbers & Onions
Cucumbers & onions marinated in sweet-salty vinegar may be an acquired taste, but once it is acquired the taste is memorably good. This makes a wonderful side dish to go with traditional summertime meals, but I believe it’s too good to limit to the summer.
Young ladies, don’t lose this valuable recipe. It is an important document. Somewhere out there is a young man you’re going to want to fall in love with you, and this recipe will do the trick. If not, that is a guy you do not want to be married to, I’m telling you what.
Here is some genuine down-home cooking nostalgia — a tangy accent that is almost an essential part of any respectable meat-and-three throw-down. And pickled beets are another of those “refrigerator” dishes that just get better after a few days in the fridge.