How to make homemade chicken-vegetable soup like a real Southerner

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK 

Cold weather just sets my soup-cooking emotions to stirring.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

After a look into my post-Thanksgiving freezer, I realized I had a variety of frozen vegetables I’d like to do something with because I’m not going to make them individually just for myself.

That’s when “soup!” came into my mind. I’ll have some for myself and some to share with friends, which is why I make a big pot of it. It’s also great to freeze in quart-size Ziplock bags for a no-trouble supper or lunch. Just add a salad or a toasted roll and you’re in business.

My only word of advice is to refrain from adding the chicken until the soup’s almost done. Otherwise, it will cook out all its juices and taste dry, even in the midst of the broth.

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How to make a Southern Thanksgiving meal

We’ve been doing some of our favorite activities this week – cooking, eating and enjoying time with friends and family. And of course, Southern food makes everything better.

Our resident cook, Patsy R. Brumfield, has been sharing her go-to Thanksgiving dishes the past few weeks. They are:

Roasted turkey (how to brine and roast one)

Cornbread dressing

Turkey giblet gravy

‘Sweet Potato Queen’ casserole

Sour cream pound cake
Homemade mayo
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How to brine a turkey for a Thanksgiving feast

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK 

A few years ago, I watched food guru Alton Brown propound the virtues of brining a turkey. He explained that the salt water brine changes the turkey’s cellular structure so that it holds more moisture, while seasoning the meat.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

Boy, was he right! This has been my favorite way to roast a turkey ever since, and I’ve got a least one friend who insists it saved his family holiday meal. Amen, brother.

Of course, this recipe and approach can be used with other meats, especially chicken. For example, if you’d like to roast a whole, fresh chicken, half the recipe below.

You also should change your perspective on how long to cook the bird. Buy yourself a meat thermometer and cook by the internal temps, not how long it’s been cooking. You’ll be amazed at how much more flavorful the meat will be.

Header image is from christmasstockimages.com and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license.

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How to make turkey giblet gravy like a real Southerner

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

Gravy sometimes is overlooked during the cooking process but it is the unsung hero of holiday meals. You do it right and no one thinks about it. You do it wrong and everyone is disappointed. This smooth giblet gravy makes everything better, from the turkey to the cornbread dressing (recipe) to the mashed potatoes.

This is a recipe that was passed down from my wonderful mother, Betty. Hope you enjoy. And make sure to check out my other Thanksgiving recipes.

Header image via Angie’s Southern Kitchen and used in accordance with the Creative Common license agreement.

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How to make cornbread dressing like a real Southerner

Thanksgiving turkey isn’t complete without moist, yummy cornbread dressing. It’s taken me years to get this one right, so I’ll share my experience with you.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

First, my wonderful mother, Betty – who adored Thanksgiving and cooked for weeks in anticipation of hosting a crowd that day – died on Halloween 1999 and left me, the eldest child, to make our first holiday meal without her. I had no idea what to do. Thank goodness she left recipes, although some have taken years to get just right. (You know how cooks are about secrets.)

This is her cornbread dressing, which I like topped with a splash of smooth turkey giblet gravy (recipe). It’s also fabulous to slice thinly onto leftover turkey sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise (recipe) and a sliver of cranberry sauce (easy recipe). Goodness, my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Header image via Angie’s Southern Kitchen and used in accordance with the Creative Common license agreement.

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Sweet potatoes

How to make ‘Sweet Potato Queen’ casserole like a true Southerner

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK 

Some years ago, Mississippi’s Jill Conner Browne wrote a series of hilarious books based on her “Sweet Potato Queen” stories and philosophies of Southern culture. Fortunately, she also offered a recipe for said-named casserole, which I’ve expropriated and adapted through the years because my daughter likes it so much.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

It’s now a staple of our Thanksgiving feast and equally delicious leftovers. That’s why I usually make two casseroles – one for the midday meal and another for later.

You will love it, and it couldn’t be much easier. It’s a nice, fluffy, modern “company” side dish that I think is far superior to grandma’s marshmallow-topped version. You will appreciate it even more, if you read Jill’s books.

Header image via louisianasweetpotatoes.wordpress.com and used in accordance with the Creative Commons user agreement.

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We’re planning our Thanksgiving menu. Are you?

Holiday alert! The Southfacin’ Cook will begin soon with some fabulous ideas and tips for your holiday table. This week, please go out and buy your sweet potatoes in anticipation of my “Sweet Potato Queens Casserole” recipe.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

Sweet potatoes need to chill in the refrigerator a couple of weeks before you cook them so they increase in sugar content. I’ve already got mine there.

As for how many to buy, figure one large tater for every two servings. I mean “large,” too. I look for potatoes about the same size so that they will bake across the same time. Baking is the best way to go because it also maximizes the sugar content.

Watch for my cooking lesson and recipe in a couple of weeks. We’ll cover the sweet potato casserole, the turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing and more.

Header image via flickr user Nick Bastian.

How to make sour cream pound cake like a New Orleans native

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK 

My father didn’t do much cooking. Chiefly, he’s remembered for accidentally setting fire to the kitchen while trying to cook bacon and watch the World Series simultaneously. We’ve never been much for multi-tasking.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

But the man could make a really good pound cake – dense, crusty, delicious. Where he got his recipe is unknown to me, but lately I found one very much like it in my mother’s recipe box. It was an old, brown newspaper clipping taped to a file card.

It is beyond delicious! It’s tall and just the right density, and so buttery. You will love it, and your guests will think you are the greatest baker ever.

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How to make Mexican rice

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK 

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

Not long ago, I was watching that cute Mexican chef, Marcela Valladolid, on the Food Network. She made what she called Red Mexican Rice, “Arroz Rojo.”

I’ve always liked the rice at restaurants and so I figured I’d try it to make at home. This recipe is really easy and a great side dish to add to your repertoire. Thanks, Marcela.

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How to make garlic cheese grits like a New Orleans native

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK 

My mother, Betty, wasn’t the world’s greatest cook but she did a few things very well. One was garlic-cheese grits, which is a great side substitute for potatoes or rice or all by itself.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

My daughter, Margaret, once had the flu more than 10 hours away from home and only had the strength to make one thing to sustain her. You got it – these garlic-cheese grits. She forever sings their praises and asked me to make them for this blog.

Garlic-cheese grits is perfect for a couple of folks or for a buffet brunch/dinner for company. You also can make the dish ahead of time, then pop it into the oven for baking later.

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