Sunday, March 10, 2013

Southern mood, Southern food. . . or what to eat while reading Beautiful Creatures

I'm in the middle of reading the Castor Chronicles right now.  I just finished Beautiful Darkness and just ordered Beautiful Chaos.  I think that I will read Dream Dark next though, since I think that it was written as a bridge between the two novels.  So I guess that makes me about dead set in the middle of the series: two down, two to go.

Food is such a big part of the atmosphere and mood of these books.  You can almost smell the pies and fried chicken cooking, at least I can.  It really makes me yearn for the tastes of my current state of alternate reality.  It's a good thing that I am doing most of my reading on the elliptical at the gym to work off some of these calories.

Here are a few recipes we made this week---

Shrimp and Grits and Stewed Okra

Peach Cobbler

Coconut Refrigerator Cake
We made a few other recipes this week that didn't make it into photos: Red Beans and Rice with Andouille, and Fried Catfish.  The beans were good but not really photo fabulous.  The fish was very good, but I'm not used to eating much fried food, so it was pretty rich for me.

The Shrimp and Grits were so incredibly good!  It is a Bobby Deen lighter version recipe.  You can check it out here.  The only thing that I changed was that I used 2 lbs. of shrimp and real half and half, since I didn't have the fat-free on hand.

Bobby's Lighter Shrimp and Grits

1/4 cup Canadian bacon, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 dozen large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, with tails on
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite-cut diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fat-free half-and-half
3 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Add bacon to a nonstick skillet and saute over medium heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a plate; set aside. Add the oil to the skillet and set over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.

Add the shrimp and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the shrimp being to turn pink, about 1 – 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl; set aside. Add the tomatoes, wine, hot sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring constantly to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the flavors are blended and the sauce begins to thicken, about 6 – 8 minutes. Return the bacon and shrimp to the skillet. Stir in the half-and-half; heat through.

Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the grits, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Serve the shrimp mixture over the grits. Sprinkle with the chives.

The Stewed Okra is another Deen recipe.  Here it is.  This recipe is so good that even my 8 year old ate her whole serving.  Not at all slimy.  But actually, I don't mind when okra is slimy.  So here's what I changed:  I added half a diced green pepper with the onions, and I used a bag of frozen sliced okra.  Using the frozen okra makes this recipe so easy.

The Lady and Sons Okra and Tomatoes

4 slices bacon, diced into small pieces
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chicken base
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups fresh okra, cut into 1-inch pieces (may use frozen, if fresh not available)
                                                      Fresh ground black pepper

Cook bacon slightly. Saute onion and garlic with bacon until tender. Add tomatoes, chicken base, sugar and pepper. Stir well and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed. Meanwhile wash okra and remove fuzz if using fresh and cut into pieces. Add the okra and simmer until okra is done, about 20 more minutes (less if using frozen okra.)

Read more at:

There was just so much talk of peaches in the book that I had to make a peach cobbler.  I made one from a mix from Louisiana Fish Fry.  This is a family owned Louisiana company.  My husband and daughter loved it, and it is so easy that it can be a week night desert.  I followed the recipe and used one can of peaches, but I will try two or even three next time, because I like it more juicy and fruity than cakey. We used one of the packages of fish fry from this company for the catfish, and it was very good, too.  It was the classic cornmeal type of fish fry perfect for catfish.  I think I will try it on chicken in the oven this week.  Find out more about their products at the site here.

When Southern desserts come to mind, right after Key Lime Pie is Coconut Cake.  I found an easy refrigerator recipe online.

For the coconut cream, I used a can of coconut milk from the Asian foods section at the local grocer-- the kind that says it separates and to shake well, no water added.

Coconut Cream Cake 



 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
3 eggs
 1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 (14 ounce) can coconut cream
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup flaked coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, water and coconut flavoring. Beat for 2 minutes and pour into 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine coconut cream with sweetened condensed milk and stir until smooth. When cake comes out of the oven, poke holes into it in even rows using a large fork or chopsticks. Pour milk mixture over, allowing it to soak into the cake. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff. Spread over cooled cake. Sprinkle top with flaked coconut.

 Finally, I've been having Peachtree Schnapps with orange juice or cranberry juice to go with the Gatlin Peach theme.  And another very good drink with Southern flair is Sweet Tea flavored vodka and lemonade.  Of course, a good 'ol American Bud Light will do, too.

 Well, I'm definitely going to make more okra this week.  And maybe a Key Lime Pie. . .

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