Tag Archives: Tennessee

Two Cookbook Discoveries for the Southern Chef or Home Cook

12 Feb

The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook

“A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious American Dishes”

“Cast iron cookery IS American cuisine, and Lodge IS cast iron. Therefore, Lodge IS American cuisine.”  These are the wise words indeed from Food Network’s culinary brainiac, Alton Brown. Esquire magazine listed Lodge Cast Iron Cookware in their 2009 list of “Things a Man Should Own.” And, honestly, who are we to argue with that kind of sage advice? I would like to add that if Lodge knows how to create world-class cookware, then surely they must know a great deal about cooking in the dark, heavy vessels they have created for many, many decades. Right??? Of course!

Some of the recipes unveiled here are contributed by the likes of Southern writer and humorist Julia Reed and noted Oxford, MS chef John Currence, but most come from home cooks and Lodge family members/employees. All in all, you will find over 200 recipes in this must-have volume. Joseph Lodge, who founded the company in South Pittsburg, TN way back in 1896, would truly be proud.

I especially appreciated the Cast Iron 101 chapter — this addresses the intimidation factor for newcomers to this style of rustic cooking. There’s also a chapter devoted just to cornbread (South Pittsburg hosts a Cornbread Fest each year) and another focusing entirely on outdoor cooking. Notable recipes included here are Hannah’s Apple Pancake, Southern Greens Soup, McNew’s Okra Stew, Brunswick Stew, and Savannah Red Rice. Lands outside of Dixie are also represented with Lyonnaise Potatoes, Shepherd’s Pie, Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa, and many more.

My favorite recipe name in the book?

That’s easy.

It is the “This Ain’t No Yankee Cornbread.”  

***Inside the book you will find***

  • Over 200 delicious, classic recipes all made in cast-iron
  • Over 200 big, beautiful four-color photos
  • Cast Iron Memories—historical and allegorical sidebars highlighting cast-iron recipe memories from cooks around the country
  • Crazy for Cast Iron—covers all things cast-iron from the history of Lodge Manufacturing to types of pots and pans, care of cast-iron, basics of outdoor cookery, what NOT to cook in cast-iron, and how to renew neglected hand-me-down pan
  • Stand-alone sidebars such as How to Make a Roux and Basics of Campfire Cooking


The Glass Onion is a popular eatery in Charleston, SC. Their simple, yet delicious Lowcountry cuisine has generated a good deal of buzz and a faithful following in that amazing part of the world. The restaurant opened in 2008, but it took them until 2011 to publish a compilation of some of their most popular recipes. The theme here is “delicious Southern food inspired by local, all-natural ingredients.” A great concept, for certain. Yet it is a concept that is rarely executed with the consistency or the care delivered by the hard-working staff of the Glass Onion.

The Beatles’ song “Glass Onion” was said to be about the handle on a coffin. And you’ll be dying to dine at the Glass Onion after getting a load of these tasty, yet simple to prepare recipes. Jennie Ruth’s Deviled Eggs, Papa’s Oyster Stew, Anne’s Grillades and Grits, Sea Island Red Peas, Sarah’s Red Velvet Pound Cake. It all sounds terrific — and terrifically Southern. But just when you think you can pidgeonhole these guys, they toss a recipe like Chuck’s Italian Sausage Ragout at ya. Most of the recipes have only a handful of fresh, easily sourced ingredients. That simply means that you will not pull your hair out while shopping for or executing these winning, cook friendly recipes.

This cookbook is a self-published effort and it has a nice, church cookbook kind of DIY charm to it. We also enjoyed the short vignettes about the Glass Onion’s vendors including old compadres like Anson Mills’ grains and Benton’s Country Hams & Bacon. So when in Charleston, join them for a memorable meal. Until then, enjoy this thoughtful cookbook.

Lodge Manufacturing Co. – South Pittsburg, TN;  www.lodgemfg.com

Glass Onion – 1219 Savannah Hwy., Charleston, SC; www.ilovetheglassonion.com

Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter

15 May

I first learned about this wonderful product in one of my favorite magazines – Garden and Gun. We had to try it and, thankfully, the folks at Cunningham Farms were nice enough to send along a sample jar. I slathered some on my toast yesterday and I can tell you this jar will not last us long. The first word that comes to mind when describing this Sweet Potato Butter is “fresh.”

Hand crafted in small batches in Hancock County, Tennessee, Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter is made with only the finest natural ingredients. Organic sweet potatoes, apple cider, and organic spices all play a major part in this tasteful blend. The spread is not exceptionally thick and murky, I’m guessing because it contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Preservatives? Hah! You may even polish off the whole jar in the first day!  

You can definitely taste the ground clove in each jar. The overall flavor profile is sort of a cross between a really fine homemade apple butter and sweet potato pie. Spread it on biscuits, bagels or English muffins in the morning. It can also be used as a glaze for pork and chicken. No matter how you plan on using it, just use it! And did I tell you it’s delicious?

Cunningham Farms provides a gourmet version of an old favorite-Sweet Potato Butter. Our product is handmade in small batches using organic sweet potatoes and locally made apple cider; yielding the highest quality gourmet Sweet Potato Butter. Hints of organic cinnamon and clove and the full flavor of the sweet potato couple with fresh apple cider to create a velvety smooth, slightly sweet spread that’s great with a wide range of foods. It’s not too sweet, just rich, warm and invocative of autumn-certainly enjoyable for every meal.

Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is perfect on toast or a croissant in the morning, on a ham sandwich, as a glaze for chicken or pork and as a topping for cake or ice cream. Also, one jar of Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is the perfect filling for a delicious sweet potato pie.

Besides providing a delicious product, Cunningham Farms is also committed to enriching our community. Our gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is handmade in the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen, and Cunningham Farms is a member of the Appalachian Spring Cooperative in Hancock County, Tennessee. The Cooperative was created as a microenterprise incubator for entrepreneurs to make and sell value added food products. By producing our Sweet Potato Butter at the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen we are creating jobs in one of the poorest counties in the nation. Cunningham Farms’ goal is to grow so that we can continue to help the people of our community.

Sweet Potato Butter & Cream Cheese Appetizer


  • 6 Tbsp Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter
  • 8 oz block of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp very crisp bacon pieces
  • 2 Tbsp pecan pieces
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped


  1. Frost cream cheese with Sweet Potato Butter
  2. Sprinkle with bacon pieces
  3. Sprinkle with pecan pieces
  4. Top with scallions
  5. Serve with crackers. May serve immediately or refridgerate.

Submitted by: Joan Bertaut – Jackson, MS


A Few Variations of Jezebel Sauce

19 Sep


Manci’s Antique Club in Daphne, AL serves up a spicy Jezebel sauce on one of it’s burger specials. It adds a blend of sweetness and bite – thanks to a mix of mustard, fruit preserves, and horseradish. Folks who love the more readily available Red Pepper Jelly should dig it .

Here’s some history on the sauce and a few recipe variations …

Jezebel sauce is a spicy sauce (like Jezebel herself) that contains pineapple preserves, apple jelly, horseradish, and mustard. The Jezebel sauce (or glaze) is often served over ham. A Southern origin of this dish seems certain, with Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida all putting in claims.

Jezebel Sauce

You find it in cookbooks from Louisiana back to the 1950s at least, and it probably goes back farther than that. Jezebel sauce can be served as a side to pork, beef, or chicken, or it can be poured over cream cheese and eaten like a dip with crackers.

1 (10 oz ) jar pineapple or apricot preserves
1 (10 oz ) jar apple jelly
1/3 cup prepared horseradish
1/4 cup dry mustard,
2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper

Place ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth. Spoon into clean glass jars. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Here’s another one …

26 October 1958, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, “‘Mrs. Kansas’ Is a Cooking Whiz: Treats from the Sunflower State,” This Week magazine, pg. 34:
Jezebel Sauce
1 cup apple jelly
1/2 cup pineapple preserves
1/4 cup prepared mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Salt and freshly ground pepper

And another …

21 November 1967, Pontiac (IL) Daily Leader, pg. 19, col. 1:
Jezebel Sauce

1 jar pineapple preserves
1 jar apple jelly
1 jar Bahama or Coleman mustard
1 bottle fresh horseradish (or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix well in electric mixer.
Blend first 4 ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with baked ham or meat loaf. Yield: about 2 cups sauce.

8 March 1989, Elyria (OH) Chronicle-Telegram, pg. F2, cols. 4-5:
Jezebel Sauce is the wonderful name for an hors d’oeuvre recipe combining pineapple, horseradish and other ingredients served over cream cheese, requested by a Miami Beach reader. Quite a few readers wrote to praise the recipe—and while I was dubious about the combination of flavors, I have to agree that this is an addicting cracker spread.

“I first tried it many years ago,” wrote Joan Lang. “The recipe is from ‘Sunny Side Up,’ the excellent cookbook published by the Junior League of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The recipe is always a hit, and people wonder what’s in it. It’s so fast and easy and keep in the refrigerator for a long time. I like to keep some on hand to serve with ham.”

1 10-ounce jar pineapple preserves
1 10-ounce jar apple jelly
1 1.12-ounce tin dry mustard
1 5-ounce jar horseradish, drained
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
Combine the preserves, jelly, mustard and horseradish, mixing thoroughly. Pour over the block of cream cheese and serve with crackers. Makes about 2 cups.

24 August 2005, Biloxi (MS) Sun Herald, “On the Trail of Jezebel Sauce” by Andrea Yeager, pg. C11:
Is Jezebel Sauce a Mississippi creation? Rodney Simmons of Bell Buckle Country Store in Tennessee wants to know. His company recently began producing Jezebel Sauce, and he would like to know the origin of the sauce. He has traced the recipe’s history to the Gulf Coast. “I thought it was Creole or Cajun, but after a recent conversation with Paul Prudhomme, we think that it originated on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, around Gulfport,” Simmons said.

Why the name Jezebel? Well, this spicy video may hold the answer …

Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73542408
Filing Date June 11, 1985
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition November 5, 1985
Registration Number 1380667
Registration Date January 28, 1986
Attorney of Record JORDAN S. KELLER
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20060609.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20060609
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

The Best Bathroom in the USA Is …

28 Apr


We just spotted this story on the web — congrats to The Hermitage!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Hermitage Hotel has afternoon tea in the grand lobby. Down-filled duvets (that’s a fancy word for comforters). A presidential suite with 2,000 square feet. And a really nice toilet.

So nice, in fact, that it’s been voted (drum roll please) America’s best restroom.

Flush in the middle of downtown Nashville, the luxury hotel and its ground-floor men’s bathroom are definitely the head (so to speak) of the class.

The redoubtable restroom is art-deco style with gleaming lime-green-and-black leaded glass tiles, lime-green fixtures, terrazzo floor and a two-seat shoeshine station.

“You just can’t find anything like it anywhere else,” says Janet Kurtz, director of sales and marketing at the hotel.

The restroom won the honor in online voting sponsored by Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp., which supplies restroom hygiene products and services. The company says “tens of thousands” of people voted over two months last summer. Precise numbers are kept, well, private.

Criteria were hygiene, style and access to the public. The highfalutin honor has earned the restroom entry to “America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame.”

“People see it and fall in love with it,” Kurtz said.

It has four stools, three urinals, four sinks, spotless mirrors and a Sultan telephone that connects to the front desk.

And, (how do you put this delicately?) women seem attracted to it.

Lita Esquinance of Bradley County, Tenn., guides friends to the restroom for a discreet peek just about every time she visits Nashville. One of them, Sonja Luckie, jokingly summed up her visit with this discerning observation:

“For men, it’s very stimulating.”

The hotel, built in 1910 and renovated in 2003, has 122 guest rooms and suites. The restroom, down the hall from the hotel bar and restaurant, dates back to 1939.

Do they leave the light on for you? Not necessarily, but the famous restroom is cleaned hourly.

In her six years at the hotel Kurtz has never used the men’s restroom. But just wait.

“I hope they have a ladies’ night sometime.”


Muddy Pond Sorghum is SWEET!

10 Jan


My grandfather Phillip Justice was a North Carolinian and a huge fan of sorghum syrup. Grandpa felt naked at the dinner table without a piece of bread in his left hand. And that hand was usually soaking up some leftover gravy, potlikker from greens, or, most likely, some dark sorghum syrup. My Dad remembers trips to his Grandmother’s house in the hills of Western NC where he actually witnessed sorghum being made. It was a time consuming project, but a project that often evolved into a community gathering.

Deep in the hills of Tennessee, midway between Nashville and Knoxville, lies a little community called Muddy Pond. During September and October, you can smell the aroma of fresh made sorghum syrup being made by the Guenther family. Stop by the Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill and watch step by step as sorghum syrup is being made. You can taste the syrup while it is still warm and purchase some to take home with you. You can watch the horses walk around the cane mill as the juice is being squeezed out of the sorghum cane. You may hear the train whistle blow as the wood fired, steam locomotive boiler makes the steam that boils the juice down to syrup.After making sorghum syrup since the mid-1960’s with others in the community, John and Emma Guenther started the family operation in the early 1980’s. Three of their sons; Mark and wife Sherry, Pete and wife Doreen, and Eddie and wife Ruth also run the mill. John and Emma’s daughter, Judy, helps at the mill. Several of the grandchildren can be seen filling containers and labeling jars.

What Is Sorghum Syrup?

Sorghum syrup is made from the juice of sorghum cane. Muddy Pond Sorghum is pure sorghum syrup with no additives. Don’t mistake sorghum syrup for molasses. Molasses is the by-product of the sugar making industry. Sugar cane juice is boiled down to make sugar and the syrup that is left is called molasses. It is usually strong and dark. Sorghum syrup is mild and can be eaten alone or on biscuits, rolls, and toast. It is also good in baked beans, barbecue sauce, gingerbread, popcorn balls, cookies, pies, and cakes.

Learn more about Muddy Pond Sorghum by viewing their web site at:


Gingerbread Cake with Sorghum Molasses

3 Dec




This cake is based on a classic dessert that SAVEUR contributing writer Shane Mitchell found in a collection of recipes belonging to her great-aunt Fanny Lee Seabrook. Sorghum gives the cake a lighter texture than molasses does.

2 tbsp. vegetable shortening, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sweet sorghum syrup or unsulfured molasses
4 tbsp. grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Rich Caramel Icing

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Using a pastry brush, grease a nonstick 10 1/2-cup bundt pan with shortening and dust with 1 tsp. of the flour, tapping out excess. Sift remaining flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together into a bowl and set aside.

2. Put butter into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Add sorghum or molasses and grated ginger and beat well. Add one-third of the flour mixture at a time, folding in thoroughly after each addition. Dissolve baking soda in 1 cup boiling water and beat into flour mixture on medium speed, then beat in eggs, one at a time.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing out top. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

4. Let cake cool completely in pan on a cooling rack, then invert onto a cake plate. Serve as is or glazed with Rich Caramel Icing.

NOTE: For a great sorghum source, contact our new friends at the Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill in Monterey, Tennessee. They can be reached at 931 445-3589 or via snail mail at 4064 Muddy Pond Road, Monterey, TN 38574. The Guenther family will take good care of you.  http://muddypondsorghum.com/

“Air Castle of the South” – WSM

12 Oct

I just received a review copy of this book and finished it in two days. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in the history of country music or in the development of radio as a medium. Havighurst tells this Southern success story with great detail and does a fine job of weaving in interesting sidebars on personalities like Dinah Shore, Minnie Pearl, Sam Phillips, Roy Acuff and many others. I especially enjoyed the behind the scenes anecdotes regarding the early days of the Grand Ole Opry, which really helped to put WSM on the national map. Buy this book — you’ll enjoy it.

Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording between the 1920s and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and country music became inseparable, stemming from WSM’s launch of the Grand Ole Opry, popular daily shows like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven shows such as Hank Williams on Mother’s Best Flour.


Sparked by public outcry following a proposal to pull country music and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and existing sources to document the station’s profound effect on the character and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colorful artists and businessmen from the station’s history, including Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the volume invites the reader to reflect on the status of Nashville, radio, and country music in American culture.




And for all you Minnie Pearl fans, here’s a clip with Carl Smith …