Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Summer Fun Finds 2019

Summertime and the living is easy – and it should be fun, functional and beautiful as well! It’s been awhile since I shared some of my summertime favorites, but I just couldn’t resist as I dive right into the season. These are just some ideas about personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products.

If you are grilling this summer, make everything extra special with these amazing single origin spices from Burlap & Barrel. I am a huge fan of these unique and incredibly flavorful spices and they will up your game easily. And don’t just grab any old sauce from the store, go with the experts and order a selection of original Memphis sauces from Central Barbecue. And ketchup is fine, but blow your burger away with Memphis made Jacko’s Pepper Jelly Sundried Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper version.

And everyone needs to keep cool this summer, right? Keep you cocktail cold in this insulated canteen with a creative monogram from Emily McCarthy. The pour out your libation into Limelight Paper’s double wall insulated cups with your own special design. And make those cocktails really special with personalized stir sticks from Two Funny Girls. Carry it all in the fun for summer watermelon insulated tote from MarleyLilly.  When it’s really hot out, make your own frozen drinks on the go with this handheld portable frozen drink maker. You will also want to keep cool with ice cream.  Serve it up in personalized cartons, and make it extra fancy with Fancy Spinkles Ice Cream Social toppers and unbelievably decadent with Backhouse Food’s Hot Fudge Sauce.

My favorite part of summer is the abundance of the farmers markets. I’ve been carrying my haul home in a bag similar to this snazzy oil cloth carrier from Beth’s Bags for years. It’s roomy and wipes clean. And I fill it with these reusable produce bags to cut down on plastic waste and leave the baskets for the vendors to use again. My market sells wooden tokens to use with vendors, so I like to keep them in my bag in a pouch like this fun beaded watermelon coin purse. When I get home, I like to pull out these small colandersto store my produce.

And as we all enjoy summer with our family and friends, don’t forget our neighbors in need. Many children rely on school lunches and food pantry programs and struggle providing proper nutrition during the summer months. Find your local food bank and donate food or funds through Feeding America.

Curry Biscuits with Ginger Pork Tenderloin and Mango Chutney

Ham biscuits are a staple of any brunch buffet for me, particularly at Easter. Whether it’s a whole ham on a pretty platter with a basket of biscuits on the side or a tray of pre-assembled bites, I can’t do without them. And one of my favorite classic southern party dishes is pork tenderloin with lovely rolls and a nice spread, from mustard to flavored butters (it even made it onto the cover of my last book, Southern Snacks). But sometimes I like to mix things up a bit. These biscuits are absolutely packed with flavor, and the bright sunny color makes them a real standout on a party spread at any time. The pork is marinated with a nice hit of ginger that complements the curry profile, and a dollop of mango chutney adds a bright fruitiness. These are delicious for more than brunch – try them for a Kentucky Derby party or as a pre-dinner appetizer. The bright color and punchy flavors always draws oohs and ahhs.

Make sure the green onions are very finely diced – I cut them into small rings, then run knife through them as if I am chopping herbs. I like the simplicity of this mixer method, but you can certainly do it all by hand with a basic biscuit method. Mix the flour and spices and cut in the shortening, then blend in the buttermilk. I prefer these in a square shape, because frankly its easier. The biscuit dough can be frozen on a baking sheet until firm, then stored in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Bake from frozen, adding a little cooking time if needed. You can make the pork tenderloin a day ahead and store it wrapped in the refrigerator then slice and assemble. There are lots of delicious mango chutneys available at the grocery, choose one that is not too chunky as it makes the biscuits a bit hard to eat. I serve these at room temperature to make it easy.

Curry Biscuits with Ginger Pork Tenderloin and Mango Chutney

For the Biscuits:

4 cups soft white wheat flour (Like White Lily)

2 Tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 ½ teaspoons mild curry powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

4 green onions, finely minced

½ cup shortening, cold and cut into cubes

1 ½ cups cold buttermilk

For the Pork Tenderloin:

1 pork tenderloin

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2-inch piece of ginger

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

To Serve:

Mango chutney

For the Biscuits:

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the flour, baking powder, curry powder, salt and turmeric in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low for a few seconds to blend everything, then add the finely minced green onion and turn the mixer on again just to combine. Add the cubes of shortening and run on medium low until the shortening is mixed in but with a few small BB sized pieces visible. Turn off the mixer and add about ¾ of the buttermilk then start the mixer on beat on medium low until the dough starts to come together. Add more buttermilk if needed. Knead the dough a few times in the bowl just to incorporate any flour left on the bowl.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and gently bring it all together, kneading just a few times. Handle with care and don’t overwork the dough, or the biscuits will get tough. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches, using the back of a large knife or bench scraper to square off the ends.  Flour the knife or scraper and cut the dough into 1 ½-inch squares.  Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, lightly brush the tops with a little buttermilk and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Serve warm, or wrap tightly and store in an airtight container, gently reheat before serving.

You can shape the biscuits and place them on the baking sheet and freeze them until they are hard. Transfer to a ziptop freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. Bake from frozen, brushing over the buttermilk and sprinkling the salt. Add a few minutes to the baking time.

For the Pork Tenderloin:

Slice the ginger (no deed to peel) and crush it slightly with the side of the knife. Place the ginger, garlic and olive oil into large resealable plastic bag. Add pork to marinade. Close bag and turn pork to coat. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, turning pork occasionally. 

When ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 425°. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet. Scrape of any garlic and ginger pieces from the pork and season generously with salt and pepper. Brown the outside of the tenderloins on all sides.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the tender to an internal temperature of 150 degrees, about 15 minutes.  Let the pork rest at least 5 minutes before thinly slicing. The pork can be cooked up to a day ahead, wrapped tightly and refrigerated.

Cut the biscuits in half, place a thin slice of pork on one side and dollop on a little mango chutney. Place the other half of the biscuit on top and serve.

Makes 18

Leek, Lemon and Goat Cheese One Pot Pasta

Leek, Lemon and Goat Cheese One Pot Pasta

A few years ago, I started reading about “one pot pasta” recipes on the internet. I pinned a couple, and was a little curious, but didn’t jump right on the bandwagon. I’ve never really thought of boiling the pasta separately as an overburdensome task. But then I did think about dirty dishes. I do A LOT of dishes, and many of my recipes have been streamlined to dirty as few as possible, so it suddenly seemed like an idea I should explore. My first few attempts, following popular recipes, where underwhelming. After reading all the headlines and recipe titles about “super-easy” and “so simple”, I think in my mind the idea was you could just chuck everything in a pan and wait 20 minutes and voila, dinner! It is not quite as simple as that, as there is some watching the pot involved. And it turns out that what I like about the recipes I have successfully developed is not having one pot to clean or the perceived ease of the dish, but the way the flavor really does permeate the pasta. My first success was this Creamy Gorgonzola One Pot Pastathat is just full of the rich flavor of gorgonzola. I made that so much it got a little predictable. So I decided to adapt one of my favorite simple pasta dishes that I’ve been making with two pots and a bowl. Soft leeks, tangy lemon and creamy goat cheese meld for a sprightly sauce with a touch of sunshine. The lovely lemon flavor really permeates a dish in way that is difficult to achieve in a pour-over sauce.

The secret to creamy one pot pasta is to stir the pot almost constantly, particularly at the end to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. It is a little difficult to stir when the noodles are first go in, but just make sure to keep things moving and at a low boil. Serve this pasta immediately so the sauce retains its luscious creaminess.

Leek, Lemon and Goat Cheese One Pot Pasta

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 leeks, light and white green parts only

¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth

Zest of one lemon

Juice of two lemons

4 cups chicken broth

¾ cup heavy cream

¾ pounds spaghetti, broken in half

4 ounces soft goat cheese

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ cup parmesan cheese, divided

Chives for garnish

Slice the leeks in half, then into thin half moons. Rinse well in a colander and shake some of the water off. Heat the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Add the leeks and sauté until soft and glassy, then add the white. Bring to a bubble and cook until the liquid is evaporated and the leeks are very soft. Add the lemon zest, juice, broth, cream and spaghetti and bring to a low boil. Crumble in the goat cheese and season well with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring very frequently, until the spaghetti is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened, just coating the pasta. Stir in the parmesan cheese and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately garnished with snipped chives.

Serves 6

Cerveza Chicken Chowder

Writing a weekly blog post has its drawbacks. I love developing recipes, I spend weeks working on them, sometimes years actually. But I don’t always have an amazing story to tell. No deep childhood memory or lesson I learned on my travels. I just know it’s a good recipe and I want to share it. This is one of those recipes. I love a rich, creamy and comforting soup in the winter, chowder, cheesy filling bowls of warmth. So I knocked this up, it took a few tries to get something special (though I enjoyed every iteration). It started pretty basic, but swapping out some broth with a Mexican beer gives it a little zip. I tried different cheeses, but really liked the balance of a pre-shredded mix of Mexican cheeses, which is not usually the way I go, but it melted perfectly with a nice tang. A little hint of spice adds interest. It can be a fun interactive meal – lay out some extra cheese, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, tortilla chips, even avocado chunks or some salsa. So there you go. I hope you enjoy this hearty bowl as much as I do.

Cerveza Chicken Corn Chowder

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoon chile powder

Kosher salt

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles

1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

1 12 ounce bottle lager beer, preferably Mexican like Sol or Pacifico Clara

½ cups half and half

8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend

2 cups frozen corn kernels

Chopped cilantro

Fresh limes

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the chicken breasts in a small baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (165°internal temperature). Shred the cooked chicken with two forks and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and sauté the onions until they are soft and transparent and just beginning to take on some brown color. Add the garlic and cook a further minute, then sprinkle over the cumin and chili powder and a generous pinch of kosher salt and cook about 30 seconds until the spices are fragrant. Add the diced chiles, tomatoes, chicken stock and beer and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. At this point, I like to give the soup a little whir with the immersion blender to break down the tomatoes and onions a touch, but it is not required. Measure out 1/2 cup of the cheese and set aside. Stir in the half and half and heat through. Do not boil the soup, but when it is steaming, stir in the rest of the cheese until it is melted. Add the corn and the shredded chicken and gently heat through.

Serve the top sprinkled with a little extra cheese, some chopped cilantro and a wedge of lime.

Seves 6

Festive Finds 2018

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and I love to share gift ideas for the food lovers in your life. As always, these are just some personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products or compensated me in any way.

Memphis made Jacko’s Pepper Jelly is a new obsession of mine, and the Cranberry version is absolutely perfect for the holidays. Try it over cream cheese, a wheel of brie – and it is out of hand on a leftover turkey sandwich. Everything is better with and Atlanta-based Banner Butter makes some fantastic compound butters that would make an amazing gift. Pair it with some biscuits from Callie’s Biscuits and breakfast is in the bag. These unicorn grits from Millers All Day and Geechie Boy Mill of South Carolina are delicious and a conversation piece. They make beautifully pink tinted grits naturally because of the special variety of corn.  

Build a beautiful cheeseboard for your parties or as a gift. This customized map glass board adds a personal touch. This assortment of Southern cheeses is a great sampler. I love panforte, the rich Italian fruit and nut treat and I’ve ordered from Italy over the years, but this California made version from Beaujolais Granola is delicious and beautifully packaged. Truffle Honeycomb from Regalis is a magnificent blend of Tennessee truffles and Georgia honey. Try it drizzled over fine cheese.

Izard Chocolate is made in Little rock, Arkansas and the packaging is stunning. This variety selection will impress the chocolate lover on your list. Backhouse Foods rich and decadent hot fudge sauce and praline sauce make a sweet gift.  I love pecan oil for making really unique, Southern salad dressings and this bottle from Congaree & Penn is beautiful to boot. For a truly special gift, snap a picture of your favorite recipe card have a family favorite recipe engraved on a wooden board for serving or display.

Keep a running grocery list or daily menu in style with the fun and functional hanging note roll. Glass serving pieces go with everything and look pretty on a table. This simple serving bowl is made special by a monogram. I snapped up this gorgeous round baker recently. It is perfect for roasting a chicken or making a colorful vegetable gratin – the muted colors let the beautiful food shine through. Scout’s Bagette market tote has cut down on my plastic grocery bag use immensely. They are cute, colorful and collapsible. Even the cashiers at the store comment on them! And you can add a monogram.

A good enameled cast iron pot is a kitchen workhorse, but it can be pretty too, like this version from Great Jones. I love the bright colors. For a perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer, stock up on these beautifully packaged and creatively fragranced soaps from New Orleans’s Sweet Olive Soap Works. A notepad in the kitchen is always helpful for jotting down recipe ideas or grocery lists. These cute vegetable themed pads make a great gift. My go to gifts are homemade preserves I make during the summer. I love these cute labels from Nancy Nikko Design and use them on most of my canned gifts.

These cute printed insulated cups perfect as a quick gift or for serving hot chocolate at your holiday parties. For a more permanent gift, this insulated mug from Emily McCarthy has a fun choice of monogram options. Make sure to check out all her personalized products. Liven up the kitchen with this fun C’est Si Bon kitchen towel. For a professional, but super chic look, this patterned, check out chef’s coat from Pomegranate, one of my favorite linen brands.

And of course, I think Southern Snacks is the perfect gift for any cook in your life – or great to keep yourself in preparation for holiday parties.

 

Glazed Double Almond Bars

I’m returning to a classic here. These are neither hip or new or with some special twist, they are just a recipe I have been making for years and return to when I need a little comfort. I love the old-fashioned taste of almond paste. I don’t now why exactly I say old fashioned, there is just something reminiscent about the rich, grainy, almond-y taste to me. I have no particularly childhood memory of almond desserts, or any proof of my feeling that they somehow seem very Jane Austen-ish, or even Little House on the Prairie-ish (though I know that can’t be true). These bars just take me to a happy place.

These bars are the perfect treat when you want to move away from classic brownies or cookies for a different taste. They are so easy to make but pack a real flavor punch. As an added bonus, they will keep for several days in an airtight container, so they can be made ahead. I have even shipped these to my niece in college.

Glazed Double Almond Bars

For the Bars:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

7 ounces almond paste

2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 ¼ teaspoon almond extract

5 – 6 Tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 300 °. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper with some overhanging ends.

Beat the butter and the almond paste together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and creamy and well combined. Add the sugar and the eggs and beat until combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the flour and salt until the batter is smooth, again scraping the bowl as needed. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Use clean, damp fingers to press it out into an even layer if needed. Bake for 1 hour until firm and lightly golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Spread the glaze over the bars as soon as you remove them from the oven.

For the Glaze:

Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, almond paste and enough milk to make a glaze as thick as heavy cream. Pour over the warm bars and leave to cool completely.

Cut the bars into squares. The bars will keep in an airtight container for  2 days.

Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors

I am excited to announce that my third cookbook will be released on September 10, 2018. Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors is packed with recipes for classic Southern favorite appetizers, and some new twists that highlight the best Southern ingredients. It’s the perfect collection of recipes for tailgating, back to school, holiday entertaining and gift-giving. You’ll find chapters on Dips and Spreads, including the Creamy Collard Dip, Pimento Cheese Style recipe below. A chapter on Cheese, Please includes variations on classic cheese straws and one of my favorites, Country Ham Cheesecake. Look for Fried Grits with Tomato-Bacon Jam in the Deep Fried Love chapter, or Citrus Pickled Shrimp in Seafood and Eat It. Plan your holiday entertaining with Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Biscuits and Green Onions Butter from The Meat of the Matter chapter, or Party Tomato Pies from The Garden Path. Round it out with The Nuts for Snacks section, including Sweet Tea Pecans and Barbecue Peanuts.

You can buy Southern Snacks from your local independent bookseller, or online from UNC PressAmazonBarnes and Noble, Target and Walmart.

I’ll be signing books throughout the fall and I would love to see you at any of the events listed below:

novel., Memphis, TN, September 12, 6 pm

Square Books, Oxford, MS, September 21, 5 pm

Turnrow Books, Greenwood, MS, September 22, 11 am

Page158 Books, Wake Forest, NC, October 4, 6 pm

McIntyre’s Books, Pittsoboro, NC, October 6, 2 pm

Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN, October 14, 1 pm

Me and Mrs. Jones, Memphis, TN, October 27

 

Follow me on Facebook or Instagram @therunawayspoon for some fun giveaways and updates to the event schedule!

 

“A delightful addition to the pantheon of Southern cookbooks–an inspirational resource for home and professional cooks alike, brimming with ideas for bringing something different to the next get-together.”–Foreword Reviews

“Anyone from south or north involved in party planning or catering will find plenty of inspiration here for passed hors d’oeuvres to seriously enliven any party, plain or fancy”.–Booklist

Photos by Justin Fox Burks

Creamy Collard Dip, Pimento Cheese-Style

5 strips of bacon, chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
¼ cup water
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen chopped collard greens, thawed and well drained
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce (such as Crystal), to taste (optional)

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy and move to paper towels with a slotted spoon to drain. Pour the bacon grease into a measuring cup and let cool briefly. Add 2 tablespoons of grease back to the skillet. Cook the onions over medium-high heat until they are soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, then add the water and cook until it has evaporated and the onions are a light toffee color, stirring frequently. Add the pimentos and stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute further. Stir in the collard greens, separating them and distributing the onions and pimentos evenly. Cook until the collards are heated through and soft. Add the cream cheese, cut into cubes, and stir until melted. Add the grated cheddar and stir until melted. Stir in the sour cream and mayonnaise until the dip is smooth and creamy. Add the crumbled bacon and stir until all the ingredients are well distributed. Scrape the dip into a 2-quart baking dish.

The dip can be cooled, covered and refrigerated at this point for up to a day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the dip until it is warm through and bubbling, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with corn chips or toasted baguette pieces.

Serves 10-12

From “Southern Snacks,” used with permission by University of North Carolina Press, www.uncpress.org 

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

In a break from our regular programming, I am very excited to announce that my next book The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral food with a Twist, will be released on Tuesday, January 16. The book is filled with recipes for everything from breakfast to snacks to casseroles and sweets and includes unexpectedly humorous obituaries and anecdotes alongside stapes of Southern funerals. Look for recipes for Biscuit and Gravy Casserole, Bourbon Pimento Cheese, Fried Chicken, Green Bean Casserole with Hazelnuts and Tarragon, and Browned Butter Pecan Pie.

Whether feeding a congregation, delivering a meal to a friend in need, or cooking with weekday leftovers in mind, home cooks will embrace these recipes, guaranteed to comfort and to please a crowd. There are over 75 recipes and 50 color photographs.

Find The Southern Sympathy Cookbook at your local independent bookseller, or online from one of these sources:

Amazon

novel.memphis

Barnes and Noble

Countryman Press

Wal-Mart

And please come see me when I sign books at

novel.memphis Thursday, January 18 at 6 p.m.

Lagniappe Gifts, Greenville, Mississippi, Tuesday, January 23 at 12 noon

The Fancy Little Flea, Germantown, Tennessee, Saturday, February 3 at 2:30 p.m.

Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tennessee, Wednesday, February 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Sweet Tea Bread

Sweet Tea is so ubiquitous and all encompassing in the South, we use it in just about any way we can. This light, delicately flavored quick bread is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon gathering, packaged up nicely with a ribbon or sliced on a silver platter.

1 family-sized tea bag

2 sprigs mint, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

Zest of one medium lemon

2 large eggs

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

Put the tea bag and 2 sprigs of mint in a measuring cup. Add 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes, then remove the tea bag and mint. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with baking spray.

Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Measure out ½ cup of the tea, reserving the rest for the glaze. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the butter in the bowl in three additions, alternating with the tea and scraping down the sides of the bowl. When everything is well combined, beat on high for 5 seconds, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in the remaining tea slowly, until you have a pourable glaze about the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle the glaze over the cake with a spoon, spreading to cover the top with a few attractive drips down the sides. Let the glaze set for about an hour.

The loaf will keep in an airtight container for a day.

Makes one loaf

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Festive Finds 2017

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and I love to share gift ideas for the food lovers in your life. As always, these are just some personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products.

Olive and Sinclair Chocolates from Nashville offer a great sweet treat for anyone, but I bet the boys will like it particularly. The set with brittles made with bourbon or cocoa nibs smoked in the smokehouse at Benton’s bacon and duck fat caramels is a real winner. Asheville’s French Broad makes and excellent sipping chocolate. Pair it with gourmet marshmallows from Nashville’s Bang Candy Company for a perfect cup of hot chocolate. For another sweet treat, I cannot get enough of Memphis’ own Shotwell Caramels, and this holiday pack is a perfect gift.

Maybe you’ve been to one of those olive oil stores for a gift, but why not make that gift totally Southern with a bottle of Georgia-grown olive oil from Georgia Olive Farm? Add some pecan oil from Oliver Farms, also from Georgia. Charleston’s Holy Smoke Smoked Olive Oil is another interesting twist. My gift to myself last year was this gorgeous 10-inch cast iron skillet from Smithey Ironware, made in Charleston.

Last year, I recommended Melissa Bridgman’s Bridgman Pottery cup subscription – now she offers an amazing bowl subscription, featuring her beautiful hand drawn botanicals on shallow bowls. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Anyone can shop in style with this beautiful and functional bag from Henry Dry Goods in Lexington, complete with a fabulous monogram. For a gift that is beautiful and useful, head to Limelight Paper and design custom monogrammed napkins, cups and more. Memphis-based Skyros Designs offers these elegant placemats, made of linen but with a coating that makes them wipe clean.

But maybe the best gift of all is giving on behalf of someone you love to someone in need. There are so many great organizations to give to that will create special cards you can wrap up for your recipient or have it sent directly to them. Women for Women International is an amazing organization that works to raise women and girls out of poverty around the world. They have a whole selection ofgift donations.

And as food banks are under more strain than ever,Give-A-Mealthrough Feeding America to a family in need in honor of a family you love. And remember your local food bank with monetary donations or canned goods.

For some more ideas about my favorite fun kitchen finds, book and movies – check out The Spoon’s Store, powered by Amazon. Just click on the box on the right hand side of the page.

Festive Finds 2015

Festive Finds

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and I love to share gift ideas for the food lovers in your life. As always, these are just some ideas about personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products. To get a good look at all this year fun finds, follow me on Pinterest.

A subscription box is a gift that keeps on giving – I love getting a special delivery full of tasty treats and fun tools. Many of these services will send a single gift collection or create a subscription and they also sell the products from the boxes, so they can be a great resources for special food gifts. Made South sends a box of Southern made products. The culinary adventurer will love Try the World, which sends boxes themed around different countries full of ingredients and recipes for that cuisine. Hampton Lane’s themes their boxes for entertaining- throw a cocktail party or a taco night with tools and ingredients based on the idea. Mary’s Secret Ingredients includes fine foods from all over and a special selected kitchen tool. Farm-to-People offers a box of artisan goods. An easy entry into the subscription box world is Love With Food’s snack boxes which are filled with samples of delicious healthy snacks. Batchoffers subscription boxes, but you can also build your own gift box with their wide array of Southern made, artisanal goods.

A true Memphis specialty can be sent anywhere – Rendezvous barbecue. If you don’t want to send a full box of meat, try a gift pack with the famous sauces and seasonings and barbecue popcorn. Chef Felicia Willet makes a mean preserve in Flo’s Homemade Goodness, I love the Tomato Jam and Chow Chow. For your post-holiday brunches, Debutante Farmer Bloody Mary Mix is just the right pick-me up. Pretty packaging and inventive combinations make flavored salts and sugars from Beautiful Briny Sea make lovely kitchen gifts. Working in the kitchen drys out hands, so one of these natural Lotion Bars by Made on Acorn Hill will always be appreciated. Thistle Farms holiday room spray will spruce up you kitchen, plus it is made by a community of woman who’ve survived trafficking.

Festive Finds

This culinary calendar is a fresh and fun reminder to eat your vegetables. Memphis made jewelry from Shari Dixon includes these lovely seed packet charms featuring favorite culinary herbs. I’m enamored with these little pottery egg scramblers from 1818 Farms – make a mini omelet in the microwave or use them to serve sauces. I think I recommend Scout bags every year, and this is Bagette of my favorite for grocery shopping, a firm bottom that folds flat with short and long carrying handles. The grocery checkers are always complementing them! The charming Staub Tomato cocotte is almost too cute to hide in a cabinet. Add a Tomato Leaf and Basil Candle from Southern Firefly for a full tomato package. If you want a showstopper of a gift for the true cook on your list. Middleton Made Knives are it. Hand forged by Quintin Middleton outside Charleston, South Carolina, these knives are works of art.

Festive Finds 2

Of course, I think Pimento Cheese The Cookbook: 50 Recipes from Snacks to Main Dishes Inspired by the Classic Southern Favorite is the best gift you could give or receive. (Ok, I am a little biased). There are some other great cookbooks out there this year too. Perfect for the chilly days ahead, Nancie McDermott’s Southern Soups and Stews will keep you warm. Any of the books from the Savor the South series are perfect for the Southern cook, look for new titles Beans and Field Peas by Sandra Gutierrez and Crabs and Oysters by Bill Smith. Or start the New Year of right with Lighten Up, Y’all by Virginia Willis. For another take on healthy Southern cooking, try Soul Food Love by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams. And Southern Cooking for Company by Nicki Pendleton Wood is a welcome addition to any Southern cookbook shelf.

But maybe the best gift of all is giving on behalf of someone you love to someone in need. There are so many great organizations to give to that will create special cards you can wrap up for your recipient or have it sent directly to them. Women for Women International is an amazing organization that works to raise women and girls out of poverty around the world. They have a whole selection of gift donations.

And as food banks are under more strain than ever, Give-A-Meal through Feeding America to a family in need in honor of a family you love. And remember your local food bank with monetary donations or canned goods.

For some more ideas about my favorite fun kitchen finds, book and movies – check out The Spoon’s Store, powered by Amazon. Just click on the box on the right hand side of the page.