Southern Comfort--Southern Food Article -
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Southern Comfort

If comfort food is your pleasure, you can't get any more soothing than good ole Southern cookin'.

A Cuisine of Many Cultures

Southern food has a history as rich as the gravy that tops the flaky buttermilk biscuits on Southern breakfast tables. The cuisine may have the reputation of being calorie-, fat- and sugar-laden, but the food of the Deep South is a combination of culinary heritages from around the world.

What is Southern Cooking?

Southern food is home cooking, comfort food, Creole, Cajun, Carolina low-country, soul food and Tex-Mex. It includes an abundance of fresh vegetables, rice or corn, inexpensive cuts of meats, and fresh seafood. And no Southern meal is complete without libations, especially sweet iced tea and mint juleps.

Living in High Cotton

Big country breakfasts of eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage and grits, and supper plates of chicken-fried steak, corn bread and collard greens provided farmers with the fuel to work from sun up to sun down in the scorching heat and humidity of the South. But these meals were not just nourishing: they were also economical. Thoughts of the pre-Civil War South may evoke images of sprawling plantations, but in reality most Southerners were subsistence farmers who relied upon their own harvests to feed their families. Many Southern dishes were created out of necessity and frugal ingenuity.

  • Redeye gravy, for example, is made with pan drippings and leftover coffee.
  • Key lime pie is another such dish.

With very few cows in the Florida Keys, fresh milk was not readily available for pie baking. When sweetened condensed milk was introduced in 1856, it was natural to combine it with Key limes, creating the South Florida favorite.

Feb. 3, 2010 3:28 pm
I grew up in North & South Carolinas as a child. My mom's mom and younger brothr lived with us in the same house. I watched my grandma make bicuits every morning at 5 am. It was made from self rising flour in large bowl. Grandma would dump a handful of lard in the flour and then cover that in buttermilk, mushing and mixing it together by hand. Then she would either dump it in one lump on a greased cookie sheet to make a pone of bread or she would pinch off pieces and pat them down into circles and place on a greased cookie sheet to bake into biscuits. We always had ham or sausage or bacon for breakfast as my Grandma's brother was a hog farmer and we got fresh pork straight from him. And we always had gravy whether it was red eye or left handed milk gravy. And there was always a pot of coffee on and sweet tea in the fridge. We always had greens for supper, whether it was turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens or Creasey greens. We ate dandelion greens in salads. I can reme
Feb. 19, 2010 2:42 am
cindy, my momma and her people are from southeastern kentucky.thet had the same type of upbringing. i learned to cook from her , my granny and my aunts. i also learned to can and make everything from scratch. while everyone else makes christmas cookies i make the candies that my granny made. sweets were only for rare and special occasions. it is a lost art i am afraid for many of the younger generation show no interest in learning these skills. more importantly i am afraid what we are really losing is our heritage and history of who we are as southerners. but i will continue on. i still plant a garden . i freeze, i can and i will continue with my families old timey recipes. and everyone will gobble it up. and ask are you sure you're going to be able to make those candies this year? mary
Feb. 24, 2010 11:38 am
Cindy Lu, you brought back so many good memories for me. I remember taking our mollasses buckets to pick black berries for cobbler, chasing chickens and ringing their necks, then dipping them in hot water to pluck them for supper, gathering eggs and helping Mamma (my granny) make cake from scratch, including the icing. Thank you so much for taking me back to some wonderful times.
Mar. 11, 2010 5:37 am
Cindy Lu, we have got to be related! You brought back such delightful memories of years long past; growing up in NC, picking red-ripe tomatoes off the vines and slicing them to go with the collards, creamed potatoes, gravy, fried chicken, the wonderful aroma of buttermilk biscuits just before they're taken out of the oven...yeah, those were the days!! It was a peaceful time and well worth the walk down memory lane.
Mar. 28, 2010 5:45 am
When I was growing up we always had a garden plus an orchard of apples, pears and cherries. I would climb the cherry tree and pick the fruit. I think I ate half of it! My grandmother would can everything so we had these delicious treats all through the winter. Gosh, I miss that!
May 26, 2010 11:08 am
I have lived in South Carolina all my life and have had the privilege to have grown up around some of the best Southern cooks ever! My mom taught me how to cook at age 8 and I have enjoyed every minute of it. One of my childhood favorites was my great-grandmother's string beans w/potatoes seasoned with bacon and her fried chicken( from her backyard flock of course). Mmmm good. I enjoy modern or "nouvelle" dishes, but when it's comfort food I want, there's nothing like food from the mom's okra soup(okra, tomatoes and corn) seasoned with smoked neck bones, fried corn or chicken pirlau rice and a glass of iced tea. Food from the South is full of flavor, love and tradition. Big thumbs up to Southern cookin' !
Jul. 29, 2010 6:06 pm
im looking for a recipe for bologna cake ?
Sep. 2, 2010 8:51 pm
okay, I'm from Canada and my Grandma taught me how to cook, bake,can and we had a garden all my life. I love doing all of those things and I'm trying to teach my nieces those same traditions (I have all boys and just teaching them to cook is enough!) I love the southern recipes I have found But... can someone tell me what grits are? haha Cathy
Sep. 24, 2010 1:46 pm
Growing up in the south my mom taught me to cook at a very young age I would have to say now that I live in New Jersey whenever I make Sausage Biscuits and gravy it brings back all those favorite memories growing up on the farm. I love and miss the south everyday. Thank goodness for my southern cooking or I'd go crazy from missing the south.
Sep. 26, 2010 1:34 pm
cindylu, im a yankee but have been in south carolina for some ten years my mema, taught me to cook southern style, and your lil'story made me home sick. Think I'll call mema and ask her what shes cooking for dinner tonight....chicken'n dumplingd I bet. Thanks hun for the memories.
mary m. in rockwall 
Oct. 18, 2010 12:51 pm
I have lived in Texas all of my life. I agree with everything that I just read. If I did not have a pot of "red" pinto beans, sweet onion and corn bread about once a week, Well, I would probably not know what to do with myself!
lisa kay 
Oct. 22, 2010 2:00 pm
hi cindy lu! i have never heard the term "left-handed" gravy - could you please explain what it is and why it's called that? i am very interested! thank you!! (:
Oct. 25, 2010 2:45 pm
i am half southern my family half my family lives in the south i live in pa but my heart goes home all the time , west virginia and south carolina ,i got to have my chocolate gravy and my egg gravy over bisquits my ole man laughs at me but i love southern cooking and its comfort for me .
Oct. 27, 2010 4:24 pm
U name it, if it is Southern, it is the BEST!!!!!
Nov. 5, 2010 6:49 am
As a old Virginian raised on country food such as grits,collard greens,fried chicken and fresh seafood I am so grateful for that upbringing. My momma taught me how to cook and I will never forget her.
Feb. 18, 2011 7:04 am
I am looking for a recipe for leftover pork chops
Mar. 6, 2011 12:38 pm
Cindy Lu i am african american, lived in ky all my life and i remeber my grandmother cooking and canning, picking greens from a field,making homemade candy, picking berries for cobblers and having a chicken coop, biscuits and gravy the whole family would eat breakfast on sunday mornings before church,rabbit,ham sausage,bacon red eye gravy fried potatoes, in the summer we would sit on the front porch and sip ice tea out of cans
Mar. 29, 2011 5:40 am
to the people that are afraid the southern lifestyle is being lost in the younger generations: for what it's worth i'm a 26 year old NC native. lived here all my life, i learned to cook from my mom and grandma. i just got my own house so i'm growing a garden this year. i'm passionate about cooking and have canned in the past, and hope to be able to can and save some of what i grow this year. it's still a learning process for me now, but i'm working on it :) plus, mom and grandma are always a phone call away and more than willing to give me advice.
Apr. 20, 2011 8:08 pm
I was raised in the Tampa Bay area and well remember all of what y'all are speaking. But here is a question or two. My Mama used to make a cream pie which was called (1) Carmel pie (2) Burnt Brown Sugar pie. It started with dark brown sugar and butter carmelized in a cast iron skillet, some kind of milk or cream was added, corn starch to thicken, dash of salt, drop or two of Vanilia. Does anyone know how much or the rest of the instructions?? Also she made tomato gravy in the morning out of bacon or pork chop drippings, tomatoes, flour (rue) salt & pepper to taste and she servered it over Hoecake. Anyone have the recipe for that one? Fried pork chops with loads of black pepper, home fried potatoes, tomatoe gravy and hoe cake was a real treat for us. Y'all keep up the traditions! American by birth, a southerner by the Grace of God!
Sep. 3, 2011 6:03 am
Howdy y'all! My maternal kinfolks came from the Tennessee hills and the Ozarks. My mother's parents helped raise me. So,even though I was born in the West I learned to cook,can,think and speak like a Southerner. My husband is from SC. As a minister in the Pacific NW I get kidded about my "Southern Accent" a lot. But when I bring homemade cobblers and muffins to the adult Sunday School class we teach, it's "all kidding aside" as they devour the treats. Potlucks bring out the "Southerner" in the whole church as they delight in our fried green tomatoes, pecan pie, Red Velvet cake and sugar cured ham. This year I taught many to garden, to can, to dry and preserve, to bake and to enjoy home made foods the way our parents and grandparents cooked. Me and my hubby have regenerated the "Southern Traditions" here in the West. Folks love the soft Blue Grass and Southern Gospel sounds we have added to that mix. IT brings back the memories of those Southern Sunday Dinners on the Grounds, and
Apr. 20, 2012 11:38 am
psst...for the girl above who loves green beans and potatoes cooked with bacon, Glory Foods makes a canned green bean with potatoes that is unbelievably good. You can get them at walmart.
May 9, 2012 3:46 pm
I am a Georgia girl, born and bred. I also agree with what Jess said about people's fear of the younger generation not upholding tradition. I am 20 years old and I quite oftenly use recipes from both my grandmothers and i sometimes use cake recipes from my great grandmother. If that's not deep enough in tradition, my mother taught me a chocolate pie recipe that is over a hundred years old. Long live the South and her traditions!!
Aug. 22, 2012 3:21 pm
My Mom Made Orange Chiffon cakes to had 13 egg whites and we had no oven so she cooked them on a hot plate and made 7 minute icing for them.I have never had the exact recipe, but sure wish I did. She always cooked cornbread on top of the stove in a Wearever rounded bottom frying pan and when it was the right moment she would give the pan a couple of shakes and toss the cornbread into the would flip over and she would catch it in the pan and cook the other side. I loved to watch her do this and things got a little lively when she missed...which was very rare. She browned a roast real well and removed it from the pan and made the gravy, then returned the roast and cooked it slowly for several hours in the gravy. My Mom made the best roast I have ever tasted.
Aug. 26, 2012 2:35 pm
My Grandmama made the yummiest chicken 'n dumplings! Oh, how I miss her!
Sep. 22, 2012 6:58 pm
Raised in central KY, my family had a small country store! Those were good times. The store was the meetn' place where everybody gossiped and such. Made oh so many sandwiches for the farm hands. Then tended to our own garden. We had hogs, cows, chickens. Some dang good eatin'!! We canned tomatoe juice, tomatoes, pickles, beets and froze the rest. We would sit on my Grandma's porch next to the store and shuck the corn and "break the beans"!! My Grandma made some good pies! My Mom taught me how to cook hot water cornbread, meatloaf, the best pork chops, green beans and taters, miss those days!!We also had tobacco and of course everybody helped each other out. Spent many days in the these days dont believe me! ha ha!!
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