Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grits and Groceries

Most Excellent Sour Cream Muffins
Consider this the beginning of a Sunday dinner feature with a menu and/or special recipes. (Read all the way to the bottom today for a great sour cream muffin recipe.)

What does that have to do with politics?

In the South, "good food and lots of it" is synonymous with just about any occasion worth noting. If you drop by on a Sunday afternoon, you can expect to be offered a piece of cake and a glass of sweet tea. Death in the family? Your friends, neighbors and some folks you haven't heard from in a while will load your kitchen table with so many casseroles you'll need to designate someone whose sole job is to catalog the offerings and make sure each dish, with the appropriate thank you note, are returned to the right person. Graduation? Holidays? In the South, the only thing more important than the menu is our trademark hospitality. Political gatherings are no exception.  Iowans may have the Harkin Steak Fry, but south of the Mason-Dixon Line, you're not much of a candidate if you can't put on a descent fish fry.

There's no getting around the fact that just as church is a way of life in much of the South, so is Sunday dinner. When I was growing up in rural North Carolina, Sunday dinner, served at lunchtime, was the largest, fanciest meal of the week. By fancy I mean chicken fried steak, stew beef, fried chicken, or maybe a pork chop plus vegetables, homemade biscuits or cornbread and dessert - peach cobbler, pound cake, chocolate bread pudding, or chocolate or lemon pie with meringue. Eating out at a restaurant on Sunday was rare and controversial because we were not too sure that businesses should be open on the Lord's Day, after all. Usually, the main dishes were prepared in the morning before church, so all we had to do when we got home was heat it up. Sometimes we'd stop at Granny Watson's for lunch, or one of my cousins would come home from church with me, or I would go with them, with the visitor being returned at the evening service.

Today, in our family, Sunday dinner is still important, but for us, it's the evening meal. For a while, I was in the habit of posting our Sunday dinner menu on Facebook, and some folks have requested recipes, so "Grits and Groceries" will become a regular feature on Cotton Patch. Below is tonight's menu, a simple one because my kitchen is torn apart while we renovate. Since there's no real recipe with tonight's meal, I've also given you a special recipe for the easiest and best sour cream muffins you'd ever hope to put in your mouth. (Liz Pavle, this one's for you!)

 Easy Sunday Dinner

BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches on Onion Rolls w/ Sweet Cole Slaw
Sweet Potato Fries w/ Honey Mustard Dip
 Ice Cream 

For the sandwiches, use that grilled pork tenderloin left over from a meal earlier in the week. Slice it thin and combine it in a saute pan with your favorite bbq sauce. Warm it up, warm the onion rolls, put the bbq on the rolls, top with the cole slaw, and you're done.  We like Sticky Fingers Carolina Sweet Sauce that's available in the grocery store. Buy the sweet cole slaw and the onion rolls at Publix, in the deli and bakery area. The sweet potato fries are available there, too, in the freezer section. I suggest frying them rather than baking so they'll be crispier, and as soon as they come out of the fryer, dust with a mixture of salt, pepper, sugar and cinnamon- equal parts salt, sugar and pepper, plus one half part cinnamon. Serve with your favorite honey mustard dressing.

Sour Cream Muffins 

Two cups, sifted, self-rising flour*
One stick melted butter
One cup sour cream
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine the above ingredients, mixing lightly until all the dry ingredients are just wet. Drop by teaspoon-fulls into greased miniature muffins tins. Bake at 350 for about 18 minutes, until just light brown on top and around the edges. Serve hot. I have no idea how to store these because there are never any left! 
*Do not mistake all-purpose for self-rising flour, or you will have some hockey pucks to feed to the birds.