Who would have guessed that when I went to visit my friends in Florida I’d be introduced to the Cuban culture. Florida has oranges and grapefruits and gators galore. Buckets overflowing with sand and seashells. Shrimp you can peel or have fried or sautéed. But, Cuban food! We ventured to a place called Cafe’ Havana. It is owned and operated by a family of three generations. They were so very patient with us as we asked many questions about the food and even gave us samples of everything. They offered chicken in a coconut sauce, a spicy beef mixture and pork covered with cooked sliced onions. They had many choices of rice and a south of the border root plant called yucca which reminded me of a potato. They fixed the yucca two ways, one in a butter and garlic sauce and the other fried in a light batter. Both were enticing. The experience was fun, the people were very friendly and the food was very tasty. To top it off at the end of the meal one of the owners came around and passed out a shot of their Colombian very hot, very strong, dark coffee with whipped cream and sugar on top. Aww, this was the best treat of all! And if you smile real big like I did, they give you another one!!☕️ ☕️ After all, they say in Cuba you must always end your meal with coffee. The way they fix it, it’s like dessert!
So yes, Florida has oranges and lots of cows but why not run off to Cuba while you’re here! I thought of my Dad and Barney Pierce and their group of friends who traveled to Cuba many many years ago to sing and play their instruments.
Recently on Facebook I was reminded of how fun our country’s outside fairs are. All over Georgia, Tennesse, Alabama, North and South Carolina I have enjoyed participating in southern outdoor craft fairs. From spring until fall these craft fairs bring people together with music, food and expert craftmenship from all over the country. I have made wreaths and baskets and different handcrafted items but my favorite has always been cooking. It started one year when I brought homemade biscuits and fried sausage to make for our breakfast before the fair opened. The other artists started early setting up their booths and when the smell of the fresh biscuits and the frying of the sausage filled the air, here they came. They were willing to pay whatever I asked. So the next day I prepared a little better with help from dear friends, Diane Corn, Bea Chadburn and Don Bright who stayed up late to help me make and bake biscuits. It seemed no matter how many biscuits we made, we always sold out. Here’s the recipe for biscuits from our sweet Mimi Short.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Add 2 cups self-rising flour to mixing bowl and rub in 3 heaping T of shorting or butter. Add 1 cup buttermilk and work it together. Pour onto surface and roll out the thickness you want for your biscuits. Cut with floured cutter and place not touching onto a greased pan. Bake about 10-12 minutes or ’til the color of brown you like. Add cooked sausages or bacon. I alway have mustard and jelly available!
Last summer when I went to my son-in-laws’ family reunion, I was never so surprised to see pineapple sandwiches. The white bread is cut to match the pineapple rings, and of course, since it’s the South, you spread mayonnaise or salad dressing on the bread. Don’t knock it till you try it because I was delightfully surprised.
Then on a trip to England several years ago my husband and I found in all the travel stops what we thought was pimento cheese. But it was without the pimento, just shredded cheese and mayonnaise mixed, then topped with thinly sliced tomatoes and sometimes a little lettuce. I was keeping foster children at the time and when I made it for them, they loved it. A lot of kids don’t like pimento so this is perfect. I called it an English cheese sandwich.
Now this next sandwich is perfect if you have ADHD like I do. When the tomatoes start growing and you don’t want to wait any longer for them to turn red, just pull them, slice them thin and lightly roll them in flour with a little salt. Fry and drain. Use a good bread so it won’t fall apart while you’re eating it. Add bacon and lettuce. A fried green tomato sandwich! I love this one too.
When I was going to Asbury College, now known as Asbury University, located about twenty minutes south of Lexington, Kentucky, I had the pleasure of meeting two of the sweetest girls I think I’d ever met. They were sisters and “very” southern. They had that heavy southern drawl and loved their sweet tea! Bobbie Brooks and Evan Picone clothes were in fashion and they wore a lot of them. Everyone thought they for sure came from money since these styles were on the expensive side, especially the Evan Picone. As time went by I had the opportunity of meeting their mother. What a charming southern woman she was. After one meeting with her you knew how her daughters possessed the delightful gentle southern charm they had. Her voice was soft and her stature short, but she was far more than the country chicken farm she lived on. Remember the elite clothes her daughters, Barbara Brooks Johnson and Evelyn Brooks Barnard wore? Well, Mrs. Irene Brooks would make them herself. She studied what was in style and then came up with almost an identical copy. I learned from her to add a touch of class when setting the table. Using silver and lace with your ordinary flat wear was okay. The important thing was to use your good things and enjoy them. She catered weddings and made delicious cakes and punch. She was the first person I ever saw put real fruit in ice rings and use them in her punch bowls. Her rosebud mints are now known world wide since both her daughters married men that served in the military, and they shared her recipe everywhere they lived. It’s now been passed down to their children. She was always willing to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to makes these delicate sweet treats that have adorned many wedding tables, including my daughter’s and step-granddaughter’s.