Tag Archives: pimento cheese

Grilled pimento cheese spread and bacon sandwiches

Grilled Pimento Cheese Spread and Bacon Sandwiches. Please note the oozing cheese and red pepper garnish for health reasons.

As you all know, the Chicks at the Community Resource Center celebrate every Wednesday with bacon. And we had a truly revolutionary Bacon Wednesday a few weeks ago. Betsy made her grandmother’s pimento cheese spread. We used it on bacon and pimento cheese sandwiches. I am just going to say that we were happy nobody else was here because there was no sharing.

I have Googled this extensively and there is nothing like this recipe on the Internet so this will be a world premiere of Callie Everett’s pimento cheese spread. I will warn you that Betsy’s recipe makes about two gallons of the stuff. You can refrigerate it and use it again. In fact, Betsy had it on crackers this morning, about three weeks after she made it. So the shelf life seems to be, like, forever. It contains Velveeta, after all.

A word about my beloved Velveeta. Yes, I know it’s not real cheese. But I don’t care one bit. Any of you out there wanting to hate on my Velveeta just leave it alone. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. More for me.

By the way, you will question the use of dill pickle juice. Don’t. It makes the recipe.

Pimento Cheese Spread

1 pound Velveeta

1 16-ounce jar mayonnaise

1 small jar pimentos

Dill pickle juice to taste

Melt the Velveeta in the microwave just until its softened. Fold in the mayonnaise and pickle juice to taste. Spoon in the pimentos, adding a little bit of the pimento juice. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

 Recipe by Callie Everett, Betsy Everett’s grandmother

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Chili-dusted pimento cheese balls

The Women of St. Paul’s happily held their semi-annual Sherry Party last week at Kathy Berry’s house. There are not many women who can boast a full and matching set of sherry glasses. Even women who are not particularly fond of sherry could not resist at least a little tipple because the glasses are so cute. But then most of us switched to our party drink of choice: wine.

Wine is big in the Episcopal church. I learned this very early on when Mark and I were invited to a newcomers reception at the rectory. Punch and cookies? No, sirree. Red or white? Cabernet or

Father Bob

Chardonnay? I fit right in from the get-go. I will get to the tremendously popular chili-dusted pimento cheese balls in a moment. But if there is a picture that completely sums up my love of the Episcopal church, here it is. Father Bob at the bar. It’s a refined bar, to be sure. Several types of sherry, ranging from sweet to dry. And red or white? Cabernet or chardonnay? We are quite picky about our wines. None of that white zinfandel stuff. No, no, no. Despite our reputation as Whiskeypalians, we are not the types to slug back a shot behind the social hall.

So, of course, the food was fabulous. But the standout, to me, were the chili-dusted pimento cheese balls. I have been to a cocktail party or 200 in my day, but I have never tasted anything like these creamy cheesy puffs. I had never even heard of them. I actually went around the party, holding up one and asking, “Did you make these?” I could not, sadly, find the creator.  So, I have what I think is an approximate recipe I found on the internet and I would give credit where credit is due but the recipe was submitted by “anonymous.” How sad. There is glory in this recipe. There really is.

Chili-dusted pimento cheese balls

1 large package of Velveeta cheese (room temperature)

2 jars of Kraft pimento cheese (room temperature)

1-8 ounce package of cream cheese (room temperature)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 dash of Tabasco sauce

2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup chili powder

1/4 cup paprika

Blend cheeses into mixing bowl, add mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and garlic. Blend with electric mixer until smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Combine chili powder and paprika onto large plate. Shape and roll into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in mixture of equal parts chili powder and paprika until coated on all sides. Put the balls on a cookie sheet and refrigerate them to let them firm up. Serve on top of party crackers.

(Note: I modified the recipe to make the balls smaller and chill them more efficiently. If you want to make the 3- or 4-inch balls the original recipe calls for you will look like a big fat pig. I’m just saying.)

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Happy anniversary

To me. Happy anniversary to me and Mark, of course.

We have no photos of our wedding. There is no wedding dress to look at as I lament the fact that I can’t fit into it anymore. And there were no guests who I can reminisce with about the glory of that special day.

Here is how we got married 21 years ago. We lived in Reno. We were returning library books at the downtown library, after which we planned to go to Sears to buy a lawnmower. I had been searching for a ring and there was one jewelry store I had not visited. In a matter of minutes, I found the ring that I still proudly wear today. “We can put it in the safety deposit box until we decide whether to have the wedding here or in Charlotte,” I told Mark. He said: “We can get the marriage license today, too, because it’s good for a year.” You can see where this is going, can’t you?

So we get the license and then we decide to go have a drink, a gin and tonic if I remember (which I do). It is about 11 in the morning, which is not too early for a drink in Reno. That’s why I love the place so much. They even serve martini samples in grocery stores. My kind of town.

The clerk’s office is right now the street. So I, in my Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt and shorts, and Mark, in similar attire, stroll down there. “Can I help you?”the clerk asks. “Yes, we think you can.” About 10 minutes later we were married. We then adjourned to Louie’s Basque Corner for lunch (I had pork chops). I flashed the ring at the waitress and told her we had just gotten married. She was unimpressed. Reno is a town that sees many marriages, most ill-conceived. I am sure she did not give us much chance for survival.

And then we went to Sears and bought a lawnmower. The entire day, wedding and all, cost us $149. In fact, it cost us more to buy the lawnmower than it did to get hitched. This, of course, appeals to my thrifty nature. When my sister got married a few years later, I remember that the price tag was $10,000. Ten thousand smackers. Back then, that was a hefty down payment on a new home.

In the last 21 years I have progressed in my Southern cooking. In 1990, I could not fry chicken, make cornbread or assemble a proper tomato sandwich. I had not perfected homemade pimento cheese, had never heard of hot chicken salad or learned that if you did not have greens, black-eyed peas and some form of pork on New Year’s Day that you were doomed for the year. I know all that now. It’s in my blood and I am passing those traditions down to my son.

So happy anniversary to me. I made a good marriage. We may not be rich in the conventional way, but we eat well, laugh a lot and still love each other with a passion. I think it’s working out pretty well so far.

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A debacle

Oh, my Lord. They were all there. In the post directly below you will note my fear that Julie Hendrix, Donna Stokes Rogers and Wanda Woolen would show up at the Women of St. Paul’s meeting earlier tonight, expressly to steal the thunder away from my Goat Cheese, Peach and Bacon Bites. In fact, as I approached Susan Cowperthwaite’s front door, Wanda was right in front of me.

I think she had a killer nut bread and cream cheese spread, but I was too disoriented to be sure. I immediately headed for the bar to get a glass of Pinot Grigio to steady my nerves. As I headed to the kitchen to warm up my Bites, I ran into Julie Hendrix. No! This can not be happening to me! She has this amazing salad, with spinach, hearts of palm, sun-dried tomatoes and tortilla strips. I set out my Bites and surveyed the rest of the competition.

Damn (I’m going to have a lot of rosaries to say for this), but Fran Osteen made gougères!  Who does that? “Yes,” I imagine her thinking, “I’ll just whip up a little pâte à choux, load it down with some Gruyère, and pop them into the oven. No sweat.” I am ashamed to say I ate four of them. In a row.

And then Donna Stokes Rogers arrives. I can’t see what she’s brought, but she looks down at my Bites and I could swear she smiled and winked at me. As if to say, I’m here now. Show me what you’ve got. In the nicest possible way, of course.

And that wasn’t all. Somebody brought hot pimento cheese dip. Someone else brought Charleston crab dip. And then there was the marinated Gulf shrimp, homemade bread and butter pickles, lemon curd tartlets and Marida Stearns’ infamous Cheddar and fresh mozzarella slices drizzled with a savory marinade involving peppers and Who Knows What Else that makes them irresistible.

There was so much food that it spread from the dining room table to several sideboards and a kitchen counter. I headed back to the wine table to fortify myself. I was over-matched. Way over-matched.

However, I will say this. When it was clearly time to leave because my consumption of Pinot Grigio was reaching alarming proportions, I went to retrieve my Bites tray. They were all gone. Every last one of them. I did not check on the remainders of the other trays, fearing they too were gone and my supposed victory was hollow and meant nothing.

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Channeling Grannie Belle’s biscuits

Grannie Belle was my husband’s great-grandmother. She practically raised Mark. She was known to sneak a thimble full of  Mogan David from time to time and she hunted blackberries until three weeks before she died at age 96. She made all her food from scratch and Mark still remembers the taste of her biscuits.

Since my mother didn’t cook, I have always been envious of the offspring of the Grannie Belle’s. They had a chance to stand at their grandmother’s side and watch how they created their magic. But Mark didn’t do that. He just ate. And so among the many old-time recipes that have eluded me, biscuits were at the top of the list.

But today, emboldened by my recent success with pie crust, I made biscuits. First I queried Terrell, my mentor in all things Southern, about his recollection of his mother’s biscuits. “Use lard,” he wrote me. I would if I could. If anyone in the greater Nashville area has a real lard supplier, please let me know.

So I turned to Paula Deen and her good friend, Crisco. I went back to her first cookbook, figuring that she put all the best stuff in it because she didn’t know if she’d ever write another one. Made the dough, dumped it on the floured counter, rolled it out and began cutting. The dough was sticky and hard to get out of the biscuit cutter (which, by the way, was the exact same biscuit cutter that Noah had worked up over his knee in the bathtub one day when he was about two – it took a pound of butter to slide it back down).

“I just remembered something,” Mark said, looking over my shoulder. “Grannie Belle used to just slide the cutter out a bit to separate the biscuit from the rest of the dough.” Wow. A real Grannie Belle cooking tip memory. I slid the cutter out with the biscuit dough in it. It worked.

I would not say these are the prettiest biscuits ever made, but I can report that they tasted terrific. Mark and Noah both remarked upon it and Noah had five biscuits, two with sausage, in the space of twenty minutes.

For tonight, I am satisfied. There are certain things that every Southern woman should be able to do. She should be able to grow tomatoes. She should be able to make a proper pimento cheese. She should have a basic cream gravy recipe. She should know how to fry – anything. She should have a basic pie crust recipe. And she should know how to bake biscuits. I’m on the way.

Paula Deen’s Basic Biscuits

1 package yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup solid shortening (recommended: Crisco)
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside. Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening. Add yeast and buttermilk and mix well. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. Cut with small biscuit cutter and place on greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

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There was a little church

There was a little Episcopal church in Alto, Tennessee, which itself is barely a bump in the road. Through the grace of God, the church acquired a brand new priest, a man who had just graduated from seminary and had been drawn to the church and two others that were even smaller. In all, the three churches had less than 50 members. And it came time to ordain the priest, a grand occasion that brings the bishop calling. The people of the church were apprehensive. They had no choir, they had never seen more than two dozen people in their tiny sanctuary. They had no experience throwing a huge celebratory reception.

But their new priest had lived another life. He had been a well-known architect. And he had been a long-time member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin. The people in Alto called the people in Franklin  for assistance.

The ordination and reception were yesterday. It was a beautiful event. The little kitchen at Christ Church in Alto was crowded with women from Christ Church and St. Paul’s, who turned out a lovely spread.

Donna Stokes-Rogers, our music director and de facto resident gourmet at St. Paul’s, had visited at Christ Church a few weeks before to teach them how to set up the massive buffet and, yes, to go over the music. The Consort of St. Paul’s sang at the ordination, the first time the little church had been graced with a choir.

Episcopal women are Episcopal women the world over and, whether from a big church or small, they intuitively know how to throw a reception. There was chicken salad, of course. And pimento cheese. And deviled eggs. And ham on yeast rolls. And sausage balls, which you really must have. Some of the food came out of the tiny kitchen. Some of it traveled an hour and a half from Franklin. Once it was on the table, no one knew the difference.

And the new priest? The Reverend Bill Barton is now official. Here he is addressing his new church, with members of his old church mingling in the crowd. He hopes that by hearing our choir, his new flock will embrace more music in their own services.

The morning of the ordination, it snowed in Middle Tennessee. Traffic accidents closed down I-24 and I spent an hour and a half traveling the treacherous back roads with pimento cheese sandwiches and silver platters in the trunk. Most of the time I was lost and as 10 a.m. drew closer, when the ceremony was scheduled to begin, I thought of turning back. It’s only tea sandwiches, I thought. Maybe no one would notice I wasn’t there.

But everyone else traveling from Franklin and Nashville was in the same boat. The bishop was late. Some of Bill’s own family was late. I was in good company.

The Rev. Bill Barton and his wife, Sara

The bishop said sometimes it takes a lot of different communities to make things happen. That certainly was the case in Alto. It was one of the most precious mornings of my life. At the end of the ornate printed program, there were thank you’s – to Donna for her music and mentoring, to the people of the three tiny churches for “the ground of their ministry”, to the Consort. And finally, this:

Special thanks to the people of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Franklin, for everything.

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My friend Howard

DSCN0502When times are tough, the tough go to the Krystal for breakfast. That’s what Mark and I did Saturday morning. I was intrigued by the new Krystal with crispy onions, the kind you get in the can at the grocery store. And you can get, like, 20 Krystals for $10. Now that’s Recession food.

I just love Krystals. I’ve written about my devotion to them before. And not just the hamburgers. My typical order is: 1 Krystal, no cheese; 1 Krystal Chic, and 1 Corn Pup. But this time I tried the onion ring version. Absolutely delicious. It would have been even better with bacon, but I didn’t realize you could get extra bacon on a Krystal until after I ordered. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Sitting there, eating my Krystals, I remembered Howard Lewis. Howard Lewis is a barbecue judge who lives in Beverly Hills. He might be the only barbecue judge who lives in Beverly Hills. But Howard is fascinated with all things Southern and every time he comes to a contest in the South, my friend Terrell and I try to introduce him to typical Southern foods. The last time I saw Howard he was fixated on pimento cheese and I took him to a tea room that I thought would have a good version. I was horrified when it turned out they make their pimento cheese with white Cheddar. No! Not allowed.

The other thing Howard tried that trip was a Krystal. I think Terrell forced him into it. Howard Lewis eating a KrystalHoward does not strike me as a hamburger guy, even though he’s pretty willing to try anything once. I think he was confused. There is no such thing as a Krystal in California, or even a White Castle, which is Krystal’s inferior Northern cousin. Howard has eaten in some of the best five-star restaurants in the world, being as how he is a fancy pants travel agent to the stars. I just don’t think a little square steamed burger with a pickle slice, onions and mustard computed in his gastronomic mind.

But look here. He’s smiling. Perhaps that’s a look of bemusement on his face. Yes, I think it is. And if nothing else, Terrell got a good chuckle out of the whole thing. Terrell will do almost anything for a laugh.

Hey, Howard, I felt bad about the pimento cheese gaffe. Here’s a real deal recipe, the one I use that I got off the Southern Foodways Alliance website. Make up a batch and take it to your office. Nobody in California will know what to think about pimento cheese, but you will.

Lella’s Pimento Cheese

Cheddar cheese, grated, about 1/2 a food processor full
1 small jar whole pimentos
Dash onion powder
Dash red pepper
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Pinch sugar (less than 1/4 tsp)
Homemade mayonnaise or Duke’s, if you’re not up to homemade

Blend grated cheese and pimento in food processor until well blended. Add mayonnaise as needed, blend again, add other ingredients, blend.

(The pimento cheese is a solid color and you cannot see the pimentos once blended.)

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