Saturday, March 27, 2010

Food For Thought- South of Broad

South of Broad by is a wonderfully written southern tale by Pat Conroy. I think this is one of the best books I've read in a long time- I'd give it five stars.

I've already posted my review of this book earlier this month, but I didn't get my cook on until this last week. I've been wanting to participate in a fellow blogger's concept "Food for Thought."

Throughout the entire novel, Leo King, our protagonist, cooks for his friends and family. All sorts of "low country" food is sprinkled throughout this amazing book. I said in my original review that it was a novel you could sink your teeth into, and it's true about the text as well as the food in the story. All sorts of food is casually mentioned in this story, and Leo and his father at the cooks in the King household, and Leo gets his love of cooking from his father.

This story is told starting at Leo's senior year in high school and then flashes forward to adulthood. And when all his friends gather together, they all want Leo to cook for them. The story is also told with some flashback, to round out high school and then again to present day as the band of friends try to save the twins: Trevor and Sheba. The rich and the poor, and the black and the white folks all become friends for life in this rich tale.

As I got back and re-read my own review, I realize how often I used food terms to describe this novel, which I find ironic now. So I decided to dive into some lowcontry cookin'.

Lowcountry cooking is generally associated with cooking in South Carolina and Georgia, especially Savannah and and Charleston, which is where the story took place. I made she-crab soup (which is served to guests in the novel), and crab cakes stuffed back in the shell. I also made corn bread, which is just a flat out southern dish (both of these were made in the book!). And I made a nice salad, to just round it all out.

I did cheat a bit with my cornbread. I used a Jiffy mix. I just can't seem to make a good cornbread from scratch, no matter how hard I try, and the mix was great! I also doubled it up and made it in a pan, rather than as muffins.

And I think the pretty yellow just rounds out a meal nicely! And like my junior high teacher told us, presentation is everything, so it looks lovely with a nice salad (my son loves his salad with croutons and Cesar dressing, as pictured here!)!

Here's a bowl of the she-crab soup. She-crab soup is a cream based soup that gets thicker the longer you cook it, almost like gravy, and it's delicious. My son is used to it being called Crab Bisque, but in truth, it's she-crab soup. Rather than running my egg yolk through a sieve like the recipe called for, I just chopped them up really fine. I also made a goof- where I live booze isn't sold on Sundays, including cooking sherry, so I substituted apple juice for the liquor and it came out just fine. This was a rich, thick hearty soup and everyone seemed to love it, even my father who isn't one to eat any sort of fish, shellfish or otherwise, at all!

I think next time I make this, I'm going to use white pepper instead of black. I also used twice as much crab as the recipe called for since we love crab meat. I also used a traditional recipe so this was a classic soup made from a roux. Probably the only time I can make a roux work since I'm a gravy failure. I took one other liberty and used chicken broth instead of fish stock.

Here are the crab cakes stuffed back in the shells. I got the idea from a display at Wal-Mart, believe it or not. The only person who liked this was me. And I think rather than bake these, they would be better fried, so I know for next time!

So that's my foray into low country cooking and my personal experience with Food For Thought! Please go visit the web site and see other participants. And our hostess "Once in a Blue Moon" has the most beautiful book/ food postings!

Happy eatin' and readin',
Maggie Mae


La Table De Nana said...

I like him..I hope I like this one as Prince of Tides was one of my all time favorite books/movies~


Fun worked hard..Good job..I think the crabs stuffed back in the shell look great!

Sarah said...

Beautiful food, Maggie Mae. I enjoy low country food! I had the best shrimp and grits recently at a wedding reception. Imagine that? Prince of Tides was a great read. I'll have to add this one to my list. Thanks for the recommendation.

once in a blue moon... said...

so glad you joined in, don't you love eating their words? i think its so fun acting out the books, then reaping all the benefits! your soup looks delish and i like your crabcakes back in the shell.

i have read mixed reviews on this book, it must be a love hate kind of thing.

thanks so much for playing at food for thought, can't wait to SEE what you are reading next~

Nezzy said...

It all looks very yummy! Shhhhh, don't tell but this Ozarks farm chick cheats too. I use Shawnee Mills mix. I too have not mastered cornbread and at 37 cents a whack, I figure I can't buy the ingredients for that. We had red beans and rice with cornbread just last night. was good. :o)

From the hills and hollers of the Ozarks Ponderosa, ya'll have a wonderfully blessed weekend!!!

Bernideen said...

Fabulous food - I just made jalapeno cornbread. You did a great job here- love your blog!