Things every Southerner can cook even if they can’t

turnip greens(Matt Wake)


Greens (cabbage, turnip, mustard, etc.) are the easiest thing in the world. Don’t stop using words like “chiffonade” and don’t worry if you can’t find pork shank at Whole Foods. Basically, chop them up and cook them in some salted boiling water (look! It’s that easy!) or broth until they’re just like you. If you like, you can add pepper, hot sauce, sugar, pork, turkey neck, onions, garlic, and the like. But you don’t have to.

Here’s an easy recipe to get you started.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to sip the food bowl or sip it with some cornbread. This is where all the vitamins are!

Speaking of this topic…

corn breadstock struggle

corn bread

Cornbread is a recipe born out of the need for something quick, easy and filling. It’s so easy to make a mix from scratch, in fact, I don’t know why anyone would buy a mix! It’s best to have a cast iron skillet to cook with until you get the crunchy edges, but it really isn’t the end of the world if you don’t. It’s close, but you’ll survive.

Try this recipe.

Pro tip: If you buy self-rising cornmeal from McEwen & Sons, you can dispense with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice

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Red beans and rice

Whether it’s red beans, pinto beans, navy beans, or dried beans of your choice, the process is really the same. Soak the beans. Drain the beans. Cook the beans low and slow. This is one of those recipes where you can adjust the spices and ingredients to suit what you like. vegetarian? Leave the sausage. Hate pepper? No big deal, leave them outside too. But as a South Alabama girl who grew up on red beans and rice, I have to say that if you’re not adding bay leaves to your beans (and soup!), you’re missing out on a subtle flavor that makes everything better.

Get the bean basics here.

Pro tip: If you added sausages, cut them into strips, fry them in a skillet and drain the grease before adding them to the beans. Browning will give you some extra flavor, and drying the sausage will keep your pot of beans from becoming a pot of grease.

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Am I the only one who thought it was “cold slaw” until they saw it written? It turns out that the word “colleslaw” probably derives from the Dutch word for “cabbage salad,” “coleslaw.” And that’s exactly what it is – cabbage salad. I’ve seen recipes with everything from apples to yogurt but for cole slaw in its purest, purest form, you only need two ingredients: chopped cabbage and mayonnaise. Just chop it up and mix it up. I like to add a few celery seeds and sometimes a little green onion and/or pickle relish, but don’t go crazy because it’s just perfect. You can even buy already shredded cabbage, but it’s easier (and cheaper) to do it yourself.

Pro tip: Resist the urge to salt your coleslaw salad when preparing it. The salt will draw liquid from the cabbage making a watery mess, not the creamy cabbage salad you dream of. Let your hungry guests salt themselves.

Read more: In defense of Coleslaw, an unsung hero

chicken salad

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chicken salad

I’ve done extensive field research on chicken salad (for example, I’ve eaten my weight in it over the years because I love it), and feel confident enough in my extensive knowledge to say that this food is the best thing when it’s basic – chicken, celery, and mayonnaise. Basic means anyone can do it. Surely you can add nuts, apples, grapes. Get all the luxury with yogurt and sour cream. Get fancier with dill, chives, and thyme. But you don’t have to. This is the beauty of chicken salad.

This recipe is a great place to start your field research!

Pro tip: Don’t want to be locked up in the kitchen cooking chicken? Take the easy way out and buy a roast chicken at the grocery store. I find that they often have more flavor than boiled chicken breasts.

devil eggs(stock struggle)

devil eggs

You… there can never be too many rotten eggs at the party. And it’s easy to make! The devil is just at peeling all the eggs perfectly. There are plenty of tips on how to completely peel eggs, so you may have to experiment with your method a bit. But once you figure it out, you’ll get every dinner plate and cocktail party covered.

According to this recipe, it pays to check the history of your eggs, too!

Pro tip: so not all of them peel off perfectly. so what? Paprika makes everything beautiful. Just sprinkle some paprika on your eggs and no one will be the wiser. They will be too busy devouring them to even notice.

peach cobblerstock struggle

peach cobbler

Every good cook needs a hard candy recipe in his back pocket. Something they could whip out in a flash. Something that travels well. So good thing, people will wonder how they were there before that perfect first bite. This thing is a peach cobbler. But before you have a panic attack about a pie crust, I’ll share with you my personal recipe for mock cobbler—the easiest and most easy dessert recipe—the Dump Cake. Honestly, the name isn’t as appetizing as “peach cobbler” but it is descriptive because (almost) all you have to do is dump a few ingredients into the baking dish, let it rip, and flake!

Read more: How a peach cobbler became a classic Southern dessert

Before we get to the recipe, here’s your pro tip: Serve this “cobbler” warm and top it with a big old scoop of vanilla ice cream. You will think you died and went to heaven. Say hi to Mawmaw for me.

Peach Cobbler Cake aka Dump Cake

  • 3 or 4 nice, ripe peaches, peeled and cut into slices or small pieces (you can even use canned peaches in a pinch!)
  • 1 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 piece butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • Cinnamon, mace and/or vanilla to taste


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the peaches pieces in a bowl and mix them with two tablespoons of sugar. Set it aside to soak (this is a great way to say “be mushy and cool”).
  3. While the peaches are making, take out a 9 x 13 Pyrex baking dish, place the butter pieces in it, and place in the oven to melt the butter.
  4. When the butter has melted, remove the dish from the oven and add the remaining cup of sugar, flour, milk and spices.
  5. Stir them all together with a whisk. Don’t worry if it’s lumpy and looks like something the cat wore. All this will work in the end.
  6. Put the peaches in a large spoon, making sure the fruits are evenly distributed. Drip any extra juice on top.
  7. Put everything back in the oven and bake until the surface is golden brown and the juices run out. You know, so it looks right!

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