Within every state, every town, every community there is much to be proud of, to celebrate and embrace. From tragedy comes inspiration. From necessity innovation. People are amazing. The human spirit should be celebrated, uplifted and honored with every opportunity. By acknowledging a National Day for each state, we get to explore things beyond our own backyard.
In early October 2016, one of the most destructive hurricanes, Hurricane Matthew, slammed into the eastern part of North Carolina. The flooding was catastrophic, leaving over $1.5 billion in devastation. People needed help. At the same time, America was thrust into one of the most dividing political elections. It pitted brother against brother, families against families in ways we are only now beginning to recognize.
The people of Raleigh, North Carolina could not sit idly by. On Sunday, November 13, the community put aside their differences to break bread together, raising more than $189,000 for long-term disaster relief. Over 300 volunteers made it possible for 1,000 people to join hands around the largest dining table imaginable. They called the event The Sunday Supper.
Step back in time to 100 years earlier, 1916, and a man named James Barber of Fayetteville North Carolina. He developed a miniature golf course, the “Thistle Dhu.” The course was putting-only and featured gardens, fountains and geometric walkways. Legend has it that after the course was built, Mr. Barber looked it over and said, “This’ll do,” thus naming the first mini-golf course in America. However; unlike mini golf of today, his course was designed to hone the putting skills of professional golfers. Eventually the popularity of mini-golf caught on and in 1954 another Fayetteville resident, Don Clayton, reinvented Miniature Golf as we know it today.
North Carolina is ranks among the top 10 apple producers in the country. At one time, more than 1,500 different kinds of apples flourished in the South. Sadly, over half of those varieties are now lost, yet North Carolina is still home to collections of antique and heirloom apples.
In Brunswick Country you’ll find the tiny fishing town of Calabash. The small community bills itself as “The Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash-style Seafood is perfectly fried in a light, crisp, battered crust. A restaurant serving up the famous Calabash-Style Seafood was run by Mrs. Coleman that was once frequented by the entertainer Jimmy Durante. As the story goes, Jimmy called her Mrs. Calabash. It’s said that his signature close to his performances “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are” was a reference to Mrs. Coleman.
During prohibition, North Carolina earned the title of “Moonshine Capital of the World.” Any NASCAR fan can tell you that NASCAR racing has its origin in bootlegging of illicit products during the prohibition years. Bootleggers used small vehicles to illegally distribute various products. Bootleggers would modify their cars to enhance their speed. After Prohibition was repealed, people from North Carolina continued to ‘moonshine’ for fun.
When it comes to the Official State Berry, North Carolina couldn’t settle on just one, so they picked both Blueberries and Strawberries to represent the state berry crop. I can’t say as I blame them.
Sweet Carolina Supper
Main Event –
Carolina Apple Pork Chops
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Southern Collard Greens
Southern Style Green Beans
Strawberry Cream Pie
Let’s get to cooking!
2 lbs large Shrimp
Peanut oil, for frying
2 large Eggs
8 oz canned Evaporated Milk
1 cup Self-rising Flour
Salt as desired
Black Pepper to taste
Tartar Sauce for serving
Cocktail Sauce for serving
Lemons for serving, optional
Peel, devein and remove tails from shrimp. Keep cold until ready to fry.
Pour oil into a deep fryer or deep heavy-bottom pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat until the temperature registers 375-degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a constant temperature throughout the frying process.
Create a dipping stations with two shallow bowls. In the first bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In a second shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper.
Working in batches, coat the shrimp in the egg mixture, letting any excess drip away, and then coat lightly in the flour mixture.
Slip the shrimp into the hot oil, adding no more at one time than can float freely. Cook until the crust is crisp and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Transfer with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to drain on a brown paper bag. Sprinkle the piping hot shrimp with salt and serve at once with sauce on the side.
Spread out on a warm serving platter with both tarter sauce and cocktail sauce for dipping. If desired, slice a lemon in half to serve with the shrimp.
Carolina Apple Pork Chops
1 cup Water
3 tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
2 cups Ice Water
4 bone-in Pork Chops
Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
2 Rome Apples
1 large Yellow Onion
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter
1 cup Hard Cider
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme Leaves
Make the brine by stirring together the water, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat and add the ice water, stirring until the ice melts and the brine cools to room temperature. Pour into a shallow bowl that will hold the chops snugly in a single layer. Submerge the chops in the brine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
Remove the chops from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Set chops aside.
Core and slice apples, set aside. Peel and thinly slice onion, set aside.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; add the oil and butter. When the butter melts, lay the chops in the skillet. Do not crowd the chops in the skillet or they will steam instead of brown. Depending on the size of your skillet, you might need to work in batches. Cook undisturbed until nicely browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn once and brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add the onion and a pinch of salt to the skillet; stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Cook until the onions wilt, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and cook, until the onions are golden and the apples begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cider and bring to a simmer.
Return the chops to the pan and nestle them into the onion mixture. Simmer over low heat until the pork is tender and cooked through, about 15 more minutes, turning halfway through.
To check for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer sideways into the center of the chop without touching the bone. Pork should be about 140-degrees when cooked.
Transfer the chops to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest.
Stir the mustard into the apple mixture and continue simmering to thicken a little while the chops rest. Pluck thyme leaves from the springs and stir into the apple mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the chops topped with the apples and onions.
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
8 medium Red Potatoes
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 large sprigs Rosemary
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Chives for garnish
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with oil, tilt to coat and set aside.
Scrub potatoes, slice into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with your hands to coat thoroughly.
Strip Rosemary needles from the sprigs, mince. Scatter Rosemary over the potatoes, season generously with salt and pepper. Toss again to distribute the spices over the potato pieces. Spread the potatoes out on the prepared pan.
Roast potatoes in the heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, shake pan, turn potatoes with a large spatula. Return to oven, continue to roast another 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender and golden.
While the potatoes roast, snip chives for a garnish. When ready to serve, transfer potatoes to a serving bowl. Garnish with chives and a pinch of salt. Serve and enjoy.
Southern Collard Greens
4 slices Thick Bacon
1/4 While Onion
1 large head Collard Greens
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Water
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Stack bacon, slice in half lengthwise, then chop into 1-inch pieces. Heat a large pot over medium heat and fry bacon pieces until crispy. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Leave bacon drippings in pan.
While the bacon fries, clean collard greens, remove the hard stem from each leaf, roll leaves into long strips and slice into ribbons, set aside. Cut onion in half from root to tip. Cut half the onion in half again. Peel a quarter of the onion, then dice and set aside.
Sauté onion in bacon grease over medium heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Add sliced collard greens, toss to coat in the grease. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Add water to the pot, cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Check pot, add more water if necessary to keep greens steaming as they cook. Continue to cook another 5 minutes or so until greens are tender. Once tender, drain any excess liquid.
Add apple cider vinegar, stir to combine, simmer over medium-low heat for about 2 more minutes to heat through.
Transfer greens to a serving dish. Scatter bacon over the greens, serve and enjoy.
Southern Style Green Beans
3 slices Bacon
1-1/2 lbs Green Beans
1-1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
Stack bacon, slice in half lengthwise, then chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside. Wash, trim and snap green beans into 2-inch long beans. Set aside.
Heat a large pan over medium heat; fry bacon pieces until crispy. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, leaving behind about a tablespoon of bacon drippings.
Add green beans to pan and cook on medium high heat. Toss beans in bacon drippings to coat. Continue to cook until beans turn bright green.
Carefully pour in stock. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate. Add bacon pieces back to pot with beans.
Turn burner to low, cover beans with lid placed just slightly off center and cook for about 1 hour until beans are tender, stirring every 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Transfer to a serving bowl, serve and enjoy..
Today is also National Strawberry Cream Pie Day. How fitting, since strawberries are one of the official berries of North Carolina. After a day of cooking, our dessert is going to be so simply we don’t even need to turn the oven on. Enjoy!
Strawberry Cream Pie
Graham Cracker Crust
1/3 cup Butter
1-1/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 tablespoons Sugar
Melt butter, let cool. Combine graham crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, forming crust to the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate crust until ready to use.
3/4 cup Boiling Water
4 cups fresh Strawberries
1 (3 oz) package JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
Fill a large mixing bowl with ice water. Bowl needs to be large enough to hold a second mixing bowl. Set bowl of ice water aside to have at the ready.
Bring water to a boil. While the water comes to a boil, hull and dice strawberries. Place in a bowl, refrigerate until ready to use.
Add boiling water to gelatin mix in medium bowl; stir 2 minutes until fully dissolved, set aside.
Beat cream cheese in large bowl with whisk until creamy. Gradually whisk in gelatin until blended. Place bowl with gelatin mixture in the bowl filled with ice water. Let stand about 6 or 7 minutes; until gelatin is thickened, whisking occasionally.
Fold Cool Whip into gelatin mixture; whisk until blended. Stir in chopped strawberries. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until thick enough to mound. Mound strawberry cream filling into the gram cracker crust. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.
1 cup Cool Whip Whipped Topping
4 large Strawberries
Spread 1 cup Cool Whip onto top of pie to within 1 inch of edge. Trim strawberries, cut in half and garnish the whipped topping with fresh berries.
Slice pie and enjoy.