Dinner on the grounds a Southern tradition

Published 10:34 am Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bless Your Spoon

By Stephanie Williams Dean


History reminds us that our picnic need not be grand but always presented with a style that reflects deep roots of heritage and hospitality for which southerners are known. Dinner on the ground gives nod to southern culture – fresh food, mouthwatering recipes, dining with family and friends – quintessential southern rituals and traditions deeply rooted in history. From picnics to potlucks, celebrate Memorial Day with any one of the following recipes.

With its subtle combination of flavors, the Three Cheese Apple Tomato Tart is a tasty side served with pork. When you begin to think about a menu, begin with your meat and consider flavors that enhance the taste. For side dishes, I consider apples, raisins, prunes, greens, tomatoes, and corn dishes to serve with pork – my kids love mac and cheese with it, too. And isn’t there something about pork that makes you think cornbread?

For your sweet tooth, B.J. Sineath from Bermuda Run, submitted his personal recipe for a wonderfully decadent pound cake, topped with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries. By the way, B.J.’s five-flavor confection was quite wonderful – and I’m granting strawberries full permission to run their entire course this spring.



8 packed cups mustard greens, stems reserved

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 thick, bone-in, center cut pork chops

2 Tbsp. olive oil, more when needed

Salt and pepper

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram

6 chopped garlic cloves tsp.

8 tsp. wine vinegar

3/4 cup chicken broth

4 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Chopped mustard green stems

3 pieces crumbled, fried bacon

In a skillet, saute greens in olive oil at medium heat until wilted. Mound greens on a platter.

Dip pork chops in buttermilk and dredge in flour. Place chops in the same skillet.  Salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh marjoram.  Cook one side at medium heat for 15 minutes.  Turn and repeat.  Cook 15 minutes.  Transfer pork to oven pan and roast in a 475-degree oven for 10 minutes. Place cooked pork chops on mounded greens.

Deglaze skillet with chicken broth. Add garlic, vinegar, broth, mustard and chopped green stems. Cook at medium heat for 5-7 minutes until thickened. Fry bacon slices and crumble. Add to mixture. Drizzle sauce over pork chops and greens.


1 9-10 lb. fully cooked bone-in ham (butt end)

2 ½ cups dry red wine

1 cup orange juice

1 ½ cup whole grain Dijon mustard

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

3 Tbsp. marjoram

3 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 tsp. pepper

Fresh marjoram

Trim fat off the ham. Place ham in foil covered pan. Score ham with 1-inch cuts. Pour wine and orange juice into bottom of the pan. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes or heated thoroughly.

In a mixer, combine mustard, sugar, marjoram, garlic, orange juice, and pepper. Spread mixture over top and sides of ham. Return ham to oven and bake for 35 minutes or until coating is golden.

When done, remove fat from pan juices. Pour juice into a saucepan. Add fresh marjoram and bring to a boil. Serve sauce with sliced ham.


2 Tbsp. salted butter

2 sliced, granny smith apples

1/8 cup chopped green onions

1 9” prepared pie crust

1 cup quality pimento cheese, divided

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

2 sliced tomatoes

Fresh Rosemary

In a skillet, melt butter and cook apples with onion until tender. Prepare pie crust in greased pie pan.  Spread bottom of crust with a thin layer of pimento cheese. Cover cheese with apple mixture.  Spread ricotta cheese over apples. Add a layer of sliced tomatoes. Spread another thin layer of pimento cheese. Add another layer of sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle top with crumbled goat cheese and fresh rosemary.  Double recipe for two pies.


2 beaten, large eggs

1 ½ cups plain yogurt

3 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ cup fresh, chopped chives

In a mixer, combine all ingredients and mix until blended.  Pour into greased muffin pan, using ½ cup batter for each cup. Bake in a 425-degree oven about 20 minutes or until done. Serve with orange-fresh strawberry marmalade.



3 cups hulled, halved fresh strawberries

¼ cup sugar

1 cup orange marmalade

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

In a pan, place halved strawberries, add sugar and stir occasionally for 15 minutes.  Cook berry mixture over high heat while stirring for 3 minutes. Add marmalade and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cook until thick and coats spoon for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon pieces. Keep Refrigerated.


2 lb. fresh strawberries

12 oz. frozen lemonade

12 cups water

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup unsweet instant tea

In a blender, combine strawberries and lemonade. Add water, sugar, and tea. Chill and serve over ice.


1 9” prepared pie crust

3 large, beaten eggs

2 large, beaten egg yolks

1 ¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

¼ cup whipping cream

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

1 ¼ cup shredded, sweet coconut

2 tsp. grated lemon peel


¾ cup whipping cream

2 tsp. confectioners sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Lemon slices

In a mixer, beat eggs and egg yolks. Add sugar and beat until thick. Add butter, cream, lemon juice, and extracts. Mix well. Mix in coconut and lemon peel.  Pour filling in the crust. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until golden and set. Chill. Beat remaining cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Pipe cream around the border of pie. Garnish with lemon slices.


4 sticks softened, salted butter

3 cups sugar

7 beaten eggs

3 cups cake flour (Swans)

½ pint heavy whipping cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. coconut extract

½ tsp. rum extract

½ tsp lemon extract

½ tsp almond extract

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between. Add in flour and cream, alternating. Stir in extracts. Mix well. Pour in a large, bundt cake pan. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done. Top with vanilla ice cream and fresh sliced strawberries.

Note: I use every edible part of a vegetable including stems as they can be chopped and used in sauces. Thick and meaty, center cut pork chops with tenderloins compliments of Food Lion in Mocksville. Three Cheese Apple Tomato Tart image by Moe Qudah of Maaksone.