Throwback southern foods keep the creative juices flowing

Published 2:00 pm Monday, September 5, 2022

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Driving from Marion up to Little Switzerland, I was witness to some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen in the state. I knew one thing – the windy road was bound to lead me somewhere fabulous. Later, I discovered – it would be my destiny to return. Lordy, there are destinations – and there are destinations.

I spent a week high in the mountains with Table Rock Writers and songwriters, Solatido, at Wildacres Retreat. Our time together opened up with the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, who penned her “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

With several workshops each day, writers wrote short stories, poetry, fiction – and non – and some of us wrote music. My class involved 15 minutes of free-style writing. Without removing my pen from the page, I wrote to prompts delivered by my instructor, published author Abigail DeWitt. In the final 5 minutes of writings – I had to dig deep. That’s where I discovered the good stuff – lurking right below the surface.

More good stuff was to be discovered at the all-you-could-eat buffet line. Selected daily dishes tasted like throwbacks from a vintage 1960s cookbook. Delicious. Here I enjoyed the kind of down-south foods one could write home about – the type of menu my mamma served at our dinner table. They didn’t hear me complain.

Wildacres served three ample and filling meals a day – with variety such as tender baked chicken, salmon croquettes, beef tips with a savory gravy accompanied by a daily salad bar, and sides of creamy mac and cheese, green Brussel sprouts, peas and carrots, roasted potatoes, and sweet, fried apples. I won’t fail to mention my favorites – the sweet stuff – a tasty dessert followed each meal. You get the picture – an abundance of daily sustenance to keep the creative juices of each artist freely flowing.

Every evening, songwriters with Solatido entertained the group with an outdoor patio concert. What a perfect way to end a day’s story. Being surrounded by natural beauty brought new perspectives – and inspired my writing. God was in every story I wrote – the One who’s in the tiniest of details. The Holy Spirit pushed my pen further when I believed I had nothing more to say.

Like Christian singer Andrew Peterson’s song lyrics read,

And the mountains sing Your glory hallelujah,

The canyons echo sweet amazing grace,

My spirit sails

The mighty gales are bellowing your name,

And I’ve got nothing to say.

Hey Jamie, would you mind

Driving down this road awhile –

This place has caught me by surprise.


2 beaten eggs

2 Tbsp. minced onion

2 Tbsp. parsley flakes

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce

20 crushed Ritz crackers

14 oz. shredded canned salmon

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp. salted butter

In a bowl, combine eggs, onion, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire, hot sauce, crackers, and salmon. Mix well and form into patties. In a skillet, heat olive oil and butter. When hot, grill salmon cakes on one side until golden brown. Turn and cook on other side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with a sauce.


3 lbs. unpeeled, sliced potatoes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

In a bowl, toss uncooked potato slices with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to coat evenly. Spread half of potatoes on a greased 12 x +8 x 2 greased baking dish. Sprinkle with half the parsley. Top with remaining potato mixture. Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining parsley.


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. oil style salad dressing

½ cup whole milk

1 Tbsp. sugar

In a bowl, mix all ingredients. Pour into greased muffin tins. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6 rolls.


4 beaten eggs

1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 box instant vanilla pudding

8 oz. sour cream

½ cup Wesson oil

½ cup water

6 oz. chocolate chips

4 oz. grated German chocolate


3 slightly beaten egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 cup evaporated milk

½ cup salted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Beat in cake mix and pudding mix while alternating with sour cream, oil, and water. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and grated German chocolate. Mix well. Pour into greased and floured tube or Bundt pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely and frost. For frosting, in a saucepan, beat eggs. Add sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, butter melts, and frosting is thick enough to spread. Fold in coconut and nuts.


2 Tbsp. salted butter

½ cup white wine

½ cup water

½ tsp. mustard seed

¼ tsp fresh dill weed

2 thinly sliced lemons

4 salmon steaks

1 Tbsp. water

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

In a skillet, melt butter. Add wine, water, mustard seed, dill weed, and lemon slices last. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and lay salmon steaks over the lemon slices and simmer while covered for 15 minutes. Remove fish, set aside, and keep warm. Remove lemon slices and set aside. In a cup, add water. Stir cornstarch into water until dissolved. Stir cornstarch mixture into the remaining pan juices. Cook over low heat until sauce thickens. Spoon over fish and top with lemon slices.


2 cups water

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

3 beaten egg yolks

3 Tbsp. salted butter

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. grated fresh lemon peel

Prebaked 9-inch pie shell


3 beaten egg whites

¼ tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 Tbsp. sugar

In a saucepan, add water. Dissolve cornstarch in water. Add salt and sugar and slowly bring to a boil until it thickens. In a mixer bowl, beat egg yolks. Add a little hot mixture to the egg yolks just to warm them. Then pour eggs back into the mixture. Continue to cook for 5 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and beat in butter, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Mix well. Allow to cool completely. Pour into a prebaked pie shell. For the meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar. Cover cooled pie with meringue. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 5 minutes or until browned.


4 skinned, boneless breast halves

¼ cup melted, salted butter

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cooked hot rice

In a greased baking dish, place chicken pieces. In a bowl, combine melted butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. While frequently basting, bake in uncovered in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Serve with rice.


1 cup softened salted butter

6.5 oz. Alouette garlic/herb cream cheese

½ cup sour cream

2 cups self-rising flour

In a bowl, combine softened butter, herb cream cheese, sour cream, and flour. For small balls of dough with floured hands – re-flour hands as necessary. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 3 ½ dozen.


2 cans Veg-all mixed vegetables

1 cup premium mayonnaise

1 small jar Cheese Whiz

1/8th cup minced onion

½ tsp. garlic salt

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

Crushed Ritz crackers

Drain cans of Veg-All and reserve 6 Tbsp. of liquid. Discard the rest. In a bowl, combine Veg-All, the reserved liquid, mayonnaise, cheese, and seasonings, to taste. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until cheese melts. Take out of oven and stir well. Evenly cover the top with crushed crackers. Return to oven for 20 additional minutes.


5 cups fresh blackberries

1 cup sugar

½ cup salted butter

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine blackberries with 1 cup sugar. Quickly bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Melt butter in a 9 x 12 baking dish. Evenly spoon blackberries over the butter. In a bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour mixture evenly over the top of blackberries. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes, and top is golden.


3 lb. roasted whole chicken

2 cups chicken broth

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup self-rising flour

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 stick melted butter

1 cup fresh buttermilk

Debone cooked chicken and cut into small pieces. In the bottom of a 8 x 11 baking dish, evenly place chicken. In a saucepan, combine chicken broth and chicken soup. Mix well and bring to a boil. Evenly pour over chicken pieces. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, butter, and buttermilk. Mix well. Evenly spoon over chicken mixture. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


2 beaten eggs

1 ½ cup sour cream

2 cups frozen/fresh whole kernel corn

8 oz. cut-up Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup soft, plain bread crumbs

½ tsp. salt

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cream and mix. Stir in corn, cheese, bread crumbs, salt. Pour in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake 350º for 35 minutes or until tests done. Sprinkle cheddar on top. Bake additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.