People are visiting restaurants in droves these days, and let’s hope it stays that way. But one thing that the pandemic did teach us is that there is a lot to be shared online when it comes to new kitchen ideas.
Facebook is the hot spot for creative cooking ideas, with dozens of pages devoted to the kitchen. Bread seems to be on everyone’s mind, even people that aren’t normally bakers are baking away. There are lots of posts about making yeast rolls, dinner rolls, or specialty bread like honey oatmeal whole wheat or just a basic white sandwich-style bread and there are many posts about how wonderful it makes the house smell.
Malcolm White, former director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, started a Facebook group called Cooking and Coping: Gathering Around a Virtual Table. Carole Pucket, a founding member of the group, says “A whole bunch of us not only cope but thrive by grabbing a whisk or a skillet and cooking.”
It’s pretty amazing what some people have come up with. You will find fancy dishes like French fried chicken tenders with whole grain mustard gastrique, and spinach au gratin to simple dill pimento and cheese, but some of my favorites are creative ideas with span and Vienna sausage!
Those ideas got me going and I decided to explore foods I enjoyed as a kid. Fried baloney sandwiches with Velveeta cheese, bean and bacon soup, spaghetti and meat sauce, and fresh peas and cornbread with chow-chow were on my menu recently, but I decided to jazz things up a bit too. I made bread, for the second time in my life, but I topped it with collard greens and tomato chutney. I also made grit cakes, from Original Grit Girl grits, with slow-roasted pork shanks from Dale Stevens Sand Ridge Farms outside of Lucedale. I seared the shank, the cooked it low and slow, until it was falling apart. The grit cakes were made with heavy cream and cheddar cheese. Most recently, I made smoked pork ramen with soft-cooked eggs.
I even tried to replicate my mother’s fried chicken. I know of only two restaurants in Mississippi that can make chicken as good as my mom’s, the Old Country Store in Lorman and the Delta Corner in Indianola. I have to admit, my chicken wasn’t that good. But Amazon just delivered a few pounds of Crisco, and I am going to try again. Mom always used Crisco and I think that makes a big difference.
So, don’t sit in that comfy chair and play computer games or watch old movies. Get creative in the kitchen, try that recipe from your youth that you haven’t had in years, or pick something you have never made before. I think you will find that being in the kitchen, being a little creative, and sharing food with family is going to add a layer of comfort to your life.