I went to a convention for newspaper columnists in Macon, Ga. Macon? If you want to know where Macon, "Jo-Ja" is, just head south, then head south again.
The organizers for the convention did everything possible to show Southern hospitality and make sure we felt the Southern experience. The first night we were transported in a trolley to the Allman Brothers Museum for a Southern picnic on the lawn.
Ever hear of the Allman Brothers? My seatmate on the trolley was a young college journalism student.
"Who are the Allman Brothers?" he asked.
I replied, "Ya know, they sing Ramblin Man?"
No response. I tried again. "The Allman brothers were to my day as, say, someone like Metallica of your day."
He gingerly then asked "Who is Metallica?"
As I looked over at the face of this cherub I felt even more out of it in this "Southern no-man's land." Out on the lawn, I joined my grown-up colleagues. "I need some comfort food."
I always feel better around food. I love it, ya know? This Southern buffet was no exception. I love to experience new food offered at a new place. I marvel: Oh that looks good. How did they do that? What will it taste like? I question: What is this? Have I had this before? How did they make that? How many calories? Calories? Oh busboy! This is the South.
Look at this buffet. Tonight, I am going to celebrate the south.
The buffet began with a large bucket piled high with Southern fried chicken. As I experienced the fragrance of the I-don't-know-how-many herbs and spices, I blotted either side of my mouth. The crust was a golden brown adding the necessary eye appeal to this already perfect specimen. Next were grits. Ordinarily, I'm not a fan but these creamy cheese grits had to be tried. They were the color of sunflowers bubbling in butter and bursting with Monterey Jack and cheddar. Next came bourbon creamed corn - no low fat milk used here (I don't think its sold in the south). It was followed by collard greens and bacon bathing in bacon fat. As is true Southern hospitality, the portions were bighearted. As a final gesture, the server topped my packed plate with a four-inch butter biscuit that would make Paula Deen proud.
When I reached the table, my friends warned (no pun intended) me to get dessert, as it was going fast. Throwing all thoughts, guilt, common sense to the wind, I put my plate down and headed to the dessert table only to find, just arriving, four huge hotel pans full of Krispy Kreme Bread pudding "served-up" with beautiful butter rum sauce. At this point, I should have cut my hand off but instead I grabbed a full bowl. As I walked away, a cute little Southern belle hollered "Honey, you forgot your pecan pie!"
At the picnic table, I sat with my vegetarian colleague from Berkeley, Calif. Her plate, sans the chicken and greens, looked much like mine. We laughed then dug right in. Sometimes, there comes a time when you are at a place when you just have to go for it.
Several years ago, I took at course at the Culinary Institute of America. It was designed to train people who teach food to help cooks to lower the fat content of the foods being served in the restaurants.
The first day of the course the chef/instructor arrived. He was a very professional man, trim in his white coat and tall hat.
"We have to stop denying the truth," he said. "We have to realize that we are powerless against this truth. We have to admit to this fact, fat tastes good!"
Krispy Kreme bread pudding (adapted from Paula Deen)
8 Krispy Kreme Crullers or any glazed doughnuts, cut into sixths.
2 cups heavy cream.
2 cups milk.
10 large egg yolks.
1.) Preheat the oven to 250 Spread the doughnut pieces on parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Bake for about 30 minutes, until dry on the outside.
2.) Raise the oven temperature to 350. In a large bowl, whisk 2 cups of the cream with the milk, egg yolks, whole eggs and condensed milk. Add the doughnut pieces and soak until the pieces are softened, about 1 hour; stir every 15 minutes.
3.) Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spoon the doughnut mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
4.) Set the dish in a roasting pan and add enough water to the pan to reach halfway up the side of the baking dish. Bake the bread pudding for 40 minutes.
5.) Remove the foil and bake for about 20 minutes longer, or until the bread pudding is set.
6.) Preheat the broiler. Broil the bread pudding for about 3 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Let cool for 30 minutes. Say a prayer ..... And enjoy.
Butter Rum Sauce
1 stick butter.
1 pound box confectioners' sugar Rum, as desired.
1.) Melt butter and slowly stir in confectioners' sugar.
2.) Add rum and heat until bubbly.