Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get Frying!

It's a zillion degrees outside and even too hot inside to turn on the oven. If you're like me and still crave a big hot supper, heat up some oil and start frying. Frying is often overlooked as a fast way to cook with little residual heat to make the thermostat dance. Before the miracle of air-conditioning, frying was so prevalent in the South because it didn't heat up the kitchen like cooking in the oven.
During the most scorching hours of yesterday afternoon, I was frying up a batch of my grandmother's chicken for supper. We called my grandmother Tom, and her chicken couldn't be beat. Instead of opting for cold salad or a chilled soup tonight, pull out the cast iron skillet and relish in an old Southern tradition. I promise you'll be glad you did.

Tom's Fried Chicken

3.5 lb. Cut up whole chicken
1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour

Place chicken in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salt and cover with cold water. Cover and soak chicken for 45 minutes.

Remove chicken from salt water; drain on paper towels.

Heat shortening in an 8-inch cast iron skillet or a large deep skillet to about 360 degrees.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Coat each piece completely with flour and gently place chicken in hot shortening. Fry 10 to 12 minutes per side or until golden brown, about 25 minutes total.

Check the temperature of the oil occasionally. If the oil is too hot, the chicken will be too brown on the outside but not fully cooked through.

Fry chicken in batches to prevent the skillet from becoming crowded.

Drain cooked chicken on paper towels or the more traditional folded brown paper grocery bag.

Serves 4-6

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vacation Cooking

After a week at the beach, I'm relaxed and practically high from lingering scents from the kitchen. Most vacationers use the time away to get out of the kitchen and into a restaurant. Not us - we cook more on vacation than in a normal week at home. I spent some time in advance to pick all the recipes I wanted to try while I was gone, knowing I'd have time to cook as much as I wanted. Of course, I turned to my favorite site,, for some new recipes. My favorite new recipe on the trip was Cucumber Dip. With grated cucumber, rice wine vinegar, and chives, it was refreshing and an ideal appetizer for hot weather. I made some pita chips for scooping and it's now in my go-to entertaining repertoire.

Every vacation should include homemade ice cream on the porch. We indulged in peach ice cream, right out of the ice cream maker, until we could hold no more. Most recipes call for ripening the ice cream in the freezer for an hour or so after it's made. I prefer the soft frozen mixture the minute it's ready. Try my quick version for a homemade treat.

Peach Ice Cream
3/4 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup half and half
3/4 cups sugar
1 cups chopped fresh peaches
1/2 teaspoon lime zest

Whisk all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Pour mixture into the freezer container of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Yield: 1/2 gallon