Chattavore started in the spring of 2011 as a way for me to talk about locally-owned and operated restaurants in the Chattanooga area. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to branch out a little bit, offering recipes from my kitchen. On a teacher’s salary, there’s only so much dining out that one can do, not to mention that, while I love eating in restaurants, I love cooking even more.
The problem with my recipes, at least as I have seen it over the last three years, is that I didn’t have a focus. I love to bake, but how many baked goods can two adults eat while maintaining their weight? I don’t specialize in any sort of ethnic cuisine. I’ve always just cooked what sounds good to me. No focus. And you guys have been here for the ride.
Sometimes deciding what to write about here can be harrowing. If I could only think of a focus, it would be so much simpler.
Then, you guys, it came to me. How have I missed this? Southern cooking.
I have lived right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee for all of my years. I grew up on Southern food and I have a few bones I’d like to pick with a lot of people who’ve spread a lot of untruths about the way we eat here in the South (I’m looking at you, Paula Deen, though I do share your love for butter).
1) People in the South Fry Everything.
Every time I see this myth perpetuated on television, in a magazine, on a blog, etc. it makes me seethe. Yeah, I like fried food. WHO DOESN’T? Fried food tastes good, and yeah, Southern people have perfected fried chicken, fried squash, fried okra, and fried pies. But you know what? Those are really the only fried foods I ate on a semi-regular basis growing up (besides French fries, and I’d like for someone to point out to me a region of the U.S. that doesn’t consume a copious amount of fries). There’s so much more to Southern cooking than frying….my mom honestly didn’t fry that many things when I was a kid and I rarely do either. I’m not saying you’ll never see fried anything here, but I am saying that it will be far from the only thing you see here.
2) Southern People Don’t Eat Vegetables (unless they’re fried, of course)
The Southern U.S. is a very warm place. Growing seasons are long, and lots of people around here have gardens. During the summer, my mom has sliced tomatoes on her table almost every night (a tradition that I sadly haven’t adopted because my husband wouldn’t eat a sliced tomato on its own unless you paid him). Any potluck table is filled with fresh vegetable dishes, and roadside produce stands abound.
3) Southern People Eat SO MUCH
You know, there’s an obesity epidemic going around this country. And yes, Southern states seem to be in the thick of it, ranking high on the scales, so to speak. But I cringed when I read on a blog (written by someone who is not from below the Mason-Dixon Line) that “Southern people are known to eat a lot”. Huh? It’s not like a cultural tradition or anything. I think there are people all over our nation that have a problem with portion control. There are also people who eat too many processed foods, or those who don’t exercise. For us in suburbia, lack of sidewalks can be an issue (never mind that I can’t take a jog in my neighborhood because of my neighbor’s large and aggressive dogs….). For most of the people I know around here, moderation is still a guiding dietary principle.
So, there you go. Those are the myths I wish to dispel. I hope that I can change some minds about what Southern cooking is and what it isn’t. Are there any myths you’ve heard about Southern cooking that I’ve missed here?
Today I wanted to share with you a recipe for Southern buttermilk pie. I didn’t grow up eating Southern buttermilk pie; in fact, until a few years ago I didn’t know it existed. While obviously buttermilk is not (unlike my beloved White Lily flour<—affiliate link) an exclusively Southern ingredient, I think of it as one of the ingredients that defines Southern cooking. It certainly defines my cooking. While the acidity in buttermilk may affect a recipe somewhat, I rarely find any problem with subbing buttermilk in place of milk in my cooking and baking….so as often as not that’s what I do. Buttermilk biscuits. Buttermilk cornbread. Buttermilk mashed potatoes. Yes, that’s right. Mashed potatoes. The tang of buttermilk gives a distinctive flavor to, well, pretty much everything, but if you didn’t know there was buttermilk in this pie, you wouldn’t know there was buttermilk in this Southern buttermilk pie. But what you do know? This. Pie. Is. Good.
What is your favorite way to use buttermilk? Try this classic Southern buttermilk pie!
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Yield: 1 9-inch pie
20 minPrep Time:
45 minCook Time:
1 hr, 5 Total Time:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal (NOT cornbread mix!!!)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
- 2 T. to 1/4 cup ice water
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse cornmeal
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- pinch salt
- 3 Large eggs
- 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Make crust: Pulse flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and zest in a food processor. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With machine running add water, starting with 2 tablespoons that adding 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture sticks together. Turn into 9" pie pan (I like Pyrex) and press into sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can use any recipe for a single crust pie or even a store-bought roll-out pie crust rather than making your own).
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together the sugar and the butter, then add the eggs one at a time until well-incorporated. Mix the buttermilk in thoroughly. Add in the baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix to combine. Pour into the par-baked pie crust.
- Bake the pie for 45-50 minutes, until set and browned on top. Cool completely at room temperature then chill. Serve alone, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or with your choice of fruit sauce (I am including a recipe for blueberry-lavender syrup in the notes).
For the blueberry-lavender syrup I used, I combined 1 cup of blueberries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1 tablespoon of food-grade dried lavender in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high, mashing with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and pour into a Mason jar. Makes about a cup of syrup.
The crust that I made was intended to be a rolled-out crust, but it crumbled when I attempted to roll it out. I decided to use it anyway and ultimately decided to use it for my recipe. I like the idea of a crust that doesn't need crimping because I cannot for the life of me crimp a crust in a way that makes me happy. If you want to roll this crust out, just make sure you use enough water to help it hold and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.