Kneadful Things

Where the hell have I been? Under a rock? Not paying attention? Why have I not known about Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread from the New York Times? Paradigm. Shifted

Man shall not live by bread alone. Matthew 4:4

But, he wishes he had known about this sooner as this had to have been inspired by the Word of God. It’s that good

According to the NYT, it’s one of the most popular things they have ever published. They say as much on the NYT Cooking website. There’s a video, even

This is from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. I made a couple of changes

I did read the Notes and used some of the tricks in making my first batch recently

This bread tastes like a French boule straight from your favorite bakery. It’s got a chewy hard crust and a light as air crumb on the inside with big air holes from the yeast and steam and fermentation. Not quite a sour dough, but the chew, the mouthfeel (I hate that term), the flavor profile (I hate that term) aren’t that far away from sourdough

You will need a heavy, oven proof Dutch oven – enamel, cast iron – with a tight lid. I used a LeCreuset that can go into up to a 500 oven.

It takes a while

Up to 24 hours

Seriously slow process

But don’t rush it

It’s amazing

As it cools on a rack it snaps, crackles, and pops. Let it cool fully, slice with a good bread knife, then slather a thick slice with butter

It ain’t gluten free, though, so sorry to our pals who can’t eat gluten

I about fell out in my kitchen when I turned it on the rack to cool

Look at that beauty

Look at those gorgeous cracks and seams and splits and air bubbles all from fermentation and then cooking in an oven in an oven….thanks Mr. Lahey

No-Knead Bread

3 1/2 cup bread flour – not White Lilly – I used King Arthur brand with hard red wheat, high gluten content. Not good for making biscuit but on time for this bread.

1/4 teaspoon yeast. (Note: if you are using active, dry yeast, you will need to proof it as I did. If you are using instant yeast, no reason to proof it)

2 tsp. Kosher salt

1 1/2 c. + 2 tbs. water. I used the 2 tbsps to proof my yeast and used warm water for that.

Flour for sprinkling work surface, and for sprinkling the bread. You can use wheat germ or cornmeal to sprinkle on the bread, too.

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, proofed yeast and water and stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. You will wonder why it looks such a mess. Use a wooden spoon. You will think, there is no way this going to work. Trust the yeast. It does all the work for you.

Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest at least 12 and up to 18 hours at room temperature. I made it before supper one night and then baked it the following mid-day.

The dough is ready when there are bubbles dotting the surface and it looks like it has come together. I checked on it in the middle of the night, and bubbles had just started. Even so, I was super skeptical that this would work.

After the 12-18 hour rest, line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly flour it and place the dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it on itself a few times. Cover with the plastic wrap from the bowl and let it rest 15 minutes

With barely floured hands, roll into a ball quickly. Srinkle top with a little flour more flour or cornmeal or wheat germ, and cover with a cotton dish towel – but not terry cloth.

Let rest for two more hours.

When it’s ready it will be doubled in size and not bounce back when pressed with your impeccably clean fingers

A half hour before the end of the two hour rise, heat your oven to 450 degrees. Not on convection if you have a convection oven. Put a heavy 6-7 quart covered Dutch oven and the lid- cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, ceramic – in the oven as it heats. You’re creating an oven in an oven that will trap steam and heat. Trust me. It works. I had to take out one of my oven racks so that the top of the lid had room to fit.

When the dough is ready, using potholders for sure, remove the Dutch oven from the oven.

Plop in the dough. I threw it in with the parchment paper. I won’t do that next time as I think there would have been a darker crust, which would be fine with me

Place the lid on the Dutch oven, return it to the oven, and bake for 30 minutes

After 30 minutes, remove lid and bake 15 to 30 minutes until it is as brown as you want it to be. That’s the key. To brown it well. Had I not plopped it in with the parchment, I think I would have had a better colored crust. I will do it the right way next time.

After the bread gets as brown as you like it, remove it from the oven and turn out on a rack to cook. I held the rack over the Dutch oven and inverted it, then turned the bread over again right side up to cool

Let cool on a rack and listen to the snap, crackle, and pop

I may never buy bread again.

So crumby….look at all those pockets…can’t believe this worked

Hey, We Saw That First

Mise en place

There was an old commercial aired on local channels in the Lowcountry back in the 1970’s. At one point, one of the actors stopped and said, “Hey, we saw that first!” as he claimed all right, title, and interest in the hocked product.

I feel the same way about gumbo

Yes, gumbo

That national dish of New Orleans, be it Creole, file, z’herbes, whate’z’s

South Carolina beat them to the pot


We saw that first

Old cookbooks here call gumbo a mix of orka and tomatoes stewed and served over rice

It’s got Gullah roots

The word gumbo comes from an African word for okra

Okra is still one of our favorite foods in South Carolina. Having come over from Africa with the slaves brought to these shores against their will to grow rice, okra has been paired with South America’s tomatoes, Europe’s herbs, and local swimps and oysters for over three hundred years.

All about that rice

Carolina Gold

We had been serving okra with tomatoes and rice since well before Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville named that historic Indian portage near the Bayou St. John for a French duke in 1718

That all being said, I love a good old New Orleans style gumbo, but, hey, we saw that first

I roux the day, which certainly is not from round these parts

I use the andouille sausage, which certainly is not from round these parts

I love a gumbo

I’ve been known to serve this to company. That’s how much I love gumbo

I also have a set of gumbo spoons. Wide bowls to scoop up all the goodness. Not cream soup spoons. Not bouillon spoons. Not place spoons. Full on gumbo spoons

I recommend them highly

In your silver pattern

And, yes, you need a silver pattern

Gumbo spoons work for all manner of soups and stews but work best for, you got it, gumbo

Here’s my version of Gumbo cobbled together from old South Carolina cookbooks, Emeril (BAM!) Lagasse’s (BAM!) cooking show on the Food Network, and Elizabeth’s on 37th in Savannah, Georgia, a city I love, with deep rice culture roots, too.

Remember to serve with steam producing white rice, some good bread, and the hot sauce of your choice.

Sorry to all my pals in the Big Easy, but, hey, we saw that first.


3 tbsp vegetable oil

1/3 c. all purpose flour

1 green bell pepper, chopped – when I say chopped I mean quarter inch style diced – that’s one of those cook’s notes of which I hear

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. fresh black pepper

1/2 tsp. cayenne red pepper

1 lb okra, sliced

4 c. chicken borth

1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes

4 c. water

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp. oregano

1 grocery store rotisserie chicken, all meat picked off the bones, skin discarded, and torn into bite sized pieces. We all know that I eat the skin as I pick the meat off the bones. Or, 5 chicken thighs baked for 45 minutes, cooled, and then skin discarded, meat torn into bite sized pieces. The grocery store yard bird is so easy

1 lb. andouille sausage – cut into bite sized rounds

1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled (optional)

1 pt. oysters (optional)

Juice of a lemon

1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped

That good cooked white rice – steaming hot

Parsley – if you must – for garnish

In a large pan, make a roux of the flour and oil by whisking slowly over medium heat. Cook until almost the color of dark peanut butter, dark brown sugar, milk chocolate. Add the green pepper, celery, onion, salt and both peppers. Cook until vegetables are soft – about 10 minutes. Add the roux, veggie mix to a large pot along with okra, tomatoes, water, broth, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, chicken, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Then, cut back heat to a low simmer and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. If using seafood, add the shrimp 5-7 minutes before serving. Add the oysters and their liquor right before serving. To finish, add the lemon juice and basil. Makes it sing. Serve with that steaming white rice and hot sauce on the side. I usually ladle the gumbo into the soup bowl, then add the rice. My bride does just the opposite. Then, sprinkle on a little chopped parsley. If you must.

Wait, you made this?

We had our cohort, bubble, safe zone over for supper recently. Half of the group works in the medical field and had already been double dosed with the microchip by Pfizer

It being winter, I decided to pull out an old faithful citrus dessert from the pages of Southern Living some nine years ago. It’s super easy at the height of citrus season

It’s a perfect ending to a heavy meal with the mildest sweetness and silky luxurious goodness

Cooked cream

Panna Cotta with Orange Curd and Grand Marnier

As one member of the cohort, bubble, safe zone dragged her spoon over the dregs in her sorbet cup, she said incredulously, “Wait, you made this?”

Yes, ma’am

All me

It helps to have some really cool silver sorbet cups in which to serve like those bad boys up there

I highly recommend inheriting some

This is for the nice lady who was shocked I made this.

She said she felt like she was back in Italy

High praise

Grazie, Senora

Panna Cotta with Orange Curd and Grand Marnier

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold milk

3 navel oranges

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1 cup orange curd – receipt below

1 bottle Grand Marnier – or Grandma to the cool kids

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup of the milk in a mixing bowl. Stir and let stand. The mix will be lumpy. Remove 3, 2×1 inch strips of rind from 1 orange with vegetable peeler. In a 3 quart pot, cook cream, sugar, and orange rinds over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved for about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir into gelatin. Add vanilla and remaining milk. Discard orange strips. Poor into six sorbet cups or wine glasses. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

To serve, section the oranges and roll the sections in turbinado sugar.

Pour a bop/teaspoon/little hint/however much you want of Grandma over the panna cotta, then top with a tablespoon or so of orange curd, then garnish with the sectioned oranges covered in sugar.

Southern Living did not add the Grandma, but, trust me, you want it, as it makes it even more a l’orange

Orange Curd:

2/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1 1/3 cup orange juice

1 egg, beaten lightly

3 tbsps butter, cut into pieces

2 tbsp orange zest

Pinch of salt

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a 3 qt saucepan. Whisk in orange juice. Whisk in egg. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking the whole time, and boil for 3 minutes. It will thicken up quickly. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, orange zest, salt. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the curd to keep a skin from forming. Really great on top of the panna cotta

I’ve been known to eat the leftovers cold from the bowl

When you serve this, your guests will ask, “Wait, you made this?”

Take full credit


For thirty three years, I have worn the same shorts.

Patagonia’s 5″ Light Weight Stand Up Shorts

Organic cotton

Five pockets

Bought my first pair in Boston in 1987

Bought my last pair in Charleston in 2018

They last forever

Worn them until they fall to shreds









I’ve had them all

And, now, Yvon Chouinard and crew seem to have discontinued them

Why, Yvon, why?

There is an entire generation that grew up wearing your LWSUS’s

We wore them

We wear them

We will wear them

But, now, we will have to rely on our reserves

Didn’t we suffer enough in 2020?

Now, this

This cruel blow to our wardrobes

This cruel blow by the company that supposedly cares about its customers, their environmental activism, their stewardship of nature

I really need Patagonia to re-issue the 5″ LWSUS

Because I need them

What else am I supposed to wear?

I have worn those shorts to hike high hills

I have worn those shorts to work in the yard

I have worn those shorts to all manner of summertime events

I have worn those shorts to baseball games

I have worn those shorts to thirty-two 4ths of July

I have worn those shorts to concerts in Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina

I have worn those shorts to see The Dead in the most cliched wearing of those thirty-three years

I have worn those shorts from the Keys to Kenya, from Maine to Miami, from Lamu to Los Angeles, from Paris to Pawleys

Talk about a tribal marker

Whenever I see another pair of LWSUS on a fellow traveler, I know that person is one of my people

Why, Yvon, why?

Can it be that there is no more demand?

Can it be that all the organic cotton crops failed?

Can it be that those of us of a certain age are the only ones so sartorially inclined to wear LWSUS?

Can’t be

Does work?

If it does, I beg of you to sign the petition I plan to send to my friends in Ventura, California

Because, I sure as hell ain’t wearing any shorts called Chubbies

21 and Done

In February, 1989, I hopped on what was then the Eastern shuttle from Boston to LaGuardia to meet my mother and Hedy and Hayes Williams for a weekend in New York.

Hayes and I were 17 years old.

My mother, Hedy, and Hayes had left Savannah at 0’dark thirty

We all met at the old Windsor Hotel, now condos, on 58th St.

In that pre-cell phoned age, we agreed to all meet in the Lobby at 3 p.m.

Miraculously, there were no delayed flights, no lost luggage, no bad traffic across the 59th Street Bridge

Snow was scheduled for that evening – just a light dusting

That was a cold Friday afternoon in the City

I don’t remember what we did that afternoon, but I do know we had reservations for early supper in the Bar Room at 21

The 21 Club

21 West 52nd St

The speakeasy

Now shuttered


Another victim of Covid

That venerable spot where The Rev held court in the Men’s Room in cufflinks given him by President Reagan

Before we left the hotel, Hedy asked Hayes where his tie and blazer were

“Back in Beaufort, Mom”

“Well, good luck getting into 21! Hamlin brought his coat and tie!”

Hayes replied, “Well, good for him.”

“You might as well just eat at a hot dog cart,” replied his mother

My mother tried to calm them both, “I’m sure they have coats and ties to borrow”

So, we walked over around 5:30 p.m.

Greeting us were the jockeys all lined up on the stairs and the porch

We stepped through the brass doors. I took my mother’s coat and gave it to the lady in the cloak room.

The maitre d’ smiled and said to Hayes, “Sir, we have a dress code of coats and ties for gentlemen. We will be happy to lend you both.”

The lady in the cloak room handed Hayes an ill-fitting blazer and a clip on faux regimental tie.

“Well, I look like an idiot,” Hayes said

“You’re own damned fault,” Hedy replied

We were taken to the cozy dark Bar Room with toys hanging from the ceiling and the banquettes with their red and white tablecloths

John McEnroe’s smashed tennis racket had a place of honor

Chairs pulled out for the ladies and menus presented

Shrimp cocktail

Lobster bisque

Caesar salad

Dover sole

Chicken hash

The Burger

Steak tartare

All the old standards

Our waiter asked where we were from and what we were doing in the City

“Oh, he’s up at school near Boston, so we all decided to meet for a long weekend”

“Well, you picked a fine one. Snow tonight. What may I get for you to drink?”

Our mothers each ordered glasses of wine

Having been served in NYC restaurants earlier that fall, I turned to the waiter and ordered what was then the height of fashion, “Heineken please”

Hayes ordered the same

We were 17

Our mothers’ eyes widened

The waiter didn’t miss a beat, “I’ll have those out in a minute”

We chatted, we talked, we ordered

After our first beers, Hayes and I ordered a second.

His mother, Hedy, raised an eyebrow

Sometime after the steak tartare, we each ordered a second, and, then, a third.

“May I have another?” Hayes asked our waiter as he pointed at his almost empty bottle

“Yes, Sir,” said our waiter

As he walked away, we heard Hayes groan

“Owwwwwwwwwww,” he glared across the plates as his mother. “What was that for?”

“Well, you didn’t have to order a forth beer, did you!”

Little did our mothers know that three was not a magic number, but just a start for us on any given night.

When the news came that the 21 Club had shuttered, I sent Hayes a message

“21 Club in NYC closing. Great stuff back in the day. Fun times. Fun Times.”

His reply “I am glad not to get kicked in the shins anymore for drinking more than three beers”

Place was a legend

So were we

Tie One On

For MPO, MC, JSH, PNH, LVP – because you were there

I charge $400/hour normally.

Back in 2018, when we could still go to things, we were picking up some friends in the lobby of the Dewberry Hotel here in Charleston.

They were in town for an event sponsored by Charleston’s publishing powerhouse Garden & Gun.

We were meeting them there first before going to some mutual friends’ home for a quick drink before their event.

I was really acting as the hired help/chauffer/DD

Always good to have a DD

DUI ain’t funny

(Side track. One of my favorite brutal expressions and some twenty plus years after that fatal car crash in Paris caused by a drunk driver, it’s fun to say to anyone going too fast or making rash decisions, “Woah! Slow down, Doadie, there’s a tunnel up ahead!” People cringe. Then they laugh. Poor Lady Di. But, I digress)

As we were waiting in the lobby for one friend to grace us with her presence, my bride and the other friends watched a group of twenty somethings gather prior to heading into a ballroom for a wedding reception

It was a glorious fall day in Charleston

Weather was in the 60’s

Soft sun setting around 5:30

Our other friend arrived

Hellos all around while the young folk – of which I still mistakenly think myself one – sauntered round the lobby, made for the bar for that pregame libation, ooohed and aaahed over each others’ dresses secretly judging and hating the other’s clothes. We could see it in their mascaraed and shadowed lidded eyes.

One tall fellow burst into the lobby, fully tuxedoed but with tie in hand

His date looked at him with exasperation

This was some A+ people watching by the way

He attempted to mess with his tie, but, no luck

Shouting across the crowded lobby, he bellowed, “Does anyone in here know how to tie a bowtie?”

Same exasperation in his voice as Charlie Brown asking if anyone could tell him what Christmas was all about during the most religious of all Christmas cartoon specials.

With the same equanimity as St. Linus the Evangelist from that special, I raised my hand and said, “I can. I can tie a bowtie.”

The date ratted him out

“This fool thought he could rent a tuxedo today. He had to buy this at Brooks Brothers like 3 hours ago. He can’t even tie a bowtie. He should have bought the pre-tied one.” Her eyes rolled.

Shaking my head, I told the guy to sit down on the leather stool in front of me.

I stood behind him and tied the tie in less than 30 seconds flat. My friend took a picture.

A quick little adjustment, and he was ready to enjoy his evening.

“Dude! You’re the MAN!” he said as he high fived me

In response, I said to him the words that my father said to me when I was in the eighth grade on asking how to tie a bow tie

“There’s nothing to it. Close your eyes. Tie your shoes.”

Close your eyes

Tie your shoes

That’s all it takes to tie a bowtie

Yes, you’re going to have to work with it

Yes, the first few times you do it will be sloppy

Yes, you have to make one end of the tie a little longer than the other to get it right

But, it’s just that easy

Close your eyes

Tie your shoes

So easy to tie one on that the fake ties should be outlawed, banned, sent into the outerdarkness

One day we will go out again

One day we will wear bow ties

One day there will be wedding receptions, dances, black tie events

One day a twenty something will need help in the lobby

Until then, you have time to practice

And, don’t worry if you’re slow at getting it

Remember, there may be a tunnel up ahead



A word I had not thought of in years

Capable of causing vertigo

Creating a sense of imbalance and disquiet

I like stark raving, bonkers, barking better

Crazy as a rat in a certain house

Needs to be checked into a padded cell

If you are a South Carolinian of a certain age, you’d understand if I said, “She belongs on Bull Street”

Former location of the State Hospital….also known as our looney bin

About whom am I speaking?


But, especially, the woman at the grocery store

Not young

Not well dressed

Not full of the milk of human kindness even though her buggy was full of Lactaid

So much Lactaid

As the young man working in the produce section re-stocked the lettuces near faux milk filled buggy, she screamed, “YOU CANNOT BE HERE. YOU’RE WITHIN SIX FEET OF ME. I’M HIGH RISK. YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW. MOVE! NOW! YOU CANNOT BE HERE! GET AWAY FROM ME! HE’S BREAKING THE LAW!”

Her arms flailed

She truly screamed

The nice lad replied, “Well, Ma’am, may be you should have stayed home.”

She then went on another diatribe


I mean screamed

Glenn, who has worked at this store forever, whom some of you may know, went by and said, “Oh, she’s upset…oh she’s upset..oh she’s upset”

She was madder than a wet hen


Capable of causing vertigo

My head swam at what she was doing

What have we become?

She wasn’t nice

She wasn’t nice at all

Her foot ware should have been the tell

Screaming near the red leaf

Yelling by the romaine

Break down by the Boston

Poor dear

I watched in horror

I told the young man that obviously she’s not well

I told the young man that he was doing a great job

He was shaking

So was I

I’ve never seen such a display near cruciferous vegetables

Tart it Up

My great aunt Marion Peagler, late of Savannah, won the title of best cook in our family

Hands down


A life long weight watcher, fat phobic, and stylish dresser, it’s amazing that Aunt Marion didn’t weigh a ton considering her freezer always had containers of okra stew, raw beaten biscuit ready for baking, what she called ham steaks, McKenzie gold foil butter beans, and these perfect little cream cheese tarts

Bacon drippings remained in a dedicated container ready to season those butter beans and all manner of vegetables

Real butter only

Full fat everything

She taught me to make her cheese straws, which were the stuff of legend

A great old school Southern cook who embraced the microwave, the food processor, and any new gadget to come from the mind of engineers

She gave me “Aunt” Blanche Grundy’s shrimp creole receipt

She gave me my great grandmother’s tea punch written in her curling cursive

Her crab dip notes say “bake in petit pans” whatever those may be

One of my all time favorites of hers was indeed those cream cheese tarts

I call them Aunt Marion’s Cream Cheese Tarts

Easy as can be

People eat them and about die off

A perfect base for fresh fruit in season

My favorite is to serve them with peaches, macerated in a little sugar with the smallest hint of almond extract

So good in late July and August when it’s hot and peaches are in season

Also great with any form of berry macerated in a little sugar

Aunt Marion shared this receipt with everyone, so, here ‘tis

Take them out of the freezer and onto the plate

Easily doubled, too, by the way

And, because we all could use something sweet these days, I’m proud to share this with all 27 of my followers


Aunt Marion’s Cream Cheese Tarts

8 oz. cream cheese, softened and at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 container Cool Whip – seriously – COOL WHIP -thawed

Line twelve muffin cups with cupcake liners.

In a mixing bowl, with a fork or hand mixer, mix the cream cheese with sugar and vanilla until well blended. Fold in the Cool Whip until thoroughly mixed. Drop by tablespoons into the cupcake papers. It’s about two full tablespoons per cupcake/muffin. Freeze in the muffin pan. After frozen, you can store in plastic bags.

If you serve with peaches make a simple syrup and add 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. Trust me. Do it.

Aunt Marion would be tickled to know I’m letting everyone in on this secret. Absolutely tickled

Her words not mine


I had a charge account there

Back in the early 1990’s

Sutton’s Drug Store

159 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Since 1923

Back when I was in school at UNC, Sutton’s was still a full on old school small town drug store

Dr. Woodard, the pharmacist, dispensed prescriptions in the back and Don and crew ran what was a lunch counter serving burgers, fries, and various ades. My favorite was and still is the cherry limeade

Diabetes in styrofoam

A friend and I had weekly lunches there on Wednesdays

Jesse, our lovely waitress and doyenne of the greasy spoon, knew to look out for our table

One Wednesday, she actually made a couple get up from our regular table chastising them for intruding on our space

She literally asked the couple if they knew they were sitting in our booth

I can hear her now, “GET UP!” she admonished them

On another Wednesday, we watched wide-eyed as Jesse screamed across the store, “I’m gonna kill you!” as she picked up a pair of scissors and chased a shoplifter out of the store and down Franklin Street

“I’m gonna kill you!” remains one of my favorite moments in four years of lunches

My wife and children love the place

LOVE the place

Any time we are in Chapel Hill, we go to Sutton’s

It’s now a full fledged diner owed by the same Don who worked there when I was in school

It was with full fledged horror that we read this week they are really struggling to keep the lights on and the griddle greasy because of Covid, because of the University’s decision to send everyone packing, because of North Carolina’s phased re-openings

A couple of weeks ago, Don told us they never closed during the quarantine

Now things are catching up with them

So, what’s a Tar Heel with a former charge account to do?

Well, he gives to a Go Fund me or two

Link provided

In less than two days, fellow Tar Heels have given almost $30,000.00

Even this newly minted Tar Heel seen eating at Suttons a month ago

One day her pic might be on the wall

If Covid and draconian shut downs take out Sutton’s, well, let’s just say I’m going to grab a pair of scissors and run down some fools and scream, “I’m gonna kill you” due to my own frustration

I know that my thirty or so followers may want to contribute even though they’ve never sat in the yellow booths, never seen the myriad students’ pictures on the walls, never read The Daily Tar Heel, never charged anything to their parents

If you’re so inclined, please give

If you’re not, well, I’ll still raise my styrofoam of cherrylimeade to you

Wahhhfer Theen

One simple shot on the social media’s, and I’m being asked to publish Hamlin’s Southern Kitchen.

Well, kids, let’s just say this blog ain’t called, “Dad, what’s for supper?” for nothing

I have been known to crank out a cheese straw or ten thousand using my great grandmama’s receipt and an Italian cookie press much to the chagrin of my carpel tunnel.

Being invited over to a lady’s house for early drinks, I knew that I couldn’t show up empty handed. That’s just not nice manners. And, certainly, not very Southern

My mother never conquered her grandmama’s cheese straw receipt but it’s conquered me. It hurts to make them. So, what’s a nice Southern cook to do? Turn to a beloved alternative: Cheese Wafers with Pecans

My mama certainly did conquer Cheese Wafers with Pecans, which she often made for parties, teas, to serve before suppers with drinks. I have her version, which I think came from an older Beaufort cookbook. In her notes she wrote, “wrap log in wax paper and put in fridge overnight – makes slicing easy”. All will be explained below in a few seconds. Keep reading

These really are easy and good. This is my version of Cheese Wafers with Pecans adapted from my mother’s version. Remember, wrap in paper and put in fridge overnight. Makes slicing easy.

The pecan nuttiness comes out in the baking and merges perfectly with the fat from the butter and cheese and the salt and cayenne. Flour plays only a minimal supporting roll here.

Some versions say to make an egg wash for the pecans and wafers. That’s just crazy talk. Why mess with perfection?

And, the beautiful thing about these wafers, you most likely have almost all of the ingredients on hand at any given moment.

Ready for that moderate oven

Cheese Wafers with Pecans

4 oz. (half a block) of Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheese (makes 1 cup grated)

1 stick of butter – I use salted

1 cup of flour

1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper – more is more

1 tsp salt

A whole bag of pecan halves – you’ll need probably three dozen nut meats. And, yes, I just said “nut meats” because I’m secretly 115 years old

Place cheese, butter, flour, salt, cayenne into the bowl of a food processor and process until a dough ball forms. You’ll know when that happens.

Turn out the dough onto a cutting board, work surface, marble slab, impeccably clean counter tops and divide into two pieces

Roll both pieces into logs about 1 1/2 inches thick.

Wrap logs in wax paper or parchment paper and place in fridge for at least two hours or overnight. Don’t skip this step

Preheat oven to 350

Slice logs into 1/4 inch rounds and place on parchment lined baking sheet or sheets. I can do them on one but for your first tries use two baking sheets and cook two batches.

Place a pecan half on each wafer

Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp. Don’t over bake them as, to quote my late Great Aunt Marion from Savannah, overbaked and they’ll be bitter as gall

Let cool on a wire rack and put in a tin. They keep up to a week, but they won’t last that long

You can double, triple, quadruple this easily

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Serve with your favorite beverage

They go fast because, after all, Sir, they are wafer thin