cuisine

The Glories of Grits

Aug 31, 2020
A sepia-toned photo of a breakfast featuring grits.
shashafatcat [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Grits. If you grew up in the South, you have likely eaten them. If you buy yours from the grocery store, though, you may never have really tasted the goodness of stone ground grits. 

COVID Inspires Lowcountry Chefs to Get Personal

Aug 25, 2020
File photo of chef's hands cutting green onions
Jakub Kapusnak [CC0 1.0] via Rawpixel

COVID-19 has caused many a business to adapt to changing circumstances in order to survive.  Such is the condition of many chefs in the Charleston area.  Since the advent of COVID has shut or slowed many restaurants, some chefs in the Lowcountry - and elsewhere - have found work doing private cooking for small groups or families right in their homes. 

After growing up in a rural Gullah community outside Charleston, SC, and finishing college in Sumter, our next guest moved to Atlanta and eventually started a catering business based on the Gullah cuisine she loved as a child.  Her business became very successful, culminating not only in winning the food category in Garden and Gun magazine’s 2019 Made in the South Awards, but also in her decision to move back home to support the preservation of the Gullah-Geechee culture in our state.

Shrimp and grits, 21st century style.
Greg Turner [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

January and February gave us the State of the Union address and the State of the State address – important stuff. But, for a Southerner, there are specific, important areas of life in these United States that these addresses didn't cover – areas that we need to check on once in a while. So, in early 2019, what is the State of Southern Cuisine?

Is it still making inroads in the food ways of other sections of the country? Are chain restaurants affecting what people in the South call ‘Southern Food?’ Who is innovating Southern Cuisine while staying true to traditions?

These vats at Columbia microbrewery Hunter Gatherer yield locally crafted beer popular with Midlands beer connoisseurs.
Clay Sears/SC Public Radio

Small scale brewing operations like River Rat and Hunter Gatherer in Columbia are representative of the growing craft beer industry in South Carolina and nationwide. For this story we spoke with Kevin Varner, founder of Hunter Gatherer Brewing, about the laws he helped pass back in 1995 that gave brewers more freedom to run their operations. We also sat down with River Rat brewmaster Drew Walker, who talked about how brewers work to stay on top of such a rapidly changing industry.

Food maestros in our state continue to win national awards.  The most recent example is a Lowcountry chef who received recognition for two of her creations earlier this year at the 2018 Good Foods Awards in San Francisco.

Mike Switzer interviews Leslie Rohland, owner of The Juice Hive and Health Emporium in Old Town and the Cottage Cafe, Bakery, and Tea Room in Old Town, Bluffton, SC, who won the pickles category for her Shiso Leaf Kimchi and Low Country Kimchi.

Epworth Children's Home in Columbia will soon make available to the public a treat that its residents and visitors have enjoyed for decades: peanut butter ice cream, which has been produced at the home since the Great Depression.
Photo courtesy Riggs Partners, West Columbia, S.C.

For decades, Epworth Children's Home in Columbia has been well known in Methodist circles for two things: caring for children, and the unique dessert it has produced since the Great Depression: peanut butter ice cream.  The government sent the home large quantities of peanut butter to help give the children protein, and the cooks served it in every way they could think of, said Epworth President John Holler.   In those days, the home had a dairy, so someone suggested  trying to make ice cream with it. 

photo of a roasted, whole turkey
Tim Sackton [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

(THE CONVERSATION) - 'Tis the season for giblets, wattles and snoods – oh my. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans consume about 68 million turkeys – one for about every five of us. In fact, 29 percent of all turkeys gobbled down in the U.S. are consumed during the holidays.

photo of turkey
Ryan McDonough [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

(THE CONVERSATION) - Intensive livestock farming is a huge global industry that serves up millions of tons of beef, pork and poultry every year. When I asked one producer recently to name something his industry thinks about that consumers don't, he replied, "Beaks and butts." This was his shorthand for animal parts that consumers – especially in wealthy nations – don't choose to eat.

Christina Miles cools chocolate in a mold from her vat of liquid chocolate.  The Columbia chocolatier uses chocolate from Belgium and France to make her own unique candies, and hand-paints them with icing.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Chocolate is one of life's great treats for most folks.  Traditional, mass-produced chocolate candies have been enjoyed for generations, but lately, specialists have been making chocolates in South Carolina.  Columbia chocolatiers Christina Miles and Joseph Vernon have developed their own unique varieties of chocolates. 

(Originally broadcast 05/19/17) South Carolina native "Princess" Pamela Strobel ruled a small realm, but her powers ranged far and wide. Her speakeasy-style restaurant in Manhattan was for three decades a hip salon, with regulars from Andy Warhol to Diana Ross. Her iconic Southern dishes influenced chefs nationwide, and her cookbook became a bible for a generation who yearned for the home cooking left behind in the Great Migration. One of the earliest books to coin soul food, this touchstone of African-American cuisine fell out of print more than forty years ago.

These ladies have the responsibility of judging baked goods at the South Carolina State Fair, and they take their work seriously.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

(Originally aired in 2016) - Eating cupcakes, pies, cakes, and cookies is a pleasure for most folks, but for judges at the South Carolina State Fair, it’s also a responsibility.  Judges Laurie Aker and Mae Wells say because baking contestants work hard to prepare their entries, they should also be diligent in evaluating each entry to get the fairest (no pun intended) and most accurate result in determining winners.  Here they give their criteria for judging food, and for a judge’s qualifications.      Aker lists some common mistakes made by some cooks, and judge supervisor Brenda Turner tel

"S" is for Sanders, Dorinda [Sua] Watsee [b. 1934]. Farmer, novelist. After graduating from the segregated schools in York County, Dori Sanders attended community colleges in Maryland. Then, during the winter, she worked as a banquet manager. During the summer she worked on her family’s 200-acre farm and helped staff Sanders’ Peach Shed on US Highway 321. She had been writing for a number of years and in 1990, Algonquin Press published her first novel, Clover. The lyrical novel received rave reviews, won the Lillian Smith Book Award, and later became a made-for-television motion picture.

Pamela Strobel
Courtesy of Tim Sulton/Rizzoli

South Carolina native “Princess” Pamela Strobel ruled a small realm, but her powers ranged far and wide. Her speakeasy-style restaurant in Manhattan was for three decades a hip salon, with regulars from Andy Warhol to Diana Ross. Her iconic Southern dishes influenced chefs nationwide, and her cookbook became a bible for a generation who yearned for the home cooking left behind in the Great Migration.

Food tourists get good food and a history lesson during a food tour on Columbia's Main Street.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

While most folks know that tourism is one of South Carolina’s top industries, many do not know that food tourism is a growing phenomenon around the state.

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