Cooking Without the Cow

I have a dairy allergy. I digest it well enough but it gives me a headache, which is not fun. I do use a little butter, especially in baking, because margarine scares me. Cheese is such a prevalent ingredient in even vegetarian offerings that I have had to experiment with different dishes to come up with some staples that will work for my family. I hope you enjoy them, too!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Battle of the Belles (Sausage Rice)

Paula Deen of The Food Network and Hazel Smith of (the latter of whom would probably beat me up for referring to her as a "belle") crack me up. I mean, check out their recipes. I'm not saying they're not tasty - I'm sure they are. Southern cooking can be lovely. I'm a big fan of homemade fried chicken and have made collard greens and corn bread more than once. And to be honest, watching Paula always makes me smile and Hazel is a riot, from what I've seen of her. I would love to see a cookoff between those two. Hazel's Grated Apple Custard is just as yummy as you could want a five-ingredient pie to be. But the proportion of butter, cheeses, sour cream and/or pork fat to all of the other ingredients in the majority of their dishes is just shocking to my Yankee senses.

For example, I turned on the Paula's Home Cooking tv show near the end while she was extolling the virtues of her simple Sour Cream Muffins and thought I'd look up the recipe to see what she was rolling her eyes and swooning over as she took a bite. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the ingredients - self-rising flour, butter and sour cream. Yes, that's all, folks. I suppose her comment that these were one of the only things she didn't put butter on should have clued me in. Likewise, Hazel's Sour Cream and Noodle Casserole is basically ground beef, noodles, tomato sauce, cottage cheese, cheddar and sour cream. Easy, yes, but yowza! Do southerners eat like that all the time? If I were to use that much dairy and fat, it would be in something truly extravagant like Fettucine Alfredo or a fudge cake of some kind.

To be fair, I only know about these women because they are a great resource. They are home cooks who've been at it a long time and obviously enjoy it, which is the most important ingredient of all. I've looked up recipes of theirs when I didn't have a good southern starting point and then tried to make them more healthy, or at least more my own. I knew nothing about grits, traditional black-eyed peas, greens or hushpuppies, and now I can proudly say I've made all of those things except the hushpuppies (but at least I know what they are).

My own most artery-clogging dish is my Sausage Rice. It's similar to my Rice and Chicken dish but more spicy, fatty and comforting. I wonder if the belles would approve.

Sausage Rice

1 lb hot sausage, broken up
3 cups chicken broth
¾ C brown rice
¼ C wild rice
1 10oz package frozen spinach, thawed but not drained

Make sure the sausage is well broken up. Boil the broth, and then add the sausage, brown rice and wild rice. Return to a boil and then reduce the heat, simmering for 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the spinach and serve.

This dish would be a bit healthier if the sausage were cooked and drained first, but the final result is far less rich and flavorful.


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