So, I’m from the south. Born and raised in Athens, GA, until I was cruelly uprooted to Minnesota at the tender age of ten when my dad got a job teaching at a small liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere. Now, it’s true that at this point I’ve spent more time living out of the south than in it, but there’s something about those first ten years that’s … what’s the word I’m looking for … oh yeah: formative. Which is to say that you can take the girl out of the south, but blah blah blah I still say y’all and dream of a vacation in Dollywood.
One place where my souther-tude comes out most consistently is in my reverence for white trash cuisine. If it’s cheap, bad for you, and just a little wrong, chances are I will love it. Boiled peanuts? Hell, yeah. Fried peanut butter and banana sandwich? Load me up. Bacon flavored anything? Sock it to me, baby. For my wedding to Mr. Squab, we got a country club in central Minnesota to make us fried catfish, cheese grits, and hoppin’ john. The event coordinator thought we were a little insane, but it was the best wedding food I’ve ever had. So when the time came to choose a theme for our recent Oscar party, white trash just seemed like the way to go. White trash cuisine makes excellent party food. Of course, a lot of the food was bought ready-made: Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies, Bugles and EZ cheese, Double Stuff Oreos, etc. But I actually made two dishes, and I thought I’d share them with y’all in the interests of promoting my heritage so it carries on after my early death from grease-related cardiac arrest. Enjoy:
Got this recipe from my sister, who currently resides in Knoxville, TN. Many people north of the Mason-Dixon line find the idea of combining corn and cream cheese in a cold dip a little off-putting, but trust me: once you try it, you won’t stop eating it until it’s goooooooone.
1 c. mayonnaise
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cans Mexi-corn (the kind with red and green peppers in it)
1 green onion, chopped
1 small jar pimientos
1 can chopped jalapeno peppers
1 T. seasoned salt
1 T. garlic powder
Mix cream cheese and mayo until well blended. Drain corn, pimientos and jalapenos and add them to the cream cheese/mayo mixture. Stir in onion, season salt and garlic powder. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with Fritos Scoops.
Chocolate Cheese Fudge
I adapted this from Paula Deen’s Just Desserts cookbook, which is just full of yummy southern treats. I knew I had to try this one, though, because hello! What’s more trashy than making fudge from Velveeta?!? And again: it sounds gross, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t taste better than any other fudge I’ve ever made. Fo’ real.
1 lb powdered sugar (that’s one bag or two boxes)
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 c. butter (2 sticks)
1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped pecans (optional)
Spray the bottom of a 9×11 pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, blend powdered sugar and cocoa, and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together cheese, butter, and chocolate chips, stirring constantly. (Mixture may not look smooth when completely melted, but it doesn’t matter.) Add vanilla and nuts. Pour the cheese mixture into the sugar and cocoa and mix until completely blended. (It’s a very stiff candy, so I recommend using a stand mixer if you have one.) Using a rubber spatula, press the candy evenly into the pan. Refrigerate until firm, and cut into 1″ squares.