The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine - February

Here is February, the Canned Food Month, National Cook A Sweet Potato Day, the Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month, and the Hot Breakfast Month. With these month-long celebrations there is Oatmeal Monday, the second Monday of February, and the 3rd weekend of February is National Margarita 2eekend. Then Super Bowl Sunday is National Pork Rind Day (aka National Pork Rind Appreciation Day).

Have you figured out why I have mentioned all these holidays? You are right –except for returning the shopping carts, you can’t eat them but they do carry the food while you are shopping.

The main topic is for Canned Food Month. As you know, I have been an advocate for a stocked pantry. I went to the store for only two items out of all the recipes. And it was not a canned good.

Before I go any further, my wife asked about Valentine’s Day. I don’t make chocolate, which is the first item that comes to your mind when thinking about February. This is Celebration of Chocolate Month and the 14th is National Crème-filled Chocolates Day but you need to be a little more creative than believing just chocolate will be adequate to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Try looking at my article in the Feb. 2016 issue of the Alabama Gazette. My article is dedicated to an entire Valentine’s Day Dinner. As I said…” But now is the time to spend with just one other person, your significant other. The holiday this month is about love. If you are inclined to go out to a restaurant for a romantic dinner, fine! But if you want to spend a quiet evening at home and make it an expression of your feelings I am going to make it easy for you this month. Instead of advice, cooking tips and a few recipes, I'm giving you the recipes for an entire Valentine's Day Dinner.” Guess what? You cannot go to restaurant for a romantic dinner! You better start shopping.

My first recipe takes parts of three food holidays and makes a breakfast bar. I found this recipe in an issue of a San Antonio newspaper from 1974. The title of that article was “Breakfast Bars Get You Going”. It said you can make these on a weekend and can enjoy them all week! I got a kick out of the title for the recipe.

Old South ‘Lasses” Breakfast Bars

Makes up to 32 bars depending on size


1 cup softened butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed firm

2 eggs

½ cup honey

¼ cup dark molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large ripe bananas

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup flax seed

¾ cup rolled oats

¾ cup chopped dates

Powdered sugar


1) In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.

2) Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy.

3) Mix in honey, molasses and vanilla. Mash bananas and stir in.

4) Blend together flour, baking powder and salt: add to banana mixture blending well.

5) Stir in wheat germ (or flax seed) and rolled oats; then fold in chopped dates.

6) Spread batter in a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.

7) Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

8) Cool slightly, sprinkle with powdered sugar. When cool, cut into bars.

Next, we celebrate Canned Food Month. My pantry is stocked with an assortment of canned beans with different spices and types of beans. It is the same for the diced tomatoes and the corn. Since I had kidney beans and black beans in the recipe I opted to use Bush’s Pinto Chili Beans. Any bean will do, just make sure it is a can of Chili Beans, the spices add to the final product. I found a can of Fire Roasted Kernel Corn but I could not taste it in the chili. The original recipe called for a 15 ounce can of plain diced tomatoes but I used a 10 ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chilies.

Five Can Chili

Yield: 9 servings


1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 ounce) can Pinto chili beans

1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained

Chili powder, to taste


1) Wash hands with soap and water.

2) In a large pot, combine all canned ingredients. Simmer the chili over medium heat.

3) Add chili powder to taste and stir.

4) Continue to heat until heated thoroughly. There is not much liquid in the chili but it will thicken somewhat as it heats up. You may want to add a little more liquid (stock or water) to make up for using a smaller can of tomatoes.

The next recipe also celebrates Canned Food Month along with National Cook A Sweet Potato Day. The recipe seems long and involved but if you follow instructions outcome is a dense cake like cookie. With the addition of the frosting it is like eating a mini frosted cupcake.

Sweet Potato Cookies With Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe courtesy of Bruce's Yams


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Bruce’s Yams Cut Sweet Potatoes in Syrup, drained and mashed

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

8 oz cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (for frosting)

Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on frosting


1) In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl whisk together sweet potatoes, butter and granulated sugar. Add egg and vanilla extract.

3) Beat in flour mixture until well combined. Cover bowl with foil or parchment paper and refrigerate for one hour or overnight.

4) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

5) Using a medium cookie scoop, drop dough by onto prepared cookie sheets. Grease the bottom of a flat glass with butter and gently press cookie dough into flat disks about a half inch thick.

6) Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

For Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

1) Beat together cream cheese, butter, cinnamon and vanilla until well combined.

2) Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

3) Generously frost on top of each cookie and dust with extra cinnamon if desired.

4) Serve immediately and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

This next recipe is not celebrating a food holiday. It is aimed to all the parents and grandparents that are home schooling their children. It can be a fun activity or a lesson in cooking/reading and math/measurements. This is the recipe I had to go to the store to buy the two ingredients I did not have in my pantry. My pantry was lacking Animal Crackers and vanilla yogurt.

Animals in the Swamp

Yield: 4 servings


8 ounces vanilla yogurt

1 Tablespoon chocolate instant pudding mix

24 animal crackers


1) Wash hands with soap and water.

2) Combine yogurt and pudding mix.

3) Serve 1/4 cup of "swamp" to each child with 6 animal crackers.

4) Dip crackers into the "swamp" and enjoy.

5) Refrigerate any extra "swamp" within 2 hours and eat within to 3 to 4 days.

The ANIMALS IN THE SWAMP and the FIVE CAN CHILI recipes are courtesy of UNL Food from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. If you noticed in the directions, the first item is always wash hands with soap and water. You should instill this activity in your children every time they start an endeavor in the kitchen. It would even be better if you did, too!


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/16/2024 04:28