Mama Perry’s Coconut Pie

Published in Carolina Country Magazine May 2019

Pie. Simple pie.  That’s what this pie is, and even makes its own crust!

My paternal grandma Perry (“Ma Perry”) was a simple country farm lady, who cooked what was in the garden or pantry she’d put up. Good simple food. I don’t have a lot of memories since she died when I was only 12, and hadn’t yet realized my passion for cooking. But I do have a few memories, like the plate of biscuits with molasses and soft butter that was always the centerpiece of her kitchen table.

I also have memories of her cracking fresh coconuts and grating the delicious meat inside. Yet to this day, I don’t recall ever doing that myself.  This is her coconut pie recipe she made so many times, and one I included years ago when I complied a Perry Family cookbook.  The recipe makes 2 pies, but I added a little twist and sometimes make in a mini muffin pan for little bite-size pies. Those are perfect to “make and take” when headed to a pot luck, family or church reunion, when folks eat a lot and want “just a little something sweet” to end their meal. Or where there are lots of goodies to pick from… and folks want to try a little of this AND that.

With Memorial Day ahead, you can make these pies, full or mini size, to add to the table… and make quicker than you can go buy some old store bought dessert (and save money too).  Surprise your guests or hostess with my Mama Perry’s Coconut Pies.  You’ll be glad you did!!

PS:

What is sweet milk?

Sometimes you might come across a vintage recipe like this one that calls for “sweet” milk. This is nothing but regular white milk. Back in the day, milk was referred to this way to delineate it from the other most frequently used milk, buttermilk. So if you come across an old family recipe that calls for sweet milk, just grab your plain old milk and cook!

Mama Perry's Coconut Pie

My grandma made many a pie raising five children in Franklin County long ago … a proper meal wasn’t “fit’n” without dessert! I remember her cracking fresh coconuts and grating them, especially for her cakes, but you don’t need to do all that. This recipe quickly makes two pies, or use mini muffin pans for bite-sized treats for snacks and parties.

Course: Brunch, Dessert, Pie
Cuisine: American, Southern Desserts
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup self rising flour
  • 2 cups sweet milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10-14 ounces grated coconut, sweet or unsweetened
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Mix all ingredients and pour into two 8" pie plates. Bake for about 40 minutes until solid in the center.

Recipe Notes

What is sweet milk?

Sometimes you might come across a vintage recipe like this one that calls for “sweet” milk. This is nothing but regular white milk. Back in the day, milk was referred to this way to delineate it from the other most frequently used milk, buttermilk. So if you come across an old family recipe that calls for sweet milk, just grab your plain old milk and cook!

Orange Marmalade Steak & Chicken Kabobs

 

 

Published in Carolina Country Magazine May 2019

We don’t let a little thing like winter stop us from firing up our grills here in North Carolina, but now that spring has sprung, some of us cook on our grills (NOT on a “BBQ!”) nearly every day.  Few things come close to the satisfying flavors of juicy meat, with a light coat of “char” (aka “almost burnt”)… enjoyed on the patio or porch, swatting gnats and skeeters… cold beverage close by!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big citrus fan, most especially orange, and request slices of orange in my tea when out… no lemon please!  Most of my friends do this now too!  So you will find many of my recipes to be orange (or lime) inspired.  Like these kabobs.  Citrus just brightens up anything it touches, and for me, pairs well with a bit of char.  

Sometimes, it’s hard to decide whether to do chicken, pork or beef. So for this one, I decided to fix one sauce that could go both ways for poultry and meats.  I used beef this time, but this will also pair beautifully with pork.  And this way, you can please everybody in the crowd by serving some of both.

Be sure to throw together some of my Dilly Grilled Potato Salad too… a simple side that will go well with most everything.  

Comment below or jump over to my facebook community and tell us what you think!

Orange Marmalade Steak & Chicken Kabobs
It’s springtime, and we’re ready to savor warm sunny days and good food with good friends. This simple marinade with a twist for both steak and chicken is sure to please. Remember to soak wooden skewers in water for at least one hour to prevent burning.
Course: Appetizer, Fun Food!, Main Course
Cuisine: Grilling, Summer Food, Tailgating
Keyword: kabobs
Servings: 8
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. sirloin
  • 2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup thick steak sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Texas Pete hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup spicy mustard
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 bag sweet peppers, optional
MARINADE:
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 16 ounce jar orange marmalade
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut sirloin and chicken into 1½-inch cubes, trimming fat from chicken. Combine all marinade ingredients. Separate half of marinade for beef and half for chicken.
  2. Add steak sauce to beef marinade. Pour over beef. Add Texas Pete and spicy mustard to chicken marinade. Pour over chicken.
  3. Refrigerate and marinate at least 4 hours.
  4. Preheat grill or coals to medium high heat.
  5. Drain and skewer meats. Grill over direct heat, turning as needed to lightly char, until beef reaches desired doneness and chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  6. Halve oranges. Add whole sweet peppers and orange halves (cut-side down) to grill and cook until lightly charred. Squeeze grilled orange juice over kabobs and serve.

#GotToBeNc produce  #EatLocal  

Dilly Grilled German Potato Salad Packets

 

Published in Carolina Country Magazine May 2019

I’m all about things that can be fixed ahead so when it is time to entertain, the cook can enjoy the gathering too, and not be all busied by getting things ready.  Foil packets check that box!  My Dilled Grilled Potato Salad packets (my version of Grilled German Potato Salad!) are a side dish that will go alongside most anything… from meats, to fish and seafood… and they won’t take you much time to prepare… ahead of time… ready to throw on a hot grill for only 15-20 minutes.  Give this recipe a try, perhaps alongside my Orange Marmalade Steak and Chicken Kabobs.  

Hop on over to my facebook community and tell everyone what you think, and enjoy the party that goes on there!

Dilly Grilled German Potato Salad Packets

This savory, saucy potato salad is a tasty side dish for just about anything! Make these foil packets ahead and stack in the fridge to be ready to hit the grill.  It's my version of Grilled German Potato Salad! 

Keyword: foil packets, grilled potato salad, dill
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 2 heavy-duty foil sheets (or 4 regular sheets, doubled)
  • 2 lbs. red potatoes (with skin)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 slices uncooked bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup kosher dill pickle relish
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar or pickle relish juice
  • 3-4 tablespoons bacon drippings or oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • chopped fresh dill
Instructions
  1. Heat grill to medium-low.
  2. Coat foil generously with pan spray. Cut potatoes into ¾-inch cubes and divide among the two foil sheets.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients except dill. Spoon mixture over potatoes. Wrap and seal the packets.
  4. Place onto hot grill over direct heat; cover and cook 10 minutes. Check one packet for doneness — if needed, cook several more minutes.

  5. Remove from grill and let rest 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh dill.

It’s Asparagus time… Spring Green Veggie-Pasta Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Spring Green Veggie-Pasta Salad with Citrus VinaigretteFeatured in Carolina Country Magazine!   Salad   Dressing

 

‘Tis the season when we see asparagus literally “springing up” from the ground.  Folks usually either love it or hate it… 
Growing up, my mama (the non-cook as discussed before) could open up and drain a mean can of asparagus. Looking back, that was a kinda fancy food for her… a gal who would have been happy living on banana sandwiches. 

She did usually make a Hollandiase Sauce. That seems to be a very 50’s/60’s sort of thing and was going way outside the box for her. Sometimes it was nice and creamy as it should be, while other times, it would just be a big thick blob of white stuff. Didn’t bother her one bit, and we ate it.  I don’t ever remember her “cooking” any actual real fresh asparagus. That would probably have thrown her over the line as her culinary prowess didn’t reach that far.  It wasn’t until way later in life I was exposed to “real” asparagus and how delish it is.

I still keep cans of asparagus in my pantry.  It’s nostalgic for me. Sometimes, I’ll just open a can, drain it, and eat it right from the can.  All by itself.  It takes me back to the shit brown melamine bowls mama dumped ours in for the supper table.  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way!  OH, what I would give for her to be here to open us a can of asparagus and dig in!

So for those of you who do love asparagus, give this simple salad a try.  This vibrant make-ahead green salad is crispy, a little bit cheesy and exact measurements aren’t necessary. Citrus dressing is just right to let the salad ingredients shine too.  The salad will keep up to a week so you can easily make ahead.  It’s a great salad to take to pot lucks and would be nice on your Memorial Day cookout tables.

I hope you will make this… and give me some feedback on my facebook page!

Spring Green Veggie-Pasta Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
This vibrant make-ahead green salad is crispy, a little bit cheesy and exact measurements aren’t necessary. The salad will keep up to a week so you can easily make ahead.
Course: Brunch, Dressings, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Summer Food
Keyword: pea and pasta salad
Servings: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 20 ounce package refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups fresh sugar snap peas
  • 2 cups fresh snow peas
  • 1 bunch (about 1 lb.) fresh asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 13 ounce bag frozen sweet garden peas, thawed
  • 2 bunches green onion, sliced
  • sprigs of dill, sprouts or pea shoots for garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Remove from the water with slotted spoon into colander and let water continue to boil. Drain well and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil (to prevent sticking together) and refrigerate.
  3. Put sugar snap peas into the boiling water and blanch for about 2 minutes. Remove into colander with slotted spoon and cool with cold running tap water. Repeat blanching/cooling process with the snow peas, then asparagus. When snow peas have cooled to touch, slice into slivers. Blot all with paper towel then refrigerate several hours or up to 2 days before assembling. Blot thawed peas with paper towels to remove any moisture (but do not cook).
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine pasta with all peas, asparagus and onion. Garnish and toss with a vinaigrette at serving time.

 

Citrus-Dill Vinaigrette
This dressing is light and tasty over just about any vegetable salad or fruits with nuts. It’s so quick and easy to make, you’ll give up the bottle.
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed or preferred oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • several turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Zest fruits over small mixing bowl. Add juice and remaining ingredients.
  2. Whisk and cover. Dressing can be used immediately, but best if sits several hours or overnight (in refrigerator). Bring to room temperature before tossing into salad.

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats

Published in Carolina Country Magazine ~ February 2018

I do love cherries! Any kind of cherries, but most especially, maraschino cherries.  There’s just something about those bright red sweet little nuggets that take me back to my childhood in an instant.

I suppose my cherry affection is genetic. My Daddy Hocutt and Ma Hocutt, my mama’s mama and daddy, planted cherry trees in their back yard in Zebulon when they built their house back in the early 1950’s. It was only the 6th house built in the city limits best I remember them telling me. When I was born in 1958, they planted me a tree!  My Daddy Hocutt died when I was only 8 years old… he had a massive heart attack and they went off the side of a remote mountain road near Charlottesville, VA coming back from vacation in Washington, DC. He died then and there, and Ma Hocutt was torn all to pieces and was “invalid” the rest of her life until she died at 91.

Ok… so back to the story.  Every year, when the cherry trees would blossom, Daddy Hocutt would cover them with this gauze kinda cloth to keep the birds from eating our cherries!  He would let me help him do that. And I can remember waiting impatiently for “my” cherries to ripen so we could pull that cloth back and eat cherries until I had a stomach ache.  After he died, the trees all just wearied themselves away, but I do have a few short years of those memories.

We had a place in town called the Dairy Bar. One side served the BEST cheeseburgers, hot dogs… and milkshakes!  The other little room had a jukebox and bar stools where the cool teenagers would go hang out and dance. Daddy Hocutt would sometimes take me in there for burgers and a shake. 
Cherry Milkshakes!

Ma Hocutt loved a cherry milkshake too!  And after a few years of recovery from their accident, she was able to drive again. She would ride over the the Watkins Dairy Bar, just a few blocks from her house, and toot the horn. They knew she wasn’t able to get out and walk in to order, so they’d just make a cherry milkshake… and take it out to her!  If I went with her, I’d go in and order them… “2 cherry milkshakes please!”

They were in those big old waxed cups… white, with red lines around them and best I remember, hearts around the tops. And big ass straws! 
God I loved those things!  And to this day, still my favorite of all milkshakes, but it’s near’bout impossible to find a good cherry milkshake anymore!  

Did you know that Dairy Queen… yep, the Dairy Queen, doesn’t have cherries?
How in the hell can you have a proper sundae, or banana split, without a cherry on top?  Silliest thing I’ve ever heard tell of!  Cherries are a staple of such. 

Sooooo…  when coming up with ideas for the February issue of Carolina Country, my mind immediately went to cherries!  I also associate cherries with Valentine’s Day.  And I created some really yummy chocolate cherry truffles for Our State magazine years back too. I will have to throw those here on my blog soon too.

But for now, for my maraschino cherry brothers and sisters… I encourage you to make these rice krispie treats!  They are cherrylicious… fun to eat AND share. Grab some icing in those tubes and sprinkles and let your aspiring little culinarians get creative in decorating.
Y’all have a Happy Valentine’s Day too… I love you all for being here!

Wendy

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats
This twist on the tried-and-true Rice Krispies Treats® recipe is just in time to share with those you love on Valentine’s Day. It’s an easy recipe for the next generation of aspiring little chefs, too!
Course: Dessert, Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rice krispie treats
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 16 ounce bag mini marshmallows
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained & chopped (save juice)
  • 8 cup Rice Krispies® cereal
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, crumbled
  • decorating icing and sprinkles
  • heart shaped cookie cutters
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cherries and cereal.
  2. Using a buttered spatula, fold together until well combined. Pour out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread to about 1-inch thickness. Cool.
  3. Cut, decorate and dust with toasted almonds.
Recipe Notes

VARIATIONS:
Very Cherry Vanilla Treats
Make basic recipe, stirring in 2 tablespoons of red cherry gelatin powder.

 

Black Forest Treats
Make basic recipe, substituting chocolate Rice Krispies cereal. Stir 1 cup of milk chocolate chips in with cereal.

 

Cherry Juice Goodness
Wait! Don’t pour out that delicious drained cherry juice leftover from this recipe. Use in frostings, whipped cream or cake batter. A splash makes your hot chocolate into “Chocolate Covered Cherry” hot chocolate and will turn your cola drinks into fun cherry ones. Use to make lemon or limeade cherry ice cubes, too. 

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