Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Georgia On My Mind

I don't have a recipe to post, but wanted to give a trip report of my recent trip to the 'Land of Paula Deen' - Savannah, Georgia.

I first saw an ad in the back of Paula Deen's magazine for a Paula Deen tour. If you haven't checked out her magazine, you really should -- it's a beautful magazine with gorgeous pictures and excellent recipes. Rather than do a package deal I found lodging through VBRO-Vacation Rentals By Owner and found a condo in the historic district of Savannah very comparable to a hotel rate. The condo was originally a home built for an officer in the Confederate Army in 1852. It had all the modern amenities and was in a great location. It was across the street from Lafayette Square.

Savannah has 20 or squares which are like little parks within the city. One particular square is Chippewa Square. It is where the bench scene in Forrest Gump was filmed. Unfortunately the actual bench was just a movie prop, but the square itself was quite beautiful.

The condo was across the street from St. John the Baptist Cathedral. The bells were beautiful when they rang.

I went on the Paula Deen tour which was interesting. I had already read her book 'It Ain't All About the Cookin' but it was nice to see some of the places I had read about. The tour included lunch at her brother's restaurant, Uncle Bubba's. Uncle Bubba happened to be there and he was gracious enough to come in and take pictures and talk to everyone. True southern hospitality. The food was okay, not great. They served something called 'Low Country Boil' which was shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob. It reminded me of how we do crawfish down here in Texas but not quite as spicy.

A goodie bag was given for taking the tour and in it was a coupon to call ahead for reservations at Paula's Lady and Sons Restaurant. Typically people start lining up outside to get reservations and this little golden ticket helped you bypass all that. The restaurant is three floors and serves about 800 people per day so our tour guide told us. Right after you are seated, waiters come by with a hot hoe cake which is really good. That is followed by a warm garlic cheese biscuit. Oddly enough, even though Paula is the 'Queen of Butter', there is no butter on the table! The buffet consisted of Paula's famous fried chicken, pulled pork, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens, macaroni and cheese (the best I have ever tasted), sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas. There is a small salad bar also. After lunch the waitress comes with a tray of either No Yo Mama's Banana Pudding, Gooey Butter Cake, or Peach Cobbler. It was good southern cooking. There is a big store right next to the restaurant where you can shop while you are waiting. It is chock full of all things Paula. She is definitely on the marketing train!

Nearby Paula's restaurant is City Market where there are lots of little shops and restaurants.

River Street is a must see. There are cotton warehouses renovated into shops and restaurants. The street is paved with ballast stones that were used in the ships. There is a statue of a 'waving girl' who they say greeted the ships in the harbor.

Forsyth Park is a beautiful park in the middle of the historic district. It has a beautiful fountain. There are beautiful live oak trees and plenty of benches to take a rest. The houses surrounding the park are just beautiful too.

Dinner at the Pirate House was excellent. The restaurant got its name as it was the hang-out for the pirates back in the day. Supposedly some of Robert Louis Stevenson's book Treasure Island takes place in this house. There is a tunnel leading down to the river. The house is said to be haunted. One of their famous dishes is the Honey Pecan Fried Chicken. It is really good.

About 20 miles east of Savannah is Tybee Island. The Tybee Island Lighthouse has been around for over 250 years.

I was only in Savannah for 3 days. There is so much to see and do there. It was a beautiful city and the people were so friendly. True southern hospitality at its best.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Savannah Cheesecake Cookies

We celebrated Mother's Day on Saturday. I made lunch and fixed these for dessert. This is a Paula Deen recipe. I'm leaving Saturday for Savannah for 4 days. I'll be taking the Paula Deen Tour. I know she is a busy lady, but I would be thrilled if I happened to see her. These are really light and the crust is really good.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
1 stick butter, melted

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, brown sugar, pecans, and butter in bowl. Press dough into an ungreased 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

For filling, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar together in a bowl until smooth, using a handheld electric mixer; add eggs and extract; beat well. Pour over crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into squares before serving.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hot Sweet Garlic Pickles

We had a 'retirement' party this week at work. One of our best employees has decided to take a new job after 20 years. We were all pretty down all week because she is a big asset to our organization and will be greatly missed, although we are happy for her new opportunity. I made several goodies to take and we had a really nice spread. These pickles are a good accompaniment to just about anything and so easy to make but taste so good.


1 jar of sliced dill pickles
Granulated sugar
Peeled and sliced garlic
Tabasco sauce

You can use any size jar of pickles you like. Drain them well. Then start layering with pickles first, then some sliced garlic, then sprinkle 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on the size of your jar to just cover that layer. Sprinkle Tabasco sauce (about 10-12 shakes on each layer will do). Repeat until you have used up all the pickles. Turn jar over and it will start to melt the sugar and make it's own juice. Throughout the day keep turning the jar over. It takes about 3 days to get the full flavor, but you can really eat them once all the sugar has dissolved. Refrigerate.