Rhett's Southern pantry
One of things I like most about my friend Rhett is his love of all things Southern. He is fiercely devoted to his hometown of Charleston and will never live anywhere else. He doesn't want to. I, too, am a Southerner, but my loyalties aren't so strong. I left North Carolina as soon as I graduated from college planning never to return. 16 years later I find myself enjoying life in Chapel Hill — enjoying it very much — but I threaten to move far, far way on a regular basis. I think it's the way I'm wired.
Rhett's reaction to my recent blog post on pantry basics came as no surprise. He sent a brief list of things he thought I missed, things his kitchen never lacks. All of these items are very regional, very Charleston, very much like Rhett himself — and I thought it would be fun to share. What follows is a slightly edited version of his email, as well as my own input. Maybe you'll be inspired add a few items to your list of kitchen staples.
Rhett's Pantry Staples
Rhett: I drink it, yes. However, it does amazing things to pork, chicken, soups and chili; it's also great with chocolate and nuts.
Lynn: I don't drink it, but I keep a bottle of Maker's Mark my liquor cabinet. Friends (you know who you are) love the stuff, and I cook with it occasionally, using it to flavor ice cream, cake and hard sauce.
Rhett: Without buttermilk there is no reason on this good earth to make biscuits, cornbread, pancakes/waffles or fry much of anything. It elevates wild game to new heights.
Lynn: Agreed. And I like to drink it, something my restaurant coworkers back in Boston thought was particularly disgusting.
Grits and cornmeal
Rhett: These are the most under-rated food items in the world. They pair well with seafood, chicken, veal, and wild game (marsh hens with grits and gravy). Fried grits can be topped with anything from pulled pork to caviar and creme fraiche.
Lynn: I keep cornmeal from White's Mill in Abingdon,Virginia in my pantry at all times. Your comments have set off a shrimp and grits craving.
Rhett: Sue Bee is the Coors Light of honey — tasteless. Making the extra effort to buy local is more than worth it. It helps local farmers, the local economy, and provides many health benefits.
Lynn: Good point. I buy honey from Little Tree Farm in Oxford, NC. It's more expensive than nationally distributed honey, but worth it.