Main Course--Summer Vegetable Soup with Cornbread
I've written frequently about the huge vegetable gardens my family raised when I was growing up. We needed to grow enough vegetables to feed the family from early spring through the fall with enough left over to can and freeze for the winter. By mid-summer our garden would be bursting with tomatoes, green beans,cabbage, corn, carrots, potatoes, green and hot peppers, and peas. Time to get out the biggest pot--usually a canner--and make Garden Vegetable Soup. This was not fancy food. My mother would just chop up all these vegetables at one time and fill the pot with water and let everything simmer together for several hours. No meat, broth, herbs or spices were needed. What she ended up with was pure vegetable essence in a bowl.
In the south the side for vegetable soup has to be cornbread. It must be made from a coarse ground white cornmeal, buttermilk and bacon grease. Absolutely no eggs or sugar went into our version of the southern bread. The cornbread had to be baked in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet so that you'd get this deep brown crust and the "pone" could be turned out on a plate. The plate was passed around and everyone broke off a piece of southern deliciousness--no cut wedges at our table.
Dessert--Southern Coca Cola Cake
My recipe for this southern classic is written on a blue spattered index card and I've used the same recipe for over 40 years. You'll find the recipe in most of the church, women's and homemaker's cookbooks that are common in the south. It is much loved for its simple ingredients, ease of preparation, moist texture. But it's the frosting that keeps the fans coming! Think crackly soft chocolate fudge bumpy with pecans and coconut, poured over the cake while still warm. The star ingredient is Coca Cola in both the cake and frosting, the southern classic drink invented by an Atlanta druggist in 1886.
Here's the recipe: Coca Cola Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 pan with butter, dust lightly with cocoa powder.
2. Combine 2 C flour, 2 C sugar
3. Heat to boiling: 2 sticks butter, 3 T cocoa, 1 C coca cola
4. Pour over dry ingredients
5. Add 1/2 C buttermilk, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp. soda, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1&1/2 C miniature marshmallows.
6. Bake for 45-50 min. Cool slightly and frost.
1. Heat to boiling: 1 stick butter, 1-2 T cocoa, 6 T Cola
2. Pour over 1 box confectioner's sugar. Beat until smooth.
3. Add: 1/2 C coconut, 1/2 C chopped pecans, 1 tsp. vanilla
4. Pour over cake. Frosting will set as it cools.
So, there you have it, Ms. M. Garden Vegetable Soup, Cornbread and Coca Cola Cake would be my dream guilt free menu any time of the year. And, I just have to mention this. All my dogs LOVE vegetable soup, too. They enjoy theirs over dry kibble, not with cornbread! Now scoot over to The Misanthrope's place to find out what everyone else craves.
(Photo credits: all from google. The cake is from Road Food.)