We're going to swing on the food pendulum today between extremes, starting from the healthy side.
A couple of months ago, Roper St. Francis Healthcare produced a small cookbook, "Heart Smart Home Cookin'." It's a compilation of favorite Lowcountry recipes that have been tweaked to cut calories, fat, carbohydrates and sodium.
The cookbook sprung from the Families for a Healthy Heart program. Begun in 2008, the program was aimed at encouraging healthier eating through education about nutrition and exercise.
A cook-off was held among three predominantly African-American churches in Charleston, North Charleston and Goose Creek, which produced the slimmed-down recipes in the book. Two of those recipes are featured below.
The book is $12 per copy or $10 when ordering two or more. Call 402-CARE (2273).
Macaroni and Cheese
2 quarts water
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces whole-wheat elbow macaroni noodles
1 tablespoon butter
1 can fat-free Pet or Carnation evaporated milk
1 tablespoon mustard
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, reduced fat, cubed
Bring water to a boil, add salt and macaroni noodles. Cook until tender. Drain in colander. Mix noodles, eggs, butter, milk and mustard together. Add cubed cheese to mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in baking dish.
Per serving: 102 calories, 95g protein, 4g fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 87g cholesterol, 8g carbohydrates, 289mg sodium.
Frozen deep-dish pie shell
1/2 pound each crabmeat, shrimp and imitation crabmeat
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup (1 percent) milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
Pre-bake the pie crust 6 to 8 minutes according to package instructions.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well-combined. Pour into pre-baked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Per serving: 509 calories, 42g protein, 25g fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 212g cholesterol, 24g carbohydrates, 1164 mg sodium, 1g fiber.
Now we'll swing back the other way, to a Southern, ahem, "delicacy" called liver pudding or livermush. It's also known as poor man's pate.
Actually, liver pudding or mush is a Carolina thing that spills over state lines somewhat. Traditionally, it's made with pig liver, head parts and cornmeal or rice, and often spiced with pepper and sage. The mixture is packed in blocks and wrapped in wax paper, or sometimes it's made as a sausage.
People eat it for breakfast, sliced and fried like a piece of Spam, or slap it between two pieces of bread like meatloaf and add mustard or mayo.
Shelby, N.C., has been celebrating livermush since 1987 with an "exposition," and you're just in time to catch the annual event. The 2009 Shelby Fall Festival, Livermush Expo and Art of Sound Music Festival will start Saturday at 10 a.m. Visit www.uptown shelby.org for details.
Few home cooks make liver pudding anymore. Retail sources also may be limited -- not every grocery store will have it -- but it is available. I made a couple of quick phone calls and found that Burbage's Meats in Ravenel and Doscher's west of the Ashley are two places that sell it.
Burbage's makes its own.
That's out of reach for Ann Singleton Beebe of Parma, Idaho, who was raised in the Lowcountry and is yearning for the foods of her youth. Ann may be able to order it online, but here goes with homemade. ... First some insights shared by readers:
Dan Atkinson of Providence e-mailed: "Liver puddin' is made all over the Southern coast all the way to Louisiana. In Louisiana, it is called Boudin. ... It originated from the slaves who had to make use of everything that could be food in a pig. It is usually cooked and eaten with grits and eggs and is substituted for bacon or sausage. Some people also eat it right from the package, cold, with bread or crackers. It is also made in block form as cheese is in other parts of the South, without rice."
Elizabeth Semken of Summerville writes, "Many, many years ago, when the weather first turned cold in the fall, we would butcher hogs and at that time make sausage and liver pudding. It was made from the livers, lean loin -- all cooked in a great big pot in the backyard while all the other parts were being prepared to hang in the smokehouse. Then when it was tender, we would take it from the pot, add seasoning and rice.
"Back then it would be put in casings just like the sausage and hung up in the smokehouse. It seems 70 years ago, it was safe to keep meat this way. This may not be what she is talking about, but I know we used to slice this and cook in the oven or on top of the stove and eat it with grits. I am over 80 years old now and it certainly brought back a lot of memories even if it is not the same."
Lynn Benton Bagnal of Edisto Island sent this recipe, given to her by her late father-in-law, Scott Bagnal of Manning. "He and my husband, Scott, raised hogs on our farm, Mims Hall, near Pinewood for many years. Everyone loved 'Grandaddy's Liver Pudding' and waited for the first kill, knowing that he'd make this delicious treat and share it with family and friends. It's not greasy and is wonderful when sliced, then fried in an iron fry pan. Serve with grits and sliced tomatoes!"
Grandaddy Bagnal's Liver Pudding
1 (12-pound) hog's head (check with a small meat packing company or butcher shop)
6 pounds pork or calves liver
4 pounds Boston butt ham
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups rice -- cook, then use in recipe
2 or 3 red hot peppers, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring all meat to a boil on top of range, then simmer until it can be slipped off the bones. Drain and cool. Remove gristle and any obvious fat. Grind meat and onion together. (You may use a food processor.)
Add cooked rice, peppers, and salt and pepper. Pack in glass baking dishes, 2 inches deep, and refrigerate. Freeze for up to two months what you won't use in two or three days.
Helen Miller of Summerville called attention to a recipe in "Charleston Receipts Repeats," attributed to Mrs. Bachman S. Smith Jr. Minus the hog's head, it is more approachable.
3 pounds pork liver
1 pound pork end loin pieces with bone and fat
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Water to cover
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 envelope gelatin, dissolved
Boil pork and liver with salt and pepper in water for 45 minutes. Cool. Remove bones and grind. Mix ground mixture, stock, cornmeal and gelatin. Put in loaf pan or several small containers and chill.
Who's got the recipe?
--Last fall, we celebrated October as Vegetarian Awareness Month in this column, thanks to a suggestion by Jean Spencer of West Ashley. Please send one or two of your favorite vegetarian recipes and we'll do another column again. We have only two weeks left in the month, so don't delay!
--A Charleston reader would like a variety of recipes that include leeks.
--Harriette Dodd of Round O requests a list of spices and their proportionate amounts to use in freshly ground pork sausage.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Teresa Taylor at 937-4886, e-mail email@example.com or write The Post and Courier, 134 Columbus St., Charleston, SC 29403.