We recently heard from Ann Dibble of Mount Pleasant as part of our quest to profile good home cooks in the Lowcountry.
"The best cook I know is Jenny Hane," says Ann, "... It would be hard to describe Jenny's cooking abilities, because she is outstanding in everything she cooks. ... In the 1970s, she and her husband (Julian Wiles, founder/ director of Charleston Stage) lived in an apartment on Greenhill Street downtown with a galley kitchen that must have been 12x5 feet with no dishwasher. The 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' meals that came out of there were unbelievable."
More about Jenny:
Name: Jenny Hane
Residence: Mount Pleasant
Family: Husband, Julian Wiles; daughter, Marianna (30); and son Nicholas (26).
Occupation: She taught for 36 years, retiring in 2012 after teaching 35 of those years in Charleston County. Wrote curriculum and taught for the Gifted and Talented (SAIL) program, and spent the last 27 years of her career at James B. Edwards Elementary in Mount Pleasant.
Q. You come from a line of farmers and cooks. Where is home base, and what kind of farming did they do?
A. Home base for both my husband and me is the little country enclave of Fort Motte, which is between Orangeburg and Columbia. My grandparents and uncles were all farmers. My father was the administrator for Calhoun County Health Department, but he had one of the biggest vegetable gardens in the county. He loved to share his produce, and I can remember him flagging cars down on the road to share his bounty.
My grandmother had her own cannery and produced pickles and relishes. She was especially known for her artichoke relish, known as Mrs. Hane's artichoke relish, which she started selling in 1918.
The family recipe is now being made and sold by my aunt's children and grandchild and it can be found online by googling Mrs Hane's Relish or www.mrshanes relish.com.
Q. In what ways did that influence you as a cook later on in life?
A. Of course, my father grew up helping with the cannery and he did lots of canning himself. He never liked to cook for less than 50. His barbecue chicken recipe was for 250 halves, and he called it "Spring Chicken," so named because he cooked them over an old set of bed springs. Nothing was ever in small batches, and occasionally my mother tired of the excess, so he would often hoodwink unsuspecting cousins to host and help with these projects. ... So I guess my love of feeding crowds and sharing food came from my father, as well as my wanting to seek out the freshest local vegetables and fish available.
My mother was a fabulous cook who had a home economics degree from Winthrop. She particularly loved having smaller intimate groups with a beautifully laid table. She always paid lots of attention to how the plate looked and planned her meals around all the food groups.
We ate three meals a day with all the trimmings, and I never remember a sandwich, aside from summer tomato sandwiches from the garden. ... She made fabulous desserts, especially chocolate pound cake with real fudge icing. So from Mother I get the love of setting a pretty table for a small group and enjoying serving courses from soup to dessert for a lengthy meal.
Q. What's your favorite Julia Child recipe? Why?
A. You just can't improve on her French onion soup, her beef bourguignon, her chicken fricassee. I basically incorporated her methods into what I already knew from the kitchens of my childhood.
I particularly love her later cookbooks, which were departures from the technically correct French methods dictated by her collaborator Simone Beck, in which Julia decided to not be a slave to her French training, but to find a way to allow American cooks to embrace her enthusiasm about the preparation and sharing of good food.
One of my family's favorite desserts comes from "Julia Child and More Company," the Bombe aux Trois Chocolats. It has a crust of brownie that is molded into a bowl while still warm, is filled with a chocolate mousse, and topped with a chocolate sauce and nuts and served with whipped cream.
Q. Have your cooking and ingredients changed over the years, and if so, how and why?
A. I now look for ways to make recipes healthier and sometimes quicker. For example, (for) the wild rice and sausage recipe, I now make using Seeds of Change packets of organic brown rice and brown rice and quinoa. They take 90 seconds in the microwave and shave off an hour or more of the prep time.
I also use chicken sausage in that instead of pork. I used to saute the veggies for that in butter but now use olive oil. Five years ago, we switched to a mostly fish-and-chicken diet rather than beef or pork, but occasionally we will have lamb.
I love the Abundant Seafood CSF ( Community Supported Fishery), where I can buy fresh fish caught by Mark Marhefka right off the boat at Shem Creek. I have learned so much about other types of local fish and that's been fun.
Q. It sounds like you and your husband have done a lot of entertaining around food over the years. Describe one of your most ambitious/adventuresome/memorable meals that you did.
A. The biggest and most extravagant meal Julian and I ever did was one we repeated for our joint families who all live in the Fort Motte area the Saturday after Thanksgiving ... We called it the Wild Game Thanksgiving and we had wild duck, saddle of venison cooked in Grand Marnier with a black currant sauce, doves in gravy, quail, fried brim from the pond, wild rice and sausage, bread made with wheat grown on the farm, pecan pies with pecans grown there, sweet potato pies with local sweet potatoes and once Julian's grandmother even fried a squirrel or two. (Not my choice of game!)
Q. What ethnic cuisine interests you most and why?
A. I love Middle Eastern cuisine and Indian. The flavors and spices are unique. Love cumin and turmeric and Moroccan spices. I enjoy curries and all the condiments. I have found that the curry sold at the Farmers Market in Mount Pleasant to be a wonderful thing to have in the freezer. It is a quick meal to add shrimp or chicken.
Q. My guilty food pleasure is:
A. My guilty food pleasure is chocolate. I try to eat only 72 percent and above, but love Julia Child's three chocolate bombe and a good chewy brownie is hard to beat. Coconut or almond macaroons are also a treat, especially if dipped in chocolate.
Q. People would be surprised to know I don't like:
A. Don't think there is anything I don't like except liver and sweetbreads. I know there is a movement afoot to utilize all of the animal, but I would never eat tripe, chitlins or scrabble or any of those things made with innards of animals.
All my life I have enjoyed cooking and sharing food and was lucky to be surrounded by a family who felt the same way. Cooking is a way to nurture. Love and care are expressed in the gift of food for someone else.
A few of Jenny's favorites
Jenny says Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt "is a non-negotiable ingredient" in these recipes:
Summer Squash and Vidalia Onion Quiche
Recipe for 2 quiches
6 to 7 medium yellow summer squash or more if smaller, sliced into rounds
2 medium Vidalia or sweet onions, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (or more) tablespoons butter
Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh dill weed (1 tablespoon or more to taste)
2 unbaked shallow pie crusts
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of cooked real bacon pieces
11/2 to 2 cups of grated sharp cheddar
3/4 to 1 cup of whole milk
Cook the squash in a steamer until tender. Saute the onions in the olive oil and butter.
Drain the squash in a colander and squeeze excess moisture out until it is fairly dry. Add squash to the pan of sauteed onions and coarsely chop with a spoon. Add Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, as well as fresh dill weed. (You may add a tablespoon or more of butter if you like.) Cool. You will need about 31/2 to 4 cups of this to make 2 shallow quiches. If your pan is deeper, it may make only one.
In a 325-degree oven, bake the shallow pie crusts (which have been poked with a fork) until barely tan, probably less than 7 minutes. You can use a store-bought pie crust or make one from scratch.
In a bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork, add the squash mixture, bacon and the grated cheese.
Pour into crusts. Cut a scallion lengthwise, leaving the roots intact and the green tops as well. Cut the green tops into smaller ribbons being careful not to disconnect them from the scallion. Arrange on top with the roots at the bottom and the green tops draping downward. Make sure that it is not sticking up or it will burn. Brush with a little melted butter.
Bake at 350 degrees until set and brown on top. Check often and if the crust is browning too much put aluminum foil around the rim. Serve warm.
To reheat, cut each slice and microwave each piece for 20 seconds.
This is basically the same recipe without eggs and bacon and there is no need to be so vigilant about draining it as carefully. The cheese is added just before serving and you can add a few bacon pieces and a feather of fresh dill for a garnish.
Summer Squash Soup
Follow the quiche recipe through the second step. Once your squash, sauteed onions, and seasonings are all in a soup pot, add 2 to 3 cups of low sodium, low fat chicken stock.
Use an immersion blender or a food processor to blend. If using a food processor, blend it first before adding the liquid.
Add a few tablespoons of butter if you are not concerned about calories and about 1 cup of milk.
Serve warm or cold with grated cheddar and a few pieces of bacon and a feather of fresh dill on top. Terrific with a summer tomato sandwich!
Wild Rice and Sausage
Makes 12 cups (freezes well)
5 cups of cooked brown rice (see cook's note)
1 pound mild sausage
1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped and sauteed in olive oil until caramelized
Olive oil for sauteeing
2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped
Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt
1 pound portabello or cremini mushrooms or a combination of wild mushrooms (Mepkin Abbey oyster mushrooms recommended)
2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup of loose wild rice
Better than Boullion chicken paste or chicken broth
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh parsley
Cook's note: Cook rice in steamer with broth done according to directions on bag of rice. (A quicker and healthier version I use now is 2 packages of Seeds of Change brown basmati and 2 packages of the Seeds of Change brown rice and quinoa. Each package takes 90 seconds in the microwave and this cuts off a lot of prep time. Available in a 6-pack from Costco or individually from grocery store.)
Cook sausage until nicely browned in a heavy frying pan, scraping up all the browned bits. Squeeze all fat out with paper towels.
After wiping out the same pan, add the chopped onions and celery with a bit of olive oil and saute until soft and caramelized. Season with a bit of Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt.
Slice and saute mushrooms in a little olive oil, Jane's salt to taste and add the chopped garlic at the very end, being careful not to burn it.
While this is sauteing, boil the wild rice in water, changing the water every 5 minutes. After pouring brown water off twice( use sieve as wild rice is too expensive to lose even a grain), bring to a boil a third time in 1 to 11/2 tablespoons of Better than Boullion chicken paste mixed with 3/4 cup of water or use 3/4 cup chicken broth. Cook covered until the grains begin to open. Drain if there is liquid left over.
Mix everything together. Taste for seasoning as the bouillon mix is salty; add Jane's Crazy Mixed -Up Salt if needed and freshly found pepper to taste. Top with chopped parsley. This can be placed in a casserole, stuffed in a Cornish hen or game bird, or served with any pork, beef or chicken dish.