Whole meals have been planned around themes in the South for decades. Fish Fries, Oyster Roasts, Barbecues, Chitlin' Fries, Corn Roasts, Watermelon Cuttings. One which COULD be put together, I suppose, though it might take on the legendary horrors of The Grape-Nuts Chicken debacle, is a Co-Cola meal, since there are so many recipes which feature the Born-in-the-South-Beverage:
There's CO-COLA SALAD:
Tall can of black cherries. Pour ½ cup juice into measure. Discard rest of juice.
Open a Coke and pour into cherry juice up to 1 ½ cup line.
Cut up half a block of Philadelphia CC into small pieces and set aside.
Bring liquid to a boil in a pan; add a large Black Cherry Jello. Stir to dissolve, then stir in Cream Cheese bits to dissolve. Stir in a tall can of crushed pineapple and the cherries. Let sit in fridge to cool; stir once to distribute fruit throughout Jello. Pour into serving bowl or lightly-oiled loaf pan. Chill til firm. (A half-cup or so of chopped pecans would not go amiss in this salad, either).
On the day that Elmira made her special "Ice Cream Salad" at the Corner Caffay, the place was filled, and late-comers mournful when the pans ran out. Instead of the cream cheese, use a nice-sized scoop of ice cream, vanilla or Cherry Nugget, and pour coke into juice up to 1 1/4 cup line. Melt ice cream in hot Jello mixture, then finish as usual. She always made this in loaf pans, to slice and serve on a lettuce leaf.
CO-COLA BAKED HAM
Buy a nice five-pound bone-in butt portion of fully-cooked ham---Hormel and Armour never steer you wrong.
Unwrap, take off the little plastic covers from the bone-ends, and put it in a 9x13 or whatever baking pan will hold it and the juices nicely. Pour a can of Co-Cola over the top, cover with heavy-duty foil, sealing the edges tightly under the pan rim.
Bake 3 hours at 350. When time is up, take off foil. (If you’re gonna cut those fancy diamonds into the ham, the time is now---no cloves---that makes the Fairies cry).
Mix up a cup of brown sugar, 1 t. of Coleman's dry mustard, and a couple of tablespoons of the drippings. Spread mixture over all the top of ham, rubbing it in with a rubber spatula. Put it back in the oven for 30 minutes, let it rest at least 20, slice and serve, hot, warm or cold.
And save that wonderful “Pan Likker” for those who like it, or use it in a big pot of snap beans along about Wednesday with whatever ham is left on the bone.
Oven 350---Pam a 9x13.
1 Stick Butter
1 cup Coke
Big handful of Miniature Marshmallows
1 Square Baker’s Chocolate
Heat in pan and stir until marshmallows and chocolate are melted. Cool to room temp.
Sift into bowl and set aside:
2 1/3 c. Flour
1 t. Baking Soda
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
3/4 c. Cocoa
1/2 t. Salt
Beat with mixer in large mixing bowl until creamy and sugar is dissolved:
2 c. Sugar
1 c. oil
2 t. Vanilla
3/4 c. Buttermilk
Beat in half of flour mixture. Pour in the cooled chocolate mixture and beat well. Add rest of flour mixture and beat until well mixed. This is a thick batter.
Pour into pan, smooth top, and bake 40—45 minutes. Use a skewer in the center to test---should not be shiny wet, just moist. Cool on rack til almost cool, then pour on frosting.
1 Stick Butter
1/2 c. Cocoa
¼ c. Hershey’s syrup
A box of Powdered Sugar
1 t. Vanilla
Dash of salt
Coke, as needed for thinning
A cup of toasted pecans, chopped
Put half of sugar into mixing bowl.
Melt butter in pan; stir in cocoa to dissolve and begin to smell like FUDGE. Stir in syrup and pour over sugar in mixing bowl. Beat until well mixed, then beat in half of remaining sugar, then the rest. Dribble in a few drops of Coke until frosting is “how you like it” for spreading. Stir in pecans.
Pour and swirl over almost-cooled cake. Let sit until frosting firms up a bit before cutting into squares. (Mark off the squares with a pecan half in the center of each if you like). 3x4 in the pan will give you a dozen pieces.
If you don't feel like cooking all these convolutions on a theme, here's a real time-saver:
THE BEST CO-COLA RECIPE KNOWN TO MANKIND:
Fish an icy Co-Cola out of an ice-filled cooler. WHISSSSSPP off the cap and take a cold, burning swallow. Hold Coke in left hand. Pick up a crinkly package of Planters’ Peanuts in other hand, lift to mouth. Use eyetooth to tear a teensy slit across top of bag. Grasp loosened flap in front teeth and rip from package. Give the tiny wisp of cellophane a little PUH into the air as you proceed.
Now, sliding your hand up around neck of bottle, ease your fingers up to make a cup around mouth of bottle. Pour peanuts from package into finger-cup funnel into bottle. Listen to the satisfying hiss as the salt meets the CO2; inhale the unmistakable scent of Summertime. Just as foaming subsides, lift bottle to lips, tilt head back, and pour in a nice cold swallow of Coke, filled with the rich salty peanuts.
Chew peanuts, swallow Coke. Putcha feet up. Contemplate Life.