Basic Southern Cooking Tips

Basic Southern cooking tips consist of more than the edict to "batter and deep fry it." While women of the South do have a certain reputation for fried chicken, custard pie and sweet iced tea, they also have a few tricks up their sleeves for healthy cooking with a Southern twist.

Sometimes the best fried chicken has never seen a pot of boiling fat. Oven-fried chicken ends up with half the calories and all the finger-licking goodness. Simply dip chicken pieces in a mixture of egg and milk, then in flour. Repeat the egg and milk, then roll the chicken pieces in breadcrumbs. Arrange on a lightly greased baking pan, and cook in a 350-degree oven until the juices run clear and the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Sweet tea doesn't have to be high in sugar-substitutes like Stevia and Splenda work just fine. The trick is to dissolve the sweetener in a little almost-boiling water before adding it to the tea -this allows it to mix in smoothly and not leave a sludge at the bottom of the pitcher.

A gas stove is the secret to the best cream pies. An electric stove shuts on and off, stopping the relay of heat to the bottom of the pan at inconvenient moments. With a gas element, you can get the temperature just right, and your custard will come out perfect every time. Never, ever put a cream pie in the icebox before it is cool! That's a sure fire recipe for failure and a runny pie.

Southern hospitality is an important ingredient for Southern cooking. Always make enough for a few more so you can invite unexpected guests to stay for dinner. Keep fresh baked cookies handy for drop-in visitors, and offer coffee, tea or milk. It doesn't take a lot of effort to become the epitome of a perfect Southern cook and hostess!

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