Southern by birth, I've since defected.
I live so far north, I'm almost Canadian. The longer I live in my beloved Kuyahoora Valley, however, the more I appreciate my Virginia roots.
Immigrating from Northern Ireland in the 1700s, my mother's ancestor, William Blair stopped along the James River outside of Richmond, Virginia, and there he stayed. The Blair clan flourished, and made the south-central area of the Commonwealth their home. Even today, the Blair Family Reunion is held every Father's Day weekend near Gretna, Virginia.
My mother grew up and went away to college in nearby Raleigh, North Carolina. She met my father, who was in medical school at Duke University, on a blind date and the rest is history.
Over the years of my childhood, we moved from California, where my father was stationed as a Navy physician, to Oregon, where I grew up. Eventually, as I graduated from college in Tennessee, my parents relocated to their old stomping ground of Raleigh, and they, my sister, and I all settled down to live in the South together.
When my husband and I moved our family north, I had lived in the south for 27 years. So, not only is my gene pool solidly Southern, I spent many formative years there soaking in the culture, history and food. Moving forward into my future in the north, I'm happy to bring those wonderful Southern bits with me, especially the food.
No surprise there.
Thumbing through my recipe box, I happened upon a card I clipped out of The Raleigh News & Observer, back in the early 90s. This daily newspaper has a strong food section; I always enjoyed their pieces, which were usually interesting and helpful. Like most parts of the U.S., North Carolina has wonderful small farms, as well as larger agriculture operations, who supply the dynamic restaurant and Foodie scene throughout the state. North Carolina is among America's top pork producers, achieving that ranking with commodity farms located in the rural southeastern part of the state. BBQ is king in NC, along with other pork products, and over the past many years, smaller, organic and heritage hog farms have flourished, providing options for all consumers.
I love living in the north. The seasons are wonderful, the people relaxed and friendly, the towns and villages small with lots of elbow room. The food scene is loaded with diversity, and supports countless area growers and producers.
I'll always be Southern. But north of the Mason-Dixon line, life is pretty sweet. Just a bit colder.
The Rediscovered Recipe Box #22- Honey Mustard Ham With White Bean Spread
1/2 pound baked honey ham, cut into small pieces
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained, rinsed and drained again
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 medium clove garlic, peeled and finely minced or put through a press
10 grindings fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
Put ham into a food processor and pulse to chop finely. Add beans, mustard, Tabasco, garlic, pepper and 2 tablespoons chives. Pules to combine into a rough spread. Spoon into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before using. Sprinkle with chives and serve with crackers.
Makes 2 cups.