Monday, March 16, 2009

Cross Creek Revisited

Last August, on the birth anniversary of Pulitzer Prize winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, I not only shared some highlights of Cross Creek Cookery I also gave visitors a "taste" of a few recipes. (see resources) Today, March 16, the day Cross Creek was published in 1942, I long to revisit Miz Rawlings' bustling kitchens with a few additional recipes from Cross Creek Kitchens.

Cross Creek Kitchens

Cross Creek Kitchen
Written by then Florida State Park Ranger, Sally Morrison and illustrated by noted artist Kate Barnes, a resident of Cross Creek, Cross Creek Kitchens; Seasonal Recipes and Reflections (1983) is a collection of "delightful tales" and unique recipes beautifully illustrated from the land of orange groves, towering oaks and cabbage palms. The recipes were tested in the kitchen of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' home by Ms. Morrison who was once caretaker and curator at the historic home. Recipes include Barbecued Herb-Smoked Turkey, Oyster Pie, Grapefruit Biscuits, Sweet Potato Salad, Lemon Okra, "Soppin Shrimp", Spicy Slaw, Wild Orange Pie, Gingerbread Waffles, Banana Cornbread, Stuffed Eggplant, Okra Pickles, and Blueberry Lemon Jam, just to name a few of the more than 150 generous recipes. Nested within the pages, Sally, known regionally as "some incredible cook," and Kate bring to life the melting pot of cultures, seasons, and traditions from the halcyon days of the community memorialized by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
From the Prologue:...As a tour guide for the Florida Park Service, I once lived in the Rawlings farmhouse, and today I still cook and garden there to show visitors what rural Florida was like fifty years ago. As I tend the woodstove in the Rawlings kitchen, I listen to their response. People long for the tranquility and serenity they find here. The fragrance of wood smoke and bread baking attracts visitors to the kitchen and seems to summon up a yearning for a less hurried life and for the incomparable taste of fresh food. Many eye the garden wistfully, envious not only of its yield, but also of the self-sufficiency and independence it provides...While living at the Rawlings house, I made friends with my neighbor, watercolor artist Kate Barnes. Our friendship began appropriately enough, with an exchange of homemade breads. Before long, we were swapping garden vegetables, homemade jams, and original recipes. A friend suggested, half seriously, that we set up a roadside stand and go into business selling produce, pies, and preserves...Instead, the two of us decided to share our fondness for life at Cross Creek and of "cooking with the seasons" through a cookbook...Forty years ago, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote her own cookbook, Cross Creek Cookery, which has long influenced my southern cooking. However, Marjorie's cookbook emphasized "company fare-on the rich side and not recommended for daily consumption."...we offer this lighter, more contemporary version of Florida cooking as a companion to the earlier regional classic. Sally Morrison, September, 1983

Have you ever strolled through the pages of a cookbook relishing the journey as well as the heart-warming recipes? Cross Creek Kitchens whisks you away to a captivating time where the trees peek through the pink horizon and the sandhill cranes congregate in the hayfields. Where the celebration of spring begins in February drifting along Orange Lake in their canoe, the authors catch glimpses of the osprey as they dive for fish, while munching on Southern Pecan Granola. Here's the recipe, which by the way, I didn't find anywhere on the internet.

Southern Pecan Granola
12 cups rolled oats
1 cup unprocessed bran
3 cups chopped pecans
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup light oil
1 cup can syrup or light molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a very large bowl, mix oats, bran, pecans, and coconut. In a saucepan, mix oil, cane syrup, and honey and heat until warm and well blended. Do not boil. Stir in vanilla.
2. Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix thoroughly. Spread mixture 1/2 inch thick on greased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 10 minutes, turn in sections and bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on waxed paper. Sore in glass jars. Makes about 18 cups.

I'm not quite sure whether it's because I know we will be celebrating another Pecan Day on March 25th or perhaps, I'm just in a pecan state of mind. (I've been snacking on all kinds of wholesome nuts these days while trying to improve my diet:) Whatever the reason, I just couldn't resist these two recipes; Gary's Butter Pecan Bread and Orange Pecan Coffee Cake.

The pecan trees in the Rawlings grove usually bear a good crop every other year. We harvest the nuts in the fall and store them in the pantry for a few weeks to improve their flavor. Then, while sitting by the fire, or on the porch during the rain, we shell the pecans. We save some for pies and freeze the rest to last through the year. (Cross Creek Kitchens)
Pecan Recipes
Pecan Recipes

1. Exploring Cross Creek Cookery (recipes for Black Bottom Pie & Mother's Almond Cake)
2. Famous Floridians: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
3. The University of South Carolina Rare Books Exhibition
4. Cross Creek Tea Blend (recipe)
5. Pecan Day (previous post)
Revised: Feb. 2015


  1. Its been 24 years since I ate pecans... that's when we returned to India from NY for good. Recently I asked a friend to bring me back some... and she said the price was exorbitant. I used to love these cookies called Pecan Sandies when I was a kid.

    I enjoyed reading this bit as well.

  2. It didn't occur to me until I read this post that I know nothing about the regional cuisine of Florida. I'll have to go over to the cookbook collection in the library and do some reading. :)

  3. Down here, we're all about pecans!

  4. oh, yum -- I have been mulling over the idea of making my own granola, and that's just pushed me over the edge :) mmmm, pecans!

    I will have to try some okra pickles later this year when the farmer's market is overflowing with them, too!

  5. Hi Raaga,
    I too have fond memories of Pecan Sandies. When I was a teen, I often took trips to Florida in my aunt's camper. There were always bags of pecan sandies for munching on and dare I say, when we were singing and munching, the sandies sprayed all over the camper:) I'm surprised pecans were so expensive. Most recipes only require about 1/4 of a cup.

  6. Hi there Adele,
    There are many regional Florida cookbooks worth delving into. See if you can find Cross Creek Kitchens and another good one is Key Kookin' by Glad Whiteley. I had planned on celebrating Florida statehood this month but alas, it completely passed me by. Perhaps, next year:)

    Did you know some of the first pecan tree were planted right here on Long Island????

  7. Hi Erica,
    I've heard this granola recipe has been called sinful! Now, doesn't that just make the desire all the more tempting. If you want the recipe for the okra pickles, (called okra creole in the book) email me and I will send it right off. Heck, here it is straight from the book:
    7 cloves garlic
    about 3 lb.s of small okra (1" to 3")
    7 sprigs dill
    1 quart distilled white vinegar
    1 cup water
    1/2 tsp. salt (pure granulated or kosher)
    Sterilize 7 pint jars. While still hot, place 1 clove garlic, 1 sprig dill, and 1 hot pepper in the bottom of each jar. Pack with okra.
    Bring vinegar, water, and salt to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Pour immediately over okra. Follow standard canning process. (Important: contact your county extension office)
    Makes 5 pints.
    Author's note: Whenever I made okra creole, I'm reminded of an evening when I served it to a few friends at the Rawlings house. Crickets hummed on the night air. A single lantern illuminated the round wood table where we sat on deerhide chairs. The road was quiet, and a barred owl called. I served the creole with cornbread, white wine, and for dessert, pear pecan pie.

  8. Yummm,pecans. Now you have me wanting to get some. I need to make my own granola.

  9. Try the granola on the 25th, Courtney, It's Pecan Day!!!!


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise