Friday, February 22, 2013

Keep On Crunkin': The Southern Vegan Pantry

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts for my cookbook's social media campaign, cleverly titled "Keep On Crunkin'." My publisher, Book Publishing Company, and Vegan Mainstream have joined forces for this seven-day promotion filled with giveaways, contests, etc. I'm inviting you to get crunk with me! Every day, I'll share recipes, giveaways, and tips, and there will be a social media action that you can take on the 7-day Vegan Crunk Challenge for a chance to win a copy of my cookbook, another BPC cookbook, or a Cookin' Crunk apron!

All taking the challenge means is that you'll read along and cook along with me. If you don't have my cookbook yet, pick one up! You can even buy one right here on my site using the Paypal button on the right side of the blog.

At its heart, Southern food is really just comfort food. No matter where you grew up, you've no doubt had biscuits and gravy or tofu fried chicken or a heaping bowl of steamy macaroni and vegan cheese. You can make traditional Southern fare with some of the same common pantry staples you would use for, say, Midwestern cooking or New England dishes.

But there are a few items that you can use to make dishes uniquely Southern. Here's my list. As part of the Keep On Crunkin' challenge, I'll be "challenging" my readers to go out and buy something on this list if you don't already stock it in your pantry. Try something new!

1. Liquid Smoke
If I had to name one thing that should be in every Southern pantry, that would be Liquid Smoke. Southern cooks are known for sneaking bacon fat into just about everything, and that's because it adds a smoky flavor. But ain't no need for that! A drop or two of Liquid Smoke is all you need, folks. (Tomorrow, I'll be posting an ode to this lovely condiment, and I'll include my favorite recipe that uses Liquid Smoke).

2. Sorghum Syrup
Often confused with molasses, sorghum is uniquely Southern and it's not molasses. It's made from the sweet sorghum plant, while molasses is a by-product of the sugar cane industry. Both are packed with minerals and they can be switched out for one another in a pinch. But sorghum has a lighter flavor than molasses. It's perfect for drizzlin' over hot buttered biscuits. Hot damn.

Here's my Sweet Sorghum Cake from Cookin' Crunk

3. Cajun Seasoning
Every brand is different, but this seasoning salt is typically made with a mix of garlic and onion powders, celery seed, dry mustard, black pepper, and maybe a touch of cayenne. I prefer Tony Chachere's, and I sprinkle it over everything.

My Red Beans & Quinoa from Cookin' Crunk is loaded with Cajun seasoning!

4. Pecans
Pecans are native to the South, and you'll find little old men in pickup trucks selling big ole bags of pecans when they're in season. And that's not just a rural side-of-the-road phenom. I even see pecan farmers peddling their product at busy Memphis intersections. Eat them plain, add them to pies, toss some in a sweet bread, or chop and use as a coating for baked tofu or seitan.

The Dark Chocolate Tipsy Pecan Pie from Cookin' Crunk is LOADED with pecans! And booze!

There's a full Southern pantry section in my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk. But the above-mentioned items are my top faves.

Today's social media giveaway action: Have one or several of these items in your pantry? Take a picture and add it to the Keep On Crunkin' group board on Pinterest! (If you need access to the board, click here and email Vegan Mainstream). OR, if you don't do Pinterest, you can also get your name in the hat by adding a photo of one of these ingredients to Instagram using the hashtag #keeponcrunkin.

We'll combine the entries from Pinterest and Instagram and randomly select a winner later this evening for either a cookbook from those who pinned their item. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. CST.

In case you're wondering, day two's cookbook winner (from the Facebook contest) was Jess Feneeh! Congrats Jess!


MizzBzVegan said...

Have liquid smoke and Tony Chacherie's, which we mail to family members outside the south when they can't find it in their grocers. Sent info as requested for Pinterest access. Still unable to post there.

Caitlin said...

so interesting! i've never heard of sorghum syrup but definitely have heard of sorghum flour! pecans are my favorite nut and reason enough to move to the south for me! they are so expensive up here!

aimee said...

Love the southern pantry staples :-)

Trez said...

Thanks so much for your post and your blog. As a southern girl, the thing that tripped me up as a vegetarian, and will probably now as a vegan, is the craving for southern comfort food. Even though there are regional differences in some of what we eat, your recipes give me hope. Your blog makes me happy. Thank you!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

I can't imagine anyone having trouble eating Southern AND vegan if they have your cookbook!!
That said, I'm entering tonight's contest on Instagram because if I open a Pinterest account the Internet will have completely sucked me in and will own my soul. It's my one holdout....

xvavaveganx said...

I've never heard of sorghum syrup but it sounds interesting! I don't know why but I've never been into smoky flavors but I am a huge fan of pecans. I always have some pecans in my pantry ;)

Renard Moreau said...

[ Smiles ] Thank you for sharing that lovely vegan recipe!

bookwormbethie said...

i live in GA and i don't think i've seen Sorghum Syrup at my grocery stores :( i will definitely look for it though because my maple syrup habit it getting expensive ;) since i pour a bit on my homemade oatmeal each morning.