Cooking - especially Southern dishes - feature big-time in Jenny's "Southern Fried Sushi" books, and everyone knows that the best Southern gathering place is around the table.

When people break bread together, they pray, talk, share stories, and make memories.

Jenny grew up watching her Mennonite relatives bake bread and cherry and apple pies from scratch, and after moving to Japan and then Brazil she had to pick up international cooking without much preparation... which included identifying squid in the grocery store (Japan) and figuring out how to peel manioc (Brazil).

Nowadays if Jenny's in the kitchen she's probably making her favorite Southern food--think deviled eggs and fresh sweet corn and collard greens. Years ago she spent kitchen time making traditional Brazilian food, which involves black or brown beans and rice plus copious amounts of bananas, making sure the chicken she bought doesn't include head or feet, or trying to figure out what to do with 18 mangos. (Really. This actually happened).

Jenny loves to cook. You can find some of her recipes (with photos) on her website, Glimpses.

And here are a few recipes from "Southern Fried Sushi" she'd like to share with you. If you've got a favorite Southern recipe of your own, PLEASE SHARE! PHOTOS WELCOME! Just send me an email or post on the main page, and I'll be happy to add it! 

Southern Fried Recipes
Faye's Chicken and Dumplings (from "Southern Fried Sushi")
(This makes a LOT!)
This is the one Shiloh and Faye make in Book 1 while Shiloh complains about her real estate agent. My mom and I made a simpler version of this growing up, too, without the parsley, egg, and other things.
  • 7 pounds cut-up chicken pieces
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In a large pot place chicken pieces and add the chicken stock, onion, celery and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Put heat on medium low and simmer, partially covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  2. To Prepare dumplings (or "wads," as Shiloh called them): In a large mixing bowl beat together the egg and milk. Add the flour, remaining salt and baking powder and mix all together. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly. Add 1 tablespoon of the parsley and mix. In 6 large spoonfuls, drop dumpling mixture onto the top of the simmering chicken. Cover the pot and let all simmer for 10 minutes more.
  3. To Make gravy: Remove chicken and dumplings to a large serving bowl. Cover and set aside, keeping warm. Strain the stock left in the pot, pressing out any 'veggie liquid'. Return stock to pot. Combine water with remaining flour, then stir into the strained stock. Bring all to a boil, stirring constantly, to thicken. Return chicken and dumplings to pot, combing all gently. Serve with remaining parsley.

Southern Sweet Tea a la Becky Donaldson (from "Southern Fried Sushi")
If you've read Book 1, this is the recipe Becky teaches Shiloh how to make while they watch NASCAR on a rainy Sunday afternoon. If you're Southern at all, even in spirit, you HAVE to learn how to make sweet tea! There's just no excuse. As Becky told Shiloh, some people put in two cups of sugar. Heavens! One is just fine with me.
  • 6 regular tea bags (choose a good old Southern brand like Luzianne)
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2-2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups cold water
  • lots and lots of ice
  1. In a large glass measuring cup, place the tea bags and add the baking soda. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags. Cover and steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Take out the tea bags, but don't squeeze them. Pour the tea mixture into a 2-quart pitcher and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the cold water. Let cool; chill in the refrigerator and serve over ice.
  4. Sit down and watch NASCAR. Yell a lot.
*Note: Baking soda makes the tea darker and takes out the bitterness. You can skip it if you want. You can't, however, skip the step about adding the sugar in the hot water. Unsweeted iced tea does NOT become sweet by adding sugar later on! You'll just end up with a cloudy, grainy mess at the bottom of your glass.

Tina's Lime Jell-O Salad (from "Southern Fried Sushi")
No Southern recipe collection is complete without Jell-O salad. I don't know how they do it. Nor do I want to. Whatever they put in that stuff is probably incredibly bad for you, but it tastes heavenly. It really does. I admit it. This is the Jell-O salad mentioned at Becky and Tim's cookout early in Book 1. 
  • 1 - 4 serving size Lime Jello (or any flavor you would like)
  • 8 ounce carton Cool-Whip
  • 16 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1 pint cottage cheese
  • 2-3 cups mini marshmallows 
  1. Put Cool-Whip in a bowl. Sprinkle dry jello over the top. Stir gently until all the Jello is dissolved.
  2. Drain pineapple and stir into the Jello mixture. Stir in cottage cheese and marshmallows.
  3. Chill in refrigerator for several hous or overnight.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
 From Jessica Swisher McGhee in Staunton, Virginia. I bet this would be great at Christmas!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 5 oz. semisweet OR 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan pieces
  • dash cinnamon 
  • 1 9" unbaked deep dish pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix eggs, sugar, corn syrup, chocolate, butter, and vanilla in large bowl. Stir in pecans. 
  2. Pour into pie crust.
  3. Bake on center rack of oven for 50-55 minutes or until pie appears barely set.
  4. Cool pie two hours before serving. 

Michelle's Broccoli and Rice Casserole
 From Michelle Thompson of Williamson, Georgia. We had this on our visit to Georgia about two years ago, and it was soooo good! And so quick to make! YUM!

  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 4 cups Minute Rice (cooked) or 2 cups uncooked
  • 1 package frozen broccoli
  • 1 small jar Cheez-Whiz
  • optional - 1 cup sliced water chestnuts

  1. Combine all ingredients and pour into greased casserole dish. 
  2. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Simple Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie
 This is the one we always grew up eating. My mom made it, and so did Aunt Lois and Aunt Esther. Sometimes I still crave it, even years later and miles away!

  • 4 pieces chicken breast
  • 1 pie shell
  • 1 can peas and carrots (or frozen cooked)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups broth (from chicken)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Filling: Boil chicken until cooked through. Let cool and break up into small pieces. Add peas and carrots.
  2. White sauce: Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and stir, then add chicken broth. Stir on low to medium heat until thickened, and then salt and pepper.
  3. While white sauce is still thick, pour into pie shell and bake at 350F for one hour or until crust is brown. 

Sausage Balls
OK, this is practically a Southern staple food! I've seen these at nearly every Christmas or Easter brunch or party as long as I can remember. So simple to make - and they're delicious! I have no idea where I got this recipe, but it's pretty standard. Can't wait to make these - or at least taste them - when we move back to the U.S.!
  • 3 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1 pound pork sausage
  • 4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients and shape into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased jelly roll pan.
  2. Bake until brown, about 20-25 minutes. Makes about 8 1/2 dozen.

Desirea's Potato Salad
 From Desirea Packard in Independence, Kansas. She writes: "Here's a fast and easy potato salad that is so yummy one spoonful won't be enough." Desirea is a photographer and writer, and you can find her at

  • 4 cups cubed cooked potatoes
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (I love hard boiled eggs so I used 4)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup sweet relish
  • 1 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  1. Combine salad dressing, mustard, celery seed, salt and pepper. Mix well. 
  2. Add potatoes, eggs, onion, celery and relishes. Mix well again. 
  3. Chill and then serve.

Cherry Fluff

 Again, no clue where I got this recipe, but it sounds delicious - and full of fat and sugar!

  • 1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well. Chill overnight. 

Peanut Blossoms

I know these cookies aren't exclusively Southern, but I saw them a LOT growing up as a kid in Virginia. My grandmother used to make them, and hardly a Christmas passed where someone at church or in the community didn't pile them on pretty plates. And for good reason: they're WONDERFUL! I just love the peanut butter-chocolate fusion. This recipe comes from Lori Sutherland, my good friend and (former) fellow Virginian, who said she got this recipe from her grandmother, too. Lori's a musician and librarian and lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup honey (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (can be natural peanut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • To top cookies: 48 chocolate kisses (about two bags)
    1. Preheat oven to 375F. Shape dough into balls using rounded teaspoon. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets. 
    2. Bake 10-12 minutes.
    3. Top each immediately with a chocolate kiss, pressing down firmly. Remove cookies from sheets and cool on racks. 

Beulah's Cheese Grits Casserole (from "'Til Grits Do Us Part")
 I LOVE grits. I mean, I LOVE grits. I've eaten grits ever since I can remember - white corn grits, of course, like most Virginians. My former college professor Jennifer Carlisle (bless her!) even mailed me a five-pound bag of grits from Georgia to Brazil.  In fact, I prefer waking up to a bowl of something salty (like grits) to something sweet (like cinnamon rolls) any day. In the last chapter of the third book in my series, Trinity mentions her grandmother making a great grits casserole, and this is it. I absolutely adore this one.
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits, dry
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 pound processed cheese, cubed (like Velveeta)
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce* (some people think this a little too much; you can put less if you want, or leave it out altogether)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  •  2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten 
  • dash black pepper  
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in grits, and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

  •  Mix in the butter, cheese, seasoning salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and salt. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and fold in the eggs. Pour into the prepared baking dish. 
  •  Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the top is lightly browned.

    Basic Southern Grits 

    • 2 cups water 
    • 1 1/4 cups milk 
    • 1 teaspoon salt 
    • 1 cup quick-cooking grits, not instant  
    • 1/4 cup butter 
    1.  In a small pot, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil.
    2.  Slowly stir grits into boiling mixture. Stir continuously and thoroughly until grits are well mixed.
    3. Let the pot return to a boil, cover pot with a lid, lower the temperature, and cook for about 30 minutes stirring frequently. Add more water if necessary.
    4.  Grits are done when they have the consistency of stiff cream of wheat (which I also love, by the way).
    5.  Stir in butter. 

    Garlic Grits

    • 1/2 cup grits
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 4 ounces Velveeta cheese, shredded (to taste)
    • 0.5 (6 ounce) garlic cheese spread
    • 1/4 cup margarine
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • garlic powder, to taste
    • paprika, to taste
    1. Cook the grits with the water and salt using package directions.
    2. Add the Velveeta cheese, garlic cheese, margarine and Worcestershire sauce to the grits and stir until the cheese melts.Taste and season with garlic powder for a stronger garlic flavor if desired.
    3. Spoon the grits mixture into a 1 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika.
    4. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly. 

    Best Ever Southern Homestyle Pancakes 
    These are the best pancakes, hands down, I've ever made. We have them about once a week - sometimes more. I sometimes lower the amount of white flour and increase the whole grains, and the result is always delicious. These don't taste dry and mealy like some whole wheat products - they're soft and flavorful and wonderful. The old white-flour version tastes pasty after eating these.
    • 2 cups white flour
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/4 cup wheat germ
    • 1/4 cup whole rolled oats (not quick cooking) 
    • 2 tablespoons baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 beaten eggs
    • 2 1/4 cups milk
    • 4 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
    1.  Mix dry ingredients together and then add egg, milk, and melted butter or oil. Stir just until blended.
    2. Fry in a small amount of butter on a hot skillet in small amounts, making slightly smaller circles than you might for traditional pancakes. (These puff up and spread out quite a bit).
    3. Stack up on a plate tented with foil to keep warm. I eat them with a little butter and some maple syrup - even the cheap Aunt Jemimah or Log Cabin stuff.

    Black Wacky Cake
    We made this all the time growing up! Winter says this recipe came from the Depression and thus uses no eggs or milk. Even so, it's deliciously light and fluffy. (A side note from Jenny: While giving some basic cooking classes here in Brazil, this simple cake won out over the other more complex chocolate cake recipe we made, which called for eggs, milk, sour cream, and other more costly ingredients).
    • 3 cups flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 6 tablespoons cocoa
    • one stick melted butter (10 tablespoons or 1/2 cup)
    • 2 teaspoons vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups cold water
    1.  Mix dry ingredients first, then add liquids. Beat until smooth.
    2. Pour into greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. 

    Corn Pudding 

    Wife and mommy Resa Armstrong says she found this recipe on the Viking (stove company) website around 2000. Sounds yummy! What would Southern food be without corn pudding?

    • 1 box Jiffy Mix Corn Muffin mix
    • 1 can corn (drained)
    • 1 can cream corn
    • 1 8 oz container of sour cream
    • 1 stick of butter (melted)
    • 3 eggs
    1. Mix all ingredients. Grease pan. Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes.

    Golden Sweet Cornbread
    I make this cornbread ALL THE TIME with chili, bean soup, and all kinds of things here in Brazil. We use fuba, a kind of yellow cornmeal, and the texture comes out pretty much the same.

    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 cup cornmeal
    • 1/4 cup white sugar (or a little less)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup oil (a little less)
    1. Preheat oven to 420F (200C). Spray or grease a round 9-inch cake pan. (I use a square glass baking dish).
    2. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Stir in egg, milk, and oil just until blended. Pour into pan.
    3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

    Spoon Bread
     From Kathleen Bruner in Richmond, Virginia. Spoon bread is also mentioned "Southern Fried Sushi" when they're eating at Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant. Kathleen says this about the recipe: "The instructions were sparse, so I'll add to them from my own experience that turned out perfect! I also put ingredients in order of use."  

    • 1 pint (2 cups) water
    • 2 tablespoons butter 
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup corn meal
    • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 1 cup cold milk
      *Get everything ready before you begin as it moves fast when necessary*
      1. Melt butter in 9x9 glass baking dish.
      2. Bring salted water to boil on medium (not on high as it will spatter if too hot and burn you! I know!)
      3. Stir corn meal into boiling water, stir 1 minute and remove from heat.
      4. Stir in eggs and cold milk immediately. I just used a wooden spoon and beat vigorously.
      5. Beat well and pour into hot buttered baking dish.
      6. Bake 25 minutes at 450.
      Kathleen's note: I had tried to make spoon bread from a recipe I found on the Internet once, and it turned out horrible. I had no idea what I was doing. I figured if it was a favorite recipe of a friend's mother, it must be good. One of my problems was not being prepared ahead of time so that when it boiled I could act quickly. This turned out perfect, was delicious warm with butter on it, and was even very good warmed up in the microwave as leftovers!

    Cracker Barrel's Hash Browns Casserole

    • 1 2 pound package frozen Hash Browns
    • 8 ounces Sour cream
    • 1 can cream of chicken soup
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 2 cups grated Colby Cheese **personal note, I like sharp cheddar the best
    1. Place potatoes in a greased 9×13 inch pan.
    2. Season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in the microwave.
    3. In a bowl add minced onions, sour cream, and cream of chicken soup, and melted butter. Mix these items together. Pour soup mixture over potatoes; sprinkle with Cheddar Cheese.
    4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until all is completely warm, and the cheese begins to melt.

    Strawberry Pretzel Salad

    • 1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
    • 4 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
    • 3/4 cup butter, melted
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
    • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
    • 1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
    • 2 cups boiling water
    • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen strawberries 
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the pretzels, 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.
    2. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
    3. In a medium bowl, stir together the gelatin mix and boiling water. Mix in frozen strawberries, and stir until thawed. Pour over cream cheese mixture in pan. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour.

    Best Ever Deviled Eggs
    • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
    • 3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 2 dashes each salt and pepper
    • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 teaspoons mustard
    1. Boil eggs. Cool and cut in half.
    2. Remove yolk and mash up with a fork. Combine yolks with all of the above ingredients. Mix well.
    3. Refill egg whites with mixture. Sprinkle paprika on top if you like.