Tuesday, July 12, 2011

House Wine of the South

Dear Loved Ones,
          Is it too late to knock on wood? It’s certainly tooooo hot. That’s what Helen gets for bragging about Kentucky not being as hot as Oklahoma. Too hot to think much less pass judgment on others, I mean ADVISE others. So just sharing a visit to a local hot spot and a couple of recipes to cool you down, Southern style.
          If you’re anywhere near Taylorsville, Kentucky, y’all, and wanting to hang in with the cool crowd (who wouldn't in this heat?) you might stop by a place formerly known as The Bait and Bullet (not to be confused with a bait shop and beauty parlor that used to be around here, The Worm and Perm):

Elvis, Karaoke AND Bait? If they had a flea market, I’d never leave!
And if you are in my neck of the woods and come by to visit – wait, let me say if you were invited over for a visit. Helen doesn’t do drop ins, you know. She has a pack of rowdy hounds and doesn’t want anyone getting bitten… or bothering her dogs. 
Anywho, you’d likely get real southern sweet tea, done right.                          
  (Oh, all right, you're right this is probably sangria, not tea. You were a tattletale in grade school, too, weren't you?)
"Poor, Agnes, black balled again from the Junior League." "Well, are you surprised? Her sweet tea is as weak as her story about her husband always being away on business. We all know that's code for an ugly secret like he's catting around, wears women's clothes or drinks his tea without sugar."
But where sweet tea is concerned, we Southerners don’t care if you make it in an old pan and serve it in mason jars…
but it is considered just plain tacky to stir the sugar into the tea after it's iced – that’s sweetened tea, not sweet tea (and the sugar never completely dissolves, so it’s gritty and collects at the bottom of the glass.)
Oh, the horror! Gritty iced tea again. When will people learn?
  I make my sweet tea in stages – a tea pot of extra strong steeped tea, a simple syrup – (dissolving sugar in boiling water) – to taste in a 2 quart pitcher, then add luke warm water until the tea is the consistency in taste and color you desire.  Let cool and serve over ice.
Hold it right there, sister! I don't care what the ad promises (Though I do so wish I could order from Suburbia Inc!!) Unless you are at a picnic or casual patio party do not even THINK about trying to serve sweet tea in plastic airline cups (though I do admire their 'Jet Set' selection of every kind of bar ware in quantities of 50 - it's like they read Helen's mind, or her bar bill!)
Recently saw a recipe suggesting one boil all 2 quarts of water with the tea bags in, then pour the still hot liquid into the pitcher with the dry sugar to dissolve and that does sound like less fuss (and if Helen is about anything it’s less fuss – unless the fuss is over her, then there is no limit on the appropriateness of fuss one might make.)
Be a peach and fetch me some sweet tea, won't you sugar? You can see Helen is too busy being fabulous to do it herself.
Mmmmm. Sweet tea. Good enough to serve all on its lonesome tonight (hmmm, is that an Elvis influence sneaking in? Y’all quieten down in there, I’m trying to get people to fuss over me!) 
Triple star tribute? Johnny Cash, Elvis and Wayne Newton all rolled into one. All. Rolled. Into One Great Big Star.
Sweet tea is usually it's own reward but lots of folks like to add fresh mint, something citrus-y like a lemon or orange slice or even a few ripe, fresh cherries (if your tea is of the non sweet, Jet Setty type maybe a little plastic sword through an orange slice and a cherry?)
Got these at Whole Foods - they are delicious!
There you go. Hope that helps to cool some folks off and… what? Someone is waiting for Helen to take back what she said about Kentucky not being hot? Y’all should know better by now -- Helen doesn’t recant... Helen de-cants!  
This is just tea, I promise. In fact, Helen doesn't actually drink anything stronger than her own personality!
Stay Cool, ya’ll!
Penguin Elvis - the star of our front lawn Blue Christmas Revue a couple years ago! Told Y'all I was Southern!

 Joining Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style and  
Rednesday at It's a Very Cherry World
And Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man Crafty Woman 


  1. I do SO enjoy my visits to your crazy blog! Is it true you have no sense of smell?

  2. I'd love to try genuine sweet tea! Somehow, I'm quite sure that the Arizone Tea version, or McDonald's sweet tea, are no comparison!
    Happy REDnesday,
    p.s. YOU are a riot!

  3. Lynn - it IS true I have anosmia. Which means I am the lucky chosen one to clean my daughter's kitty's litter - cruel trick that, huh?

    Thanks Carol! We always had a Tupperware pitcher of it in the fridge that my mom just added to as the need arose - then when it got too stained she'd bleach it out and start again.

  4. Ah, good old-fashioned sweet tea. One of the perks of growing up in the South!

  5. It sounds so yummy. Visiting your blog is one of the best things I do for myself. Thanks bunches for making me laugh. We went to TN a few years ago and saw Elvis perform. When hubs and I walked up to the strip mall where the show was going to be, we rolled our eyes and thought - this ain't CA! But, that show was so much fun - and the Elvis impersonator even had ladies crying in their seats! I saw the real Elvis at one of his last concerts in San Diego - he was awesome! I bet he drank tons of SWEET TEA!

  6. Sweet tea?? Never heard of it! git y'all Helen down here to teach us how it's done!!

  7. Hello Helen:
    Your 'sweet tea' sounds like a version of the 'ice tea' which is the drink of the summer in Budapest. It is, as you say, refreshingly cooling and just the job when the temperature soars!

    Penguin Elvis looks like just the kind of lawn decoration that could replace the ubiquitous glowing reindeer to be found on lawns throughout the UK around Christmas time......do you take orders?!!

  8. I love your sense of humor!
    Don't hate me now, but being from the north, I cringe at the thought of putting sugar in my iced tea, but am very intrigued by the whole process. I had no idea adding sugar after the fact was bad, but then I haven't tried doing it either.
    I may just have to try this to see what all the hoopla is about! ;)

  9. "The Worm and Perm"? I got a huge laugh out of that one! And the photo of the cherries is really good!

  10. Thanks Y'all! Patti - have actually never seen an Elvis impersonator! But can just imagine that the show was a hoot.

    Kitty - if it's the real deal it's often sweeter'n'honey, in mine you can still taste the tea so it might not be 'how its done'!

  11. Jane and Lance - sadly, penguin Elvis met his demise because he was animated, his upper half swiveled back and forth (perfect for Elvis) but last year (he was in hula garb) he swiveled his last.

    Rose - if you come just far enough south the restaurants offer both kinds of tea (which is why we specify in Kentucky and always say sweet tea not iced tea. C'mon down and give it a try.

    PJ -how I wish I'd been taking pics when I first moved here and, for example, the local market shared space with a taxidermist and seemed to miss the humor when they posted a huge sign saying they now offered stuffed crust pizza!

  12. LOL - you are sooo fun. You bet I "followed" your blog! Helen is a mischief, I'll tell you, but as long as she drinks Southern sweet tea (like us, made the *right* way) we'll let her get by with her mischief. So much fun, I'll be back to read you for sure!

  13. What a fun blog! Thanks for drop by my place!

  14. You are such fun! I'm raising a botle of ice cold beer to you now, a visit to your brilliant blog is a great tonic. x

  15. Still laughing over the worm & perm - you're such a hoot :)
    We drink lots of tea up north here....but we just add our sugar as needed....is that a big faux pas?? If we were wearing that fabulous black cat suit with a leopard skirt and matching shoes....could we serve the un-sweet tea then? :)

  16. I KNEW there was more to sweet tea than McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts was trying to get over on us! You have educated this northern gal! Thank you for linking to Handy Man, Crafty Woman Wicked Awesome Wednesday!

  17. Girl, you DO know how to heat up a Hot Day!! Not quite as hot as it has been---only 87 now at three o'clock.

    I love the Elvis penguin, and hope he's still part of the Family, even in his incapacitated state.

    And the part about pouring two quarts of boiling tea into a pitcher?? I thought everybody'd learned the hard way about doing that. I can remember that my Mother even put a tray of ice into the pitcher before she poured in the too-hot tea, and sometimes the ice had melted down enough to have that pitcher icy cold.

    After Mother was gone, I looked at that beautiful iris pitcher, veteran of fifty-something years of Noon pourings, and wonder how it had survived. (Naturally, I almost immediately knocked the base on the counter and broke it off).

    The best Chicken & Shrimp place in our hometown was also a Bait Shop.

  18. Mary and Meijo - thanks for stopping by - loved your blogs as well.

  19. Thanks Vix... and Kitchen Girls if you look good enough you can get away with ANYTHING in Helen's book!

  20. I LOVE Wicked Awesome Wednesday!

    Rachel - never fear Penguin Elvis lives! This year I am thinking of sending him to Christmas Island on our lawn - very TiKi! Great reminder about hot tea poured in at once, cracked a cheap pitcher or two that way myself!

  21. Hey Darlin', Nice to meet'cha!

    By the way, do not pour boiling water or tea, or anything into your vintage glass pitcher. It might bust on you. Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience.

    Besides, you wouldn't want to waste any sweet tea!

  22. Hmm, maybe I should read the comments before posting one ;)

  23. LOL - it bears repeating! Welcome to the blog, thanks for commenting.

  24. There really is quite a science to southern sweet tea...isn't there? Thanks for the lesson! Your sweet tea glass is simply divine. I'd definitely add that to my cocktail collection in a heartbeat.

  25. Talking about "hot", I'm in it where I live. This post is Cool...I like sweet tea, iced or not iced !

  26. Kim - cocktail shakers are amazing sweet tea glasses! They are big enough, the heavy ones don't 'sweat' and people smile when you hand them one.

    Thanks khushi - hope you are staying cool with some cool tea!

  27. Honey everybody who's anybody here in the south knows that sweet tea IS the house wine of the south. Carry on!...But call before you come! :)~Ames

  28. Love the sound of your sweet tea might have to give that a go myself ;-)) And i have to say your penguin made me laugh out loud ;-)) for some strange reason which i am not giving much thought in case it goes wrong again i am able to comment ;-)) Hooray, dee x

  29. Ames - Preach it sister! Carrying On is, in fact, Helen's primary mode of behavior!

    Dee - so glad your comment came through. Glad Penguin Elvis made you smile.

  30. This is a fantastically nutty post - man it must be really hot!! ;))) My fella and I nearly died laughing at the Worm and Perm!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  31. You know, I must be the only person in the South who doesn't like sweet tea. However, I've also been told that I can't possibly be from Georgia because I actually pronounce both T's in Atlanta instead of saying "Aaa-LANN-a".

  32. LOL Lola - I am not from around he-yeh but I can say Loo-a-vull like a native! Thanks for stopping by!


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