When people think of the south they likely have images of lazy summer days where women fan themselves on large porches while sharing a tall pitcher of sweet tea; gentlemen talking over cigars and a couple fingers of whiskey. The heady smell of gardenia, honeysuckle, and magnolia waft through thick sultry air and the sounds of cicadas calling surround you. I find that most people assume we either live like Scarlett O’Hara or something out of the Beverly Hillbillies. That just isn’t true on either count. We are just like everyone else; we just talk a bit slower (draw out our vowels) and move at a different pace. Generally we know our neighbors and wave at passing cars. I don’t know that I have ever honked my car’s horn in my life, even when I may have wanted to, southerners just don’t do that. If I have something bad to say about someone I usually follow it up with “Bless her heart”. (Or his heart) I use the word y’all a lot and if I am about to do something I frequently say I am “fixin” to do it.
I am extremely proud of my heritage as a southern woman, and the food I learned to make is a huge part of that. There are so many iconic southern foods but feeling festive for the holidays I am going to share a quintessential southern party food. Cheese straws can be found at most any southern affair, from weddings to wakes and from baby showers to cocktail parties. In fact an old friend of our family gave, as her gift, a huge amount of cheese straws to be served at my mother’s wedding reception! The cheese straw is about as traditional as it gets here in the south. They date back to at least the Civil War era, but no one is really sure on when they came to be. Every family tends to have its own recipe but they are all about the same. Please try this recipe with my compliments. Share it with your friends and have a very Merry Christmas!
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (room temperature)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit.
Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
In a food processor, add butter, cheese, flour, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne. Process until a smooth dough is formed. It may seem like it is taking too long sometimes, but trust me it will get smooth. Pat dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap or seal in a Ziploc bag. Chill 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until it is a ¼ inch thick rectangle. Cut into small strips 2 or 3 inches long. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to racks to cool. Sprinkle with Paprika if you like. (I don’t but some people like this)
I prefer to use parchment paper because I can slide them off the pans easily for cooling and start another batch if I want. These delectable treats could not be easier to make and are a HUGE crowd pleaser. You can cut fat by using a butter substitute and low fat cheese. Though my opinion is if it is a party food then use the real stuff, and really enjoy the party! Trust me when I tell you these are way better than dumping a box of Cheez-Its in a bowl!