It’s Got to be NC for the holidays

Published 9:17 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2018

North Carolina produces an amazing variety of agricultural products, poultry, pork and seafood to grace holiday tables. What’s in season right now are apples, collards, herbs, kale, mustard greens, peanuts, pecans, spinach, sweet potatoes and turnips, reports the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

North Carolina is the nation’s leading producer of sweet potatoes. Last year, the crop was worth $346,544,000. That value may drop this year because Hurricane Florence hit just as this year’s harvest was underway. Nevertheless, at one Outer Banks grocery store this week, the sweet potatoes hailed from Fasion in Duplin County.

The award-winning Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole from the 2018 North Carolina State Fair is provided for Christmas Day consideration.

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In 2017, some 10,500 acres in North Carolina were planted with cucumbers. At market, that harvested crop brought in $28.7 million. Some cucumbers can be harvested in December.

Every year, on the first Saturday in December, the Hatteras United Methodist Church Women host a bazaar at the Hatteras Village Civic Center. Doors open at 9 a.m. If you want to harvest Winona Burroughs’ Sweet Refrigerator Pickles, it’s best to be early. The crisp sweet pickles are a favorite treat on a relish tray or in sandwiches.

The recipe is titled “Vergie Hollis’ Sweet Crisp Pickles.” While Winona Burroughs submitted the recipe to Keeping the Faith Cookbook published by the church (page 95), the recipe belongs to Vergie Hollis, from Alabama and grandmother of Dee Callahan.

At Jan. 1, 2018, the number of eggs in North Carolina was 333 million.

Sunny Scalloped Eggs combines eggs and, if one of the options is used, the dish turns into Eggs Florentine. In North Carolina, fresh spinach is still available.

The recipe also calls for milk. In 2017, North Carolina dairy farmers produced 952 million pounds of milk, valued just at $179 million.

For a Christmas tree trimming party or diversion from turkey, try the shrimp dish.

Pecans are in season in North Carolina and a top-notch pecan pie is just right for the holidays.

Apples remain in season. Edward Hooper’s High Country Apple Cake uses apples and pecans for a holiday tradition of Got to Be NC.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole

North Carolina State Fair 2018

2018 First Place: Christi Broadway, Raleigh


2 medium sweet potatoes (equals approx. 2 to 2½ cups)

1 pound Italian sausage or breakfast sausage

1 green pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

6 to 8 eggs

½ cup almond milk

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

What to do

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook and crumble sausage. Drain excess grease and set aside.

Cube sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces and cook in some cooking oil in a skillet until soft, about 15 minutes.

Combine: sausage, sweet potatoes, and peppers, and pour evenly into a 9×13 baking dish.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper (a few shakes of each), garlic powder and onion powder. Pour evenly over sausage mixture. Bake for 45 minutes, or until eggs are cooked.


Vergie Hollis’ Sweet Crisp Pickles

Winona Burroughs

Keeping the Faith, Hatteras United Methodist Church, 2009


1 gallon sour pickles

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons allspice

4 pounds sugar

What to do

Drain pickles, saving 3 cups of vinegar juice. Bring to boil with the spices. Let cool and pour over pickles. Let stand 4 days. Drain and wipe dry. Slice and layer with sugar. Put in jars when sugar is dissolved and refrigerate.


Sunny Scalloped Eggs

More with Less Cookbook, 2016, 40th Anniversary Edition

Doris Janzen Longacre with Rachel Marie Stone

Ingredients and What to Do

Sauté in a heavy saucepan:

¼ cup butter

1 cup celery, diced

2 tablespoons onion, minced

Sprinkle over:

3 tablespoons flour

Cook and stir until bubbly, then add

1 teaspoon salt

1½ cups milk

Cook and stir until thick. Stir in:

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Arrange in a greased 1½ quart baking dish:

6 hard-cooked eggs halved

Pour sauce over eggs. Toss together:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 slice bread cubed.

Place bread cubes on top of casserole. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.

Option: Stir in ¾ cup shredded cheese into white sauce.

Option: Eggs Florentine.

Cook until tender ¾ pound fresh spinach or use 2 cup frozen, thawed but not cooked. Drain, chop and season. Place in bottom of greased 2-quart baking dish. Proceed with Sunny Scalloped Eggs, placing eggs and sauce on top of spinach. Top with grated cheese and buttered bread cubes.


Christmas Shrimp


1 #2 can artichoke hearts, cut in half

1 pound cooked shrimp

¼ pound mushrooms

1½ cups cream sauce

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Salt, pepper, paprika

What to do

Arrange artichoke hearts in buttered baking dish. Spread shrimp over hearts. Slice mushrooms and sauté in butter and add to shrimp and hearts. Pour over cream sauce. Sprinkle with cheese, paprika and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.

Cream Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

¾ teaspoon salt

1½ cups milk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup dry sherry

What to do

Melt butter. Add flour and stir. Add milk slowly. When sauce is just about as thick as you want it, add salt, sauce and sherry.


Best-of-All Pecan Pie

The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, 1990

By Marion Cunningham


Basic Pastry dough for a 9-inch pie shell

3 eggs

1 cup dark corn syrup

½ cup dark brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1¼ cups pecan halves or coarsely chopped pecans

Topping: 1 cup heavy cream, chilled, for whipped cream

What to do

Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Line a pie pan with the rolled-out dough and set aside. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork or wire whisk until the yolks and whites are blended. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla and blend well. Stir in the pecans, then pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are set and the center quivers slightly. Let the pie cool a bit. Just before serving, whip the cream and serve separately.


High Country Apple Cake

Edward Hooper

Cooking with Salvo, 1996


1 ¾ cups sugar

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups unpeeled, cubed apples

3 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ cup pecans, chopped

What to do

Measure all ingredients, except apples and pecans, into large bowl. Beat together thoroughly with spoon. Fold in apples and pecans. Bake in greased and floured 9×13 pan at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool and remove from pan. Serves 12.