THELMA AND JAMES Stiney are the type of neighbors who offer standing invitations to their Sunday summer barbecues. These weekly feasts of traditional South Carolina foods are created jointly by Thelma, who cooked for the local elementary school for 21 years, and James, who agreed to share the recipe for his famous secret barbecue sauce with Sojourners readers.
A "real" barbecue, Thelma explains, begins at 4 a.m. when someone gets up to put the hog in a pit with oak wood. For the most part these days, however, the Stineys fire up their backyard grill like the rest of us. Below are Thelma's descriptions of some of the foods for which Southern cooking is renowned. "Here in this house we very seldom use a recipe, so use your own judgment," she says.
JB's Hot Sauce
James divulged his ingredients, but declined to reveal his middle name!
Bake ribs in the oven with a little salt until tender. A sprinkle of vinegar will cut the grease. When you put them on the grill and again when you take them off, saturate with the following concoction (a yellow rather than a red barbecue sauce):
· yellow mustard
· worchestershire sauce
· cayenne pepper, ground
· black pepper, ground
· Tabasco sauce
· cider vinegar
Wash a large batch of collard greens, rinsing them several times--as many as four or five--to remove grit. Cut up greens, pulling out or cutting the hard spine. Put them in a pot with a little water, and a cooked ham knuckle if desired. Cook until tender, 45 minutes to an hour. If you did not use a ham knuckle, you will need to add salt. Turnip greens may be fixed this way also. ("My mother would sometimes fry ham, then put the cooked greens in the ham gravy," Thelma says. "Serve with cornbread!")