Copyright © 2014 by Alexe van Beuren
Photographs copyright © 2014 by Ed
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Clarkson
Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown
Publishing Group, a division of Random
House LLC, a Penguin Random House
Company, New York.
CLARKSON POTTER is a trademark and
POTTER with colophon is a registered
trademark of Random House LLC.
The B.T.C. tomato logo design is by Coulter
Fussell and painted by Bill Warren.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-inPublication Data
Van Beuren, Alexe.
  The B.T.C. old-fashioned grocery
cookbook / Alexe van Beuren ; with recipes
by Dixie Grimes.
  pages cm
  Includes bibliographical references and
  1. Cooking, American—Southern style.
2. B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery. 3. Water
Valley, Miss.—Social life and customs. I.
Grimes, Dixie. II. Title. III. Title: BTC oldfashioned grocery cookbook.
  TX715.2.S68V35 2013
 641.5975—dc23 2013019690

Printed in Hong Kong
Book design by Marysarah Quinn
Cover design by Marysarah Quinn
Cover photographs by Ed Anderson
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Edition

ISBN 978-0-385-34500-2
eBook ISBN 978-0-385-34501-9

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C. O. N .T.E.N.T.S
knowing and remembering • 8
welcome to the b.t.c. • 11

breakfast• 14
soups for every season• 42
salads• 78
spreadsand sandwich fixings• 110
casseroles• 132
mains• 156
sides• 178
southern sweet thangs• 200

notes • 229
acknowledgments • 235
index • 236

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Knowing and Remembering


putting together a cookbook, Dixie and I were
a little hesitant. For one thing, it seemed awfully presumptuous: We are (still) a new business, fighting for
survival in our dusty small town, hauling watermelons
in a station wagon, and cooking on two battered electric stoves. Plus, we’re pretty busy, and carving time to
write a book out of our precious spare time seemed
like a daunting undertaking.
But we chose to write the book. And the big reason we were all fired up to do so wasn’t necessarily the
food (though Dixie’s food is awesome) or the acclaim
(we have no aspirations beyond making a l­iving) but
something more elemental that burns in our hearts
every single day: We love Water Valley. This town
has given us everything we ever wanted, and just
about every day, something magical happens here.
It’s a special place, the likes of which do not exist just
anywhere, in our country of interstates, suburbs, and
chain restaurants. Granted, it’s not perfect. The average income is low. I sure would like the city to repair
the sidewalks and plant some trees. The school system is not nationally acclaimed. But regardless, this
town provides a rich and storied life for almost every
inhabitant, from the teenagers who work in the B.T.C.
after school to the elderly who meet at the drugstore
for early-morning coffee and Christian fellowship. This
town promises to know you, through your struggles

and your triumphs, and when you have passed on, it
will remember you. Knowing and remembering—isn’t
that what we all yearn for these days?
With that in mind, we agreed to the word revival in
the title. Let’s be clear: My small grocery has not saved
Water Valley. The industrial car plant down the road
that employs hundreds does a lot more for folks in
this town than my small store can. We have enriched
Water Valley, but we have not revived it. Water ­Valley
was here before the B.T.C., and hopefully it will be
here after us (at least a century from now, as I have
every intent that the B.T.C. stay open for decades
upon decades).
No. The B.T.C. did not revive Water Valley.
Instead, Water Valley has revived us. My family and
Dixie and Cora and the other myriad souls who have
opened up small businesses on Main Street are living
lives that would not be possible anywhere else. Small
business ownership is possible without a lot of capital, with v­ irtually no tourism, in the kind of town where
someone from the courthouse calls you to remind you
to pay your taxes; the UPS man delivers your packages to where he knows you’re at rather than what the
address may say; and the ladies at the drugstore will
gladly hold your baby if you need to, say, give a radio
We live in a town of Southern revival. And every
day (mostly), we give thanks.

• 8 •

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Red Rind

pimento cheese
makes 4 cups
1 pound red rind hoop cheese,
shredded (4 cups)
½ cup chopped pimientos
½ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
⅛ teaspoon dry mustard
⅛ teaspoon sweet paprika
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of sugar

Pimento cheese deserves a book of its own in the South. Just about everybody down here grew up eating it. There are mass-produced tubs in the
grocery stores (skip those) and every lady has her own recipe. Cora’s mother
puts sweet pickle and egg in hers. Coulter uses red bell peppers. As for Dixie,
she actually disliked it as a child. Miss Vetra filled celery sticks and made tea
sandwiches with it for church functions, and Dixie always gave it a pass.
Decades later, with mature taste buds, Dixie was making her grandmother’s traditional pimento at home—and enjoying it. This recipe employs
no exotic additions. Dixie recommends mixing it with your hands to get it to
the perfect texture. It is wonderful on crackers and makes a fantastic sandwich, whether warm, cold, with bacon, with chicken breast and coleslaw and
pickles, grilled, broiled, on toasted bread, soft bread, or croissant. There may
indeed be no wrong way to eat pimento cheese.
Kagan and I were recently at one of Yalo’s art openings, crammed into
its former barbershop space with dozens of other people, most of whom we
knew. We were in the far back, where Coulter and Megan keep their own
works and works-in-progress, and Kagan was spreading pimento cheese onto
crackers and eating them in the company of Coulter’s circus animal series
(a bear balanced on a ball gazed at us—somewhat hungrily). Kagan took a
big bite and then said around a mouthful, “If anyone had told me ten years
ago I’d be at an art show in Mississippi eating pimento cheese and liking it, I
wouldn’t have believed them.”
Then he left me in the company of the bear to search for boiled peanuts.

In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, pimientos, mayonnaise,
Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, granulated onion, granulated
garlic, mustard, paprika, white pepper, and sugar. Using your
hands, mix thoroughly until creamy. Season with salt to taste.
Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
The pimento cheese will keep in an airtight container in the
refrigerator for 7 days.

112 • the

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old-fashioned grocery cookbook

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and mushroom
serves 6

This casserole is sophisticated enough for a holiday but simple enough that
even dedicated nongourmands will enjoy it. Dixie made it last summer for
the Rotary Club and we still have Rotarians coming in to scan the casserole
selection for this particular dish.

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
½ bunch asparagus, chopped
(1 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with
nonstick cooking spray.

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter until it just
starts to bubble, and then add the mushrooms, asparagus, and
garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 10 minutes.
Whisk in the flour and cook until it becomes golden brown,
3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the Madeira until smooth. Whisk in
the stock and cook until smooth and thickened, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chicken, rice, thyme,
tarragon, salt, and white pepper. Scoop the mixture into the
prepared baking dish.

1 cup Chicken Stock, homemade
(page 45) or store-bought

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until
browned on top, 15 more minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before

½ cup Madeira

2 cups shredded meat from
1 Boiled Chicken (page 45)
1 cup cooked white rice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper

This casserole will keep in the freezer
for up to 3 months. For best results,
freeze it before baking; thaw overnight
in the refrigerator, and then bake
according to the recipe.

casseroles • 151

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