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South Carolina Cooks Dish About Southern Living

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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You'd be hard-pressed to find a South Carolina cook who hasn't wowed family and friends with a Southern Living recipe creation. Since its debut in 1966, the magazine has been a favorite tool in kitchens across the state - that's a whole lot of deliciousness dished out during the last 50 years.

Sit down at the most celebrated tables in South Carolina and you're likely to taste the culinary influences of Southern Living. Whether that table is in a favorite restaurant or Mama's dining room doesn't matter. Dishes and desserts inspired by the magazine consistently raise humble meals to royal heights while honoring our cooking heritage. Is it any surprise that so many Southern Living recipes stand the test of time and earn permanent status in legions of recipe collections?

Here, some South Carolina cooks share their favorite Southern Living recipes along with insights on what makes these dishes iconic.

In Florence, Paula Hammack Efird's name is synonymous with good taste. Her food wizardry is a hot commodity at museum art openings and other social functions. A self-described Southern Living "fanatic," she shares a connection with the magazine that goes back generations. The proof is evident in her vast library of Southern Living cookbooks, magazines and another prized possession: her late Grandmother Hammack's scrapbook of favorite Southern Living recipes.

"My grandmother and mother both relied on Southern Living for great recipes," she said. "I always loved looking at my mother's magazines. It was a rite of passage for me as a woman to finally get my own Southern Living subscription when I got married in 1982. I've been getting the magazine and collecting the annual cookbooks ever since, so I like to think I'm carrying on a family tradition. I also have the indexes, which was our "Internet" back in the day - the only way we could search for a recipe."

A long-time Southern Living favorite of Paula and her husband, Howard, is Sausage Bean Chowder. She has been whipping up pots of it nearly all their married life and, despite the availability of pre-chopped tomatoes and other more modern conveniences, she never veers from the original recipe.

"When it finally gets cooler in Florence, my family is excited about my preparing Sausage Bean Chowder," she said. "Howard and I have been using this recipe since 1983 when it first was published. It is easily doubled or tripled. This chowder has been at UNC tailgates, suppers at our church and many family meals. We love this cold weather comfort food recipe."

Sausage Bean Chowder(1983)


2 pounds bulk pork sausage

4 cups water

2 (16-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, undrained

2 (16-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

½ cup green pepper, chopped

1 large bay leaf

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dried whole thyme

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper


1. Brown sausage in a Dutch oven, stirring to crumble; drain off drippings.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil.

3. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Donna Salvago Williams of Columbia knows a lot about good eating. Not only are her cooking skills legendary among family and friends, but her husband, Jimmy, is senior vice president of his family's restaurant business, Lizard's Thicket.

"There are so many Southern Living recipes that I have adapted and tweaked over the years," Williams said. "I love to cook and I have used Southern Living as a guide for meal planning and inspiration for as long as I can remember. I am known for my chicken pot pie - I'm sure I first found my inspiration for that with a Southern Living recipe. But one of my favorite Southern Living recipes is Spicy Pickled Shrimp. I like it because it is a different and tasty way to serve Lowcountry shrimp. I add thinly sliced red peppers for color, which makes it a festive dish for any occasion."

Spicy Pickled Shrimp(2010)


2 pounds unpeeled, large raw shrimp (26/30 count)

3 small white onions, thinly sliced

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup tarragon vinegar

2 tablespoons pickling spices

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


1. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired.

2. Cook shrimp in boiling water to cover 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink; drain. Rinse with cold water.

3. Layer shrimp and onions in a large bowl. Whisk together oil and next seven ingredients; pour over shrimp and onions. Cover and chill 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley just before serving.

Heidi Heilbrunn is an award-winning photojournalist for The Greenville News. While it's a career that keeps her on the go, she enjoys spending time in the kitchen when the news day slows down.

"Apple picking in the Upstate is a must, so I'm always looking for new ways to use apples," she said. "I love the Southern Living recipe for Apple-Butterscotch Blondies. These are quick, easy, and so yummy!"

Apple-Butterscotch Blondies(2011)


1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (about 1½ pounds)


1. Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

2. Stir together brown sugar and next three ingredients.

3. Stir together flour and next two ingredients; add to brown sugar mixture, and stir until blended. Stir in apples and pecans. Pour mixture into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan; spread in an even layer.

4. Bake at 350º for 35 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cut into bars.

Chef Fred Holmes is an expert at dishing up mouthwatering hospitality. Along with wife, Rachelle, he operates Orangeburg's bustling Thee Matriarch Boutique Inn, which means he's had plenty of practice.

"Southern Living's Spicy Coconut Shrimp Soup is one of my favorite recipes of all time," said chef Fred. "It's extremely versatile yet simple to prepare. While it's dynamite as a standalone, I often serve it as an appetizer or as a featured dish when serving multi-course meals. This soup is one of my secret weapons when preparing Thee Matriarch's signature Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits. I serve it over creamy stone ground grits - it's always a home-run hit for both the bed-and-breakfast guests and at catered events."

Spicy Coconut Shrimp Soup(2012)


1 pound unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp (36/40 count)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 cups vegetable broth

1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk

2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons red curry paste

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup sliced green onions

1 Thai chili pepper, seeded and minced (optional)


1. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired.

2. Sauté ginger and garlic in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant.

3. Add broth and next five ingredients. Bring broth mixture to a boil, and reduce heat to medium.

4. Add mushrooms and bell pepper, and cook, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

5. Add shrimp, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Add basil, next two ingredients, and, if desired, chili pepper.

CEO and founder of Hilton Head's Millen Publishing Group, Elizabeth Skene Millen, understands the dynamics of magazine publishing. She can also appreciate things from the flip side. A cook and longtime subscriber of Southern Living, she values the utilitarian aspects of the magazine, especially when she's ready to get creative in the kitchen.

"I always turn to Southern Living for the best recipes ... Online just won't do," she said. "I have to hold my Southern Living every month."

One of her favorite go-to Southern Living recipes is Ham and Cheese Quiche, which she says is the base for "every great quiche." A versatile dish, Millen often changes it up by adding crab, summer vegetables, or crumbled sausage.

Ham and Cheese Quiche(1992)


pastry for 9-inch quiche

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided

½ cup diced cooked ham

2 tablespoons honey mustard

5 eggs, beaten

1 ¼ cup of half-and-half

¼ cup chopped green onions

¼ teaspoon salt


1. Line a 9-inch quiche dish with pastry; trim excess pastry around edges. Prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork.

2. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes; remove from oven and gently prick with a fork. Bake an additional 5 minutes.

3. Combine Swiss cheese, ½ cup cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon flour. Toss gently. Sprinkle evenly in pastry shell.

4. Combine ham and honey mustard; toss gently to coat. Spoon ham mixture over cheese.

5. Combine eggs, half-and-half, green onions, remaining 1 tablespoon flour and salt; stir well. Pour mixture into pastry shell. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

6. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.