When you live in Brunswick County, you get the best of all worlds: great weather, great beaches, great food. Residents have access to all sorts of local produce from nearby farms, as well as Main Street Southern Americana-style restaurants. This is a place where southern cooking is king. Whether you’ve lived here forever or you’re new to the area, as a Southerner, you’ll want to make sure you organize your home pantry accordingly.
Read on for some classic Brunswick Country eats — plus how to prioritize your pantry so you can make ’em on your own and impress your guests.
Ella’s of Calabash, in Calabash, NC
People all over the world have heard of Calabash in Brunswick County and its seafood—lightly breaded, dipped in milk, perfectly fried, not overcooked. It’s widely considered the seafood capital of the world, and it’s right in our backyard.
Ella’s of Calabash is actually one of the three original family Calabash-style seafood restaurants, and we can vouch for it; you won’t find seafood like this anyplace else.
When cooking Calabash-style seafood, three things are important: the freshness of your fish, the temperature of the oil, and the lightness of your breading. It’s ideal to have a deep fryer available to fully submerge the fish. Frying fish is a fast-paced game, so you’ll want to have your staples easily accessible. This means your flour, bread crumbs, cornmeal, and oil should all be within reach of the stove.
Try open-plan shelving to organize your pantry, so everything you need is on display. That way, you never have to waste time searching for items you know you have. Sliding drawers are also a great storage solution for deep fryers and other small kitchen appliances.
Taylor Cuisine Café and Catering, Southport, NC
At Taylor’s Cuisine Café and Catering, you’ll find the best of Southport’s down-home Southern cooking. What does that mean? The best fried green tomatoes you’ve ever eaten, that’s what.
When you’re cooking your own fried green tomatoes, you need easy access to your staples (flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, etc.) as well as your produce. For this, we love sliding wire baskets. They keep brightly colored produce and snacks in a place they’re easy to see, so you won’t forget to use them. Plus, a plastic liner at the bottom of the basket allows for quick and easy cleanup.
Greenland’s Farm Store, Bolivia, NC
At the center of Brunswick County lies Bolivia, NC. Brunswick County, on the whole, is pretty rural, with a lot of farmland — and that brings with it access to some incredible local crops. Greenland’s is a working farm, with a café where they make and sell small-batch baked goods, ice creams, and the organic fruits and veggies (and more!) that they grow on their own property.
Southern cooking relies on food that can be grown locally. The thing about fresh produce, though, is that you need to store it well and use it quickly. A lot of vegetables do better in the refrigerator, but some, like potatoes, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and shallots, need to stay in the pantry.
For your potatoes and onions, it’s best to keep them paper bags punched with holes, in dark, cool spaces, like the closed, pull-out drawers Strickland’s offers in its pantry systems. Tomatoes do best stem-side down, out of the refrigerators. And never put fruits and veggies together — they’ll go bad faster.
As any Southern grandma will tell you, a well-organized pantry is a well-stocked one. Now that you have an idea how to start cooking Southern classics like the best of them, make sure your pantry is up to the challenge! Stop by Strickland’s showroom today to check out our Brunswick County cook-friendly custom pantry options.