People all over the South are fanatical about cheese straws. This addicting, delicious snack is nearly mandatory at every kind of function and practically every southern family has a recipe handed down through the generations. Great with coffee in the morning, next to your sandwich at lunch, for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or a late-night snack, you simply can’t go wrong with these salty, cheesy, nibbles.
Though typically made with sharp cheddar cheese, [and we do that too] our second version is simply something extraordinary. Ethel Ann’s father, Louis H. Cook [who was called “Pop”] graduated from South Carolina’s Clemson University in the class of 1924 and fell in love with one of the Southeast’s oldest regional cheeses, Clemson Blue. Ethel Ann’s atypical "Wisconsin" version is named in his honor.
The traditional Southern cuisine in Ethel Ann’s house was provided by African-American, Sennie Mae Allen – who cared for the Kibler children for most of their lives. Sennie Mae is the one that taught everyone to make biscuits, using the same wooden bowl their whole lives to cut lard into flour. These biscuits are made in her honor, just without the lard. We added lots of cheddar in one and then garlic and parmesan in the other to make up for it.
Aunt Sue, Ethel Ann‘s sister-in-law from Augusta, GA, made the original version. Called “Coke Tidbits”, we would dump some into a bottle of coke while we drank it and have a snack at the same time. Over the years, it has been altered and perfected by the preferences of everyone who has eaten it. We take “bar mix” to a whole new level, making it the perfect accompaniment to just about any hour,
especially happy hour. It comes in two versions, one with pecans and peanuts and one without. The "not nut" version is because oldest daughter Jan insisted.
"Love to cook? Have four children
and see if you still love it."