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Better Than We Are

The summer camp I went to as a child was staffed by teenagers who couldn’t tie a knot if the fate of the free world depended on it.  There was a decent chef and a woman who knew how to weave baskets, but the rest of the counselors spent the day braiding each others’ hair while we loitered at the water’s edge wondering how to start the speed boats.

As a result, I have no special skills in the water sports department.  I went water skiing once, and while I stood on top of the waves for a few glorious seconds, I also fell and forgot to let go and was dragged through the surf until my one-piece bathing suit had scooped up 20 lbs. of jellyfish.

pimento cheese These days I prefer land-based sports, like reading on the front porch and eating all the Southern food before I go. pimento cheese

This, my friends, is pimiento cheese.  Pimiento cheese is better at being cheese than we are at being people.  Throw on some good music (how about Nina Simone’s version of Here Comes The Sun?) and make it tonight.  Eat it with crackers or spread it on bread with tomato slices or use it in a BLT.  And if your kids are away at camp getting splatted by jellyfish, for the love of God make some for them and freeze it.

Pimiento Cheese {Download & Print Recipe}
Adapted from a recipe in The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm


1 lb. finely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 large roasted red pepper or 2 roasted pimentos, diced very finely (if you don’t want to roast your own, use 1/4 c. bottled)

1 tsp. very finely chopped garlic

1/2 c. mayonnaise

a scant 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar (I left 1/2″ empty at the top of my measuring cup)

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. hot sauce (I used Tabasco)

1/2 tsp. kosher salt (if substituting regular salt, halve the amount)

a dash of Worcestershire sauce

{Ritz crackers, for serving}


Combine the cheddar, pimentos or red peppers, and garlic in a mixing bowl.  Stir to roughly combine.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir with a fork until evenly combined.  Pour most of the dressing over the cheese and toss with a spoon until combined.  Taste it, and if you’d like the mixture to have more dressing on it, add the remaining dressing.  Cover and refrigerate until slightly chilled and serve with Ritz crackers, or spread on bread when making sandwiches.  The cheese also goes well with pickled vegetables and celery sticks.

Joint Napping PartyThunder and Seymour enjoy their favorite land-based sporting activity.

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. I admire your commitment to sampling Southern cuisine and I admire even more your making it from scratch. Pimento Cheese was the bane of my childhood. Store-bought goop made with sweetened mayonnaise and weirdly flavored red cubes. I can only eat pimentos in olives now because of it. Perhaps I shall give your homemade version a try and perhaps I shall add some sort of red cube to it though hopefully it won’t be weirdly flavored…

    July 30, 2013
  2. Amy #

    My brother’s restaurant makes deep fried pimento cheese balls…I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but they look amazing. Pimento cheese is something I haven’t tried because I thought it was all processed, but now that I see it’s made from very normal ingredients, I’m going to give it a shot. Oh, and my favorite land activity is the same as Thunder and Seymour’s…much to Nate’s dismay. He says I nap too much. Is there such a thing?

    July 30, 2013
  3. The phrase “… and was dragged through the surf until my one-piece bathing suit had scooped up 20 lbs. of jellyfish,” made me pee my pants.

    I can’t wait for you to move even closer to me, as I can’t wait to eat real, live Southern food. You can sleep in the spare bedroom with the cats.

    July 30, 2013
  4. Lucinda R #

    What are you complaining about the counselors not being able to tie a knot? They could braid hair, couldn’t they?

    July 30, 2013
  5. Kate #

    I went to a pimento cheese party a few months ago. 4 different varieties! I think Georgia won, but don’t think there was an Alabama submission.

    July 30, 2013
  6. You know, you’re the second person I’ve seen lately post a recipe for pimento cheese, and every time I see it, I feel almost moved to tears. There are flavors of home that I miss so much that I feel they must be the object to which all my other missing is tied – missing people, missing places. This looks delicious, and I can’t wait to try it.

    July 30, 2013
  7. Jean G. Woodhouse #

    While I love your blog, I love Thunder more.

    July 30, 2013
  8. mdog32 #

    I too have issues with waterskiing! I feel your pain sister! That dip looks yummy too!

    July 30, 2013
  9. I’m, sadly, not a fan of pimentos or water sports, but I sure want a Ritz cracker right now. Great photos, as usual!

    July 30, 2013
  10. Amy #

    I grew up in Texas eating pimento cheese, my absolute favorite thing. Unfortunately, when I moved to NY, it was not something you could find anywhere. I recently took a road trip from NY to Texas & the first grocery store I stopped at about 5-6 hours away had pimento cheese therefore of course making my week. Since I have been at my parents for 2 weeks, we have had 3 types. My mother prefers smoked Gouda pimento cheese but I am an old fashion girl. A wonderful secret is that it is very yummy on burgers too! I love it on a southwestern bean burger.

    July 30, 2013
  11. Om! I had to get a snack after reading this post! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

    July 30, 2013
  12. i went to sailing camp and when it rained we had to stay inside to learn “who has the right of way in boating” with a magnetic white board and little magnet boats to re-enact boating collisions.It always ended up with us young girls braiding the cutest boy instructors hair ( oh yeah baby, we switched it up at an early age) and learning how to slow dance by dancing with the second cutest boy instructor standing on his boat shoes as he lumbered across the floor holding you.Thank you Mom and Dad for the sailing lessons!

    July 30, 2013
  13. And pimiento cheese is *awesome* on a burger. Even better if there’s bacon, too.

    July 30, 2013
  14. jenny_o #

    I’ve never heard of pimento cheese, living as I do in the neighbour country very far north of you. It looks delicious. It looks like I could eat a whole bowlful with a whole box of crackers, while doing MY favourite land-based sporting activity (same as yours) … I’m thinking this would be a nice thing to introduce to my family at the next gathering. Thanks for sharing it!

    July 31, 2013
  15. Ginger Cobl #

    Awesome post as always!

    July 31, 2013
  16. Jeanne #

    I had to laugh at your skiing incident. Sort of the same as mine. My husband and his friend told me, “Whatever you do, don’t let go of the rope.” Not the smartest thing to say to someone who strives to follow instructions to the letter. Here I am in the water, the boat starts, I start to come out of the water…WHAM…there go my skis being me and they fly off. I am underwater, drinking that lovely river water as I scream. Finally, and I swear this is true, a Voice came to me and said, “Jeanne, let go of the rope.” A life lesson with which I continue to struggle.

    July 31, 2013
  17. Hey! We just got home from a trip to North Carolina and happen to have a pimiento cheese post on the way. Great minds…

    July 31, 2013
    • Isn’t it addictive?! Looking forward to your recipe, as my love for pimento cheese knows no bounds. Last time I went to North Carolina I had a sweet potato and cheddar biscuit at a truck stop that was so good it made me shout obscenities at myself as I pulled back onto the road.

      July 31, 2013
      • YUMMMM. Also, hallelujah for pimento cheese! It’s a staple at my mom’s house, a secret weapon of the south!

        August 7, 2013
  18. Christi #

    I’ve been mourning the loss of you back north of the Mason-Dixon, but if you’ll keep posting food like this I think I’ll be okay. I so enjoyed meeting you at Bekah’s a few weeks ago and love reading your blog. As a Southern born and bred (mostly) girl, pimento cheese is a favorite that I have never attempted to make, preferring instead to try every version in every restaurant that I can (but always hating the grocery store versions with their weird taste). I think I’m going to finally attempt it after reading your recipe. Best wishes with the upcoming move!!

    July 31, 2013
  19. Pimento was never in my vocabulary until I moved to Texas. I’ve had store-bought (shutter) but this home made version sounds much better. I’m glad Thunder has a buddy to sport around with 😉

    July 31, 2013
  20. Living in the deep South, pimento cheese is literally present at I’ve never tried it, oddly enough! Your homemade version looks much more appetizing, but sadly I’ve developed a dairy allergy, darnit! 😛

    July 31, 2013
  21. Dream-Paw-Twitching. Yeah, that’s an Olympic sport.

    July 31, 2013
  22. Yum! I never thought of making pimento cheese from scratch, but this looks amazing. Thanks!

    August 3, 2013
  23. I tried applying for a job at a summer camp in America once (I’m from Australia), pretended I was an kick ass horse rider and could teach others this. They found out I’d pretty much only been on pony rides at petting zoos when the woman asked me something about saddles. Clearly I should have applied at your summer camp… I can braid somewhat.
    I’ve never had pimento cheese but any kind of cheese on a BLT?
    That is inspired.

    August 12, 2013

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