Each Thursday, we’ll be featuring a regular post: Cocktails & Canapes. Kick off your weekend with an uncomplicated snack or hors d’oeuvre and a complementary libation. And, should you have a minute while you’re sipping and snacking, why not share your favorite appetizers and aperitifs (yes, we like alliteration) with us too? Please email them to and we’ll pop them up here for all of our students and readers to enjoy.

One of my favorite past-times when I was a girl on the farm was spending time in the deep old rocking chairs on my cousin Lynne’s front porch. We’d write letters, read to one another, listen to the radio, tell each other our dreams and basically, just hang out.

Front Porch Sitting is a Southern art. We get our chores done and then retreat to the deep fronted coolness of our front porches, which are outdoor extensions of our living spaces. Cascading ferns, pots of colorful flowers, cozy rocking chairs and comfy swings with plump cushions, not to mention the ubiquitous ceiling fan slowly turning its paddles, are all front porch necessities.

And, of course, the type of rocking chair is All Important. You need one with long rockers so that when you lean back, you almost feel as though you are about to tip over backwards. These aren’t easy to find today; the rockers are all too short, so you don’t get that “deep rocking” feel.

Serious Front Porch Sitting requires Serious Refreshment too. Especially if company drops by. I found the following recipes in an old Southern Living magazine and they were both so yummy, I whipped up an extra batch of each and carried them over to Lynne’s front porch. They were the perfect accompaniment while rocking the afternoon away.

Sparkling Autumn Chianti

  • 1 Bartlett pear, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices

  • 3 small Gala apples, cut into ¼-inch slices

  • 3 fresh plums, cut into wedges

  • ½ cup cane syrup

  • 2 sprigs rosemary

  • 1 split vanilla bean

  • 1 bottle Chianti

  • 1 bottle fruity chilled sparkling wine

  • Rosemary sprigs, for garnish

In a 3-quart glass pitcher, stir together pear, apples, plums, syrup, rosemary sprigs and vanilla bean until fruit is coated. Gradually stir in Chianti. Cover and chill 8-24 hours. Just before serving, stir in sparkling wine. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. Makes 7 cups

Cheddar-Pecan Shortbread

  • ½ cup chopped pecans

  • 1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese

  • 3 Tbsp. butter, softened

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup cornstarch

  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • ¼ tsp. salt

  • 1 Tbsp. half and half

Preheat oven to 350°.


Bake pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan until toasted and nutty, approximately 20 minutes, stirring halfway through baking time. Cool completely and reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Process cheese and butter in a food processor about 10-15 seconds or until creamy, scraping down sides as needed. Add flour, cornstarch, pepper and salt and pulse 9-10 times until mixture is crumbly. Add pecans and pulse 4-5 times until combined. Add half and half and pulse 4-5 times until mixture forms moist clumps.

Transfer mixture onto plastic wrap on a flat surface, gather dough into a ball, and flatten into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour or until firm. You may also seal dough in a zip-loc freezer bag and freeze up to 3 days.

Turn dough onto a floured surface. Roll to 1/8-1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 1½-2-inch shapes (leaves, apples, rounds) and bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 2½ dozen

Compliments of Southern Living