In Celebration of the Tomato

1-Tomatoes

I have proclaimed this every year since I moved back to the south and I will do it again- southern tomatoes are the best tomatoes in the world! It’s true. Our neighborhood in Nashville believes in this so much that it hosts the Tomato Art Festival which grows in numbers of attendees every year. With it happening this coming weekend, I thought it was a good time to post some of our favorite tomato recipes from this summer. And just in case you need more ideas, here is the link to last year’s recipes.

Tomatoes are perfect on their own. Growing up, a small plate of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers was always on the dinner table throughout the summer. This year, Grant and I have been enjoying this simple salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, lemon basil from our garden, and sea salt and pepper.

2-Tom Cuke Peach Salad

I am afraid I didn’t write out actual recipes for most of these tomato creations this time. But, here are the ideas. They are all super easy and the ingredients are all so awesome, they are pretty hard to mess up no matter what measurements you use.

3-Bread Salad

I used to make this bread salad all the time, so much so that I think I got a little tired of it. I rediscovered it as a way to use up lots of leftover Bella Nashville sourdough bread. First, cut up leftover bread into cubes. Heat a large iron skillet. Add some butter. Toss in the bread cubes and saute to make croutons. You can toss anything in this salad- cucumbers, tomatoes, steamed green beans, olives, capers, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, red onion, chopped garlic, peppers, scallions… add the homemade croutons and sprinkle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy! If you need a real recipe to follow, Ina Garten has a great one here.

4-Chicken Eggplant Parmesan

We had so many tomatoes and little eggplants in our CSA box one week that we made a Chicken Eggplant Parmesan. It was so beautiful and super yummy. We didn’t follow a recipe. First we roasted up all the tomatoes with some garlic and a little olive oil in a baking dish at 400 degrees in the oven. Once they got all nice and roasted, we pulled them out and added in a bunch of fresh herbs from our garden and ground them in a little food processor. Voila- the sauce was ready! I sliced the eggplants and brushed them with olive oil and roasted those in the oven on a baking sheet until they were slightly brown. Next, we flattened two chicken breasts and cut them into pieces. We dipped them in egg and lightly coated them with a flour mixture and lightly fried them in an iron skillet. Then, we layered all the elements and added some Parmesan Reggiano and baked in the oven at 375 for 20-30 minutes.

5-Grit Stuffed Squash

I used some leftover cheese grits and roasted cherry tomatoes to come up with this next recipe. We had so many patty pan squash in our CSA basket and I had seen some recipes recently for stuffed patty pan squash that I decided to give it a try. Using the cheese grits as a base, I added a little crumbled bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes, some of the squash I cut out of the patty pans, fresh herbs, sauteed onion and garlic. I mixed it all together, stuffed it into the squash, topped with cheese, and baked in the oven.

6-Mac Cheese Prep

Some of my favorite ingredients to mix with tomatoes are cheese and bacon! I had this idea for a decadent Macaroni & Cheese for about a week and finally had time to make it. It was delicious! I used a fun new cheese (to me) that I got at The Bloomy Rind called Suffolk Punch from Parrish Hill Creamery in Vermont. I used this recipe for Mac & Cheese, below, that is an adaptation of a recipe from my Sister. I pulled the dish out of the oven a little early and added tomato slices, crumbled bacon, and I also topped the Mac & Cheese with some Pecorino to give it some sharpness. I then placed it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Delicious!

Mac & Cheese
olive oil
2 cups macaroni (I use Montebello brand)
2-3 cups grated cheese (I use combination of sharp cheddar & gruyere usually)
1 tsp butter (to coat bottom of baking dish)
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
2 eggs
2 cups milk

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and blanch with cold water. Cover bottom of buttered baking dish with 1/2 of pasta. Spread 1/2 of the cheese over. Repeat. Beat eggs, milk, and spices together. Pour over. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.

7-Mac Cheese

I served it with some green beans from my cousin Johnny’s garden that I steamed and then sauteed with a little olive oil and mixed herbed nuts and some sauteed yellow squash and Vidalia onions!

7-Mac & Cheese

A musical highlight for us this summer was an outdoor concert at the Frist Art Museum one evening a couple weeks ago of Marty Stuart and his band, The Fabulous Superlatives. The show coincided with Marty’s photography which is on exhibit there now. I have so much respect for the man and his art. What a fun way to spend a summer evening (and celebrate my birthday!).

MS-1

MS-2

Go listen to some Mary Stuart music and be sure to check out his many books of photography. They’ve got a new album in the works and I can’t wait!

Summer Dill Recipes & Pedal Steel Awesomeness

001

For the past few years, we have had a raised garden bed. In years past, we’ve planted squash, tomatoes, cukes, okra, and always a few herbs. What usually happens is, as the summer progresses we get busy and our beautiful little garden grows faster and faster and suddenly, it turns into a jungle and we get completely overwhelmed. This year, we decided to sign up for our friends’ CSA and take a step back on our own garden. We only planted herbs and sunflowers which has been much more manageable. And we’ve eaten so many herbs and found so many new uses for all of them.

002

Here are a few of our current favorite recipes using fresh dill. Dill is a member of the parsley family and a native to the Mediterranean region. In addition to all the many culinary uses, it also has some health benefits. The leaves have been known to stimulate the appetite and settle digestion, induce sleep, clear up halitosis, and it also has a high vitamin content.

Dill flowers

Grant came up with most of these. He’s a wizard in the kitchen! We usually discuss them together and come up with a good plan but this first one was all him.

Smashed Dill Potatoes
8 small-medium Red Potatoes
4 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Fresh Dill, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper

Boil the potatoes whole in a large pan until done, approximately 20 minutes or so. Drain immediately. Run the potatoes under cool water to stop cooking process. Set aside. Let cool. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Take each potato and smash them slightly between both hands until they are somewhat flattened. Place potatoes in the pan of butter. Season with salt and pepper to your liking as they cook. Let the potatoes get a deep golden brown and then flip. You can add a little more butter if necessary to keep the pan from getting too dry. When the potatoes are done, sprinkle in the chopped dill. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve.

Potatoes

Smashed Dill Potatoes

We eat so many salads in the summer. Usually we just make a simple herbed vinaigrette type of dressing. Every once in awhile, though, a creamy dressing is delicious! This dill dressing was so yummy, we made it twice in the last couple of weeks- once served with a simple cucumber and tomato salad and another time with smoked salmon and homemade croutons made with leftover Bella sourdough bread.

Salad bowl

Fresh Dill Dressing
3 sprigs Fresh Dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Chives, finely chopped
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
3+ Tbsp Buttermilk
Salt & Pepper

Salad

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor. Add more buttermilk if it seems too thick. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes enough for one big salad or you can use it as a dip for raw vegetables.

Salad w Salmon

We tend to use mostly the leaves or fronds of the dill plant. It is common to use the flowers with the seeds for pickling. The flowering part has a much stronger flavor and can be a bit bitter to taste. I love the beautiful flowers in the garden, though. They look like fireworks!

Dill backlit

Refrigerator Pickled Dill Green Beans
Makes 3 pint jars
1-2 lbs Green Beans, trimmed (enough to fit into 3 pint jars)
3 cloves Garlic, sliced
3 sprigs of Fresh Dill
1-3 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp Black Peppercorns
5 cups White or Cider Vinegar (or a combination of both)
5 cups Water
1/4 cup Salt

Beans

Place 1 sliced garlic clove and 1 sprig of dill in each jar. Divide the pepper flakes and peppercorns between each jar. Fill each jar with the beans. Boil the vinegar, water, and salt until the salt has dissolved. Immediately fill each jar with the brine. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate. They are usually ready to eat after a day and should stay good in the refrigerator for about a month.

This has become one of our favorite ways to eat salmon. It is so simple and fresh and perfect for summer.

Salmon marinating

Salmon Marinated in Vodka & Dill
Serves 4
1 lb. Salmon Filets
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Vodka
2 Tbsp Fresh Dill, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper

Salmon Cooking

Whisk together oil, vodka, dill, garlic, salt & pepper in a bowl to create a marinade. Place salmon in the marinade, flesh side down. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Remove salmon from the marinade (but save the marinade) and grill, broil, or pan-fry the salmon flesh side down until flesh is browned (4-5 minutes) and then flip over and finish cooking skin side down for another few minutes. For the last 2 minutes, pour the marinade over the salmon.

And for a refreshing cocktail or after dinner sip…

Cucumber Dill Aquavit
1 750 ml bottle high quality Vodka (Absolute or Tito’s)
1/2 medium sized Cucumber, sliced thinly and then chopped
4 sprigs fresh Dill

Empty a few ounces of vodka out of the bottle (maybe make yourself a nice Vodka Tonic to start?). Add the dill and cucumber to the bottle with remaining vodka. Let it steep for a few days, up to one week. Then, strain out the vodka and discard the cucumber and dill. Freeze the vodka. Sip as is or make a delicious cocktail out of the Aquavit.

Poster for the Nashville event.

Poster for the Nashville event.

This week we are going to a benefit for The Nikki Mitchell Foundation. I’ve mentioned our beautiful friend Nikki many times. This week marks the anniversary of her passing and we are thrilled that her friend Rhonda continues her courageous fight for pancreatic cancer awareness. On the bill for the concert this week, among others, is Chris Stapleton. He is a great writer in town. We first took notice of his incredible voice when he was with The Steeldrivers. I started thinking about him and looked up to see all of his recordings. I noticed he was on a Buddy Emmons Tribute album that came out last year. It’s a fun album. You can check it out here. This reminded me of the time I was lucky enough to see Buddy play with Johnny Bush (for free!) at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree about 6 or 7 years ago.

buddyemmons

And then that made me think about our friend Brett Resnick. He’s turning into one hot-shot pedal steel player.

Brett at Santas

We met Brett, also, at Santa’s Pub. He is a fantastic new player and over the last year and a half since we’ve known him, we’ve seen him continue to get better and better. You can see him playing with all sorts of folks around town. He’s also been featured on several new albums I have mentioned over the last few months.

BrettResnick 3-29-14

Korean Garlic Ginger Deliciousness (3 Ways) & The Music of Luke Bell

3 ways

So, as I have stated before, Korean food is sort of new to our tastebuds. Neither Grant nor I experienced it much before moving to Nashville eight years ago. Don’t get me wrong- Nashville is not a city, in any way, known for its Korean food but somehow, we found a little joint that probably serves up pretty good Korean food. I say, “pretty good” because I am certain there are so many better places in the world to get great Korean food. But for us, it was good enough to entice us into a new cuisine and we’ve been experimenting around with Korean flavors at home ever since.

We experienced our very own Korean Thanksgiving last year and since then, have been expanding on that idea to include chicken, catfish, and a vegetarian option of mushrooms with tempeh. So basically, it is just a variation on a similar theme but I loved them all and wanted to keep track of them here.

First off, you’ll need kimchi. Grant has tried making it once and we have experimented with several store bought varieties. They were all delicious in different ways. Once I have a great homemade recipe, I will post it.

Kimchi

You will also need these two delicious sauces…

Sauces

Ginger-Scallion Sauce (this sauce is a necessity!)
2½ cups Scallions, thinly sliced, both green and white parts
½ cup Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup Grapeseed Oil
1½ tsp Tamari
1 tsp Sherry Vinegar
½ tsp Sea Salt, or to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve in a bowl.

Ssam Sauce (this sauce is optional)
2 Tbsp Fermented Bean-and- Chili Paste (Ssamjang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
1 Tbsp Chili Paste (Kochujang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
½ cup Sherry Vinegar
½ cup Grapeseed Oil

Mix all ingredients together and serve in a bowl.

Tempeh-3

Korean Garlic Ginger Mushrooms & Tempeh
Serves 3
2 Tbsp Mirin
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
3 Tbsp Tamari or Shoyu
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
a couple drops of Sesame Oil
8 oz Soy Tempeh, cut into cubes
6 Mushrooms (any variety), sliced
Grape Seed Oil

In a small bowl, combine the mirin, ginger, 2 Tbsp tamari, garlic, and sesame oil and whisk into a sauce. Set aside. Heat a skillet and add a little oil. Add the mushrooms and tempeh (you can also just use vegetable or tofu in place of the tempeh). Sprinkle with remaining tamari. When the mushrooms are soft and reduced and the tempeh has browned a little and firm, turn the heat down to low. Add the sauce to coat and cook down for a couple minutes.

Serve with both sauces, butter lettuce, kimchi, and rice. You can make little lettuce wrap bundles and vary what toppings you use in each. This is a really fun (yet somewhat messy) way to eat it and each little wrap can be slightly different. We also served sliced cooked carrots with black bean sauce and a tiny bit of molasses in addition to a marinated cucumber salad.

Carrots

Korean Garlic Ginger Chicken
serves 2-3
2 Tbsp Mirin
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
3 Tbsp Tamari or Shoyu
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
a couple drops of Sesame Oil
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, each cut into 4 pieces
Grape Seed Oil

In a small bowl, combine the mirin, ginger, tamari, garlic, and sesame oil and whisk into a sauce. Use the sauce as a marinade for the chicken and soak for approximately 30 minutes. Heat a skillet and add a little oil. Add the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 5-6 minutes on each side, until it is lightly brown on each side. Add the sauce (which you marinaded the chicken in) to coat and cook down for a few minutes.

We served the chicken with both sauces, kimchi mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach with tamari and sesame seeds.

Kimchi Pots & Ses Spin

Korean Garlic Ginger Catfish
Serves 2
2 Tbsp Mirin
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
3 Tbsp Tamari or Shoyu
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
a couple drops of Sesame Oil
¾-1lb Catfish Fillets, chopped into big chunks
Grape Seed Oil

catfish 2

In a small bowl, combine the mirin, ginger, tamari, garlic, and sesame oil and whisk into a sauce. Use the sauce as a marinade for the catfish and soak for approximately 15-30 minutes. Heat a skillet and add a little oil. Add the catfish. Cook the catfish for about 3 minutes on each side, until it is lightly brown on each side. Add the sauce (which you marinaded the catfish in) to coat and cook down for a few minutes.

We served the catfish with butter lettuce, kimchi, and rice and made lettuce wraps for this one, too. We also had roasted Brussels sprouts on the side.

Brussels

Catfish

Leftovers of any of these are always good just piled on top of each other in a bowl. Yum!

Leftovers

Here’s another awesome new country (*real country*) album out. This one is from another fellow we became acquainted with through the magic that is Santa’s Pub named Luke Bell. In fact, Luke had his cd release at Santa’s and what a fun party it was. He got a friend of his to roast a goat all day and there were tacos, guest singers, and dancing.

Luke Bell at his cd release party, June 2014.

Luke Bell at his cd release party, June 2014.

This is Luke’s second album out. It is titled, Don’t Mind If I Do, and as the title suggests, he’s a little bit sassy yet very laid back, down to earth, and really nice. Luke grew up working on a Wyoming ranch. He has a deep appreciation of old school country and has aligned himself with like minded folks here in Nashville. The new album has many danceable songs- two-stepping tunes, waltzes, and even a little yodeling. You can buy his new album here.

And… Kelsey Waldon‘s new album came out this week! Everyone is talking about The Gold Mine. You can read Rolling Stone Country’s review here and buy a copy for yourself here.

tumblr_n54cladNMr1qzkmx3o1_500

Chuck Mead & Dressed Eggs

Potluck

Growing up in the South, deviled eggs were a part of every Easter celebration, always found at potlucks and cookouts, and were always made basically the same way- eggs, mayonnaise, a little mustard, and pickle relish with a dusting of paprika on top. My Uncle Joe made the best deviled eggs! He never held back on the mayo and always salt and peppered them just right.

Dressed Eggs-1

In Tennessee, we’ve learned that deviled eggs are referred to as, “dressed eggs” because they are often served at church picnics and potlucks and presumably, it just isn’t proper to talk about the devil while in church (especially while eating something so delicious!).

I haven’t made many dressed eggs of my own but I have seen so many different versions in cooking magazines lately that I started concocting my own versions in my head. I finally came up with these two varieties- one using avocado and cilantro and one using kimchi which we always seem to have in our refrigerator as of late. We enjoyed them with some sauteed collards from our CSA and this recipe from awhile back for Herby Pecan Baked Chicken (only it being summer now, I substituted all the dried herbs for fresh and added 3 cloves of garlic in with the nuts and herbs which was delicious).

Kimchi Dressed Eggs
6 Eggs
½ tsp Salt
¼ cup chopped Kimchi (with a little of the liquid)
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
Srircha Hot Sauce
Sesame Seeds

Avocado Dressed Eggs
6 Eggs
½ tsp Salt
½ Avocado
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
½ tsp Lime Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
Cilantro (a little bit chopped to mix in the egg yolk mixture and a small piece to garnish each of the 12 egg halves)

Eggs

Put the eggs in a saucepan and pour water over them to cover them by 1-2 inches. With the stove on high heat, bring the water to a full rolling boil and then immediately turn the heat off. Remove the saucepan from the burner and cover with a lid. Let sit for exactly 10 minutes. Pour the hot water out of the pan and rinse the eggs with cold water to stop all cooking. Roll the eggs around to crack the shells. Place in a bowl. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, gently peel the eggs under running cold water. Cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and place in a bowl, placing the egg whites on a separate plate. Mix in all the ingredients for each specific variety above. Spoon in the mixture into the egg whites. Top the Kimchi Dressed Eggs with a tiny dollop of Srircha and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Top the Avocado Dressed Eggs with a piece of cilantro.

Dressed Eggs 2 ways

Speaking of potlucks, we had some potluck recipes featured in the May issue of Country Living. And while my recipes on this blog are typically made a little healthier than the usual way to make things, these recipes do not hold back on the fat! You will be sure to please all your friends and neighbors this summer with these recipes. Here’s the link. We had lots of fun having them visit.

Getting our recipes photographed.

Getting our recipes photographed.

Chuck Mead singing a song with the lovely & talented Sarah Gayle Meech at the Red Barn Round-Up party back when Country Living visited.

A couple of weeks ago, we got to see Million Dollar Quartet, the traveling Tony award winning Broadway musical that our Nashville buddy Chuck Mead brilliantly directed the music for and our NYC buddy Corey Kaiser stars in as Carl Perkin’s brother and bass player, Jay Perkins. The show was in Nashville for about a week down at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. It was fabulous!

Chuck & The Grassy Knoll Boys, October 2012.

Chuck & The Grassy Knoll Boys, October 2012.

Chuck Mead also has a brand spankin’ new album out called Free State Serenade and it is on heavy rotation at our house. I love his music- his songs with his long-time band BR549, a well as his solo releases with his current band, his Grassy Knoll Boys. Those Grassy Knoll Boys kick some serious ass! Chuck writes fun, good-timing songs and has a huge knowledge and respect for the history of music. This album seems a little more unique, a little more personal and heart felt. Every song was written for Chuck’s home state of Kansas. You can purchase his new album here.

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music by Sturgill Simpson.

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music by Sturgill Simpson.

A couple of other country albums that we’ve been digging are Sturgill Simpson’s second album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Sturgill is super talented, a true original, one of the nicest folks around, and I am thrilled that people are taking notice! You can purchase the new album and other cool merchandise here. He puts on a great live show so be sure to catch him when you can.

Carter Girl by Carlene Carter.

Carter Girl by Carlene Carter.

We’ve also been enjoying the new release from Carlene Carter titled, Carter Girl. The daughter of country music legends, June Carter and Carl Smith, her new release is a beautiful album covering three generations of Carter family songs. Guest vocals on this new release include Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Elizabeth Cook, and Vince Gill. You can buy it here.

May your summer nights be filled with delicious food and good music!

Radishes & Rock

Radish-1 We’ve joined a Nashville CSA! For years we had a CSA in Seattle with Willie Greens. They taught us how to appreciate Brussels sprouts and so many other wonderful vegetables. Well, our friends Nick and Nicole over at Double N Urban Farms have a beautiful urban farm and we are proud CSA members for their very first year. It hasn’t started just yet but we were invited to an open house last week to have a sneak peak at the farm and pick up some radishes and arugula. What fun!

CSA=1

CSA-2

We made the most delicious Radish Butter. We experimented with the Lee Bros. recipe for Radish Butter last year but Nicole turned me on to a slight variation she found from Cinnamon Girl blog which inspired me to add in the radish greens and a little lemon zest. Here’s how our recipe turned out. We enjoyed this on some Bella Nashville Bakery‘s sourdough bread. Their bread has reignited my love of toast! It is so delicious. Radish Butter Radish Butter
¼ lb Radishes (with leafy tops)
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
1 tsp Lemon Zest
½ tsp Sea Salt
¼ tsp Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until creamy. Delicious on toast and also a great spread for a springtime sandwich. We created a delicious sandwich with some with leftover grilled asparagus and steak.

Radish Butter meal I am way behind in updating my “Welcome to Nashville” post. I try to update it whenever everything seems to have shifted and new highlights arise. I’m afraid Nashville is changing so much and so often that I am having trouble trying to keep up with all the goings on. As far as old school country music goes and the living history still so vibrant in our city, I still highly recommend any visitor to do everything listed in my last update!

You can see country music legends like Bill Anderson play around town- even sometimes for free as was the case here. Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree. March 2014.

You can see country music legends like Bill Anderson play around town- even sometimes for free as was the case here. Ernest Tubb’s Midnight Jamboree. March 2014.

But, as far as shopping and restaurants go, I’ll let you rely on some other excellent sources who spend more time keeping up with all that. When we first moved to Nashville, we pretty much only went out to eat when we found ourselves needing a break from doing the dishes because otherwise, we quickly realized we could cook way better food at home. In fact, that’s why I started my blog- to keep up with our cooking experiments. The rare exceptions to this norm were a trip to Margot or City House to celebrate a special occasion when we could afford it. We, thankfully, can still do that and there are some really great new restaurants to add to that short list but there are so many opening now, at such a frequent rate, that we can’t possibly keep up. And besides that, if I told you about all the awesome new stuff happening here, you might get the bright idea to move here and it’s beginning to get a little crowded… It’s getting so crowded, in fact, that reservations almost seem to be a requirement to ensure a table at new restaurants, especially on the weekends. To our surprise, we stopped at Two Ten Jack before a show last Saturday and although the entire outdoor seating was full, we had absolutely no wait! According to our server and our past recent experiences, this was out of the ordinary. Two Ten Jack is a really fun Japanese bar and restaurant that opened just a few months back. We have enjoyed some delicious cocktails, small plates, and ramen here a few times.

Two Ten Jack has outdoor seating but expect it to be full all summer. Luckily, I sort of love their interior. So fun.

Two Ten Jack has outdoor seating but expect it to be full all summer. Luckily, I sort of love their interior. So fun.

After dinner, we had so much fun at Bobby Bare Jr’s cd release show at the Mercy Lounge. We must have seen at least a dozen BBJr shows while living in Seattle nearly decade ago. He has so much energy and his songs are so well written. There is always an underlying humor in his songs, even the sad ones, that I always connected with. And he always brought an excellent cast of revolving side musicians with him to Seattle, too, which I loved. That’s where we first heard the beautiful voice of Carey Kotsionis, saw Tom Pappas’ incredible hair and his impeccable bass stylings, Cory Younts’ multi-instrumental talents, Duane Denison &  Chris Masterson’s beautiful guitar licks, Doni Schroeder’s fascinating drum beats (at that time, every beat came from way above his head), and even back-up vocals by the lovely Holly Williams. Since moving to Nashville, Bobby’s hometown, we rarely get to see him play an entire show of his music (especially with a full band) so when he told us about this cd release show a month or so ago, I promptly put it on our calendar.

BBJR

This show was a full-on ROCK show featuring all the new songs and a few of my old favorites. Bobby seemed really comfortable and confident. Doni Schroeder, in the most amazing skeleton onesie I’ve ever seen on a grown up, has really become one of the best drummers I have ever seen. Sadly, it was his last show with Bobby as he moves on to his next big project. Jimmy Matt Rowland masterfully rounded out the trio with TWO keyboards and his usual antics. They all had great energy and made me very happy (albeit a little deaf).

Doni Schroeder & Jimmy Matt Rowland.

Doni Schroeder & Jimmy Matt Rowland.

Bobby joined by Cory Branan.

Bobby joined by Cory Branan.

The new cd (on Bloodshot Records) is great, too, probably his best yet and filled with the same fantastic level of storytelling that endeared me to his other Bare Jr. and Young Criminals Starvation League albums prior. You can purchase it and his new dvd here and be sure to catch him on tour, opening for the awesome Guided By Voices, if they happen to be rolling through your town (sorry, Nashville…).

Lazy Spring Cooking & New Music

I have to admit, I’ve been a little lazy in the cooking department lately. Not sure why and luckily, Grant has been on a cooking tare. I’m preparing to post some more of his Korean inspired recipes real soon but in the mean time, I have two more soups to post that I made in the last cold weeks before spring finally broke through.

dogwood

Both of these two soups were tasty and super easy to make. This first soup was inspired by our dear friend Catherine Oliva. Catherine is one of the first friends we made when we moved to Nashville. She has a perfect combination of southern (North Carolina) charm and modern day business sense. She always says the right thing and handles herself with grace. I have occasionally found myself in a social situation where I have thought, “What would Catherine Oliva do?” Thank God for friends like that, who you can channel to help you in times of need. Several times she has made us this wonderful Italian sausage soup with garbonzo beans and zucchini. I was craving it lately and made up this version of my own. It wasn’t nearly as yummy as hers but it was good and easy. I used spicy Italian sausage from our neighborhood local butcher and it was delicious. You can vary it, too, depending on what you have on hand. You can add peppers or tomatoes. Her’s doesn’t have kale but I wanted a one-pot meal with some greens and it turned out great. It went something like this…

Italian Soup-1

Italian Sausage Garbanzo Soup
Serves 6

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 medium Zucchini, cut in rounds and then each round, halved
  • 1 25oz can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 bunch Lacanato Kale, washed and cut in small strips
  • ½ lb Ground Sausage
  • Fresh Parsley (I use lots but not everyone loves it as much as we do. I also added in some dried Italian herbs.)
  • 3 cups Vegetable Stock

Italian Soup-2

Saute the onion in olive oil. Add the loose sausage (or if you have links, squeeze the sausage out of the casings and into the pan) and stir to break it up. Add the zucchini and stir. Cook for a couple minutes. Add the garbanzo beans and herbs. Cook for a few minutes. Add the stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about half an hour or so. Salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Italian Soup-3

Last summer I had a devil of a time finding any organic fresh corn (and I was trying so hard to avoid any of that Monsanto corn that is taking over the world) but I kept craving corn because it was summer so I bought a few bags of frozen organic corn and apparently we didn’t eat them all because I realized we had a couple still in the freezer. I wanted to make a chicken corn chowder but didn’t want it to be too rich or heavy. Here’s what I came up with. Being lazy, I bought a rotisserie chicken from our neighborhood natural foods store but you can easily use any leftover roast chicken you have or even boil up a breast or two and then shred them.

Corn Chowder

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
Makes 6 large servings

  • 1 Tbsp Butter or Ghee
  • 1 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cups frozen organic Corn (I used 1 cup white shoepeg and 3 cups yellow sweet.)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, chopped (I used the seeds, too, to make it spicy!)
  • 2 cups Chicken (Roasted or Rotisserie), chopped
  • 1 14 oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
  • Sliced Avocado and Chopped Cilantro to garnish

Chowder

Saute the onion in the ghee until it gets nice and soft. Remove it from the stovetop. In a blender, blend 1 cup of the corn with the onion and 1 cup of the broth. This makes a nice creamy broth. Set aside. Saute the peppers and then add the remaining ingredients. Cook for a few minutes to combine all the flavors and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for a few minutes. Add the blended onion and corn broth which gives the soup a nice creamy texture. Cook for 15 or so more minutes. Top with avocado and cilantro and enjoy!

And speaking of lazy… because I was being so lazy, I figured out I could make homemade granola in less than 30 minutes and I never even turned the oven on. I made it in an iron skillet, just as I’ve been making my spiced nuts.

Granola-3

Simply mix these ingredients together in a medium bowl (too lazy to measure any of the ingredients but just mix together whatever you have and enough to fill whatever size iron skillet you have without crowding it too much)- roughly chopped raw nuts, raw seeds, raw oats, chopped dried apricots, and currants.

Granola-4

Pour the mix into your iron skillet (dry- no oil necessary). Stir them periodically and watch closely so they don’t get too toasty. Once they begin to brown very slightly and you can start to smell the nuts, add 2-3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like your granola) and a sprinkle of salt (optional). Keep stirring until lightly toasty. Remove from heat. Pour back into the bowl to cool. We enjoyed ours with some plain Greek yogurt.

Granola-1

While kicking back and relaxing with all that extra time I had from being so lazy in the kitchen, I have been enjoying some new music. Our friend Robby Hecht is a wonderful songwriter and he has a beautiful new album out. I have been listening to it all week.

Robby-1

This is Robby’s third album and is simply titled, Robby Hecht. You can purchase it here (along with other awesome Robby Hecht merch) and he has a new video for the song, Soon I Was Sleeping, which was brilliantly made by Ryan Newman and features the lovely voice of Canadian songbird, Rose Cousins.

Happy Spring, Y’all!

 

Eating Lots of Carrots & Thinking about Austin

Carrots

I just love cooked carrots. I know, not everyone does but I can’t help but think those who do not, just haven’t really explored all the taste possibilities cooked carrots have. They are so delicious cooked with onions and a little butter. So savory with a tad bit of sweetness. And they are so good for us, nutritionally speaking. Carrots can be alkalinizing, cleansing, nourishing, and stimulating to almost every system in the body. Carrots are powerful antioxidants which can help prevent and fight cancer in the body. Carrots are also high in fiber and loaded with pectin which can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Don’t fool with those “baby carrots” though, as they aren’t really babies at all, just big ones that have been whittled down to look cute and easy to eat. How wasteful. And I have found that those are never as flavorful as the the real deal.

Here’s a couple of comfort dishes I came up with in the last week. The first one is a risotto. Instead of using arborio rice, though, I found some Italian farro in the cupboard. Farro is similar to barley so it takes a little bit longer to cook and has a little bit more of a chew than rice but it’s pretty yummy.

Carrot Risotto

Roasted Carrot Farro Risotto
Serves 6

  • 5 Carrots
  • ½ Onion, sliced
  • 6 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • ½ Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 cups Farro
  • 1 cup White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • Small Bunch Parsley, chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Carrots Roasting

The key to cooking risotto is to stir constantly so be sure to have all ingredients prepped ahead of time. Preheat oven to 400. Slice the carrots very thinly- I like to use a mandoline to get them thin and uniform. Spread the carrots and the onion slices out in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, Italian herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set carrots aside. Heat the stock in medium sauce pan. Once it comes to a boil, lower temperature to simmer. Heat butter in large flat pan on medium heat. Add the other half of the chopped onion and saute. Stir. Cook for a couple minutes. Add farro. Stir. Add wine. Stir. Gradually begin to add stock in, about half a cup at a time and continue to stir. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add a little bit of the fresh chopped parsley every few minutes, too. Add another addition of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the farro will still have some chew to it. The process will take about 45 minutes, as the farro takes longer to cook than rice. Add the carrots and onions in and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Add parmesan to risotto and stir. Sprinkle with the remaining fresh chopped parsley. I served it with a simple green salad.

And then there was this next concoction which would be good served with some greens or roasted Brussels sprouts on the side. It might also make an excellent side dish for some grilled pork chops. I love the sweet and spicy from the maple and bourbon combined with the Tobasco in the grits mixed with the earthiness of the rosemary and Gruyere. Mmm…

Carrots & Onions

Maple Bourbon Carrots & Grits
Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup Stone-Ground Corn Grits*
  • 4 cups Water
  • ¼ – ½ cup Buttermilk
  • 1 cup grated cave-aged Gruyere cheese
  • Tabasco
  • Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee or Butter
  • 6-7 Carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 big Red Onion, Sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Bourbon
  • Chopped fresh Parsley & Rosemary (I used about 2 Tbsp)
  • Salt & Black Pepper to taste

I tend to go for a creamier texture for my grits but you can play around with how long you cook them, how much liquid you add, etc. until you find the right texture to suit you. Cooking instructions usually have you soak the grits in the water to allow the hulls to rise to the top so you can skim them off. I always omit this step, opting for a little more grit and texture. Place the water in a pan on the stove. Add the grits and a couple pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once it starts to thicken, pour buttermilk in a little at a time and stir, as the liquid starts to all be absorbed and get thicker. Once you get a nice creamy texture and the grits aren’t too tough to taste, add the cheese, Tabasco, salt, and pepper and stir. Total cooking time usually takes about 45 minutes for me.

Grits

As the grits cook… In an iron skillet on medium heat, add the ghee. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and caramelize. Keep stirring and right when you start to think the carrots are just about done, add the maple syrup and bourbon. Stir and then toss the herbs in. Cook a couple more minutes. Serve carrots over the grits.

Grits & Carrots

*All grits are definitely not created equally. Be sure to use really good quality, old fashioned, stone-ground grits which you can usually find in nicer grocery stores, specialty shops, at old mills out in the country, or online. I really like to use Falls Mills grits when in Tennessee.

Austin

SxSW is coming up down in Austin, TX and we, sadly, are not making the trek this year. Just thinking about it and hearing as our friends prepare to head down has made me crave some good ol’ Texas tacos! If you are headed Texas way, here’s my list of favorite taco joints from a few years back. And then, there’s also this I wrote the following year. I’m sure there are plenty of new places to try but these listed are some of the best that have been around for awhile.

And speaking of SxSW, these two are preparing to take it by storm! They’ve got a slew of shows down in Austin, and at towns along the way, and I am so happy for them.

Cale Tyson & Kelsey Walden, The Red Barn Round-Up, 2013.

Cale Tyson & Kelsey Waldon, The Red Barn Round-Up, 2013.

We first met Kelsey Waldon at a $2 Tuesday at The 5 Spot long ago and quite often she will sit in with Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers on Sunday nights at Santa’s Pub. We were instantly drawn to her old school country sound. Kelsey is from Kentucky and just graduated with a degree from Belmont in songwriting. Her songs are thoughtful and honest. It is evident she has an understanding and love of real country music. There is a vulnerability in her voice and her warm, genuine personality shines through her songs.

Kelsey

Kelsey Waldon with Brett Resnick on pedal steel guitar, The Music Loft at Mad Donnas, Nashville, 2013.

Here’s a video of her song, Know My Name, that was shot at The Stone Fox in January. This song is the first one from her most recent album titled, Fixin’ It Up. She has a new album coming out real soon. Watch for it!

Cale Tyson is another singer and songwriter who we first met as he led the Ice Cold Pickers at Santa’s Pub. Cale is from Texas and sings slow, mournful yodels with a slight Texas twang. He sings songs about whiskey, being lonesome, honky-tonks, and lost love with a deep respect for the legendary songwriters whose music he grew up on.

Cale-1

Cale with Grant Johnson on guitar, The Music Loft at Mad Donna’s, Nashville, 2013.

His first EP, High on Lonesome, just came out and features some of Nashville’s best musicians. Here’s a video he shot for his song, Old Time Blues, featuring Grant “Big Smokey” Johnson on guitar and the beautiful Erin Rae singing.

Both Kelsey and Cale have voices very indicative of where they are from, seem fully immersed in Nashville’s rich history, and are poised for a very bright musical future.

Colorful Winter

Lulu the hound dog in one of her favorite snuggling spots.

Lulu the hound dog in one of her favorite snuggling spots.

Look at all these colors- colorful snuggling, colorful cooking! I love colorful meals and we’ve been lucky to find so many colorful veggies lately. It makes me really happy.

2- Colorful

I had someone ask me recently, “You have a soup blog, right?” Guilty. It seems last summer I had an herb blog and now, a soup blog. I do like my soups. They are so super easy to make, loaded with nourishing veggies, and so easy to eat. A big pot means we can have it for dinner and leftovers for lunches throughout the week. Plus, they are delicious. I got obsessed this week thinking about roasted vegetable soups. The roasted flavor creates an added layer. I made a batch of Banana Bread this week and had some coconut milk left over. That was the inspiration for this soup- one cup of coconut milk that I didn’t want to waste. It had a slight Indian spice to it but mostly, it was just delicious.

3-SwtPotSoup

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
4-6 servings

  • 1 Yellow Onion, cut in half and then quartered
  • 2 medium sized Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 medium sized Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • ½ Red Pepper, cut into 1” pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper
  • 5 cloves Garlic, with skin on
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • 4 cups Stock (I used chicken stock but vegetable would be good as well.)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 small bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh Parsley

Preheat oven to 400. In a large baking dish, add the onion, potatoes, and red pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Mix together. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir. Add the garlic and place a little more olive oil on the garlic. Roast for 20-30 more minutes. Meanwhile, heat a soup pot on the stove at medium heat. Add the stock, paprika, curry, cilantro, and parsley. Remove the vegetables from the oven and blend with 1 cup of coconut milk. Whisk the blended veggies together with the broth and cook for a few more minutes.

This next dinner came about because I wanted to make Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup but realized I didn’t have all the ingredients. I made it anyway and then it wasn’t quite right. I thought about what I could do to it to make it better for a day and then Grant and I decided to turn it into a sauce with meatballs. I know people who make great Italian meatballs are vehemently opposed to using ground turkey but we chose to use it here to keep the recipe leaner. It turned out really well. Here’s the final recipe.

4-turkey meatballs

Turkey Meatballs in a Vegetable Nut Ragu
Serves 4

  • ½ cup blend of- raw Cashews, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds
  • ½ cup Water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil or Ghee
  • ½ small Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 big Carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Diced Canned Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs (I used an Italian herb blend from Frontier that I love but any would work- basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc…)
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Toast the nuts and seeds. Cool. Blend in a blender with water. Set aside. Heat a soup pot on medium and add oil or ghee. Add onions. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes or so. Add garlic and carrots. Cook for another few minutes. Add tomatoes. Stir and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Add tomato paste, herbs and seasonings. In small batches, blend the tomato mixture in the blender with the nut milk and then return to the pot to heat through a few more minutes.

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground Turkey
  • 1 large Shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 -2 Tbsp Olive Oil

In a medium size bowl, mix the ground turkey with the shallots, garlic, and seasonings. Once it is evenly mixed, form into small meatballs (we like ours about an inch in diameter). Heat a large skillet on medium high and add the oil. Place the meatballs in the skillet and cook on both sides until lightly brown and cooked through. Add the sauce to the skillet, on top of the meatballs. Cook for a few more minutes. Serve the sauce with meatballs over cooked pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano. We served a simple salad on the side and washed it all down with a glass of red wine.

I haven’t been posting many sweet recipes lately. I still make pies from time to time for others but we have sort of lost our sweet teeth. And once you don’t eat much sugar, you don’t really ever crave it. When I do want sweets, it is usually in the form of a cookie or a little piece of good chocolate. I found these great Theo chocolate bars (one of my favorite chocolate companies whose chocolate factory just so happens to be on the street I lived on years ago in Seattle!) on sale at several grocery stores this month. The Salted Almond chocolate bars are so good. Luckily, I had a couple stowed away in the cupboard when it came time to figure out a cookie recipe to make for a dear friend’s birthday last week. Here’s what I came up with.

5-chocolate bar

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s, “Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies.” It is our new favorite! There is nothing better than a perfect cookie.

Chocolate Almond Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

  • ½ cup Cane Sugar
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 ¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raw Almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1 Theo Salted Chocolate Almond Bar, chopped
  • Parchment Paper (for storing and baking)

Preheat to 300. Beat the sugars and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Add the flour and salt and mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate and the almonds. I like to divide the batter into 3-4 balls and, on a piece of parchment paper, form each ball into a log about 1” in diameter. I then wrap each cookie dough log up in the parchment and place in a plastic bag. You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze them for months. When you are ready to bake some, simply slice them off and place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

6-cookies

It seems many of our friends and neighbors are all working on new albums. There are many in the works and I can’t wait! For now, keeping with the colorful theme- in name and sound- I have been listening to a local band I became aware of last Spring, Great Peacock.

Great Peacock at a neighborhood gathering one Saturday in June, 2013.

Great Peacock at a neighborhood gathering one Saturday in June, 2013.

Great Peacock’s Blount Floyd and Andrew Nelson combine a bold harmony-driven sound, nicely crafted songs inspired by their upbringing in the South- Alabama and Mississippi respectfully, lots of energy, and a love of old country music to create some really fun songs. I’ll close with this video they put out in December, of their single, Tennessee.

Comfort in a Bowl of Soup & New Music

icy

It’s still so so cold here. Frosty car windows have been my main inspiration it seems, at least photographically speaking. We’ve found comfort and warmth in more new soup recipes and some new music.

Cauliflower is a cool-season crop so it seems to be quite easy to find on the produce stands at most markets throughout the winter. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family along with broccoli and cabbage, cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. It has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and helps support good heart health and good digestion. So eat up! We found this soup helped make it real easy to fall in love with cauliflower.

Soup ingred

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Smoky Blue Cheese
(4-6 servings)

  • 1 head of Cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil 1 couple sprigs of fresh Rosemary, removed from stem
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock (or veggie)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Ghee or Butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped Shallots
  • 3 cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • Blue Cheese (I used Rogue River Smoky Blue, a little less than ¼ lb)
  • Salt & Pepper (again)

Preheat oven to 400. Place cauliflower in a baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, rosemary, salt & pepper. Place in the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring every once in awhile. Remove from oven and let cool. (By the way, this is a yummy side dish or snack just as it is.) Once the cauliflower has cooled (you could even roast the day before and use the leftovers to make a soup), place it in a blender with enough stock to blend the cauliflower until smooth. Meanwhile, heat a soup pan and add ghee. Add the garlic and shallots. Stir. Add the cauliflower mixture. Add the remaining chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add the milk and stir. Add the blue cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

cauliflower soup-2

As I type this, I am listening to the new EP by our friend Andrew Hunt‘s band, Johnny Appleseed. We first met Andrew at Grant’s Sunday night gig with the Ice Cold Pickers, the house band at Santa’s Pub every Sunday evening in Nashville.

Santa's Pub

It’s a wonderful group of musicians- some in their twenties, some nearly fifty; some just starting out, some with quite a resume. The common denominator, it seems, is all are very talented and super nice. The band has a revolving cast of singers who all sing a variety of classic country songs but who, I’ve discovered, all have their own sound and their own albums. They seem to be supportive of one another, it is a great group of musicians. I can’t wait to tell you about all of them but for now, since we just went to their cd release and their music fills the room, I present… Johnny Appleseed.

Santas

Santa’s is a smoke filled double-wide with an eclectic mix of music lovers of all ages. The ceiling hangs low and Andrew is so tall, the top of his head nearly touches the ceiling. His voice is so familiar and reminiscent of a time long past. He brings to mind early Johnny Paycheck, Webb Pierce, and Lefty Frizzell and he can sing those classics so well but holy cow, listen to his originals!

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed- the 5 Spot 2/04/14 with twin fiddles, Mark Sloan on guitar, John Estes on bass, & Smoking Brett Resnick on pedal steel guitar (sorry, you can only see his arm- more about him soon!). And that’s Gentleman Joe Giotta’s drum set peeking out behind Andrew.

Andrew has put together a supportive backing band with great guitar licks from Mark Sloan, really fun pedal steel guitar work from Brett Resnick, and even features twin fiddles on some songs. Their song, Harper’s Ferry, is one of my new favorites. I already look forward to hearing more. You can buy the new EP here. And look out for Johnny Appleseed if they come rolling through your town! I’ll close with this video for their song, Double Barrel Boogie.

Party Food & A Salad

Chicken Wings & Salad I sort of love chicken wings! No one ever wants to order them out with me and I really never do either because of the guilt. They are nasty-good. But, ever so often, I find some chicken wings in a store from a well-sourced place and I bring them home and Grant makes some for me. He prepares them a little bit healthier than what we’d find in a restaurant. They are way tastier, too! I thought it’d be a good time to share it with it being Super Bowl Weekend and all (Go Seahawks!).

Big Smokey’s BBQ Chicken Wings
Dry Rub:

  • ½ cup Cane Sugar
  • ½ cup Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 18-24 Chicken Wings

Mix rub ingredients together and rub liberally over chicken wings. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Sauce:

  • ½ Cup Cider Vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 4 Tbsp Guava Paste (or 3 Tbsp Molasses)
  • 3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
  • Tabasco Sauce to taste

Warm all ingredients together in a sauce over medium low heat until guava paste breaks up and melts (approx 15 minutes) then put aside.

Preheat oven to 375. Heat a large iron skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of bacon fat or oil of choice. When fat is smoking, place wings in pan, and cook until golden brown on both sides. Take off of heat and baste with the sauce and cook in the oven for 25 minutes basting and turning a few times. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Chicken Wings

Now, sometimes we keep some of the Big Smokey’s Dry Rub mixture up in the cupboard but the other day we ran out and I happened to have some local, Rhino Rub seasoning blend. I used that and it works great! If you live in Nashville, check it out! You can find it at The Turnip Truck.

I came up with this salad to go with the Big Smokey’s BBQ Chicken Wings and it was so delicious, we ate it three more times in the next few weeks without the chicken. Below is the original recipe and then, the two alternate vegetarian-friendly meal options.

Celery Salad

Celery & Blue Cheese Salad
Serves 2-4 (depending on serving size- whether it is a side salad or an entree)

  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 Celery Ribs, chopped
  • 4 Radishes, sliced
  • 1 Shallot, finely sliced
  • Small handful of fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Sherry Vinegar
  • Romaine Hearts (1 small head or half of a large head)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 oz Blue Cheese (Point Reyes or Maytag), crumbled

Mix the chopped carrots, celery, shallot, and parsley in a big bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and vinegar (not too much, maybe a Tbsp or so). Mix together well. Wash and dry the romaine. Chop into small pieces and add to the mix. Add more vinegar to taste, drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle the blue cheese crumbs on top.

The very next night, I needed to have this salad again and we still had all the ingredients but we didn’t want to have more chicken wings so instead, I toasted some mixed raw nuts in an iron skillet. As they began to get slightly toasted, I mixed in about ½ Tbsp melted butter with a tsp or two of the same dry-rub spices Grant had made the BBQ wings with. I removed the nuts from the pan and let them cool in a bowl. Then I tossed them into the salad above.

Celery Salad wNuts

And then the following week, I made the same salad (without the nuts) and served it with roasted acorn squash which I again seasoned the same way as the chicken wings and the nuts had been. I simply cut the squash in half, put a pat of butter in each half and sprinkled with the dry-rub spice blend. Then, I roasted some seeds- sunflower and pumpkin- in an iron skillet dry. Once they started to get hot, I added in about a teaspoon of maple syrup and a dash of sea salt. I topped the cooked squash with these little salty and sweet seeds. It was delicious and pretty nutritious.

Acorn Squash

Happy eating y’all!