Old Favorites (& A Few New Old Favorites!)

Fall Flowers

I’ve been thankful for my blog these last few weeks as it has served as a nice reminder of some of our favorite recipes and we have have been revisiting those lately. With the cold weather moving on in, we’ve already made several soups from previous posts- Lima Bean Soup With Bacon & Lemon, Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, and Cabbage Soup. There are also these soups from last year that we conjure back up from time to time.

Big Bowl of Sweet Potato Soup

Big Bowl of Sweet Potato Soup

And here is this year’s version of my Roasted Pumpkin Soup. I say “this year” because I make it once a year but usually forget to write it down and then have to reinvent it every year.

Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with a bowl of freshly chopped herbs ready to go it and a dish of roasted beets for the accompanying salad.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 Sugar Pumpkin, roasted
¾ cup Cashews
½ cup Water
4 cup Vegetable Stock
1 ½ White or Yellow Onions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Butter
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Herbs (Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary)
1 tsp Smoked Paprika

Cut pumpkin in half. Scrape out and discard the seeds the stringy bits. (Or roast the pumpkin seeds!) Place each half face down in a baking dish. Fill the dish with about an inch of water and place in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes. Remove the halves from the dish and let cool. Once cool enough to touch, scoop out the pumpkin flesh into a medium bowl and set aside. Blend cashews with water. Sautee the onions in the butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add garlic. Blend the pumpkin with the stock and onions and, along with the cashew milk, add back to the soup pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the smoked paprika. Reduce to a simmer. Add herbs. Salt & pepper as needed. Simmer for 20 minutes.

I came up with this tasty baked pasta and squash dish that I think would make a perfect Thanksgiving side dish.

Squash & Sage

Baked Butternut Squash & Sage Pasta
8 oz Pasta (I used Conchiglie, Montebello brand, but any penne or macaroni would do.)
1 small Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into small cubes
1 ½ cup Stock (veggie or chicken)
1 cup Whole Milk
1 tsp Dry Mustard
½ tsp Cayenne
¼ tsp Nutmeg
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
2 cups Prairie Breeze Cheese, grated (Prairie Breeze from Milton Creamery is the best and can be found most days at The Bloomy Rind in Nashville. You could also use Beechers Flagship, a sharp cheddar, a Gruyere or a blend of your favorites.)
2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Sage
1 cup Bella Sourdough Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp Butter + a little to butter the baking dish

Squash-1

Squash-2

Preheat oven to 375. Place the squash cubes in a pan with the stock. Cook on medium high heat until the squash forks done. Turn the stove to low. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and then drain. Chop the bread into small cubes. In an iron skillet, add 2 Tbsp butter and place on medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the bread and the chopped sage. Stir the bread crumbs several times as they crisp and lightly brown. Remove the bread crumbs from the stove and set aside. With a fork or potato masher, mash the squash in the broth. Add the milk and mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir together and then stir in the 1 1/2 cup cheese, reserving ½ cup for the top. Butter a baking dish and then add the pasta. Pour the squash mixture over the pasta and then top with the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs. Cover the baking dish with a piece of foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes.

Squash Pasta & Beans

I’ve been revisiting lots of old favorite music, as well, and discovering old music that is new to me. That’s the beauty of music, it is timeless, and just out there in the world waiting for you to discover and connect with it. Thanks to one Luke Bell who is the only local musician I have known to cover Randy Travis- he does it so well and I have realized it takes a special voice to do so- I have been listening to lots of old Randy Travis classics like this one…

And, holy cow, have y’all ever seen this video for He Walked On Water? It is very sweet.

Speaking of sweets, I don’t have any sweet treat recipes to post this time but Lord, have I been baking and eating sweets. I was asked to assist my sweet (no pun intended) friend Melissa Corbin as she competed in the great World Food Championships in Las Vegas. We spent hours baking and experimenting together.

Sweets in LV

You can read all about it and get her delicious recipe for Triple Dickel Apple and Chèvre Galette here.

This photo of all the judges empty tasting plates pretty much sums up how I currently feel about sweets.

This photo of all the judges empty tasting plates pretty much sums up how I currently feel about sweets.

Zucchini Pie & Non-GMOs

Zucchini Pie!

Zucchini Pie!

October is Non-GMO month. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are plants or animals that have been created through gene splicing techniques. It is changing the DNA of a plant. There is a lot of misinformation out in the world about this particular issue. One common misconception of GMOs is that they will allow us to feed more people in our ever growing world yet, none of the GMO traits currently on the market even offer increased yield, drought tolerance, higher nutrition, or any other benefits to consumers. And there is plenty of evidence now that connects GMOs to health problems, environmental damage and violation of both farmers’ and consumers’ rights. More than 60 countries around the world now have either significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs (meaning, also, that they won’t allow US grown products into their country!). The bottom line is, once we have lost complete control of the source of our food, there is absolutely no turning back. The importance of labeling our food as “Non GMO” is so that people like me, who care whether or not my food has been genetically modified, can try to avoid consuming too much genetically modified food. Seriously, y’all. It’s all about personal choice and labeling non-GMOs means we all still get a choice. I’ll stop my preaching but you can find out much more about this issue at the Non-GMO Project’s site.

The reason I thought to tie this topic in with this particular recipe below, though, is some of my favorite vegetables are now almost impossible to find Non-GMO (especially in middle Tennessee). In the United States, unless you can be certain you are eating organic, our corn crops, beet crops, zucchini and squash crops are pretty much all genetically modified at this point. Buying fresh vegetables has never been so confusing. In the summer, it’s easy to either grow your own food or buy seasonal, organic and local thanks to our local organic farmers! In the winter, it becomes way more complicated. We now have to think about the “Dirty Dozen” and this GMO list.

05-10

Thank God for friends, neighbors, and local farmers like Double N Urban Farm  (above) who provided us with lots of delicious organic produce this past summer!

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Now, about that recipe… I have a special place in my heart for Art Bomb Studios in Greenville, S.C. First off, one of my very favorite people in all the world, my big Sis, has a studio space there. So, I have spent lots of time here visiting her studio, attending their many art shows, or just hanging out and enjoying some food with excellent company.

art bomb 2

09-28

On my most recent visit, our friend and Art Bomb founder Diane shared some wonderful cookbooks with me and this very special recipe of hers for Zucchini Pie. I had never heard of such but she said it was one of her very favorite recipes and I have often made Zucchini Bread so I thought I would give it a try. I am always looking for new ways to add even more veggies into our diet. Even though it is easier to find good, local organic zucchini in the summer, this pie screamed FALL to me! Next time, I might experiment with grating the zucchini instead of cubing and it just might be tasty with some grated candied ginger thrown in. It would be great served alongside apple and pumpkin pies for a Thanksgiving day spread. Leftovers were great with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

Zuc Pie 3

Zuc Pie 2

Zucchini Pie
Filling:
4 cups Zucchini, diced
1 ¼ cups Sugar (I used organic cane sugar.)
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ cup Flour
1 Egg, beaten
¼ tsp Salt

Topping:
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and let rest for 20-25 minutes. According to Diane, this is a necessary step which allows the gasses to escape so you won’t get gas from eating it. While you let the filling rest, roll out the pie dough (PLEASE never use store-bought crust, it is so easy to make your own. Here is my basic recipe here) and make the topping by mixing the 3 ingredients together until crumbly. I just used my fingers. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust and then crumble topping on top. Bake for one hour.

Zuc Pie 4

Exciting music news this week: our buddy (and proud Alabamian) Jon Byrd has a new cd out!

JonByrd

Jon is a wonderful songwriter, storyteller and all around great human being. His song Jack Knife is seriously one of my all time favorites. With this album, his 3rd, he decided to sing the songs of some of his favorite songwriters. It’s titled, Route 41, and you can purchase it here. He had his cd release party at the world famous Station Inn last week. If you happened to miss it, he’s playing again next Friday. You can check out all his dates on his website.

JB cd release

Out next week is the second EP from our buddy, Cale Tyson, titled, Cheater’s Wine.

Cale cd

This young Texan is already getting some good reviews for his songwriting. He’s a big fan of Townes Van Zandt and has a deep respect for the oldtimers of country music. He is in a group of young Nashville songwriters who are leading the charge to keep traditional country music alive. I love them!

Don’t forget to support our local artists and musicians as they are truly what make our communities thrive. Eat well, cold season is coming up! For more interesting articles about Non-GMOs and eating with purpose, visit our friends over at Corbin in The Dell.

Boiled Peanuts and Country Music

Boiled Peanuts-2

Growing up in South Carolina, hand-written “boiled peanuts” signs on the side of the road were a constant visual. The landscape is dotted with them and nearly every convenience store has a crock pot simmering with boiled peanuts. There was never a shortage, however, I never ate them as a youngster. In fact, I thought they were gross without even ever trying them. Shameful. It wasn’t until I brought my Pacific Northwestern born and bred soon-to-be husband to the south for the first time nearly fifteen years ago that I actually tried them, as I had to give him a complete southern experience. It was then that I realized how good they actually are.

When we first moved to Nashville eight years ago, we stumbled across a big bag of green peanuts at the farmer’s market and Grant was excited to make his own boiled peanuts. He did and they were delicious. But then we never saw green peanuts again until just the other day. Come to find out, you can also make these with dried peanuts in the shell which are much easier to find.

Green Peanuts

Green Peanuts

Here’s Grant’s recipe. They are so good, we ate the whole pound in one sitting!

Hot & Smoky Boiled Peanuts
1 lb Green Peanuts
2 Tbsp Smoked Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
½ tsp Cayenne

Mix spices in a pot of water. Add Peanuts. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 hours.

Boiling Peanuts

Boiling Peanuts

Boiled peanuts make me think of road trips and speaking of road trips, our friend and fellow Nashvillian, JP Harris, is one of the hardest working road dogs we know and he has a brand new album out! His music is country- I mean real honky-tonk country and very fun (I’m talking like Jerry Reed fun), and he’s one of the nicest guys around. You can pick up his new album, Home Is Where the Hurt Is, from Cow Island Music here. And you can be sure to hear JP Harris & The Tough Choices live because they are always on tour. You can see a full list of all the live dates on his website, here.

JP Harris & The Tough Choices at the Basement. March 2014.

JP Harris & The Tough Choices at the Basement. March 2014.

Also, I am anxiously awaiting the new release from Margo Price. I’ve mentioned Margo before, here, back when her band Buffalo Clover’s latest cd was released. Margo has had a side country band for sometime now called Margo & The Pricetags. They were always fun but it wasn’t until she decided to make that her main musical focus that I really took notice. That’s become one of my favorite things about having lived in Nashville just as long as I have- I get to follow along and watch as many songwriters and musicians discover who they are and begin to hone in on their talents. It all starts to unfold right in front of you and it is so exciting to be a part of.

Margo Price with Mark Sloan on guitar. Basement, March 2014.

Margo Price with Mark Sloan on guitar. Basement, March 2014.

So far, Margo & The Pricetags have recorded a single titled, Since You Put Me Down, and she is currently working on a full album. Rolling Stone Country just posted her first video for that single and you can see it, below. It blew me away. I can’t wait to hear more, Margo! (And also, you can find out more about Erin Rae who lends beautiful backing vocals on this song here. You will hear much more about her on this blog and elsewhere soon, too. We love Erin!)

Fall is here. It is officially soup making weather! More recipes and music recommendations coming soon…

Oat Cakes, Blue Cheese & Bluegrass

Oat Crackers & Blue Cheese

Oat Cake Crackers served with Dunbarton Blue.

Grant and I both love whole grain, very slightly sweet crackers that are really somewhere in between a cracker and a cookie. When we lived in the Pacific Northwest, we could find these up in Canada or in specialty food stores around Seattle. Often they are labeled “Digestive Aids” and are popular in British food sections. In Scotland, they call them Oat Cakes. They are a perfect companion to really good cheese, especially blue cheese. I’ve been hanging out lots at The Bloomy Rind and she has an excellent selection of U.S. artisan blue cheeses. So many! I’ve been slowly working my way through all of them which made me start to crave the little oat crackers I can’t seem to find anywhere around these parts. So, I came up with my own recipe! It’s really hard to know what to call them since the idea seems to stem from the Scottish Oat Cakes yet, they are more like cookies but since they aren’t very sweet, they are also kind of a cracker. I decided to call them Oatmeal Cake Crackers.

Oat Cracker Dough

Oatmeal Cake Crackers
1 ½ cups Rolled Oats, coarsely ground in a food processor
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
¼ cup Demerara Sugar (or Cane Sugar or Brown Sugar)
¾ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ cup Unsalted Butter
¼ cup Buttermilk (I used Hatcher whole buttermilk.)

Oat Crackers on Sheet

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together with your hands or a food processor. Roll out on a floured surface to ¼” thickness. Using a small biscuit cutter, cut into rounds and place on a cookie sheet. Brush the tops with egg white. Bake for 15-16 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. These are delicious with cheese, especially the blue or cheddar varieties.

Oat Crackers Baked

Last weekend was a big bluegrass weekend for us as Grant’s bluegrass band, Off The Wagon, had three shows. Saturday they played The Station Inn and our friend Bradford Lee Folk joined them for a few songs. It reminded me of how much I love his voice and that I forgot to mention his new album, Somewhere Far Away, which came out a couple months back.

Bradford  & OTW

We first became familiar with Brad, or at least his voice, back when we lived in Seattle and we saw his old band Open Road play one of our favorite venues, the Tractor Tavern. So, when we first met him in Nashville a few years back, we were thrilled he had moved to town and excited to hear his new music. What a voice!

Brad&Mic-2

You can find his new cd plus lots of other good merch and his touring dates all on his website here. His songs are so beautiful and his voice is really unique. Definitely check his music out!

Brad at Roberts

 

Summer’s End

Whidbey

West Beach, Whidbey Island, WA.

Beach

Washington Park, Anacortes, WA.

Skagit

Driving through the Skagit Valley always pulls at my heart. There is nothing like it.

We just returned from a trip to visit family and friends in the Pacific Northwest. We quickly made up for our usual lack of fresh seafood while living in middle Tennessee, right from the get-go and procured a few other of our favorite PNW treats…

Photo 7-Seafood

Photo 8-Food

And in Seattle, our friend Steve took us out on his boat where we feasted on a picnic of freshly caught and steamed crab, local cheeses, and fresh fruit- while getting one of the best views of the city, in my opinion. I find the real working parts of the city to be the most beautiful.

Nautical

Nautical Men!

from the Boat

Our friend Kathy had a little birthday cook-out for her husband Chris and we were thrilled to be able to help celebrate. She created a few new simple recipes that I fell in love with. She came up with a few gems and with her permission, I am sharing them here. Her cooking methods are similar to ours in that she doesn’t usually follow recipes or measure ingredients so the measurements are a little of a guess but both seem hard to screw up, just taste along the way and adjust to suit yourself.

Cook-Out

Why, yes, that IS a Paul Stanley birthday cake!

Kalamata Fig

Kalamata Fig Spread
1 cup pitted Kalamata Olives
1/2-3/4 cup Bonne Maman Fig Preserves (3/4 c will make it sweeter, 1/2 c less figgy and more savory)

Blend together in a food processor, that’s it! Serve with bread or crackers. Rosemary makes a good garnish for it. It is excellent with goat cheese!

And what to do with all those jalapenos from the garden and the leftover watermelon in the fridge? Well, this sangria Kathy came up with was super delicious and made for a fun, festive cook-out beverage!

Watermelon Sangria

Watermelon Jalapeno Sangria
4 cups(ish) cubed Watermelon
1 medium seeded Jalepeno, diced fine
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Lime Juice
1 bottle dry Rose wine
1/2-3/4 bottle slightly Sparkling White Wine, like a Vinho Verde
1 cup Sparkling Water

Combine all ingredients together and then enjoy! Ahhh… so refreshing, with a hint of spice!

This next recipe came about from a few different inspirations. One, I was trying to think of another party recipe to include in this post. Secondly, as I was thinking about our trip, I was reminded of the excellent dinner we shared with dear friends Tim, Kelly, & Sully at their home. We hadn’t made a kale salad for ourselves in quite awhile. They served an excellent one with corn on the cob and grilled chicken. It was so beautiful.

Bakers

Kale Salad

And the third inspiration for this next recipe is our friend and neighbor, Melissa, who has an amazing back yard garden. I stopped by to take some photos for her last week and in return she made me dinner (with the excellent company of Melissa and her husband “Pank”) and sent me home with 2 bags of produce. I felt a little guilty as I surely came out on top of that barder. In one of the bags was a big bunch of kale!

Kale

I also used some cheese I picked up in Seattle and brought back with us. It is a parmesan style made by Beechers. Any parmesan-like cheese will work.

Beechers Brad's Parm

Made in Seattle, Brad’s Parmesan is a good salad topper.

Lemon Kale Dip
1 small bunch Kale
Sea Salt
Lemon Zest of ½ Lemon
Lemon Juice of ¼ Lemon
1-2 cloves Garlic
8 oz Neufchatel Cheese
½ – 1 cup Greek Yogurt
¼ cup finely grated firm Italian-style cheese
Black Pepper
1 Tbsp fresh Parsley
1 Tbsp fresh Basil
2 tsp fresh Oregano

Remove the hard middle stems from the kale leaves. Clean and dry kale leaves. Sprinkle the leaves with a little sea salt and squeeze the lemon over. Zest the lemon on top. Gently massage the leaves with your fingers and let sit while you mix all the other ingredients together in a food processor. Start by adding ½ cup yogurt and later you can gradually add in more, if needed. Chop up the kale finely and add to the mixture. Add more yogurt if necessary for desired thickness. Chill for a little while. Serve with Pretzel Chips.

Photo 16-Kale Spread

I can’t stop thinking about Otis Gibbs‘ music this week. Last week, we went to his album release at the world famous Station Inn! Otis has been playing music and writing songs for a long time. He tours all over but, he very rarely plays in Nashville. It was a real treat to hear him play with a full band.

Otis' Album Release

I snagged this poor quality, quick, cell phone photo before we were encouraged to put our electronics away and be there in person, together!

Otis is a great story teller and this new cd is a wonderful collection of new songs. Each one sounds like a soon-to-be favorite. This new album is sure to be one of those that just gets better and better with each listen, too.

Amy & Otis

Amy Lashley, Russell, and Otis Gibbs. The Red Barn Round-Up, April 2013.

Here’s a video for one of my favorite new songs, The Darker Side of Me.

You can purchase the new album on his website, here, and while you are there be sure to check out Amy Lashley’s page, Otis’ photographs (if you ever wondered what to buy me, hint, hint!), and Otis’ most excellent podcasts, “Thank’s for Giving a Damn!”

Photo 20-OG cd

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…).