Bluegrass Music and Japanese Noodles…

The first day of summer is over a week away but I feel as though we’ve already had a busy, hot summer! The air is quite thick and humid. The bugs are out in full force here in middle Tennessee although we have lots of lightning bugs so that makes it exciting and a little more friendly! And when the heat feels excessively strong and muggy, I just pretend I am in a sauna and my pours are being cleansed. It helps, it really does! Grant and I just reached our four year anniversary of moving to Nashville! On our first year anniversary, to the day, Grant was fortunate to play guitar at the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium. So, it was very fitting that this week he had another Nashville musical mile stone as he played The Station Inn which is known to many as the home of Bluegrass music.

And, by the way (here’s my big segue into the food portion of my post…), The Station Inn has yummy popcorn!

Last weekend, my sister and her family were visiting and we made homemade pizzas on the grill. Eric was the grill master and got one side crisp and then ran them into me where Ethan and I put the toppings on. Then they went back out for a few minutes to get the other side cooked and give the toppings a chance to melt in. Mmm, delicious flatbread pizzas…

From pizzas to sandwiches… I had a sandwich revelation this week: Humboldt Fog Cheese is an amazing component to a superb summer sandwich. Try one of these crazy concoctions, won’t you? On the left is crusty organic whole grain bread (big and hearty, the kind you’d find at some sort of Renaissance Festival) toasted, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, smoked turkey, avocado slices, pea shoots, and raw cultured red cabbage (crazy good- made by a company called Deep Root Organics). On the right, below, is the same bread, Humboldt Fog, and apple slices.

That brings me to today. Today, I kept thinking about Japanese noodles (as I so often do). I picked up some soba noodles and lots of yummy fresh veggies at the store on my way home. I searched for interesting soba noodle salad recipes online. One of my favorite new (to me) recipe blogs is 101 cookbooks. She has a couple Asian noodle dishes that sounded amazing. I found so many good ideas that I became overwhelmed and couldn’t even decide on what type of Asian dish I wanted- Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese… so I just started chopping and preparing a sauce from ingredients we had on hand. I decided to get some fresh herbs from our garden and incorporate those.

The sauce consisted of some Thai hot chilies, brown rice vinegar, tamari, a small amount of fish sauce, freshly grated ginger (keep ginger whole, in the freezer, and it lasts forever), and a tiny bit of brown sugar. I finely chopped bell peppers (the green ones are local from Delvin Farms- yay!), mushrooms, and broccoli.

Then I chopped a bunch of green onions in one pile and cilantro, garlic, and freshly squeezed lime juice in another pile. I sprinkled a little tamari on the sliced Springer Mountain Farms chicken and then began to saute the green onions in some grape seed oil (it holds the heat well). Once the onions were almost cooked, I added the chicken in and I sprinkled in a little tamari, white pepper, and sesame seeds. Once the chicken was flipped, I added in the cilantro and garlic.

When the chicken was done, I placed it on a plate and then threw the other veggies into the same pan. I gave those a quick saute and then added the chicken back in. Meanwhile, the soba noodles cooked in boiling water for 7 minutes. Once done, I drained them and ran cold water over them to stop them from cooking. I placed the noodles in a bowl and the chicken with veggies on top. I tore fresh herbs from the garden (cliantro, Genovese basil, Thai purple basil, mint, and cilantro) on top. I poured some of the sauce/dressing on top. I was pleasantly surprised how well all the flavors went together. It was spicy, tangy, and very fresh with all the different herbs right from the garden. Success!

More good eats and classic country music coming soon.

A Little of This and A Little of That…

Thank God my husband plays music because I haven’t been to see much live music the last two weeks except for his. At least there was that. He’s had lots of Lower Broadway gigs with some good folks and a couple gigs with Derek Hoke. If you don’t know who Derek Hoke is, you really should. Here’s his latest video, filmed at our friend Allison’s house, in which Grant has a cameo. Enjoy.

Derek Hoke “Sweet Pea”

We’ve also had some amazing new music to listen to as I got Grant a little box set of The Browns for his Birthday. One of my favorite songs lately is this one…

The Browns “The Three Bells”

And then there is this one (Their harmonies are soooo good!) …
The Browns “I Heard The Blue Bird Sing”

Speaking of Grant, “Big Smokey”, Johnson, he smoked a delicious turkey this week with SW spices. We served it up with a classic sweet and sour cole slaw and the most delicious green chili sharp cheddar mashed potatoes ever (whose leftovers made the BEST topping to a SW Shepherd’s Pie later in the week! After growing up with a single Mom who was incapable of cooking for two and together loathing leftovers, I have finally grasped the concept of turning leftovers into something quite wonderful! More on that later.)


The rest of the week consisted of many culinary experiments. Some turned out really good, like my roasted beet hummus. My friend Nikki mentioned the idea and I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I did some internet research for recipes and then came up with this one of my own.

Roasted Beet Hummus

Throw in a blender:

can garbonzo beans
2 roasted beets (clean, place in dish with 1″ water, cover dish with foil and roast in over at 400)
few glugs olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 garlic cloves
ground cumin, salt, pepper
big handful of roasted pecans (I hate buiying Tahini because I never
use much, I figured roasted sesame seeds could be substituted by
roasted nuts and olive oil.)

THEN, for the finale… I topped it with a little crumbled Maytag blue
cheese!

I tried my hand at homemade pizza dough this week, too, inspired by the current Saveur all about LA cuisine with the squash blossom pizza on the cover. It was a super easy and really good recipe and my first two pizzas turned out great. I froze the other two dough balls for later in the week. The second time around, I forgot a crucial step- placing the dough on parchment before topping them and then moving into the oven. Thus, the raw pizzas were stuck to my dough board. I laughed and then moved them onto the cookie sheet (have to buy a pizza stone this week!) as best I could and they cooked up into what I called an open-faced calzone! It was a mess but with all those yummy ingredients, it tasted just fine.

Right now I have some banana bread in the oven. My new favorite way to make it is with coconut milk- so delicious and moist! Here is a recipe I modified:

Banana Bread With Coconut Milk

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3-4 mashed bananas
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp fresh ginger (I keep my fresh ginger in freezer- it makes it so easy to grate!)
1 cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour loaf pan
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, & salt
3. In a mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar until combined. Add bananas, coconut milk, butter, coconut, ginger and vanilla.
4. Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.
5. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Hopefully I will have more amazing music and interesting cooking adventures to report on soon!

MMM…mushrooms

SO, part of the reason for starting a blog is to finally have a place to put all my over-obsessive photos of food. Another reason is to have a place to keep up with the meals we cook. Since we aren’t good recipe followers and tend to make up our own concoctions, we often forget what we make. This will hopefully serve as a reminder of meals worth repeating.

Grant had lots of afternoon gigs this week so I did lots more cooking! I have been obsessed with these new mushrooms at The Turnip Truck. They are beech mushrooms, I think. They are organic and oh, so delicious (and very cute).

They inspired me to make an Asian comfort-food meal. I sauteed sliced onions in coconut oil with some mushroom soy sauce (from the Interasian Market- not the cleanest of ingredients but so yummy!). Then I cut up some chicken breasts. (We try to always support Springer Mountain Farms chicken – it is the BEST and it is from Georgia. It is the only chicken that has been awarded the Humane Society certification. It also tastes super fresh and very tender.)

Next I sliced all my mushrooms, using the special little ones and also some crimini, and threw them in with the onions and chicken. I added a little chicken stock, some tamari, a little cooking sherry, and white pepper. I then thickened the sauce with a little tapioca starch. We had some left over brown rice, just enough for the two of us, so I heated that up and served the chicken and mushrooms on top of that.

We had some cabbage that needed to be eaten so I shredded it up finely with a red pepper and made a hot cole slaw. I used brown sugar, fresh garlic, some vinegar, a little hot sauce, black pepper, and a little sea salt and sauteed it up in grape seed oil. I can’t remember where we originally saw this idea but it makes a great side dish to accompany Asian food.

Viola! Nothing fancy, just some good home-cooked Asian food served up with our favorite hot sauces and a glass of wine.