A Picnic of Old Memories

Celebration

I just returned from a family visit in South Carolina where we celebrated my wonderful mother and step-father during the week marking their 25th wedding anniversary and his 80th birthday, where we were surrounded by so many dear old family friends. It made me very nostalgic and thankful for a small loving community that nurtured me as I grew up. In fact, it wasn’t until the moment I was surrounded by these beautiful friends of my parents, some of whom I have known my whole life, that I even realized how really special it was to have had this opportunity and how incredible it is to have these connections that hold so many of my memories and link special family life moments together.

Mom & Mary Bauld, January 2015

I am especially thankful for Mom’s 55 year old friendship with Mary Bauld. Mary is her first name, Bauld her last name but I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t always call her, “Mary Bauld.” Mary Bauld and her husband Bob met Mom and Dad in West Virginia back before any of them lived in South Carolina. They became best friends and have never strayed. They are very different from each other yet have a long history and a strong bond. They live one street apart. They have shared all important life events, good times and bad, and always been there for each other. They talk a couple times a week and go bowling every Thursday morning with a women’s bowling league, always followed by lunch and grocery shopping. Mary Bauld has four children and now many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Here I am with my Sis and Janet & Barbara, Mary Bauld's youngest girls.

Here I am with my Sis and Janet & Barbara, Mary Bauld’s youngest girls.

Growing up, I spent many hours after school and many summers hanging out at the Bauld house. Janet, the youngest of Mary Bauld’s children is two years younger than me. We learned to swim together and let me tell you, we owned that lake at the Clemson YMCA! We spent countless hours playing Barbies and watching the Bionic Woman. At my house, we became experts at furniture gymnastics and created all sorts of culinary delights as my Mom sat quietly reading in the next room, allowing us to experiment. It was common to compare our mothers’ cooking- they each did things slightly different. They both made delicious meatloaf- Mary Bauld always served hers with fried potatoes and Mom always served hers with Succotash. They both bragged about their sweet tea and dared us kids to say whose was better. Mom’s cooking was slightly more southern and Mary Bauld sometimes cooked up special Spanish recipes from her family such as Cabbage Rolls. One time, Mary Bauld served me a peanut butter and lettuce sandwich for lunch which was weird and I have never let her forget it. One recipe Mom learned to make from Mary Bauld was Pepperoni Rolls, a favorite from the area of West Virginia that Mary Bauld grew up in. I didn’t realize what a regional food a Pepperoni Roll was to West Virginia until a couple of years ago when I read an article about it. And I have even discovered that there is a website dedicated to the Pepperoni Roll here.

Pepperoni Rolls

Well, I grew up and stopped eating beef and got particular about all meat really. It wasn’t until we started shopping at our local Porter Road Butcher that I even really thought about eating Pepperoni Rolls again. They make their own version of pepperoni they call Porteroni from local grass-fed beef with no funny stuff in it. I had a brilliant idea to take some home with me on one of my recent visits so Mom and I could make Pepperoni Rolls together. She humored me.

Porteroni

She had just recently started making one of our very favorite relatives, my great aunt Judy’s yeast rolls again so we used that recipe, too. (I found out that the childhood Pepperoni Rolls were usually made with Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix.) Here’s the recipe we followed…

Judy's Roll Recipe

The instructions aren’t so clear to me and I couldn’t remember exactly how she made it all happen so I had to get some clarification from Mom and I made a minor change in my version as I don’t particularly like to use vegetable shortening (I just don’t understand it and it kind of freaks me out.), so I substituted butter here. I think you could also use the Spectrum organic vegetable shortening or coconut oil just fine.

Here is the recipe I came up with, hopefully easier to understand with a few pictures for better clarification. By the way, those are Mom’s hands and my Nana’s rolling pin in those photos.

Pepperoni Rolls
2 cups Warm Water
2 packages Dry Yeast
½ cup Sugar
2 tsp Salt
¼ cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Egg
6 ½ – 7 cups Flour
1 lb Pepperoni (roughly)

Place the warm water (not hot, just tepid) in a bowl and add the yeast. Dissolve the yeast. Stir in the sugar, salt, butter, and the egg. Use an electric mixer to mix gently. Add 3 cups flour to the bowl. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Then, stir by hand and add 3 ½ more cups flour. The dough will be sort of sticky and loose. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth (or a lid with a small hole in it) and place in refrigerator. The next day, take the bowl out and uncover. Let it come to room temperature and rise a little.

After the dough rises, place the dough on a floured surface, kneading to bring together. Cut the dough into about 20-24 pieces (this recipe makes many for sharing!). Gently form each piece of dough into a ball, incorporating more flour as needed. Cut the pepperoni (or Porteroni) into strips, about 2 ½”- 3” long and ¼” wide roughly. Preheat oven to 350. Roll each ball out into a circle, about ¼” thick. Place a pepperoni stick on the round, about one third of the diameter and fold the dough over. Then place another pepperoni stick on the dough and fold over again. Tuck the ends under gently so the ends will be all sealed. Place rolls on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown and done.

Momma Rolling Dough

Ready to go in the oven!

Ready to go in the oven!

If you don’t eat meat or aren’t interested in Pepperoni Rolls, this recipe makes great dinner rolls, too. Mom always serves them at the holidays. Simply use a round biscuit cutter to cut circles and then fold them over, in half, before baking. That’s the way Aunt Judy always did it.

And of course, you can use any pepperoni you choose. This is not necessarily a healthier version but just one I feel better about because it was made with all real ingredients that I trusted by people I know. Sometimes, you just need to revisit those great old recipes you grew up on.

And I couldn’t think of any better music to represent this post than this wonderful new release, Picnic in the Sky, from our friends Jeni and Billy because their music has been described as Appalachain Folk Music which precisely describes the music from the area where Mom and Mary Bauld grew up in the hills of Virginia and West Virginia.

Jeni & Billy

Jeni & Billy

I first met Jeni and Billy at our Red Barn Round-Up parties and love running into them in the neighborhood- that is, when they happen to be home. They spend quite a lot of time working out on the road, giving house concerts and playing music festivals. You can follow their journey and read their beautiful tales on their website and blogs.

J&B Playing

Jeni & Billy singing a duet at the Red Barn Round-Up, April 2013.

J&B at RBR

Jeni & Billy with Grant playing his big green Gretsch in the backing band!

Jeni and Billy are some of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met- in song and in real life. In fact, I went online to purchase their newest release today to listen to while I wrote this post and instantly received an email from them with the subject line, “You Wonderful Person, Thank You!” And then, I swear to God, they drove through the snow to drop off a real copy of the cd for me to have, as well. It totally made my day. So, not only will buying your own copy of their cd (here!) make you feel really special but once you listen to it you will be incredibly happy for all the new music you just added to your life and for supporting their art. Their songs are so wonderful and for me personally, bring to mind so many beautiful images of my childhood visits to Mom’s family in southwestern Virginia.

I will close with this live video of Jeni & Billy performing their song, Reckoning Day.

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…).

The Lady Smokey Supreme

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood to invent a new classic sandwich. Big task. Grant had a big gig schedule one weekend day- a show down on lower Broadway from 4:00-8:00pm and then had to drive straight up to Kentucky to play another 4 hour show an hour later. I thought it would be easier on him (and kind of fun for me) if I picked him up and had sandwiches packed. I came up with this plan in my head and had days to figure out what to make. It was fun. I wanted a fall/winter sandwich with some meat but that also had lots of veggies. Like a one-pot wonder meal but in the form of a sandwich.

Grant named my new creation, The Lady Smokey Supreme! It went like this…

Lady Smokey Supreme
makes 2 sandwiches

Cowboy (uncured) Hickory or Apple Smoked Bacon (I tried both!)
4 slices Fancy, Artisan Bread (I used Provence Rosemary & Olive Oil.)
2 Portabella Mushroom Caps, sliced in 1” strips
¼ red onion, sliced in thin rounds
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Cave-Aged Gruyere Cheese, sliced
Roasted Red Peppers
4 Romaine Leaves, cleaned and dried

Heat oven to 375. Place mushroom and onion slices in a baking dish that has been rubbed with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little more olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about half an hour. Meanwhile, cook bacon in an iron skillet. Once done, drain on paper towels. Slice bread and cheese and place cheese on two of the pieces. Once the mushrooms and onions are done, remove from oven and place bread on a baking sheet to toast. Once toasted and cheese melted, remove from oven. Layer the bacon, mushrooms, onions, red pepper, and lettuce. Enjoy!

Provence's Rosemary Olive Oil Bread makes a good sandwich!

Steamed asparagus with a sprinkle of lemon & homemade pickled okra from the garden make perfect accompaniments to any sandwich!

Also, I was asked to teach a gourmet club how to make pie! I took my friend Catherine with me and we had so much fun. She took some great photos. I thought this would be a good place to post them. I am in desperate need of some new pie recipes. New ideas and experiments soon to follow.

Truck Stops & Diners

With the July 4th holiday upon us, I thought it appropriate to talk about truck stops and diners. What’s more American than truck stops and diners? Well, actually, this post is neither about truck stops or diners but rather, truckin’ songs and diner food! And of course it really won’t include any real diner food but rather, my healthier version of what I like to think is diner food.

So, I figured out way back that I am a “Middle Person” which in my definition means, I am a very tee-tiny, infinite percent of the population that does not fit into any specific category in regards to everything. In school, I always had a friend from this group, a friend from that group. In fact I don’t even really like groups so that’s probably why I have never been successful at belonging to any of them. Kind of the Groucho Marx idea of not wanting to belong to any group that would have me as a member… or maybe it just seems way too limiting to get categorized into one group when there are so many with such varying tastes. Maybe it is a commitment issue? Anyway, along with this, I think, comes a skewed vision of what is popular with the general public. For instance, whenever there is an event I am super excited about, I just know it will sell out and I get really worried about not being able to get in for fear it will be too crowded and then the reality of this situation almost always results in the opposite and there is a small handful of other “Middle People” present. I’d say this might also be the case for the way I feel about one particular sub-genre of country music, truckin’ songs. I absolutely LOVE truckin’ songs and for the life of me can’t understand why this tiny sub-genre never made it out of that sub category. And the other day, after listening to truckin’ songs all day, and contemplating this crazy, amazing “sub-genre” (the quotes are really meant to denote some eye-rolling on my part), I was trying to come up with a way to single-handedly bring it back into the country music forefront. I don’t understand why this can’t happen honestly, with the 1980’s ballad sound resurfacing under the disguise of “new country” and all. It seems completely reasonable from this Middle Person’s point-of-view. If we could somehow tap it into the electric car theme or bio-diesel/ Willie Nelson Truck Stop concept and craft some new eco-friendly lyrics or something, I think it might really catch on.

Anyway, back to the topic- truckin’ songs.

For anyone not familiar with truckin’ songs, they are simply songs about truck driving. More important than the topic, to me though, is the amazing group of artists who have had some great songs about trucks! Also what usually catches my attention more than the words about trucks (which are always completely awesome on a ridiculous level) are the amazing guitar riffs and the sound of a truckin’ song.

They’ve been around since the 1930’s but seemed to have their little moment of popularity in the 1960’s and one of the most famous of the truckin’ songs is Dave Dudley’s ”Six Days on the Road’ which came out in 1963 (and features one Mister Buddy Spicher on fiddle!).

And here’s another classic from Del Reeves here.

Here’s a totally awesome one from The Willis Brothers which is a clip from the 1965 film, “40 Acre Feud.”

Even girls like to sing truckin’ songs. This is a classic from Ms. Kay Adams.

Thanks to the likes of Dale Watson, Chuck Mead and BR549, Junior Brown, Jon Byrd, Knut Bell,  truckin’ songs can still be heard!!! Some of these guys are even writing new truckin’ songs. Here’s an original from our friend Knut Bell who is the big country voice of the Pacific NW!

There are plenty of amazing truckin’ song compilation albums- easy to find in old country album collections. There’s also a great record label out of NY called, Diesel Only, that put out a cd box set of truckin’ songs from 1939-1969.

There is a collection of painstakingly ridiculous spoken word songs from 1970’s that were almost like little movies in and of themselves… I find these difficult to hear over and over when listening to my (awesome and amazing) truckin’ song play list Grant made for me but when you get caught off guard by one while driving around town, as I did today when WSM played Red Sovine’s “Teddy Bear,” it can turn a bad day into a glorious day!

To add to my obsession, I’ve been watching lots of Truckin’ movies lately. Netflix has quite a collection (starring the likes of Jerry Reed, Kris Kristofferson, Peter Fonda!). Every good truckin’ movie has plenty of truck stops and diners. Diners make me think of meatloaf.

As a child, my Mom made meatloaf pretty often. It was always delicious. She often served it with corn or succotash. Her best friend, Mary Bauld, always served her meatloaf with fried potatoes which were naughty delicious! Mom and Mary Bauld had a few unspoken cooking competitions going and us kids were the judges. Grant and I don’t eat much beef anymore but sometimes we do need meatloaf so we make turkey meatloaf, using a combination of my Mom’s recipe and Ms. Loretta Lynn’s from her cookbook, You’re Cookin’ it Country. It goes something like this…

Big & Lady Smokey’s Turkey Meatloaf
2 lbs ground turkey
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 slices of whole grain bread, finely crushed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup ketchup (you could make your own with canned tomatoes, tomato paste, little vinegar, and some molasses)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl mix together the turkey, onion, egg, garlic, bread crumbs, and seasonings. Shape the mixture and place in a loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. In a small bowl combine ketchup, hot sauce, and brown sugar and pour over the meatloaf. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Meatloaf served with sauteed fresh corn off the cob; squash, zucchini, and Vidalia onions; and cucumbers and dill from the garden with a little brown rice vinegar, salt and pepper!

And don’t forget that leftover meatloaf makes a great sandwich!

Grant usually makes me Sunday brunch and he just recently mastered frittatas! Dang, he’s good! The other morning he said, “This one has a super secret Southern ingredient!” Here’s the recipe…

Tater Tot Frittata
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small yellow crookneck squash, cut into rounds
2 slices think cut bacon, chopped
5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced
1 cup tater tots, baked in oven
6 eggs
splash of milk
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
sea salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Use a good skillet or omelet pan. Heat pan on stove top on medium heat. Cook bacon until mostly crisp. Remove bacon and put to the side. Leave bacon fat in pan. Add onion, garlic, squash, and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat until done. Beat eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk. Add egg mixture to veggies. Cook for about 3 minutes until eggs have partially set. Fold over once. Add bacon crumbles and tater tots. Add cheese to top. Put whole pan in oven. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes until eggs have fully set. Put broiler on high and continue to bake until top is slightly brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

I made a mess of cherry pies recently for our first Red Barn Round-Up of the summer, which coincidentally had many truckin’ songs sung by Jon Byrd and Heath Haynes!!!

Now, though, the fresh summer fruit is rolling on in… Hoping to make many summer fruit pies and finally learn how to can but now, we are enjoying some delicious Pimm’s cups (completely un-American, haha!) with cucumbers from the garden. Happy 4th!

For The Good Times

2009- Ray Price talking with Eddie Stubbs @ CMHF on his friendship and work with Hank Williams.

We moved to Nashville five years ago in June. My sister got us tickets to our very first show at the Ryman Auditorium for my Birthday that July. We saw the amazing Ray Price! It was such an exciting night. We got all dressed up. Our seats were perfect- right up front on the floor and a little to the left side. As we walked in and got situated on our pew, the older woman beside me leaned over and said, “They let you in? Did they card y’all?” I have to admit, I did feel like a spring chicken in that crowd. Ray Price is one of our favorites so we knew we needed to see him but we had no idea his voice was still so strong at 80 years old (he’s 85 now and still going strong). What an amazing voice and a backing band of top notch A-list players that would have made any performer jealous. Our friend Buddy Spicher was one of several fiddle players.

Here’s a youtube find from the same year of one of my favorite Ray Price songs…

And here’s a clip I found from 1962 which features Buddy Emmons on pedal steel!

A few weeks ago, Grant got the opportunity to play with an incredible steel guitar player named Danny Muhammad. Danny Muhammad is one of Ray Price’s steel players.

Danny & Grant playing with Sarah Gayle Meech @ Bluegrass Inn

What a treat to get to see him play. He is such an amazing player and looks like he has so much fun. Danny is a little more animated than most pedal steel players. As I listened to him play, I was reminded of the very first time Grant and I saw Danny Muhammad back when we first moved to Nashville and Danny was playing in one of the honky-tonks down on Lower Broadway. He had a telecaster strapped to his chest, a pedal steel in front of him, and a sandwich in one hand. We remembered being totally impressed with his ability to multi-task AND play pedal steel so well! This, my friends, brings me to the food portion of my blog (nice transition, eh?)…

Grant just celebrated a Birthday and we have a tradition of allowing the Birthday person to make all the decisions for the whole week- the important decisions such as what to eat and what fun we should get into! Grant loves fish sandwiches so I decided it was time for me to learn how to make a good fish sandwich. They were quite delicious. Here’s what I did…

Fish Sandwiches
2-4 pieces Talapia
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup medium corn meal
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cane sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
dash Tabasco
grapeseed oil for frying

Mix flour, corn meal, and spices (salt-sugar) in a bowl. (Note: All these spices can be adjusted to your taste.) In another bowl, mix together egg, buttermilk, and hot sauce. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium high. Dip fish in buttermilk mixture and then in the flour mixture. Place in hot oil. Fry fish for about 3 minutes on each side- until coating is golden brown. Serve on a good quality bun with mustard, pickles, onion, lettuce, and tomato. Extra hot sauce is advised! 😉

And with these yummy Provence sandwich rolls left, we came up with another new sandwich, a Gruyere pickle sandwich, using cave-aged Gruyere, mini dill pickles sliced, and a good grainy mustard. It was delicious!!!

I’ve been really excited about making salad dressings lately, too. These organic Cara Cara oranges are making me really happy lately. I used these to make this delicious simple salad. I steamed some beets to accompany the salad (I didn’t want them to turn the salad red so I served them on the side). I used some of the orange in the dressing and then cut some up to throw in the salad as well. Also good with this salad was some Noble Springs Dairy’s Southall Gouda, an aged goat’s milk gouda. Deeelicious!

Citrus Vinaigrette
1 handful/ bunch fresh parsley
a few big glugs of extra virgin olive oil
juice of ¼ lemon + 3 sections of orange
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp blasamic vinegar
¼ tsp fennel seeds
grated orange zest
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together. I used a mini food processor.

We also made a slightly different version using sultana raisins in place of the oranges and omited the lemon juice and fennel seeds. I shredded carrots in the salad which was reminiscent of the grated carrot raisin salad I remember my Mother fixing as a child.

Grant and I came up with a new biscuit, too. We added cinnamon and sugar to our usual recipe to create a yummy sweet version.

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits
2 cups White Lily all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

for topping:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Mix with hands gently until the butter is in crumbs the size of peas. Blend in buttermilk and gently mix in but do not over mix. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead gently 2-3 times. Roll dough to 1/2″ thickness. Cut using a biscuit cutter. Place on cookie sheet. Mix the ingredients for the topping and then brush over biscuits with a pastry brush. Bake 6-8 minutes or until golden on tops.

Mini biscuits are great to take to a brunch with friends.

Low Country Cookin’

We love the South Carolina Low Country and all the gastronomical goodness that accompanies it. Some years back, while still living in Seattle, Grant stumbled across an article in a wine magazine about Low Country cooking which featured some recipes from Loius Osteen’s book, Charleston Cuisine. We tried a few of the recipes and they were delicious! About a year later, a dear friend of ours was getting married in the Low Country and during our visit to Pawley’s Island, we were able to dine at Louis Osteen’s restaurant and we bought his book, pictured above. A few of his recipes quickly became staples for us such as his Baked Sweet Onion Rice which I will include here. We serve this all the time and everyone always raves about it. It makes great left overs, too.

Baked Rice With Wadmalaw Sweets

Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
4 tbsp unsalted butter
8 cups sliced sweet onions
2 cups minced shallots
1 bay leaf (we use 3-4)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups stock
1 cup long grain white, such as basmiti
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Heat butter in an ovenproof skillet with a cover over medium  heat. Add the onions and shallots and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add bay leaves, thyme, and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice and stir to mix well. Cover and transfer to a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently fluff rice with a fork before serving.

One of the best things about this super side dish, is all the amazing dishes you will be inspired to create to accompany it! Grant made this yummy BBQ Shrimp last night to accompany our Sweet Onion Rice. It was a perfect Sunday night dinner.

And, back to Louis Osteen… A few months back I was thinking about him and decided to do a google search and find out what he was up to. Turns out he and his wife just moved to Nashville and he is now cooking here, as part of the new BBQ restaurant in the 12th South neighborhood, Blind Pig. Psychic? I think so! We are anxious to see what culinary delights he brings to Nashville.

Continuing the Southern culinary inspirations, we have had some delicious fried green tomatoes lately- Monell’s served up some amazing little sweet ones when my Dad was in town a couple weeks ago. Everyone has them on the menu right now because we all have them in our gardens. I came home from work last Saturday and Grant had fancy Southern BLTs waiting for me. They included- red leaf butter lettuce, crispy bacon, green tomatoes from the garden coated with corn meal and spices and gently fried, Big Smokey’s special sandwich sauce, and rosemary bread. Delicious!

And you know what makes a great sandwich side dish? Roasted okra! Yes, we still have local fresh okra thanks to the late, hot summer we had.

I’ll end this post as I usually do- on a sweet note. People seem to like my pies and I really enjoy making pies but have to admit that pies are not my favorite dessert. I don’t eat many sweets but when I do, my favorite dessert is cookies.

Lately, I am obsessed with cookies- more specifically, my friend Rebekah’s cookies. She is the pastry chef at City House and she keeps showing up with bags of her cookies every time I see her and these are the best cookies in the world. I can’t stop day dreaming and obsessing about them. She has inspired me to want to be a better cookie baker so I have started trying to make all the good recipes I can find. I am in search of the perfect cookie recipes! Until I figure that out and have some of my own recipes, be sure to check out her amazing recipe for fancy gourmet Peanut Butter Moon Pies! Heavenly…

Recipes for My Brother-In-Law

My Sister broke her foot last week. If you know my Sis, it is hard to imagine her sitting still allowing people to help her as she is usually on the go and in her spare time, can often be found helping women deliver babies on the side of the road, rescuing battered women from gas stations, or saving neglected pups from an unforeseen doom at any given moment. My brother-in-law is a good cook but I thought he could use some more suggestions for quick and easy dinner recipes especially now. So, this post is for him. Meanwhile, we’ll try to help out a few more people in need while she is relegated to the sofa and hobbling around on one foot so the world won’t get too out of balance.

My favorite recipe of last week was a Summer Seafood Cioppino. We went to Margot for our 8th Wedding Anniversary dinner a couple weeks ago and I had a similar dish there and I guess this dish was inspired mostly by that meal. It seemed a good way to use more of the tomatoes from our garden, as well. I bought three different pieces of fish- talapia, cod, and grouper. I chopped up all the veggies and the fish and then let Grant throw it all together and cook it to perfection! Grant is a super great cook. He started cooking as a kid, with his Mom, as a way to get out of cleaning (haha!), and then in college he cooked at a sorority house for his part time job. He’s much faster and more skilled than I but we make a good team as I love coming up with the ideas and shopping for the food and preparing the ingredients. Anyway, back to the Cioppino…

We used chopped vidalia onion, sliced green pepper from the garden, a variety of chopped tomatoes from the garden, 3-4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced, thinly sliced yellow squash, and chopped flat leaf parsley. Also good to have on hand- crusty bread, some aged gouda (Reypanaer 2 year old is my current favorite!) and some dry white wine.

Grant sauteed up the onion in a little olive oil and then added the garlic, squash, and pepper. He then dredged the fish pieces in a little flour mixed with sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, smoky paprika, a little saffron, and thyme and placed it in the same pan. He sauteed that up and then added the tomatoes, some dry white wine, some chicken stock (fish stock would have been ideal), and then simmered. He added in the fresh parsley at the end.

We served it with some steamed asparagus!

It was so delicious, fresh and summery with the use of fresh tomatoes and much lighter  than the winter NW Cioppino version we are accustomed to. Also, the addition of squash gave it a Southern vibe. Leftovers made for a perfect lunch the next day. We just mixed the leftover asparagus right in!

I have to write about pesto again, too- not because it is something I truly love or can’t get enough of, but simply a good way to use up all of my fresh herbs from the garden. (Special note to said Brother-In-Law: you don’t have to use any of those foods y’all can’t eat to make pesto. You can keep it really simple and just use herbs, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil blended together. You can also add some good Parmesan Reggiano if desired. Maybe you already do that?) So, I’ve been trying my darnedest to come up with more uses for pesto so as to not waste all of that which I made so as to not waste all those beautiful herbs! Here are a few ways we have come up with (I have already posted some of these ideas but wanted to form a more concise thought on this and have them all together):

Pesto makes a wonderful salad dressing base to which you can add a little balsamic or lemon, sugar, and a tab bit more olive oil to:

Use it on toast for an appetizer or lunch, on sandwiches, or on homemade pizzas.

Use it on top of grilled chicken, pork, or fish.

Blend it in to pasta or rice.

Slather pesto over roasted or grilled veggies!

Or blend it into eggs…

Which brings me to breakfast. We were reminded this weekend that breakfast makes a great dinner, too! Here’s our newest pancake recipe- Blueberry Corn Cakes! This recipe is based on the recipe Grant uses for his buttermilk pancakes which he got from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s cookbook, The Gift of Southern Cooking, which Bray gave us years back. This is one of our favorite go-to cookbooks. We have found so many yummy recipes here. I often get the ideas here and then try to make them a little healthier.

Blueberry Corn Cakes

1/2 cup fine corn meal
1/2 all purpose flour (White Lily)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter (organic, unsalted)
1 1/4  cup buttermilk (up to 1 1/2 cup, you can adjust for consistency)
fresh blueberries

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, give it a quick whisk. Combine the buttermilk and egg in another bowl with a whisk. Slowly whisk in the melted butter into the buttermilk and egg bowl. Mix the wet and dry ingredient together just briefly, until well blended. Do not over mix. Heat large skillet or griddle over medium heat and grease very lightly with a little butter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake and then drop 10-12 blueberries in each one. Cook until bubbles appear on top. Flip the pancakes and cook for 30 seconds longer.
Serve hot with butter and maple syrup!

We used stone ground corn meal we bought at the same little mill in Virginia where we found those yummy grits!

We’ve still been able to get local, organic blueberries and they have become a staple for us! My favorite way to eat them (besides just popping them in my mouth!) is to mix them with some plain Greek style yogurt.

And, one final easy dinner recipe for my Brother-In-Law that Grant came up with… Bratwurst Sandwiches. These are man sandwiches but ladies like them, too!

The main fancy ingredient was the special roasted tomato jam he made to put on them which was so amazing, you really can make any kind of sandwich and put this magical ingredient on top and be completely satisfied!

He sauteed up some red onions with the brats…

Here’s the recipe…

Big Smokey’s Fancy Bratwurst Sandwiches

Roasted Tomato Jam:
8 small golden roma tomatoes from the garden, roasted with a little olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
Sea salt
Black pepper
Garlic powder

Red onion, sauteed in a little olive oil
Bratwursts
Sauerkraut
Provolone cheese
Sandwich buns

And the final sandwich looked like this:

Happy cooking!

Tennessee Stomp

Bray was here last week and we had such a great visit. You can see and read all about her Southern gastronomic finds on her blog. Give her a week or so, though, as she’s still traveling but in the meantime, you can read all about her Seattle and Portland finds. She has a beautiful site. Luckily she has been to Nashville several times before because it was the weekend of July 4th. Holidays in Nashville are a little sleepy compared to all the other days of the year. We did manage to hear Grant play with Jon Byrd one day and get in some 4th of July honky-tonkin’. Plus, we went kayaking on the Duck River and we made her a traditional all-American meal of… Fish Tacos!!! Heehee.

We finally found a good non-genetically modified corn masa made from Bob’s Red Mill and it makes delicious fresh corn tortillas! Grant made the best talapia and sauteed onion filling which we topped with avocados, salsa, cabbage, and creme fraiche.

I’ve been listening to Welder, the new cd from the lovely, talented and hysterically funny Elizabeth Cook. I loved her last album, Balls, but this one is even better, in my opinion. She is a super smart, funny and a genuinely warm-hearted Southerner and this new album shows all those sides of her personality in rare form. She’s doing it all her own way which I love and admire. Quick, go buy her new cd NOW! You can thank me later.

Elizabeth Cook, Tim Carroll, Elizabeth's Dad at The Station Inn Welder cd release May 2010

SO, I have a produce addiction. I can’t stop buying fresh local produce. I walk past it and have to buy it. I LOVE SUMMER for this very reason- everything tastes so good. You hardly have to even cook at all- you just eat it raw or mix a couple fruits or veggies together and voila, dinner is served! I realized that with all I had picked up at the Farmer’s Market, The Turnip Truck, and then what has finally started to ripen in our own little garden, we had a surplus so my brain went into overdrive and I came up with some new recipes. Here is what we’ve been eating…

We’ve been enjoying grilled sandwiches with grilled bread, eggplant, and zucchini; fresh basil from the garden; heirloom cherry tomatoes; local goat’s milk feta; cucumbers; and raw fermented carrots. YUM!

I have been totally inspired by tomatoes! I forgot how good tomatoes are until I moved back to the south a few years back. You’ve never fully tasted how good a tomato can be until you’ve had a southern tomato. We also have a prolific amount of basil in our garden right now so the other day, noticing we had some salad greens that needed to be eaten and also some chicken breasts, I made a yummy tomato basil dressing by sauteing some chopped tomatoes and garlic and then adding in a little brown sugar, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.

I then made a batter to dunk the chicken into (I should have soaked it for a couple hours but didn’t plan ahead) consisting of buttermilk, an egg, and some hot sauce. I made a flour mixture of White Lily flour, thyme from the garden, paprika, salt and pepper. I dunked the chicken in the egg batter and then in the flour mixture and fried it in some grape seed oil on med high heat.

Finally, I topped the salad with fried chicken and homemade tomato basil dressing! Delicious! The leftover dressing made a great marinade and cooking base for shrimp the next day.

And then I was trying to figure out a great way to eat all this summer squash we’ve acquired. Here’s my newest risotto creation- Southern Summer Risotto! I first roasted some cut tomatoes and garlic in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. I then pureed that with some vegetable stock, adding a teaspoon of sugar and some salt and fresh ground pepper. I used this for my stock needed for making the risotto. Next I sauteed a Vidalia onion that I had cut into half rings and all of my summer squash that I had cut in rounds.

Then I started making my risotto in a separate pan. Once the risotto was just about done, I mixed in some shredded Parmesan Reggiano and then poured the risotto into a bowl with the squash and onions. I stirred it gently and then added fresh chopped basil. The essence of summer in the South all mixed up in the form of a risotto! I thought it was brilliant. We enjoyed it with some sauteed shrimp that had been marinating in the leftover tomato basil dressing I made the night before. This turned out to be a beautiful tomato infused dinner.

I will close with another new cd recommendation and the title of this post, Tennessee Stomp by Hillbilly Casino! These guys are some of the nicest, most talented, most energetic, and hard working musicians in Nashville who are also doing it all their way. Their new cd is really fun and although it has leanings towards rock-a-billy, it is much more layered and less genre-oriented than that. One of my favorite songs is a song about John Rich getting his comeuppance down on Broadway. This song features backing vocals from Dale Watson. You’re going to want to own a copy of this cd, too, so go buy it now! We went to their cd release party last night at FooBar in which Nashville’s latest genre crossover craze, Country Metal, made its debut with the band Motorhome! They are awesome. OK, I am a little biased as Grant provides the Country element of the band. You probably need to check them out for yourself.

And, to end on a sweet culinary note… We usually are treated to homemade cinnamon roll goodness only once a year as my Mom traditionally blesses us all with her amazing rolls. These are a treat and as we’ve gotten older, we look forward to these just as we did presents as kids. Well, we truly got Christmas in July this weekend when our friend Geoff Firebaugh from Hillbilly Casino invited us over for some of his wife, Mel’s cinnamon rolls. They were vegan with a coffee icing on top. He had talked them up so much that Grant and I both feared they couldn’t possibly live up to the anticipation but they exceeded our expectations and were fabulous! Thank you Mel!

And what’s better than ending on a sweet note? How about two sweet notes, kind of like second dessert! I have a cookbook that my Mom made for me comprised of all of her recipes and our family recipes. This book is one of those things I would grab if there was an emergency and I only had time to grab a few personal belongings. It is that special. One of the recipes in it is my Granddaddy’s second wife’s (we called her Mother Margaret) recipe for Apple Pie. It is a custard type pie. I make it often and it has become one of our favorites which is odd because it is the only good thing Mother Margaret ever cooked. She was known for her lime green jello salads and her version of Hamburger Helper which we referred to, lovingly and never to her face, as Opossum Helper because she cooked it so long the pasta began to break down. Anyway, this pie is good! With all the berries in season, however, I had no desire to make an apple pie so one day, in the shower, it hit me- what if I made a strawberry custard pie?! So, I tried it. It was pretty good- especially for not looking at any pre-existing recipes beforehand. I think I can come up with a better one maybe but for now, we are enjoying this one. Recipe is as follows.

Strawberry Custard Pie

1 cup organic cane sugar
3 tbsp flour
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup melted unsalted organic butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups cut strawberries

See recipe for pie dough from May post. Please don’t use a store-bought crust. Mix sugar and flour together and then add melted butter and eggs. Add cinnamon and vanilla and then stir in strawberries. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 and bake for 30-35 minutes.

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.