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.


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!


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


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
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

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!


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.


Happy Birthday Loretta!


One of Grant’s best friends from college, Tim Baker, and his wife Kelly were some of our favorite friends to eat with when we lived in Seattle. They are super creative people and love food as much as we do. These two had an awesome house with an amazing little back yard. They had created such a great life inside their house that I always felt like I never wanted to leave which is how I imagined they also felt. It was as if they were a self contained family unit inside the square footage of their house and they never really needed to step outside- except when necessary for work, etc., but if they never had to leave they would be happy and complete with everything that was contained within those walls because it was such a creative, comfortable, and positive environment. I think they have been a quiet inspiration in my subconscious as we have created our home here in Nashville. One of my favorite desserts that Tim used to make for us was Carrot Pie. I had never had Carrot Pie before. He sent me the recipe, sort of, months ago and I just recently realized I had not made it yet. I had to fill in a few of the measurements but it turned out nicely. I only wish Tim and Kelly had been here to enjoy it with us. This is a perfect springtime dessert! And to quote Grant Johnson, “This might be the tastiest expression of carrots, ever!”


Carrot Pie
2 cups Pureed Carrot (approx. 6-8 big fresh organic carrots, cut, steamed, and then mashed)
3 eggs
2 Tbsp candied ginger, chopped very finely
zest of one orange
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 cup cream

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together with a mixer and then add in the cream. Pour into a prepared, unbaked pie crust. Bake for 50 minutes.


This pie is made in honor of Loretta Lynn who is celebrating her 81st Birthday this week. My friend and ever-so talented songwriter, Terri Joyce, makes dang sure everyone in Austin remembers Loretta’s birthday by holding an annual party and benefit in Loretta’s honor called the “Hey Loretta Hillbilly Hoedown & Pie Social” in which all the ladies sing and bring pies to raffle off. The money raised goes to support the SIMS Foundation which provides life-saving mental health services for Austin musicians and their families. This is a bunch of talented women. One year I’ll be there in person to hear the show but in the meantime, I will continue to bake a pie in Loretta’s honor and send all good thoughts down Austin way.

Spring Veggies & Bluegrass Underground

La Connor, Skagit Valley, & Seattle- May 2012

Wedding at Oddfellow’s Hall on Orcas Island.

Oh, I have fallen so behind on my blog posts. I have so many photos of all the things I have eaten and no time to post them all. I will attempt to get somewhat caught up here. As shown above, we have been busy with a big trip to Washington- family visits, Grant had several fun gigs, and the main reason for this trip was to partake in the amazing celebration of our dear friends’ marriage on Orcas Island. What a beautiful week to be in the great Pacific Northwest!

That trip was soon followed by another family trip to South Carolina for my big Sis’ art show at the super fun and wildly popular Art Bomb studios. Art Bomb is one of my favorite places! If you have never been to Greenville, South Carolina, you better hurry up. It is becoming a really cool city.

I’ve been super busy making tons of my mini Herbed Cheese Biscuits for all these very special events!

Herbed Cheese Biscuits
3 cups all purpose soft wheat flour (I use White Lily.)
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp sea salt
10 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I use local Hatcher milk.)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (Or your favorite aged cheese.)
a bunch of fresh herbs, chopped  (I used rosemary.)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Mix the salt and baking powder with the flour and the add the chilled butter in a medium mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the butter pieces are a little larger than an English pea, but not larger than a lima bean. Mix in the grated cheese and the herbs. Work quickly so that the heat of your hands won’t melt the butter. Pour in the buttermilk and, using light pressure, fold the mixture a few times with your hands until it holds together. Do not over mix. In order to make light biscuits, it is important to work the dough as little as possible. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and fold it quickly and gently a few times until it begins to be all stay together. Sprinkle a little flour under the dough so that it won’t stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won’t stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won’t stick to the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Grind black pepper over the top of the dough. Cut the dough into 2-inch rounds, place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for about 14-15 minutes.

So now it is spring and we’ve been so busy trying to catch up that we’ve been making lots of salads and easy dishes that we can eat on all week while on the go. Here are a few of our favorites. Coincidentally, they all have the color red in common! This first recipe was also posted on Dolan Geiman’s blog this week but we just enjoyed some leftovers and I decided to post it here as well.  I really loved the Vidalia Vinaigrette I came up, it was nice with the raisins.

Kale & Red Cabbage Cole Slaw
1 bunch Kale (I used Lacinato for this but any would work.)
1 wedge Lemon
½ head Red Cabbage (core removed)
2 Carrots, cut into matchsticks
¼ cup Raisins
¼ cup Fresh Parsley
½ small Vidalia Onion
¼ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
½ tsp (or to taste) Sea Salt
Black Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Raw Cane Sugar

Clean the kale and then remove the thick middle veins on each leaf. Chop the leaves into thin strips and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and squeeze the lemon over. Stir or massage the leaves with your fingers and let sit while you chop the other vegetables. Chop the red cabbage into small strips. Chop the parsley. Add the carrots, red cabbage, parsley, and raisins to the bowl with the kale. In a blender or mini grinder, blend the onion with the remaining ingredients to make a dressing and then pour the dressing over the raw vegetables. Stir and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Grant has been grilling some and I always get tons of veggies ready to go on the grill with whatever delicious meat recipe he has created and then we use the grilled veggies all week- in salads, in enchiladas, with rice, in eggs, etc. Having those already prepared makes it so easy to have a quick meal loaded with tons of veggies!

Sometimes we even get lucky and a friend shares their fresh eggs with us! These came from our friend Nicole’s chickens! Grilled Veggie Frittata with fresh eggs is hard to beat- easy and delicious!

Next up- two beet recipes! One is super simple. The other night as I was preparing the second featured beet recipe, I had a few extra beet rounds and decided it would be fun throw those on the grill, too. I sprinkled them with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Once they were off the grill, I threw some chopped lemon basil from the garden on top.

My friend and coworker, Brenda, brought a beet salad to work one day this week and gave me a taste. It was delicious and so different that I ran home and made it for us that night. I added some thinly chopped kale to it to get some greens in. This salad is loaded with goodness!  It goes like this…

Brenda’s Raw Beet Salad with Horseradish
1 cup thinly sliced Kale leaves
juice of 1 Lime
2 medium sized (or 1 large) Raw Beets, peeled, sliced in ¼” rounds, and then cut into matchsticks
3 tsp prepared Horseradish
1 tsp olive oil
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
2-3 oz Crumbled Feta

Place the kale in a bowl and squeeze lime juice over it and sprinkle with salt. Massage the leaves with your fingers or stir well. Let sit for a few minutes while you cut the beets. Mix the beets in with the kale and then add remaining ingredients and stir.

OH- and our new favorite spring beverage is this yummy hard cider we first enjoyed at The Family Wash and then found for sale at our favorite neighborhood wine shop, Woodland Wine Merchant.

I was super excited last week to see some fresh, organic rhubarb on the produce stand. I bought a huge bag and made a couple Strawberry Rhubarb Pies. My favorite version had a whole wheat pastry flour and oat crumble top.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Crumble Top
1 pie Dough Ball
3-4 stalks Rhubarb, cut in ½” pieces
1 pint Strawberries, sliced
1 cup Raw Cane Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

For Crumble Top:
½ cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
½ cup Rolled Oats
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Unsalted Butter

Preheat oven to 425. Roll pie dough ball out and place in pie plate. Scallop the edges and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. I just started doing this and this helps the scalloped edges stay prettier and hold shape better once in the oven. Place rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and stir. Pour into pie shell. Mix the ingredients for the crumble topping in a bowl with your hands. Sprinkle the crumbles on top of the rhubarb strawberry mixture. Bake for 15 minutes on 425 and then reduce to heat to 350 and bake for another 35-40 minutes.

As I think about the hot summer that is already well on its way, one place sure to stay cool is the Volcano Room at the Cumberland Caverns. Not only does the temperature remain at a constant cool temperature 333 feet below ground, but this is one of the coolest places I have ever encountered.

I had been wanting to go for awhile but it wasn’t until my friend Lesia called and offered me a ticket to go with her to Bluegrass Underground one day back in February that I actually got there. (Thank you Lesia!) Bluegrass Underground is a radio show recorded live from the Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, Tn. Here, nature created one of the most acoustically pure natural spaces on earth. This is truly an amazing space to hear music. As a teenager and visiting a cave for the first time, I remember thinking how incredible it would be to hear live music down there. Now, at this amazing place, it is possible! This place is just magical and everyone there seemed so happy and on some sort of natural high. I guess this was also due in part to the awesome musicians on stage- Jim Lauderdale and The Time Jumpers, two of Nashville’s musical treasures.

Midnight Ramble

Living in Nashville amongst so many amazingly talented musical legends has its ups and downs. Mostly ups but getting to see (and know) some of these musicians so up close and personal at the end of their lives sort of puts you a little closer to the devastation of their loss when they pass on. Last week Levon Helm passed away and although he wasn’t from Nashville, he had affected so many of our lives and many of us felt the gravity of his loss on the music community. His daughter and wife released a statement to let the world know he was nearing the end of this part of his journey and I felt like everyone was sort of holding their own personal vigil, preparing ourselves for his last breath. We’ve filled our house with his songs and the music of The Band ever since.

Levon's Ramble at the Ryman 7/18/07. Not a good photo, but the only one I have.

I have to admit that I was a bit of a late-comer to the music of The Band. I mean, sure I knew their songs. Who doesn’t? But I didn’t know much about the band until I met Grant  twelve years ago. I quickly caught up and instantly fell in love with The Last Waltz and it is now one of our Thanksgiving traditions to watch it every year. We so wished we could have made it to upstate New York to one of his famous Midnight Rambles. We did, however, get to see his first Ramble at the Ryman in July of 2007. What a treat. Any show at the Ryman is a treat but this one was magical and filled with so much great energy. Levon Helm lived a rich life and definitely left this world an amazing gift. I am forever grateful.

There’s really no way to transition from Levon Helm to Coconut Chess Pie, but here it goes anyway. I finally got a chance to add coconut to Chess Pie. It was so delicious! It goes something like this…

Coconut Chess Pie
3 eggs
½ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp white vinegar
1 ½ cup cane sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. cornmeal
1/2 -1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted and loosely chopped

Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time. Add vinegar, vanilla and the cornmeal. Stir gently and then pour in unbaked pie shell, homemade of course. Sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes on top. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.

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.

Real Country Music and Yummy Fall Food

So,  Nashville just finished celebrating the Americana Music Association’s annual hoo-haw. I always enjoy this week in Nashville as many of my favorite bands and musicians are in town and out and about. We were so busy this week that we actually missed most of the festivities. I did make it out to the Station Inn for the celebrated album release of Jon Byrd’s, Down at The Well of Wishes. It’s a damn fine album so be sure to check it out.

Jon Byrd with Eric Brace and with whole band, Station Inn, October 11, 2011.

And, we went to Grimey’s Americanarama party outside, behind the record store! What fun!

Derek Hoke, Nikki Lane, Chris Scruggs, Paul Burch, and Rose!

Americana is a fairly new term in the world of music genres. It seems to include all of those bands I once termed, “Alt. Country” but also welcomes some other roots sub-genres. I understand the ease of having one umbrella label to lump all these tiny categories in together but I’ve noticed many times lately that a favorite new song I love will be labeled Americana but yet is so obviously country. I realize this Americana label probably benefits the artist in that many people who have distanced themselves from “new country” now run screaming from the country label. But, I don’t want to roll over so quickly and relinquish the term “country”. I think it makes more sense to rename all the new country. Let’s just call it, “Suburbia.” Then we can take the term country back.

I missed the awards show this year but apparently, you can hear it all here. There were some great nominees this year, as always. Justin Townes Earl’s song, Harlem River Blues, won Best Song. This performance with Jason Isbell on David Letterman awhile back was pretty awesome.

The weather in Nashville this weekend is perfect right now. Fall is in full swing. It is my favorite time of year.

There’s a light breeze rustling through the slightly turning leaves and the temperatures have dropped to the 50’s and 60’s. All the Fall produce is ripe and beautiful.

I made some pumpkin bread this week. It was nice. I kept wishing I could remember to bring home some cream cheese to smear on top.

Pumpkin Pecan Bread
makes 1 loaf

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour
½  teaspoon of salt
1 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
½  cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
¼  cup melted butter
¼  teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1  teaspoon freshly grated ginger (I keep it frozen and then use a microplane to grate)
½  cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix the pumpkin puree, melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, and spices together. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and then stir in the nuts. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until the center of the loaf comes out clean when a cake tester (or toothpick) is inserted. Turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

And we roasted up a bunch of pumpkin to make a soup. It was pretty tasty with parmesan croutons! Here’s the recipe I came up with…

Roasted Pumpkin & Caramelized Onion Soup

1 pie medium pumpkin
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic (place in oven with pumpkin for last half hour)
2 ½ red or vidalia onions (I had a variety of both), chopped
4 cups stock
1-2 tsp herbs de Provence (I added a little extra fresh rosemary)
seat salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pumpkin into pieces, clean out seeds (You can reserve them and wash them and dust with sea salt and bake on a cookie sheet later to make roasted pumpkin seeds!!!), rub with olive oil and roast in oven for about 45 minutes (until it forks done). Meanwhile, heat olive oil in stock pan. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn light toasty brown. Once pumpkin is done, cool and scoop out of the skin. Place roasted pumpkin in a blender and add a cup or two of the stock. Blend until smooth. Add the pureed pumpkin and roasted garlic to the onion pot, along with the remaining stock. Add herbs de Provence and salt and pepper to taste.

You could also top with a little creme fraise, grated cheese, or pumpkin seeds. We served this soup with a nice salad of beets, tamari pumpkin seeds, and Rogue River Smoky blue cheese. Yum!

Also, we enjoyed the leftover soup with some chicken Andouille sausages. Grant sauteed the sliced sausage up with some garlic and then added it to the soup!

And, I’ll end with this simple pie recipe that my friend Brad helped me come up with a couple years ago.

Pear Apple Gruyere Pie

2 dough balls (please never use store bought pie dough!) *
mix of 5-7 pears and apples, pealed, and sliced thin
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup (+ 1 cup for dough balls) cave-aged Gruyere cheese
1 egg white

Roll out dough ball and place in pie plate. Mix pears with sugar, flour, cinnamon and pour into pie shell. Sprinkle the Gruyere on top. Roll out second dough ball and lay on top of pie. Trim edges and use your index fingers and thumb to pinch edge. Cut a few slits in top to let air escape while pie bakes. Brush top of pie with egg white. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 35 minutes.

*For the pie dough-
(This recipe was given to me by a friend of ours in Seattle who was a pastry chef.  They key to a good pie is in the crust!)

Makes a double crust for a ten inch pie, or 2 ten inch tart shells.

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour (I use White Lilly)
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I use organic butter)
1 cup finely grated cave-aged Gruyere cheese
1/2 tsp sea salt
6-8 tablespoons ice water

Place flour, butter, and salt in food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse 24 times.  (I just use my hands instead of a food processor and it works just fine!  You get a good work out and there’s less to clean up.  If you use your hands, be gentle- your objective is to make the butter into little crumbs or grains, not to mush it all together, do not over mix.)  The largest pieces of butter should be the size of grains of rice.  Transfer mixture from food processor to large bowl.  Lightly mix in cheese. Sprinkle with 6 T of ice water.  Make your hand into a claw as if you are trying to grab a basketball one handed, and using your rigid claw hand, stir dough briefly until the liquid is incorporated.  Squeeze a handful of dough in your palm.  It should have just enough moisture to stay together.  If it seems dry and crumbly, add more water a teaspoonful at a time until you can squeeze it into a ball that doesn’t crumble when broken apart. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Roll out onto floured surface as quickly as you can.  Balls of dough can be stored in fridge for a week or you can also freeze them.

It seems I’ve fallen behind on my posts. I sometimes run out of time to put all the recipes and photos together. I have also been guest blogging on our good friend, Dolan Geiman’s blog. Dolan is a great artist. Check his site out here and buy some art here! (Art is good for our souls, makes our world a prettier place, supports talented, creative people, and makes awesome gifts!) And, you can read all my guest posts here.

I’ll end this post with this new country song from Pistol Annies. These women have it going on!

Happy Fall Y’all!

Happy Birthday Waylon!

I love Waylon Jennings. There, I said it. I am reluctant to blog about my love of Waylon for fear of not appropriately conveying my feelings or somehow coming off sounding like a big cornball super fan but here it goes anyway… Of all the classic old school country musicians, Waylon is the one I most closely connect with. That cut-time drum beat just puts a smile on my face every single time. Any bad day is made better when I put my Nashville Rebel cds on. It started out as the music but now, it is so much more than just the music. After becoming close friends with folks who were near and dear to Waylon, I feel a true sense of kindred spirit.

Waylon grew up in Littlefield, Texas. He started out working in radio and began playing guitar. He became friends with Buddy Holly, played bass for him, and toured with him in the late 1950’s. Lucky for all of us, Waylon was not on that ill-fated plane trip that took Holly’s life. Waylon ended up in Arizona where he became a local celebrity with weekly gigs in a Phoenix bar. It was there that Bobby Bare first heard him and spread word to Nashville of his talents and unique sound.

Waylon moved to Nashville and took the world by storm but Waylon did things the way he wanted to do them, the way he felt was right. This attitude gave him his “outlaw” persona as he paved the way for many others who had their own ideas and didn’t want the cookie-cutter “Nashville Sound.” He used the musicians he wanted to use and gave those deserving a chance. He cared so deeply about those close to him.

Waylon was a really good man with a huge heart who left the world with some amazing music. For this, I am truly thankful. And in honor of what would have been his 74th Birthday, June 15th, I decided to cook up some of his favorite foods.

Beef seems an important ingredient in Texas cooking and Waylon, being a true Texan, loved chicken-fried steak. I happened to be living in Washington when the most recent publicized US (originating from WA) Mad Cow scare hit. I read way too many articles on the subject and decided right then and there that I could no longer support the commercial beef industry. Only in the last few weeks have I found beef in which I trust the source and know to be independently processed. I decided to allow it back in my diet, very minimally and under close scrutiny, and to Grant’s delight! So with this, I decided to cook up Waylon’s favorite dish. It went something like this.

Chicken Fried Steak
Serves 2

2 sirloin steaks
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
¼ cup grape seed oil
½ cup all purpose flour
dash of cayenne pepper
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Pound the steaks flat. Mix buttermilk, egg, spices together in a bowl. Soak steaks in buttermilk mixture for about an hour. Heat skillet to medium heat. Add grape seed oil (enough to fill your skillet ¼ inch deep). In another bowl, mix flour with another dash of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Take steak out of buttermilk soak and place in flour mixture. Coat on both sides and place in skillet. Cook steak about 6-7 minutes on both sides. Pull out of skillet and drain on paper towels.

You can then make a milk gravy by adding flour to the leftover oil in skillet. Whisk together to blend, add salt, pepper, and milk and continue to whisk until desired thickness. Delicious over mashed potatoes and if you have any leftover gravy, you can serve with homemade biscuits the next morning!!!

We served the chicken fried steak with buttermilk mashed potatoes, milk gravy and artichokes (just in season and another Waylon favorite!).

And by the way, artichokes are an edible variety of thistle, in the sunflower family. They are shown to improve blood sugar control in diabetics and have been found to benefit heart activity and the gastrointestinal tract. Good thing, considering Grant and I decided after this meal that this definitely needs to be a once a year kind of a meal. In fact, we’ve decided to have this meal every June 15th from here on out! And we toasted the man who inspired it several times with this delicious red wine.

It should also be noted that the doggers LOVE the smell of chicken fried steak!

If Waylon were still with us, I would delight in making him lots and lots of pies. I think he might like Buttermilk Pie. Here’s my latest variation on this classic southern recipe made with Olive & Sinclair chocolate which is handmade in Nashville, minutes from our house.

Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Buttermilk Pie

1 pie dough ball (Please never used store-bought!)
3 eggs
1½ cup organic cane sugar
½ cup organic unsalted butter
1 heaping tsp vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ Olive & Sinclair sea salt chocolate bar

Let the butter get to room temperature. Mix eggs, sugar, and butter together. Add vanilla, cinnamon and buttermilk. Place in uncooked, prepared pie shell. Shave chocolate bar over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 and bake for another 40-45 minutes.

Now go listen to some Waylon and give thanks for his contribution to this world! The Ernest Tubb Record Shop has an amazing collection of box sets available. You can also find Waylon merch at this site.


I’ve been enjoying the heck out of these 13 year cicadas. They are so entertaining! I have a full photo account of their once- every 13 years- visit here.

We have also been enjoying our first Spring bottle of French Rosé. Nothing ushers in the warm weather better. Those Frenchmen really nailed it with that one. Lots of people shy away from the Rosés because they fear they are too fruity and sweet but the French Rosé is nice and dry. It is the perfect accompaniment to summer meals. Grant picked this one up at our favorite neighborhood shop, Woodland Wine Merchant.

I’ve been trying to get back on track with some healthy eating and with all the summer veggies on their way, it should be fun and easy!

There is tons of local kale available now and I keep trying to find more and more ways to slip it into our meals. Kale chips are one easy and fun way to enjoy kale. You can buy them but they are so expensive and they are so simple to make. I found this great recipe from Smitten Kitchen and pretty much followed her directions. I tossed a little olive oil, sea salt, and nutritional yeast on some organic Red Russian Kale from Delvin Farms, spread it out on a cookie sheet and baked at 300 for 30 minutes. We even crumbled some over popcorn one night. Yum!

We enjoyed this fancy (and chocked full of healthy goodness) slaw with Teriyaki salmon and some sweet brown rice with toasted sesame seeds. This was one of those meals that just made my body feel so clean and energized!

Fancy Tasting Asian Slaw
1 small green cabbage, finely chopped
1 small handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
a few big kale leaves, de-stemmed, chopped finely
1 carrot, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1” fresh fresh ginger, finely grated
1 shallot, finely chopped

for the dressing:
2 tsp Umeboshi paste
2 tsp Nama Shoyu
3 tsp Mirin rice wine
3 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
3 Tbsp grape seed oil

Mix all vegetables together in a big bowl. Mix all dressing ingredients together with a fork or whisk and pour on top of veggies. Stir.

The other day, I overheard my co-worker mention that his wife liked to top turkey burgers with a yellow squash mixture. I didn’t even get the recipe or hear more than that one sentence and I could not stop thinking about it. One of my favorite summer vegetable dishes has always been yellow squash sauteed with Vidalia onions. I had to make it! Another co-worker gave me some garlic scapes today so I incorporated some of those in, too. Scapes are the tender green tops of young garlic. They are milder but really fresh and delicious.

Turkey Burgers with Squash & Onions
serves 3
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced in rings
1 yellow squash, sliced on an angle
1 zucchini squash, sliced length-wise
garlic scapes, chopped thin
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
whole wheat hamburger buns (we used local Provence)
Aged goat gouda (I used local Noble Springs Dairy Southall Gouda!)
grainy mustard

Saute the onions, squash, scapes in a pan, stirring occasionally. Salt & Pepper to taste. Set aside. Mix the ground turkey with the garlic powder and onion powder, salt & pepper. Grill or cook in a skillet on the stove. Place sliced cheese on bun and warm in oven or on grill. Place turkey burger on bun and top with sauteed veggies. Smear some grainy mustard on the top half of the bun and enjoy!

We enjoyed these burgers with some homemade potato chips!

Hand-Cut Oven Chips
serves 3
2 large Russet potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
1 cup brown rice vinegar
grape seed oil
sea salt freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450. Fill a medium sized bowl with water and then add vinegar and stir. Place sliced potatoes (with skin on) in water and vinegar mixture. Place potatoes in one layer on a baking sheet lined with grape seed oil. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip them over (if they are thin enough, this is not necessary) and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove with a spatula and drain on a plate with paper towels on it. Repeat this process until all potatoes are cooked.

Know what else is totally awesome right now? STRAWBERRIES! All the local, organic ones are in and oh, so delicious.

My friend Meg gave me her Grandmother’s Buttermilk Pie recipe. It is so simple and very delicious. I rarely even eat much pie (yet I make them all the time) but there are a couple varieties that I do really love. This is one of them. I used local eggs and buttermilk, so fresh and delicious. The only thing I really changed about her recipe was the addition of the cinnamon and nutmeg. Then I topped with local, organic strawberries.

Buttermilk Pie with Fresh Strawberries
1 pie dough ball (Please never used store-bought!)
3 eggs
1 ½ cup organic cane sugar
½ cup organic unsalted butter
1 heaping tsp vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

Mix eggs, sugar, and butter together. Add vanilla and buttermilk. Place in uncooked, prepared pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 and bake for another 40-45 minutes. Serve with fresh, sliced strawberries on top or to the side.

I’m still hooked on that NY Times Flat & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I found in Saveur and I wrote about months ago. I keep varying it, though, and my latest variation involved local Olive & Sinclair Sea Salt Chocolate and Coffee Chocolate bars with the special ingredient of fresh mint from the garden! I just chopped it up and threw it in. It was delicious.

Falling behind on my music posts but Allison and I have been busy planning the first Red Barn Round-Up of the season…

Songs of Spring, Farmer’s Market Dinners, and Channeling the Greek Isles

I have to admit, for a moment there I was worried the climate change was all coming to a head and I feared I would never make it out of winter to feel the warmth of the sun again. OK, that is an exaggeration, I will admit. I know it isn’t THAT cold but it has been rough this winter for us Southerners. This morning as I walked through Shelby Bottoms with the doggers, though, we heard the wild, deafening, mating songs of the toads and now I know that Spring is indeed on the way! That’s southern country singing at its finest! I know that soon all the other crazy summer sounds of the South will fill the air and comfort me.

I can’t help but feel that our recent culinary experimentation- channeling the food of the Greek islands- has had something to do with that. We’ve been real busy day dreaming of warmer climates which has led to many Greek salads and Mediterranean inspired dishes. It all started with those lemon roasted potatoes a few weeks back. Two of my favorite ingredients lately have been these: lemon stuffed olives which we have to order by mail and Tennessee’s own Bonnie Blue Farm marinated goat’s milk feta.

We created this chicken recipe below and ate it with some good crusty bread and a Greek salad made with the aforementioned olives and feta along with some red onion, red pepper, olive oil, lemon, fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

I Wish I Was In The Greek Isles Chicken
serves 2

2 Springer Mt. Farms chicken breasts
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ tsp sea salt
1½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
juice of ½ lemon
3 tsp dried oregano
½ white onion, chopped
1 Tbsp capers
1 cup canned whole tomatoes
1 pinch of sugar

Coat the chicken breasts with 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic cloves, ½ tsp of the salt and pepper, the lemon juice and 1 tsp oregano. Let sit for 1-2 hours. Heat olive oil in an iron skillet on medium high. Add onions and saute until soft but not browned. Add the chicken and marinade into pan. Brown the chicken breasts on one side for about 3-5 minutes. Flip. Add the remaining ingredients, squishing the tomatoes in your hands as you add them to the skillet. Add more lemon, the remaining oregano, salt & pepper to taste. Turn heat down to medium low, cover pan and cook 10-12 minutes until chicken is done and sauce has reduced somewhat.

We ate this yummy dinner the other night just before heading out to FooBar to catch the Hackensaw Boys from Virginia. We heard their first album about seven or eight years ago while living in Seattle and really fell in love with their sound. They are a fun fast mix of old timey hillbilly music and bluegrass. We sort of lost track of them but they’ve had a couple albums out since and were on tour to support a new release called, “The Old Sound of Music Vol.1 ” They put on a fun show and we’ve been enjoying the new album ever since.

Hackensaw Boys at FooBar 02/05/2011

I’ve always heard about the Franklin Farmer’s Market but it happens every Saturday morning and until just recently, I had to work on Saturday mornings. We finally checked it out and were delighted to discover a cart with handmade cinnamon sugar donuts amongst our favorite local farmers such as Delvin Farms, Hatcher Family Dairy, and Noble Springs Dairy goat milk cheese.We had lunch at Gulf Pride Seafood in the Factory… The gumbo and shrimp po boy sandwich were  delicious! Thanks Kristin, for the recommendation! We then came home and made a Farmer’s Market Dinner with all our local finds.

We made fried chicken with local chicken from West Wind Farm, roasted potatoes and turnips from Delvin Farms, and coleslaw with cabbage from Delvin Farms. Grant made a tomato gravy for a complete Southern dinner! We’ve seen several variations for tomato gravy. We opt for the non-Italian version. He simply made a rue with Hatcher Family Dairy homemade butter (this was the key ingredient!) and White Lily flour. He added some tomato paste and hot sauce to the chicken stock that he then added to the rue.

I talk about Shrimp & Grits often and Grant has his favorite way of preparing this classic Southern dish but we keep thinking of new ways to incorporate leftovers and I am starting to think that perhaps all leftovers lead to Shrimp & Grits because that tomato gravy made the perfect base for Shrimp & Grits!

Another new recipe I came up with recently is this one for Cranberry Rosemary Walnut Bread. I love buying extra cranberries at Thanksgiving and freezing them to use later in the year as they aren’t always easy to find during non-Thanksgiving times. So many recipes pair cranberries with citrus but I am not such a big fan of this combination. I was thinking about rosemary and how it is in season all year ’round here and that it might be nice to add a savory characteristic to a classic sweet bread.

(By the way- I got a new ceramic loaf pan. Giada De Laurentiis has a new line of cookware available at Target. You know, the woman with the simple Italian cooking show on the Food Network. She’s beautiful and the whole time you are watching you can’t stop thinking, “How is this woman so skinny? There’s no way she eats her own cooking!” Well, I am super excited about her bakeware. Go check it out!)

Cranberry Walnut Rosemary Bread

makes 1 large loaf

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup White Lily all purpose flour
½ tsp sea salt (I used homemade rosemary salt)
1 ½ tsp baking powder (I used homemade)
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup organic cane sugar
¼ organic brown sugar
¼ cup melted butter, cooled
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped fresh (or frozen) cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour loaf pan.
2. In a medium bowl,mix together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, nuts, and rosemary.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar until combined. Add buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.
4. Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined. Add cranberries.
5. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

I’ll close this post as I usually do, with a pie..

We were invited to a Super Bowl Party. You can’t grow up in the South without knowing at least the basics of football but I don’t really follow it now as an adult. We do, however, have lots of friends now who are all Green Bay Packer fans so I decided to make an Apple Cheddar Pie (green apples and yellow cheese- for Wisconsin and Green Bay color scheme, get it?). I think it helped make up for the fact that we aren’t football fans. It went something like this…

Apple Cheddar Pie

2 cups all purpose flour (I use White Lily)
2 sticks unsalted organic butter
6-7 Tbsp ice water
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
5 granny smith apples
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup organic cane sugar

Pie Dough
(Makes a double crust for a ten inch pie, or 2 ten inch tart shells.)

Place flour, butter, and salt in food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse 24 times. (I use my hands instead of a food processor and it works just fine!  You get a good work out and there’s less to clean up.  If you use your hands, be gentle- your objective is to make the butter into little crumbs or grains, not to mush it all together, do not over mix. Slow down.) The largest pieces of butter should be the size of grains of rice. Transfer mixture from food processor to large bowl. Mix grated cheese in. Sprinkle with 6 T of ice water. Make your hand into a claw as if you are trying to grab a basketball one handed, and using your rigid claw hand, stir dough briefly until the liquid is incorporated. Squeeze a handful of dough in your palm. It should have just enough moisture to stay together. If it seems dry and crumbly, add more water a teaspoon at a time until you can squeeze it into a ball that doesn’t crumble when broken apart. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Roll out onto floured surface as quickly as you can. Keep the second dough ball in the fridge until you are ready for it.

Peel the apples. Cut, core, and chop them. Mix them with the lemon juice and sugar and pour into pie shell. Roll second pie dough out and lay over top of the pie. Pinch the edges and cut a few slits in the top with a sharp knife. Using a pastry brush, brush the top with an egg white. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then 350 for 35 minutes.

Happy Eating and go support your local music scene!

So Long 2010, HELLOOO 2011!

Holiday cookies go nicely with whiskey cocktails!

Good Bye 2010! As I sit here on New Year’s Eve at home with the doggers, it seems a good time to reflect on all I am thankful for, send good thoughts to friends and family who I miss, those who aren’t doing so well, and reflect on the past year. Earlier in the week, I was actually gearing up for finally experiencing Lower Broadway on NYE but as is usually the case, Grant was offered a gig which took him into another direction. It’s a good night to have a guitar gig for sure. I was going to tag along but then suddenly realized I might have more fun staying at home catching up, being introspective, and relaxing than surrounding myself by people partying it up a little too much. These obligatory holidays make me want to hibernate and save up my energy for more random celebrations when the rest of the world isn’t looking. So I have traded in my cowboy boots for some slippers tonight but no worries, I have Dale Watson cranked on the hi-fi and cookies in the oven! Oh, and just so you know, 2011 is the year I learn to dance! Watch out world! The Red Barn Round-Up seems the perfect place to practice so I need to get on it during these winter months so I will be ready for Spring. Which reminds me- our last Round-Up of 2010 was fabulous with the super talented artist and musician, Julie Lee, and the amazing Paul Burch, both with stellar bands.

Tomorrow we’ll be cooking up a mess of black-eyed peas and collard greens along with a pan of corn bread but it occurred to me that with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I have fallen way behind in my cooking posts. All these photos of our meals that Grant so patiently waited for me to take are piling up. I need to catch up. So here it goes…

We made a yummy turkey soup with vegetables and brown rice with our Thanksgiving left overs which we ate with a pear and blue cheese salad topped with a simple honey vinaigrette. Then I tried my hand at Wonton Soup and found a simple Emeril recipe that gave me the basic idea. I used ground turkey, spiced it up and made the wontons. The soup consisted of mushrooms, baby bok choy, onions and garlic… pretty tasty! Soup is indeed good food, especially in the winter.

So, I’ve been trying to figure out new and exciting ways to enjoy winter squash- squash is good for you. Nutritionally packed and one of the easiest vegetables to digest, squashes are low in calories and high in potassium and Vitamin A. It also helps reduce inflammation. And look how pretty this little butternut squash is…

So, we were craving Mexican food but I wanted to cook and eat healthier so I cubed up this squash and sauteed it with some chopped white onion, several cloves of garlic, a can of green chilies, and spiced it up with some ground cumin, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. We ate it with some veggie re-fried beans, some red rice Grant threw together with some leftover brown rice, and a little shredded cheddar on top! The leftover squash was yummy in a whole wheat quesadilla the next day.

Speaking of Mexican food, ever since our last trip to Austin, where we got our $9 tortilla press, we have been making our own fresh corn tortillas and they are delicious! We no longer get stuck with a stack of stale tortillas- we make as many as we need for a particular meal. And, we found a great high quality corn masa made by Bob’s Red Mill that works great!

On the topic of veggies, it is important to mention one of my favorite winter dishes- roasted root veggies! SO many beautiful colors and packed full of deliciousness and nutrients!

And these roasted sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes seasoned with my famous orange fennel salt and black pepper made the perfect accompaniment to some pan smothered pork chops seasoned with smoky paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. That’s sauteed Red Russian Kale (with cherry tomatoes, a tad bit of fresh garlic and a splash of balsamic) from the Delvin’s farm in College Grove, Tennesse beside it.

There were many pies in the last few weeks of the year… oh what fun!

Mini Me Pies

Pie night with Lindsay & the Brads.

Cherry Pie

South Carolina Christmas Pies

I am ready to put the excess sugar and added calories of the holidays behind me and hoping to start the new year off with some healthy eating… Hello 2011!