Grits and Bluegrass and Tomato Cobbler!

Grits are delicious. That is my opinion but I would guess that those who think they don’t like grits, just haven’t had real grits. Real grits are stone ground and are ground at old mills that have been around forever. I used to get my Sis to send them to me all the way from Charleston but have since found them in many other little towns in Virginia- along the Blueridge Parkway and near the Shenandoah Valley. We have some in Tennessee from Falls Creek that I plan to try next. Also, Anson Mills in South Carolina is famous for their stone ground grits! You can order those online here. Anyway, it is important to have real grits I think. As I’ve blogged about before, one of our favorite ways to eat grits is Shrimp & Grits, a low-country specialty. I also LOVE grits for breakfast. My favorite way to eat them is a little odd but really delicious…

The grits are slow cooked with either some butter and/or cheese (add when almost done). Then I like to pour hot sauce and maple syrup over them (I somehow always feel like Will Ferrell’s character in Elf when I do this step!), then top with a fried egg and a turkey sausage. Yum!

Then the next morning I sauteed onion, yellow squash, and tomato to eat on the left over grits and then shredded Parmesan Reggiano on top! It made for a perfect brunch.

Sunday was another Red Barn Round-Up party and we finally had some bluegrass with Off The Wagon who are amazing. You can catch these guys at the Station Inn once a month usually and you can hear more of their music here. They are super nice fellas, too, and some of them happen to live in the neighborhood so we were delighted to have them play. Derek Hoke opened.

Here’s a clip of Derek and Off The Wagon from The Station Inn a couple months ago:

Sunday, lots of music-loving friends brought some yummy food and a great time was had by all.

So, I have been totally inspired by all of the amazing heirloom cherry tomatoes this summer. My favorites are the ones from the Habegger farm, a Mennonite family run farm, in Scottsville, KY which I buy at The Turnip Truck. They taste like candy!

I have these tomatoes on my mind quite often lately. I was probably thinking about them when I read an email from a friend who mentioned making cherry cobbler. For some reason, I thought she had written cherry tomato cobbler. When I realized I had read it wrong, I couldn’t stop thinking about cherry tomato cobbler! So, I mulled it over in the back of my brain for a few hours, thinking of course that it was an original idea. I made sure to establish exactly how I wanted to do it before googling to search for other recipes. Of course it has been done before but I made it my way anyhow. It went something like this…

First I placed the cherry tomatoes in an oven-safe dish with some olive oil and roasted them for 20-30 minutes at 375. Meanwhile, I sauteed some vidalia onions in olive oil and then added sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and some fresh basil and rosemary. I pulled the tomatoes out and combined those with the onion mixture and added in one teaspoon of flour. These tomatoes are so amazing on their own that I did not want to add many more flavors. Next I made some biscuits (2 cups self rising White Lily flour, 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 2/3 cup buttermilk- see previous post for directions) and added in freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and black pepper. I then dropped the dough by spoonfulls over the tomato mixture, leaving a few tiny gaps between. I baked this for about 40 minutes when the biscuits were golden brown and the tomatoes were bubbling up!

We served this with some grilled okra which was tossed with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and grilled pork chops which Grant brined with some fresh sage leaves and then slathered with homemade pesto. This meal was a super delicious summer meal! (Except that it was so incredibly hot outside that my camera lens steamed up as I went outside to photograph Grant’s grilling methods!)

I’ll end with a sweet musical note here… last night we saw the incredible Desert Rose Band with the original line-up at the Belcourt Theatre. They are all amazing musicians and their harmonies are as smooth as butter. They made me so happy. This was truly comfort music to my ears! Musical guests included Emmylou Harris and Brad Paisley.

It was another amazing musical night in Nashville.

Turn, Turn, Turn…

As with all natural disasters, the Great Nashville Flood seemed to bring the community together to help one another out. What an amazing city of good souls Nashville is. As far as the music goes, there was a real sense that the “show must go on” as exemplified by the Grand Ole Opry who temporarily lost its Opry House but didn’t miss a single show. Vince Gill helped organize a telethon at our local news station in which he played with many of country music’s biggest stars (some who also suffered loss in the flood) while other top stars answered phones and took pledges and raised well over a million dollars in one night. Since then, there have been many benefits every week. We had our own benefit over in East Nashville at the 5 Spot last week, organized by the lovely Traci Thomas with proceeds to benefit MusiCares. American Songwriter wrote a lovely little article about it here. It was a great night of music and they raised $3000. On the bill was- Joshua Black Wilkins with Amanda Shires, Josh Hedley, Derek Hoke, Caitlin Rose, and Justin Townes Earle.

The first ever East Nashville Arts Fest last weekend brought many of our Chicago buddies to town! It was a super fun weekend full of good art- new paintings by Bryan Cunningham, our friend Dolan Geiman, and tons of hand-made goodies added to our wish list (jewelry by Nancy Deal, leather bag and guitar strap by Becky Quigley, a new skirt by Beeline A-Line skirts made by Meg Guiffrida, and awesome printed shirts by Mary Ink.). We went to a vintage clothing sale at Fanny’s House of Music, the Ton Up vintage motorcycle show put on by the Road Mangler himself, Dim Sum with our friends Buddy & Adrienne at Lucky Bamboo (that’s right- Nashville finally has Dim Sum!), and enjoyed good food shared with friends all weekend!

Dolan and Ali Marie, who were staying with us, brought us home a big bag of veggies from the Turnip Truck. We already had the menu for the night planned out- Big Smokey’s amazing bbq smoked chicken, a big salad, sweet onion rice, and apple pie.

But, later in the week we made this Thai red curry dish using the big bag of veggies they brought us… Thank you Dolan & Ali Marie!

And, new summer cocktail idea:

And then- MORE MUSIC! Grant won tickets from WSM (one of the greatest radio stations in the world) to see Roger McGuinn at the Belcourt Theater. We had seen him once before a year or so ago, in the round, with Guy Clark and the Toad the Wet Sprocket guy. This solo show, however, was amazing. He simultaneously demonstrated the history of music and his own personal musical history. He had his Rickenbacker, his special edition Martin 7 string guitar, an acoustic 12 string guitar, and a banjo. He played all the classics and the early songs that inspired his early musical career. He put on one great show musically and visually, I really enjoyed watching the jingle jangle tapping of his cowboy boots. They were very animated. And, it is unbelievable that he is 68 years old as he looks about 50 and his voice is very strong (yet flowery as always). Such an inspiring show! Thank you Roger McGuinn!!!

The sign on the door of the Belcourt stated that I was only allowed to take non-flash photos from my seat and because Grant had an afternoon gig and we got there just as the show started, we were in the back of the theater. Anyway,  you can see his instrument set-up here…

Grant ended his musical week playing two gigs with Jon Byrd on Saturday. I have confessed my love of Derek Hoke‘s music on this here blog before but I have not yet had the opportunity to share my love of Jon Byrd’s music. If you haven’t heard of him, I just don’t know what you are waiting for. He is amazing! Check his music out now! Do it!

Pictured here are Jon Byrd with the awesome and amazing Grant “Big Smokey” Johnson in the shadows on the left and with the super talented Eric Brace on the right.

Next week- I look forward to reporting on the opening of our friend’s new River Cafe in Normandy, TN and a very exciting show at the Ryman Auditorium, one of my very favorite places in the whole wide world!!! Good food and country music- all of the time!