Summer Dill Recipes & Pedal Steel Awesomeness

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For the past few years, we have had a raised garden bed. In years past, we’ve planted squash, tomatoes, cukes, okra, and always a few herbs. What usually happens is, as the summer progresses we get busy and our beautiful little garden grows faster and faster and suddenly, it turns into a jungle and we get completely overwhelmed. This year, we decided to sign up for our friends’ CSA and take a step back on our own garden. We only planted herbs and sunflowers which has been much more manageable. And we’ve eaten so many herbs and found so many new uses for all of them.

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Here are a few of our current favorite recipes using fresh dill. Dill is a member of the parsley family and a native to the Mediterranean region. In addition to all the many culinary uses, it also has some health benefits. The leaves have been known to stimulate the appetite and settle digestion, induce sleep, clear up halitosis, and it also has a high vitamin content.

Dill flowers

Grant came up with most of these. He’s a wizard in the kitchen! We usually discuss them together and come up with a good plan but this first one was all him.

Smashed Dill Potatoes
8 small-medium Red Potatoes
4 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Fresh Dill, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper

Boil the potatoes whole in a large pan until done, approximately 20 minutes or so. Drain immediately. Run the potatoes under cool water to stop cooking process. Set aside. Let cool. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Take each potato and smash them slightly between both hands until they are somewhat flattened. Place potatoes in the pan of butter. Season with salt and pepper to your liking as they cook. Let the potatoes get a deep golden brown and then flip. You can add a little more butter if necessary to keep the pan from getting too dry. When the potatoes are done, sprinkle in the chopped dill. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve.

Potatoes

Smashed Dill Potatoes

We eat so many salads in the summer. Usually we just make a simple herbed vinaigrette type of dressing. Every once in awhile, though, a creamy dressing is delicious! This dill dressing was so yummy, we made it twice in the last couple of weeks- once served with a simple cucumber and tomato salad and another time with smoked salmon and homemade croutons made with leftover Bella sourdough bread.

Salad bowl

Fresh Dill Dressing
3 sprigs Fresh Dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Chives, finely chopped
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
3+ Tbsp Buttermilk
Salt & Pepper

Salad

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor. Add more buttermilk if it seems too thick. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes enough for one big salad or you can use it as a dip for raw vegetables.

Salad w Salmon

We tend to use mostly the leaves or fronds of the dill plant. It is common to use the flowers with the seeds for pickling. The flowering part has a much stronger flavor and can be a bit bitter to taste. I love the beautiful flowers in the garden, though. They look like fireworks!

Dill backlit

Refrigerator Pickled Dill Green Beans
Makes 3 pint jars
1-2 lbs Green Beans, trimmed (enough to fit into 3 pint jars)
3 cloves Garlic, sliced
3 sprigs of Fresh Dill
1-3 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp Black Peppercorns
5 cups White or Cider Vinegar (or a combination of both)
5 cups Water
1/4 cup Salt

Beans

Place 1 sliced garlic clove and 1 sprig of dill in each jar. Divide the pepper flakes and peppercorns between each jar. Fill each jar with the beans. Boil the vinegar, water, and salt until the salt has dissolved. Immediately fill each jar with the brine. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate. They are usually ready to eat after a day and should stay good in the refrigerator for about a month.

This has become one of our favorite ways to eat salmon. It is so simple and fresh and perfect for summer.

Salmon marinating

Salmon Marinated in Vodka & Dill
Serves 4
1 lb. Salmon Filets
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Vodka
2 Tbsp Fresh Dill, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper

Salmon Cooking

Whisk together oil, vodka, dill, garlic, salt & pepper in a bowl to create a marinade. Place salmon in the marinade, flesh side down. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Remove salmon from the marinade (but save the marinade) and grill, broil, or pan-fry the salmon flesh side down until flesh is browned (4-5 minutes) and then flip over and finish cooking skin side down for another few minutes. For the last 2 minutes, pour the marinade over the salmon.

And for a refreshing cocktail or after dinner sip…

Cucumber Dill Aquavit
1 750 ml bottle high quality Vodka (Absolute or Tito’s)
1/2 medium sized Cucumber, sliced thinly and then chopped
4 sprigs fresh Dill

Empty a few ounces of vodka out of the bottle (maybe make yourself a nice Vodka Tonic to start?). Add the dill and cucumber to the bottle with remaining vodka. Let it steep for a few days, up to one week. Then, strain out the vodka and discard the cucumber and dill. Freeze the vodka. Sip as is or make a delicious cocktail out of the Aquavit.

Poster for the Nashville event.

Poster for the Nashville event.

This week we are going to a benefit for The Nikki Mitchell Foundation. I’ve mentioned our beautiful friend Nikki many times. This week marks the anniversary of her passing and we are thrilled that her friend Rhonda continues her courageous fight for pancreatic cancer awareness. On the bill for the concert this week, among others, is Chris Stapleton. He is a great writer in town. We first took notice of his incredible voice when he was with The Steeldrivers. I started thinking about him and looked up to see all of his recordings. I noticed he was on a Buddy Emmons Tribute album that came out last year. It’s a fun album. You can check it out here. This reminded me of the time I was lucky enough to see Buddy play with Johnny Bush (for free!) at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree about 6 or 7 years ago.

buddyemmons

And then that made me think about our friend Brett Resnick. He’s turning into one hot-shot pedal steel player.

Brett at Santas

We met Brett, also, at Santa’s Pub. He is a fantastic new player and over the last year and a half since we’ve known him, we’ve seen him continue to get better and better. You can see him playing with all sorts of folks around town. He’s also been featured on several new albums I have mentioned over the last few months.

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Eating Lots of Carrots & Thinking about Austin

Carrots

I just love cooked carrots. I know, not everyone does but I can’t help but think those who do not, just haven’t really explored all the taste possibilities cooked carrots have. They are so delicious cooked with onions and a little butter. So savory with a tad bit of sweetness. And they are so good for us, nutritionally speaking. Carrots can be alkalinizing, cleansing, nourishing, and stimulating to almost every system in the body. Carrots are powerful antioxidants which can help prevent and fight cancer in the body. Carrots are also high in fiber and loaded with pectin which can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Don’t fool with those “baby carrots” though, as they aren’t really babies at all, just big ones that have been whittled down to look cute and easy to eat. How wasteful. And I have found that those are never as flavorful as the the real deal.

Here’s a couple of comfort dishes I came up with in the last week. The first one is a risotto. Instead of using arborio rice, though, I found some Italian farro in the cupboard. Farro is similar to barley so it takes a little bit longer to cook and has a little bit more of a chew than rice but it’s pretty yummy.

Carrot Risotto

Roasted Carrot Farro Risotto
Serves 6

  • 5 Carrots
  • ½ Onion, sliced
  • 6 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • ½ Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 cups Farro
  • 1 cup White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • Small Bunch Parsley, chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Carrots Roasting

The key to cooking risotto is to stir constantly so be sure to have all ingredients prepped ahead of time. Preheat oven to 400. Slice the carrots very thinly- I like to use a mandoline to get them thin and uniform. Spread the carrots and the onion slices out in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, Italian herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set carrots aside. Heat the stock in medium sauce pan. Once it comes to a boil, lower temperature to simmer. Heat butter in large flat pan on medium heat. Add the other half of the chopped onion and saute. Stir. Cook for a couple minutes. Add farro. Stir. Add wine. Stir. Gradually begin to add stock in, about half a cup at a time and continue to stir. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add a little bit of the fresh chopped parsley every few minutes, too. Add another addition of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the farro will still have some chew to it. The process will take about 45 minutes, as the farro takes longer to cook than rice. Add the carrots and onions in and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Add parmesan to risotto and stir. Sprinkle with the remaining fresh chopped parsley. I served it with a simple green salad.

And then there was this next concoction which would be good served with some greens or roasted Brussels sprouts on the side. It might also make an excellent side dish for some grilled pork chops. I love the sweet and spicy from the maple and bourbon combined with the Tobasco in the grits mixed with the earthiness of the rosemary and Gruyere. Mmm…

Carrots & Onions

Maple Bourbon Carrots & Grits
Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup Stone-Ground Corn Grits*
  • 4 cups Water
  • ¼ – ½ cup Buttermilk
  • 1 cup grated cave-aged Gruyere cheese
  • Tabasco
  • Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee or Butter
  • 6-7 Carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 big Red Onion, Sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Bourbon
  • Chopped fresh Parsley & Rosemary (I used about 2 Tbsp)
  • Salt & Black Pepper to taste

I tend to go for a creamier texture for my grits but you can play around with how long you cook them, how much liquid you add, etc. until you find the right texture to suit you. Cooking instructions usually have you soak the grits in the water to allow the hulls to rise to the top so you can skim them off. I always omit this step, opting for a little more grit and texture. Place the water in a pan on the stove. Add the grits and a couple pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once it starts to thicken, pour buttermilk in a little at a time and stir, as the liquid starts to all be absorbed and get thicker. Once you get a nice creamy texture and the grits aren’t too tough to taste, add the cheese, Tabasco, salt, and pepper and stir. Total cooking time usually takes about 45 minutes for me.

Grits

As the grits cook… In an iron skillet on medium heat, add the ghee. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and caramelize. Keep stirring and right when you start to think the carrots are just about done, add the maple syrup and bourbon. Stir and then toss the herbs in. Cook a couple more minutes. Serve carrots over the grits.

Grits & Carrots

*All grits are definitely not created equally. Be sure to use really good quality, old fashioned, stone-ground grits which you can usually find in nicer grocery stores, specialty shops, at old mills out in the country, or online. I really like to use Falls Mills grits when in Tennessee.

Austin

SxSW is coming up down in Austin, TX and we, sadly, are not making the trek this year. Just thinking about it and hearing as our friends prepare to head down has made me crave some good ol’ Texas tacos! If you are headed Texas way, here’s my list of favorite taco joints from a few years back. And then, there’s also this I wrote the following year. I’m sure there are plenty of new places to try but these listed are some of the best that have been around for awhile.

And speaking of SxSW, these two are preparing to take it by storm! They’ve got a slew of shows down in Austin, and at towns along the way, and I am so happy for them.

Cale Tyson & Kelsey Walden, The Red Barn Round-Up, 2013.

Cale Tyson & Kelsey Waldon, The Red Barn Round-Up, 2013.

We first met Kelsey Waldon at a $2 Tuesday at The 5 Spot long ago and quite often she will sit in with Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers on Sunday nights at Santa’s Pub. We were instantly drawn to her old school country sound. Kelsey is from Kentucky and just graduated with a degree from Belmont in songwriting. Her songs are thoughtful and honest. It is evident she has an understanding and love of real country music. There is a vulnerability in her voice and her warm, genuine personality shines through her songs.

Kelsey

Kelsey Waldon with Brett Resnick on pedal steel guitar, The Music Loft at Mad Donnas, Nashville, 2013.

Here’s a video of her song, Know My Name, that was shot at The Stone Fox in January. This song is the first one from her most recent album titled, Fixin’ It Up. She has a new album coming out real soon. Watch for it!

Cale Tyson is another singer and songwriter who we first met as he led the Ice Cold Pickers at Santa’s Pub. Cale is from Texas and sings slow, mournful yodels with a slight Texas twang. He sings songs about whiskey, being lonesome, honky-tonks, and lost love with a deep respect for the legendary songwriters whose music he grew up on.

Cale-1

Cale with Grant Johnson on guitar, The Music Loft at Mad Donna’s, Nashville, 2013.

His first EP, High on Lonesome, just came out and features some of Nashville’s best musicians. Here’s a video he shot for his song, Old Time Blues, featuring Grant “Big Smokey” Johnson on guitar and the beautiful Erin Rae singing.

Both Kelsey and Cale have voices very indicative of where they are from, seem fully immersed in Nashville’s rich history, and are poised for a very bright musical future.