Hibernating for the Winter

29- Nesting

Winter is in full swing and all I want to do is hibernate. It’s the perfect time for nesting- working on all those art projects I never have time to complete, trying to catch up on all of our house projects, finally making time to see some art exhibits around town, the books I’ve been wanting to read, the movies I’ve been wanting to see, and lots of cooking. Hibernating requires some good comfort food. I have always taken great comfort in Asian food. All types really. Here are a few of our favorites of the last few weeks.

29- Miso 1

Miso Soup
1-2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 small Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
4 oz Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp Brown Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp Tamari
8 cups Broth (I used 4 cups chicken, 4 cups water)
4-5 oz Udon Noodles
1 cup Frozen Peas
1 cup frozen Corn
Fresh Ginger
1-2 Baby Bok Choy, sliced
8-10 Shrimp, peeled with tails left on (optional)
4 Tbsp Red Miso
1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
3-4 Scallions, chopped

29- Miso 2

Heat a skillet and then add the sesame oil. Add the onion and stir. Cook until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic. Stir. Add the mushrooms. Stir. Add the vinegar and 1 Tbsp tamari and then add the peas and corn. Stir. Turn off the heat and let sit while you prepare the broth. Heat the broth in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the ginger and 1 Tbsp tamari. Bring to a boil. Add the noodles. Turn heat down to medium. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until noodles are soft. Add the onion and mushroom mixture to the broth. If using shrimp, add that next and cook only until done (4-5 minutes). Add bok choy. Turn the heat down a little more and add the miso (you never want to allow the miso to boil as it is fermented and the high heat will kill the living fermented goodness and you will lose nutritional value). Once miso has dissolved, spoon into bowls. Top with Cilantro, scallions, and Srircha (or hot sauce of choice).

29- Kale

And here’s another Kale Salad with a bit of an Asian slant to it. It is a nice accompaniment to soup or to one of our new favorite ways to eat catfish- Teriyaki Catfish. Back in Seattle, Teriyaki was a weekly staple and there were so many yummy places to grab some great Teriyaki on the go.

29- Kale & Catfish

Asian Kale Salad
For the Dressing:
1 clove Garlic
2 Scallions
1 small bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Tbsp Tamari
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
3 Tbsp Brown Rice Vinegar
1 Clementine, peel removed
1-2 tsp Honey

Kale or Kale-Romaine mix
Sea Salt
Carrots, chopped
Radishes, chopped

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a mini food-processor, grinder or blender. Clean the kale and remove the center veins. Chop the kale leaves in thin bite-size strips and place in bowl. Sprinkle a little salt over and gently massage the kale leaves. Set aside. Chop the carrots, radishes, and romaine if you are using it. Add to the kale. Pour the dressing over and mix.

And about those Clementines- I keep buying those cute little wooden crates filled with them. I usually give a few away and Grant and I both eat a couple a day but there are still always so many that I’ve been dreaming up recipes to incorporate them. Here is another that I adapted from a recipe I found on the internet.

29- Broccoli

Clementine Chicken with Broccoli
Serves 4
For the Sauce:
1 ½ cups Water
Juice + Zest of 1 Clementine
Juice of half a Lemon
⅓ cup Brown Rice Vinegar
3 Tbsp Tamari
½  cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, grated
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
3 Green Onions, chopped
½-1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into small pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Black Sesame Seeds
½ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
2-3 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
1 bunch Broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces

Pour all ingredients for the sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool 10 to 15 minutes. Place the chicken pieces into a bowl. When the sauce has cooled, pour 1 cup of it over the chicken, stir to coat, and cover. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours. Reserve the remaining sauce. In another bowl, mix the flour, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Add the marinated chicken pieces and stir to coat the chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken into the skillet, and brown on both sides. Place chicken on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Clean the bottom of the skillet. Heat the skillet (or wok) and add 1 Tbsp oil. Saute the onion, stirring, until it begins to soften. Add the broccoli and stir and then add the sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water and then stir into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken pieces, and simmer, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over brown rice.

29- Broccoli Chicken

My hibernation has included plenty of tunes on the hi-fi and the low-fi- I’ve been really enjoying Eddie Stubbs’ week night show and listening to the Opry at the Ryman shows as heard through good ole’ WSM 650 AM. I haven’t been out to see as much live music the last couple of months but I hope to catch up soon.

29- Santas

Sundays are my favorite lately for live old school country music. Grant’s been playing with some great young musicians at a funky, smoke-filled double wide called Santa’s Pub. They call themselves Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers and they play 7-9pm. I’ve really enjoyed their sets. There is a whole new group of country music performers and appreciators and I’ve heard some songs I don’t usually hear down on lower Broadway. After their set, Grant and I try to make it over to The Stone Fox where Chris Scruggs holds court with the old timers (and a few youngsters with old souls) he calls them The Air Castle All-Stars. (I have some better photos of them here from when they played at my and Allison’s Red Barn Round-Up party back in November.)

29- Chris & Billy

There we get to hear Billy Robinson on steel playing the same songs he once played with Red Foley, Carl Smith, and even Hank Williams way back in the day. We also get to hear Buddy Spicher on fiddle who has recorded with all the great legends. These guys are the best of the best and that we get to just stop by to hear them play for a little while on a Sunday night truly amazes me.

I’ll close with this fruit nut bread I came up with. It is actually pretty low-fat. I adapted a weight watchers recipe actually, that I found on-line. I love the combination of dried apricots with oats. It is technically a banana bread but came out as a dense fruit bread. In perfect Johnson fashion, we found a way to make it less healthy and enjoyed it the most sliced and toasted with a pat of butter.

29- Fruity Oat Bread

Fruity Oat Bread
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 cup Rolled Oats
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Sea Salt
3-4 Bananas, very ripe
1/2 cup Mascobado Cane (or Dark Brown Sugar)
2 large egg whites
¼ cup Plain Greek Yogurt
¾ -1 cup chopped Dried Apricots
1 tsp Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan and set aside. In medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In separate medium bowl, mash bananas with fork. Add sugar and mixing until smooth. Beat in egg whites and yogurt. Combine wet and dry ingredients together for a somewhat smooth consistency. Mix in apricots. Pour into an olive oil greased loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until baking wire (or toothpick) comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the loaf.


Roundin’ Up Some Fun!

OH, a week of the summer blahs and then…

Our first Red Barn Round-Up of the summer was last week and it was a perfect Round-Up. I mean, what Round-Up isn’t perfect at the Red Barn? Oh, wait- the one that got canceled because of a snow storm, that one wasn’t perfect. Anyway, I digress. This particular Round-Up was most certainly perfect. Our musical guest was the crazy talented Chris Scruggs who besides being able to play most any instrument extremely well and having a great new album out of his own music, also surrounds himself with some of Nashville’s most revered country and bluegrass musicians. We were so lucky!

First of all there was our friend and neighbor, Buddy Spicher who is a legendary fiddler.

He is amazing and he gives really great hugs! Just to give you a tiny glimpse of Buddy’s history, I found this amazing old footage:

Buddy has played with everyone including these fine folks- Webb Pierce, Ray Price, Bill Monroe, Kitty Wells, Jimmy Martin, Hank Snow, Bob Wills, Hank Thompson, The Rolling Stones, Crystal Gayle, The Osborne Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson- just to name a few. He is a Nashville Cat for sure!

On steel guitar was Billy Robinson who is a member of The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

Billy was also a member of The Grand Ole Opry band for many years and traveled the world over playing with the likes of Hank Williams, George Morgan, Hank Snow, Little Jimmy Dickens and Carl Smith. I think Billy and his wife Carolyn will become Red Barn Round-Up regulars! (I sure hope so.)

Also in Chris’ band was one of Grant’s heros, Andy Reiss, on guitar. Andy is a top Nashville session player and one of the very best in town. He is a Grammy nominated member of the great Western Swing band, The Time Jumpers. On bass was IBMA’s bass player of the year countless times, Mike Bub. Mike is also a top session player who spent 13 years on the road with Del McCoury and has played with just about everybody who is anybody in town. He just so happens to also be a neighbor. And on rhythm guitar was Rob Price who is also a well sought after session player and can often be found playing bass for Gail Davies.

Words cannot even appropriately describe how delighted we were to have these musicians play for us and our little party. What an amazing day in the neighborhood!

And if the music wasn’t enough, everyone brought food! I made a couple mixed berry pies- blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

There was Allison’s key lime pies, Zana’s cupcakes, Leah’s banana pudding, Catherine’s famous corn dip, Holly’s jalapeno pimento cheese, fried chicken, and so many other amazing dishes! One of my favorite salads was a simple one made of- watermelon, cucumbers, jalapenos, and fresh mint! I can’t stop thinking about it!

The rest of the week, Grant took over as head chef at our house but I was there to document. Never fear, the camera was near. Speaking of which, you wouldn’t believe the patience Grant has gained. Poor Grant. Many a night he has to wait to take his first bite as I capture the perfect photograph of our food. If you know Grant and his love of food and his kinetic energy, you understand how amazing this must be. Thanks Grant! So, back to his amazing culinary creations…  I bought a whole (Springer Mountain Farms) chicken this week and Grant smoked it to perfection. He dry rubbed the chicken in his special Big Smokey spice rub and let it sit over night. He then smoked it over mesquite for 3 hours. Next he sauced it with a homemade sauce (see ingredients below) and let it stand in foil for about half an hour.

To accompany the chicken, he made a yummy red & green cabbage with shredded carrots slaw and some bbq kidney beans. He soaked the kidney beans in water for a day and then boiled them to get them a little softer and to the right texture. He roasted some cherry tomatoes at 375 for about 30-40 minutes and then pureed them in the pan with a whisk and deglazed the pan by adding some cane sugar, apple cider vinegar and a little molasses (sort of a homemade ketchup). He sauteed chopped green bell pepper and onion in an iron skillet with a tiny bit of bacon fat (you can substitute a teaspoon of butter). He then put the beans (with a of the little bean juice), the sauteed veggies, the homemade tomatoes in a casserole dish with some sea salt, black pepper, dry mustard, and garlic powder. He baked it for about 2 hours at 300. They were delicious and kidney beans are super nutritious!

Also on our plates this week were green peppers from our garden, the first peaches from South Carolina (because those are the very best- thanks Seth!), and kale from Delvin Farms!

And speaking of the Delvins, I also got some of these delicious little red potatoes that magically are yellow on the inside and so buttery and delicious. Grant sauteed them up and we had them with sauteed kale and chicken sausages one night.

All for now- but looking forward to some fun weekend music, cooking and eating! And I will close this post with my favorite refreshing cocktail concoction of the week.

This Week’s Music Post

We had a quintessential Nashville night this week at The Station Inn as our buddy Chris Scruggs  assembled a band consisting of the best Nashville players in town for a night of Classic Country. My hands were almost sore from all the clapping and my smile muscles got a huge work-out! Billy Robinson played steel, Andy Reiss on guitar, Mike Bub on upright bass, Buddy Spicher played fiddle and Chris sang and played rhythm guitar. It made me so happy!