Traveling Through Summer

It’s been awhile since I posted any new recipes here. We’ve been making lots of old favorite summer recipes mostly.

Romesco Dinner 2015

We make homemade Romesco at the first sign of asparagus and spring onions!

At the first sign of yellow crookneck squash, I start dreaming about this wonderful Buttermilk Squash Soup recipe from 101 Cookbooks. And last week, we had enough tomatoes from our Double N Urban Farm CSA to make a Tomato Crumble Pie. I look forward to both of these every summer.

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A few weeks back, we had lots of beautiful varieties of kale in our CSA basket and came up with this lovely variation of a Kale Caesar.

Kale Varieties

Kale Caesar with Seed Brittle
Serves 2
1 bunch Kale (I used a variety of different kinds of Kale leaves.)
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 large clove of Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
1 Egg, coddled
3 shakes Tabasco
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated
Lemon wedges

Seed Brittle
1/2 cup Seeds (I used an even mix of sunflower and pepitas.)
1 tsp Chili Powder
1Tbsp. Maple Syrup
Sea Salt

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To make the seed brittle, use an iron skillet. Place seeds in skillet on medium heat. Once they start to get warm and slightly toasty, pour in maple syrup. Stir and add chili powder and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and let cool on a plate. Wash kale leaves well, dry, and remove the middle, thick vein. Tear leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a big bowl. To make dressing- in a small bowl, mix the garlic, mustard, Worcestershire, egg, and olive oil with a small whisk. Slowly pour the olive oil in as you whisk. Pour dressing over kale leaves. Pour cheese in and gently toss. Top with seed brittle. Divide between two plates and serve with a lemon wedge.

Kale Caesar

And then we went to Austin where it has become our tradition to eat as many tacos as is possible!

Taco Tour 2015

We tried lots of new places to us but our very favorite new taco was the “Gringa” from Rosita’s Al Pastor on East Riverside Drive. It was divine! In fact, I’ve been day dreaming about it ever since.

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Grant played a gig with our friend and talented songwriter, Teri Joyce. I love seeing music in Texas because the room is always full of dancers!

Grant playing with Teri Joyce & The Tagalongs at ABGB in Austin.

Grant playing with Teri Joyce & The Tagalongs at ABGB in Austin.

We also finally experienced Willie’s Picnic on the 4th of July which was super fun. I’ve never been much of a festival fan but I am happy to report that Willie’s Picnic was very well organized, all the bands put on great performances, and it was an all around fun day. It was a great mix of our favorite Texas and Nashville bands.

There was a huge crowd at Willie's Picnic!

There was a huge crowd at Willie’s Picnic! (That’s KRIS KRISTOFFERSON on stage, not that you can tell!)

One Nashville musician we were really happy to hear, whose new album Traveller has been in heavy rotation at our house, was Chris Stapleton . Nine years ago last month, as we drove across country to relocate to Nashville in search of real (old) country music history, we tried to acquaint ourselves with some of the newer country music that was happening on the big country radio stations. Every once in awhile we would hear a song that would catch our attention and reel us in. Almost every one of those songs, we would later find out, was written by Chris Stapleton. Once we got to Nashville, one of the first local bands we starting seeing at the Station Inn was The SteelDrivers, fronted by none other than Chris Stapleton. Well, now, he’s out on his own with his wife, Morgan Hayes, accompanying him on vocals and a killer backing band consisting of JT Cure on bass and Derek Mixon on drums (two of my favorites). Another common thread that links this album to many of my other current Nashville favorites is producer Dave Cobb. He seems to have it going on…

You can read/hear a fabulous interview with Chris that our friend Jewly Hight did for NPR here. Traveller is one of my new favorite albums. It’s pure country soul. You can purchase the new album here.

I was super excited to see that Samantha Harlow has a new video out! You can see it and read so much about her in this fun Rolling Stone Country article here. We’ve known Samantha since Grant played down at Robert’s. She tends bar and often jumps up on stage to sing a song or two. She has such a lovely voice. Keep an eye on this one, I think she has a bright future.

Samantha Harlow played our Red Barn Round-Up party way back when... May, 2013.

Samantha Harlow played our Red Barn Round-Up party way back when… May, 2013.

Sauerkraut, Asian Comfort Food, and Bobby Bare

Winter dog walk at Shelby Bottoms.

Winter dog walk at Shelby Bottoms.

Oh winter doldrums… It gets dark so early now and it seems harder to cram so much into one evening suddenly. Cooking dinner seems more of a chore lately. This will pass. Even harder than cooking is posting all these ideas and recipes of what we have cooked but here goes quite a variety of ideas and a few recipes. No real theme to this, just trying to find inspiration for winter vegetables and keep it all interesting. Grant has found great joy in making sauerkraut. It is so easy! I had one simple class with the king of fermentation, Sandor Katz, bought Grant a little book, and voila! Our favorite way to eat it has been on top of salads and on top of cheese toast!

kraut

And in an effort to curb my grocery buying addiction, I have made a concerted effort to figure out random things to make with whatever I find in our kitchen. This first one was created out of that. With lots of help from googling ingredients to see what I could come up with, I came upon this blog called, One Perfect Bite, which had a recipe for Spanish Meatballs. I changed it a bit to fit what I had and here is what I came up with.

Spanish Meatballs-1

Spanish Meatballs
1 pound Ground Turkey
4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 small Pimento
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
1/2 tsp Salt + Salt to taste
1/2 tsp freshly cracked Black Pepper + Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp Red Wine
2 tsp fresh chopped Rosemary
2 tsp fresh chopped Parsley
Pinch of sugar

Place ground turkey, green onions, garlic, pimento, cheese, egg yolk, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Shape into 12 equal sized meatballs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute meatballs, turning several times, until brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, sugar, rosemary, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes until tomatoes are thicker and meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot.

Spanish Meatballs-2

Again out of necessity in using what we had, I made this salad to accompany the Spanish Meatballs.

Mushroom Salad-1

Sauteed Mushroom Salad
2 Tbsp extra-virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 Shallot, chopped
1 pound White Mushrooms, quartered or sliced thick
1 tsp chopped fresh Thyme
¼ cup Red Wine
¼ cup Tamari
1 tsp Lemon Juice or Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp fresh Parsley
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Big Bowl of Salad Greens
thinly sliced Red Onion
optional shaved or grated Parmesan Reggiano or Manchego cheese to top

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices. Add thyme and stir and then add the wine and tamari and cook until mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and let cool in a bowl. Pour the liquid and shallots from the pan in a small bowl and mix with another Tbsp olive oil, lemon juice (or vinegar), parsley, salt and pepper to make the dressing for the salad. Mix the greens, red onion, and mushrooms together and pour dressing over. Top with cheese, if using.

Mushroom Salad

Winter weather makes me crave Asian dishes, too. Our buddy Chris, who is Australian, told us about his favorite Malaysian soup that he always eats in Australia whenever he is sick. Grant went and found all the ingredients and we all cooked together. It was a vegetarian curry soup called Laksa with Bean Curd.

Laksa-1

No recipes just yet as we combined a few and it seems to be similar to a Thai curry soup in that you can always make it slightly different and incorporate whatever vegetables you have but I thought I should post this pretty picture to remind me. We also got to hear a sneak peak of Chris’ forthcoming album due out next year. Let’s just say that we’re all in for a real treat!

Laksa-2

And speaking of Thai Curry, that was on the menu at our house recently. We made  a delicious red curry with salmon, three kinds of little potatoes (purple, gold, and white), tons of veggies, and coconut milk.

Curry-1

Curry-2

I’ll end this post on a comforting note. This Chinese dish, Red Cooked Pork, has become one of our favorite comforts on cold rainy days. Grant has made this a few times now and each time, it gets better! Once you have all the ingredients, it is quite easy.

Red Cooked Pork 1

Red Cooked Pork      
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
4 Scallions
2 Cloves Garlic
1” piece of Fresh Ginger
2 cups stock
½ cup Tamari
½ cup Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Star Anise
1 (3 inch) Cinnamon Stick
1 3-4 lb Pork Tenderloin

Heat the oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the scallions, garlic, and ginger and toss together in the oil until heated through, about 1 minute. Add the stock, tamari, rice wine, brown sugar, anise, and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, then add the pork. Flip the meat to cover it with liquid. Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer, turning the meat every hour and basting it, until it’s fork tender, 3 to 4 hours. Remove the meat from the pan and spoon off the fat from the pan juices. The meat will sort of fall apart. Serve with the pan juices, over rice. Sprinkle the top with the remaining scallions.

Red Cooked Pork 2

Red Cooked Pork over rice with braised cabbage, served on a Dolan Geiman hand printed table cloth! Get your very own here.

And speaking of comfort, I have been listening over and over to the new Bobby Bare album, Darker Than Light. It isn’t even because of Grant having to learn the songs, although HE DOES! I am thrilled and so proud that Grant is getting the opportunity to play guitar for Bare. It’s the music he truly loves and he is honored to get to play them with such a legend.

Left- Grant with Bobby Bare This is a phone photo taken by Jared Manzo taken after they recorded a Daytrotter session with him, and the only photo on my blog that I did not take. Right is Bare at Music City Roots October 2012.

Left- Grant with Bobby Bare. This is a phone photo taken by Jared Manzo after they recorded a Daytrotter session with him last week, and the only photo on my blog that I did not take. On the right is Bare at Music City Roots at the Loveless Barn in October 2012.

I had heard of Bobby Bare but didn’t know many of his hits until about eight years ago when we were still living in Seattle. I had become a huge fan of Bare, Jr. who manages to play out in Seattle a few times a year it seems. I must have seen his show about a dozen times. Well, one time through, he was backing his Dad in support of his last album, The Moon Was Blue (which is also great!). My friend Sue and I went together and we were right up front at the Showbox that night. I instantly became an even bigger fan of Bare Senior! His voice is so strong and he’s just the coolest man. This new album is an album of folk songs- his interpretations of songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, Lead Belly, Alejandro Escovedo, and a couple of Bare originals. I highly recommend it. It will make a great holiday gift but be sure to get one for yourself, too.

Don’t let the stress of the holidays bring you down. Stay strong and enjoy visits with family and friends over good food and music!

Nashville Cats

I’ve gotten in a bit of a rut… Grant has some good weekly music gigs which is great and I always enjoy getting to go to these but it seems to have made me less likely to see other music now. I’m slipping. Because Nashville has so many amazing musicians and performances every day of the week, it can become fairly easy to slip into a rut and start missing shows I really want to see because I can always, “catch them next time.” That is a terrible excuse! So, my hope is to have more exciting live music to write about and photograph, starting now. We went to see our friend and amazing pedal steel guitarist, Pete Finney, play at The Family Wash this week. This was one of his non-pedal steel nights as he was on guitar and lap steel but usually he has pedals! He has played for the likes of Asleep at The Wheel, The Dixie Chicks, and Patty Loveless. Besides all that, he is a super cool guy.

Pete Finney @ Family Wash 01/19/2011

As I sat there listening and watching him play guitar and lap steel, I reminisced in how I came to love the pedal steel guitar and how lucky I have been to be able to see so many of the masters play live in Nashville.

Grant's first Sho-Bud on the left and his new one on the right.

Back in 2003, while we were still living in Seattle, Grant got very interested in playing pedal steel and bought his first Sho-Bud. It was beautiful. It was then that I realized how much I love the sound of a pedal steel guitar. The pedal steel, to me,  is real, raw emotion and the spice of a good country song. He got obsessed. It was his intention to play pedal steel in Nashville and his first few gigs upon our arrival were on pedal steel. He soon began getting much more work with guitar and eventually sold his pedal steel. Recently, though, he began to miss it so we are now the proud new owners of a 1970 red Sho-Bud. It is beautiful. Lucille, our hound dog, especially loves it!

John Hughey @ Station Inn June 2007

Shortly after we moved here, we were fortunate to get to see John Hughey play many times. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2007 of heart complications. This (not so good) photo is from June of 2007 and was taken at the Station Inn when we took Mom and Larry to see the Time Jumpers, a great Western Swing band. John Hughey was one of the best pedal steel guitar players in the whole world.  He played every Monday night at the Station Inn, weekly down on lower Broadway, and even at the Family Wash once! He grew up with Conway Twitty and played with him for years. He played with lots of other players including, most recently, Vince Gill for 10 years. We talked to him once about recording with Willie Nelson on the Phases and Stages album. He always seemed so appreciative that people wanted to talk to him about his music. He was a good soul!

Buddy Emmons @ Ernest Tubbs' Midnight Jamboree, 2007

That same year, I saw Buddy Emmons play with Texan Johnny Bush at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree (for free!). Little Jimmy Dickens first brought Buddy Emmons to Nashville (from Indiana) back in 1955. He has played on countless recordings and has toured with many performers including Jimmy Dickens, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Roger Miller, and the Everly Brothers. He was one of the first session men to play pedal steel guitar and experimented with pedal steel guitar design. He collaborated with Shot Jackson and together they started Sho-Bud Guitars out of Shot’s garage (which later was located in the building where Robert’s Western Wear is currently housed!). Buddy has his own popular signature model, the Emmons Guitar!

Lloyd Green @ The Station Inn, 2007

My very favorite pedal steel players of all time (and favorite famous person- grocery store encounter) is Lloyd Green. We’ve been lucky to see him play a couple of times at The Station Inn (thanks Peter Cooper and Eric Brace!) and I swear, it nearly brought me to tears. He is amazing! When Lloyd Green arrived in Nashville (via Alabama and Mississippi) in 1956, his first job was with Mr. Hawkshaw Hawkins and then he joined Faron Young’s band later that year. He soon played steel guitar on his first session, George Jones’ “Too Much Water Runs Under The Bridge” and has recorded for thousands of albums since- including the Byrds’ legendary album, Sweetheart of The Rodeo. He has recorded with over 500 different artists! Lloyd Green also has his own model pedal steel (Sho-Bud’s “LDG” Model”). Back in the 1960’s, Green served as in-house arranger on the Little Darlin’ label and recorded several records under his own name for this label. His playing is amazing!

Although I haven’t seen her in person, I did grow up watching Barbara Mandrell’s TV show. Unfortunately I didn’t remember she played pedal steel until seeing these awesome youtubes of her a few years back. Notice, our friend and neighbor Buddy Spicher on fiddle in this first one:

And here’s one more…

And these are just the folks with the pedals! I didn’t even mention those steel players without pedals such as Kayton Roberts, Billy Robinson, Cindy Cashdollar, and Chris Scruggs! At least once a week I find myself exclaiming, “I LOVE NASHVILLE” and it because of players like these and moments like these. This amazing country music history surrounds us. It is all still so accessible and still in the making.

I’ll close this post with a bit of a recipe. We recently went to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant (who, until recently, had live bluegrass every Thursday!!!). We ordered shrimp fajitas for two and I asked the server, “Is that too much for the two of us?” He responded “yes” and smiled and nodded. I thought surely he misunderstood me- until he brought out our fajitas and offered to help us eat them! Who knew he’d tell the truth? So, we had leftovers which we turned into a world-class breakfast of shrimp and grits! HA! I thought this was such a clever use of leftovers that I was excited about it for days.

Shrimp fajita make-over!