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.

BrettResnick 3-29-14

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!