Real Country Music and Yummy Fall Food

So,  Nashville just finished celebrating the Americana Music Association’s annual hoo-haw. I always enjoy this week in Nashville as many of my favorite bands and musicians are in town and out and about. We were so busy this week that we actually missed most of the festivities. I did make it out to the Station Inn for the celebrated album release of Jon Byrd’s, Down at The Well of Wishes. It’s a damn fine album so be sure to check it out.

Jon Byrd with Eric Brace and with whole band, Station Inn, October 11, 2011.

And, we went to Grimey’s Americanarama party outside, behind the record store! What fun!

Derek Hoke, Nikki Lane, Chris Scruggs, Paul Burch, and Rose!

Americana is a fairly new term in the world of music genres. It seems to include all of those bands I once termed, “Alt. Country” but also welcomes some other roots sub-genres. I understand the ease of having one umbrella label to lump all these tiny categories in together but I’ve noticed many times lately that a favorite new song I love will be labeled Americana but yet is so obviously country. I realize this Americana label probably benefits the artist in that many people who have distanced themselves from “new country” now run screaming from the country label. But, I don’t want to roll over so quickly and relinquish the term “country”. I think it makes more sense to rename all the new country. Let’s just call it, “Suburbia.” Then we can take the term country back.

I missed the awards show this year but apparently, you can hear it all here. There were some great nominees this year, as always. Justin Townes Earl’s song, Harlem River Blues, won Best Song. This performance with Jason Isbell on David Letterman awhile back was pretty awesome.

The weather in Nashville this weekend is perfect right now. Fall is in full swing. It is my favorite time of year.

There’s a light breeze rustling through the slightly turning leaves and the temperatures have dropped to the 50’s and 60’s. All the Fall produce is ripe and beautiful.

I made some pumpkin bread this week. It was nice. I kept wishing I could remember to bring home some cream cheese to smear on top.

Pumpkin Pecan Bread
makes 1 loaf

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour
½  teaspoon of salt
1 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
½  cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
¼  cup melted butter
¼  teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1  teaspoon freshly grated ginger (I keep it frozen and then use a microplane to grate)
½  cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix the pumpkin puree, melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, and spices together. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and then stir in the nuts. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until the center of the loaf comes out clean when a cake tester (or toothpick) is inserted. Turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

And we roasted up a bunch of pumpkin to make a soup. It was pretty tasty with parmesan croutons! Here’s the recipe I came up with…

Roasted Pumpkin & Caramelized Onion Soup

1 pie medium pumpkin
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic (place in oven with pumpkin for last half hour)
2 ½ red or vidalia onions (I had a variety of both), chopped
4 cups stock
1-2 tsp herbs de Provence (I added a little extra fresh rosemary)
seat salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pumpkin into pieces, clean out seeds (You can reserve them and wash them and dust with sea salt and bake on a cookie sheet later to make roasted pumpkin seeds!!!), rub with olive oil and roast in oven for about 45 minutes (until it forks done). Meanwhile, heat olive oil in stock pan. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn light toasty brown. Once pumpkin is done, cool and scoop out of the skin. Place roasted pumpkin in a blender and add a cup or two of the stock. Blend until smooth. Add the pureed pumpkin and roasted garlic to the onion pot, along with the remaining stock. Add herbs de Provence and salt and pepper to taste.

You could also top with a little creme fraise, grated cheese, or pumpkin seeds. We served this soup with a nice salad of beets, tamari pumpkin seeds, and Rogue River Smoky blue cheese. Yum!

Also, we enjoyed the leftover soup with some chicken Andouille sausages. Grant sauteed the sliced sausage up with some garlic and then added it to the soup!

And, I’ll end with this simple pie recipe that my friend Brad helped me come up with a couple years ago.

Pear Apple Gruyere Pie

2 dough balls (please never use store bought pie dough!) *
mix of 5-7 pears and apples, pealed, and sliced thin
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup (+ 1 cup for dough balls) cave-aged Gruyere cheese
1 egg white

Roll out dough ball and place in pie plate. Mix pears with sugar, flour, cinnamon and pour into pie shell. Sprinkle the Gruyere on top. Roll out second dough ball and lay on top of pie. Trim edges and use your index fingers and thumb to pinch edge. Cut a few slits in top to let air escape while pie bakes. Brush top of pie with egg white. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 35 minutes.

*For the pie dough-
(This recipe was given to me by a friend of ours in Seattle who was a pastry chef.  They key to a good pie is in the crust!)

Makes a double crust for a ten inch pie, or 2 ten inch tart shells.

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour (I use White Lilly)
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I use organic butter)
1 cup finely grated cave-aged Gruyere cheese
1/2 tsp sea salt
6-8 tablespoons ice water

Place flour, butter, and salt in food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse 24 times.  (I just use my hands instead of a food processor and it works just fine!  You get a good work out and there’s less to clean up.  If you use your hands, be gentle- your objective is to make the butter into little crumbs or grains, not to mush it all together, do not over mix.)  The largest pieces of butter should be the size of grains of rice.  Transfer mixture from food processor to large bowl.  Lightly mix in cheese. Sprinkle with 6 T of ice water.  Make your hand into a claw as if you are trying to grab a basketball one handed, and using your rigid claw hand, stir dough briefly until the liquid is incorporated.  Squeeze a handful of dough in your palm.  It should have just enough moisture to stay together.  If it seems dry and crumbly, add more water a teaspoonful at a time until you can squeeze it into a ball that doesn’t crumble when broken apart. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Roll out onto floured surface as quickly as you can.  Balls of dough can be stored in fridge for a week or you can also freeze them.

It seems I’ve fallen behind on my posts. I sometimes run out of time to put all the recipes and photos together. I have also been guest blogging on our good friend, Dolan Geiman’s blog. Dolan is a great artist. Check his site out here and buy some art here! (Art is good for our souls, makes our world a prettier place, supports talented, creative people, and makes awesome gifts!) And, you can read all my guest posts here.

I’ll end this post with this new country song from Pistol Annies. These women have it going on!

Happy Fall Y’all!

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