Month: April 2010

Killing the Pig

Up until about 1973, My Grandparents and my Aunt & Uncle jointly raised a pig every year. They’d go in together, buy it, and Becky & Jr. would house the thing on their farm up in Woodstock. Come late fall, they would kill it and the family would share in the pork bounty through the winter. Now – there’s something you need to know about my Aunt –  she collected broken animals. Whenever you’d go to the farm, you could ride the blind mule, chase the one-eyed chickens, tease the tailless cat (it had gotten caught in somebody’s tractor) and as always, play fetch with one of the “five” three-legged dogs.I remember sitting on the front stoop with Becky one summer watching one of the tripods trying to scratch itself and maintain its balance. Becky just looked over at us and casually commented, “You know, sometimes it just takes all the fun out of having a pet.” So, knowing my aunt’s disposition towards animals, you know she would have to name the pigs. They always …

Ears to Ya!

My dad loved corn. He loved corn so much, that when the summer days started getting longer, and you could just begin to see the ears on the stalks started to swell with silks and kernels… he’d start talking about getting some Silver Queen corn. We’d drive by the Tomato House out towards Cleveland just to see if they had gotten in an early crop. He’d survey the outdoor vegetable stand from the car as he drove past them. If they didn’t have any, he’d just say “nope…not yet”  … but you could always catch a hint of disappointment and longing in his voice as we’d drive by the empty corn bushels. But when they did…. A silly grin would grow on his face and he’d whip the car onto the gravel lot – his eyes never leaving the stacked and overflowing ears of fresh, juicy, kernel-packed corn. My folks would always get a couple of bushels of Silver Queen, or Trucker’s Delight.. then spend the evening eating corn. With two bushels – there’s a …

Testing Testing – 1, 2, 3, 4

I’m going to be cranking up the Test Kitchen this next week – Test Kitchen items will run in conjunction with my regular food posts – but don’t worry – you’ll still get a heaping helping of family memories and food. A lot of what I’ll be trying to do is to simplify complicated recipes, devise new tastes and creations, and most importantly – work on several food allergy alternatives to some classic menu items. My Dad – as you’ll see in the next post – had an ever growing list of foods that he could not eat.My Mom, and many other people I know, are  Lactose Intolerant. And, I have friends that are allergic to Gluten and Corn. So – Help Is On The Way!Hopefully, I can loosen the food restrictive rope around your neck and offer you some tasty alternatives to the foods you once loved to eat. In order to Que you in to which items are going to be Dairy, Gluten or Corn free, there will be one of the following …

In for a Penny, in for a Pound

Truer words were never spoken. If something is worth doing at all, its worth with both hands…and dragging your titties through it. I’ve said it before, I’m not a cake person…  Everyone in my mom’s family was an excellent cake baker. Everyone had their signature cake, or the cake they always made for company, or that yellowy, butter flavored, crunchy chocolate iced layer cake that my grandmother always seemed to have sitting under the cake dome in her equally lemon yellow kitchen. And while heading over to granny’s house on Sunday afternoon for coffee and cake was always a good family afternoon, Cake – just didn’t do it for me – save for a very few layered cakes, (one, actually). No, the only time I would actually get hungry for cake, was when it was  Pound Cake. And my favorite of favorites was my great grandmothers’ Brown Sugar Pound Cake. In case you don’t know why its called a pound cake…. The Pound Cake originated centuries ago in England.  The name really comes from the …

Counting Cows

“One brown one” “Fifteen black ones” “Eight more!..and a white cow!!” Divided into teams, or just one against one in a 4-kid free-for-all – we counted cows. The two older had the left side of the car, my sister and I had the right. Faces pressed against the car glass; necks craning to peer behind every hill and tree as we careened down the road. The scores jumping by 10’s and 20’s every pasture we passed. In case you don’t know the game. Cow counting is 1 point for brown cows, 5 points for black / white spotty cows, and 10 points for a pure white cows (they’re very rare). You pick a time limit – say, an hour….or until the grown-ups have had enough of the escalating screams and challenges coming from the back seats of the Country Squire. and then….. you count cows. Yeah, Yeah.. I know. The Legend of Zelda, it ain’t. But 40 years ago, that’s about as good as it got for keeping the kids entertained on a long trip. …

Breakfast in Brazil

I had the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the past 20 years – some of it for business – most of it for pleasure. I made my first trip to Brazil in 2000. The company I was associated with at the time had an opportunity to purchase a small island just off the coast near the old colonial city of Parati. My job was to evaluate the island for development. The island, unfortunately, proved unsuitable for anything more than a vacation rental. But… it did leave me with a ton of free time before I was scheduled to fly home. So I decided to head out and see Sao Paulo, about 4 hours away. Now… when I travel.. I like to get away from the Hyatts, Hiltons and any other global homogenized lodging. I.. stay.. cheap. If I can find a room for under $30.00 a night..I’m a happy camper. Forget about the electric showerheads that shock the crap out of you when you touch them, the questionable sheets, the far from sanitary …

“Dag Nabbit! Everyone does Banana Pudding!”

That was how it began… Researching, creating and writing a restaurant menu is never easy – even in the best of situations. You want to pay homage to your roots, and here in Georgia that means doing something Southern… You want to do something edgy and new, and do something creative… You need to satisfy the culinary numb, and do something basic… You need to satisfy the bottom line, and make it cost effective… But… above all – it has to be good and memorable, or you’ll never see them again. We had tried for the better part of a week trying to make a better Banana Pudding as the signature dessert for the restaurant. Imported vanilla beans, ripe plantains instead of bananas, custards with fine cognacs and banana liquors, house made vanilla wafers, deconstructed banana puddings… and when you got right down to it – Banana Pudding is not exciting. The wafers always turn to mush, the whole mess always tastes a little under-done – and well….it’s nanner pudding – the same substandard diner …

Caution! Slow Food at Play

I was sitting under my dining room table the other night, leafing through Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook. …what? …yes, under the dining room table – you pull out the chairs,  drop a couple of quilts over the whole thing, and load it up with pillows and a flashlight, … And, Belshazzar! you have your very own Dome of Pleasure….um…  Fortress of Solitude. Now, Where I understand the whole concept of Slow Food – Sustainable crops… locally and regionally grown food stuffs… Home prepared dinner as opposed to those glowing arches in the dark. (which are the Devil’s spawn – just so you know). When it really gets down to it…. it’s just cooking – and getting people that don’t usually prepare something to eat to try and make something from scratch. I find it a sad state of affairs that we have to “Trick” you with Buzz Words and Conceptual Culinary Ideas into pulling out the pots and pans and whipping up something tasty to eat. If you haven’t spent a lot of time …

The Sandwich Diaries ~ Das Good!

Oh, Dunderbak, Oh Dunderbak,  How could you be so mean? To ever  have invented the sausage meat machine? Now all the rats and pussy cats will never more be seen, they’ve all been ground to sausages in Dunderbak’s machine. Back in the late 80’s I ran Mr. Dunderbak’s,  a German Delicatessen in Marietta. I adored the place. It was cheesy, kitschy, and everything you’d expect in a “Disney-gone-wrong” kind of theme restaurant. But, for everything that was wrong with the atmosphere – we had excellent food… an extensive deli.. and at that time…items you just couldn’t get anywhere else. I carried authentic German meats and sausages, superior cheeses and a full line of imported beer. I still think about our Reuben Sandwich sizzling on the griddle and a slow cooked pot of German Potato Salad…and drool. I thought today I’d just treat us all to a trip to Germany – ish  … So crank up the polka music, donne your Lederhosen, and dust off that tacky beer stein you bought in Helen. Es ist Zeit …

The CampingTrip

There’s just something about camping as a child. Off in the wilderness, left to survive on your own, eating off the land…  Well, that’s how it felt to me. I don’t know of many wilderness excursions that include the fully packed Country Squire wagon chucked full of folks and kids – braving the unknown south of Atlanta with a 12′ x 12′ rubberized canvas tent, Coleman lanterns and cooking stoves, sleeping bags.. and groceries. But hell – for a 10 year old – it was primal living at its best. For a couple of summers when I was a kid, my mom’s family got together for a camping weekend – the location varied but the experience is always the same. It would take what felt like endless hours of setting up the 300lb drab green “Family Tent – Built to last for years of Family Fun!” that my dad purchased with Gold Bond Stamps, setting up the cook stove, priming the Colemann lantern –  all in preparation of that 1st magical night… under the stars… …