Month: June 2011

Fry It Up!

Give a Southerner some kind of food.. and he’ll find a way to fry it. I really don’t now what it is about frying, but  we all love to do it. I guess it’s a primal man kind of thing… like grilling. I can see them now…  Burly, hairy, unwashed humanoids, standing over a fire, or a pot of grease, cooking up some non-distinct animal part for the tribe to eat. But these days, I think it’s more that we just want to see if we can make everything crunchy….  I know, I can hear the healthy people groaning… it’s a curse. Generally speaking, I only have one frying batter that I use, and that’s mainly because: 1. I’m lazy.. 2. I really, really hate batter claw.. and  3. I have enough in my head that really needs remembering, and ratios for 15 types of fry batter isn’t even one of them. So the process is simple: Place the item to be deep fat boiled in a bag of self rising flour (with appropriate seasonings) …

Son of a Straw Bale – Garden Update

Since we’re heading into the second half of June, I thought it was time to catch you up to date on this year’s hay bale garden. In all actuality it’s a wheat straw bale and not hay. In typical “hay” bales the grasses are much too tough and will not deteriorate down for growing medium like wheat straw will. If you missed the procedure in previous posts – and would like to start your very own wheat straw garden – you can find the complete procedure HERE. Crucifers and Beans At the end of last year’s project, we had created about 10 good bushels of composted wheat straw which got worked back into the ground this year  for a couple of ground raised beds and weed control. Beans and Crucifers (kales and cabbages) don’t tolerate the looser soil of the bales and aren’t a very good candidate for the bale garden. We created two raised beds to accommodate Dutch Flat Cabbage, French Cone Cabbage,  Brussels Sprouts, Rhubarb Chard, and Bush Limas – which are all …

The Gift

It arrived today. I don’t really know what I was expecting. But, it wasn’t this… I recently reconnected (after a 25 year lapse) with an old friend. And for the past month or so, we’ve been trying to get together to catch up. But with varying schedules, 750 miles, and a lifetime dividing us, getting together just hasn’t been all that easy. I don’t want to hear it. I’ve already told you that I live my life in episode. If you aren’t in front of me, I get side-tracked… time slips away… and you become a ghost in the machine. There’s nothing sinister about it, I just lose sight of you. This past Sunday, after another failed attempt, Andy asked for my address, “I want to send you a gift. It’s something you can’t get in Atlanta.” Well, it wasn’t an illegal alien… we already have plenty of those here… and it wasn’t an iguana… or an armadillo (yeah, my mind goes off in odd directions..I don’t know why I thought it might be either …

Curb Market Crawl – Big Honkin’ Carrots

I’d love to say I found these at some out of the way produce stand – tucked into the hills like some bountiful Garden of Eden. I didn’t. I don’t think any grower in their right mind would intentionally grow horse-leg carrots. I got these at that meglo-maniacal warehouse food store we all love to hate. I’m still pouring over recipes for the wedding dinner, and I’ve yet to find that ONE incredible veggie dish. So when I came across the small orange trees, I thought roasted carrots might just be the thing. Here’s the thing with carrots. Typically, the smaller the tuber, the sweeter the carrot. And adversely, the larger the carrot, the stronger the flavor. So, working with large carrots, we’re combating very heady flavors and not a lot of succulentness.(I know, it’s not a word.) Pouring through my reference books, most of what I found amped up the sweetness with honey or brown sugar, and jiggered the flavor by augmenting it with spice. Since my clients like the East Indian flavorings, I …

Indignation – and a Gnashing of Teeth

It’s a retraction… It’s an apology…. It’s putting things right. Good Lord!  doing this makes me feel like I’m in a bad Food Network episode of Quantum Leap. Friday morning came around and began with…. “That post…. you didn’t tell the story right… It was Clara’s peach cobbler, not Mrs. Corn’s” “I know, I couldn’t remember which.” “And… that isn’t my peach cobbler “ “It wasn’t your recipe… I didn’t say it was.” “But… people will think it’s mine..” “It just says  Peach Cobbler… it doesn’t say it’s yours. And besides… Yours isn’t written down anywhere. And it really isn’t a cobbler anyway… it’s a slump.” “But…” “I’ll fix it.” So Began my day. Later, I get three emails telling me that it isn’t a cobbler… … I know… it’s a slump. Then a text conversation with my sister… “that isn’t mom’s cobbler” … I know… *Sigh* So, here we are. If you want to go back and edit the Curb Market Crawl – Just Peachy post yourself, I’ll give you the marking points. In …

Man On Fire

Since it’s grilling time… let’s get at it. I’ve contemplated doing a whole “big meat on the grill” thing, but when you get right down to it… it’s meat on fire – nothing terribly complicated or glamorous… and I’m OK with that. I love me some charcoal cooked meat. The thing that makes grilling special, is the things you choose to serve with your meat on a stick. Now, given a choice, I’m perfectly happy with a big ol’ steak (bloody rare), a nice wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce (with some fried onions and some super chunky blue cheese dressing), and a slab of overly buttery garlic bread…. but if you think I’m going to give you recipes for iceberg salad and garlic bread… you’ve got another thing coming. (I’ll leave the bread to that pioneer person). I spent most of the spring in Florida doing the preliminary work for the upcoming Wedding Event and being a personal chef for a client. In addition to being just hugely rewarding (I don’t often get the opportunity …

Curb Market Crawl – Just Peachy

Believe it or not… when my folks married, my mom wasn’t much of a cook. Not that she wasn’t willing, she just hadn’t had a whole lot of practical experience… Clara or my grandmother did the lion’s share of the cooking. One of the first things in the kitchen she attempted was peach cobbler. Now, you probably should know at this point that mom is kind of driven when it comes to cooking. Every week for the better part of that first year of being the “Missus”, mom practiced on perfecting her in-law’s peach cobbler. Every week she’d trot out another cobbler… and every week they’d critique the effort. A little tart… too runny… too doughy…  not quite sweet enough… It was about a year before she felt that she had mastered that staple of southern desserts…. It was also about the same time that my dad informed her he never really cared for peach cobbler.  She never said…but I still wonder she hurled that final cobbler at him. I stopped off at B&A Orchards …

Right Then… Once more, with Tapioca!

As if you haven’t had enough of the pearly goodness. In all honesty, this was intended to be part of the previous post, but the damned pie wouldn’t get done. The recipe I began with referred to this as a “French Apple Pie”…   huh… I’ve never known the French to be particularly enamored with tapioca pearls. The french tapioca I’m accustomed to is granulated, and looks a bit more like bleached fine white grits. Be that as it may, I also had some berries left over, so I tossed everything except the apples and tapioca out the window and started new. So this is a French “snicker” Apple~Berry Pie.I do have to tell you, I wasn’t expecting much, but the raspberries combined with the apples and encased in that gelatin with the pearls, it’s just short of brilliant! French Apple ~ Berry Pie Serves 6 Ingredients 6 Apples – Peeled, Cored, and Rough Chopped (I used 3 Granny Smith and 3 Braeburn to balance the sweet / tart) 1 Cup Raspberries 1/2 Cup Blueberries …

Plain – Fancy – Schmancy ~ The Joys of Tapioca Pudding

I get no kick from Brulee… Hasty and Pease never seem to please… But I get a kick out of you…. I’m talkin’ Tapioca.    Yes.. that’s right. Those little frog eggy pearl things back in the far reaches of your pantry. It’s rice pudding on steroids, risotto run rampant. It is the single-most satisfying easy pudding you can make. It can be dressed up to make parfaits sing, dressed down and kept in the fridge for a quick, satisfying (GLUTEN FREE) snack, or slapped into a tux, given a new do and become the base in any dessert you’d use a pastry cream. We never got tapioca a ton when we were kids. Done properly, those pearls need to be hydrated overnight (or a full day – depending on size) before you can do anything quickly with them. And that meant pre-planning. But with four screaming kids, errands, house, and corporal punishment being doled out. Planning for family meal desserts rarely took the form of  “… early the day before…”. so, tapioca only surfaced …

Birthdays, Fish… and a Comedy of Errors

During a call in regards to my recent birthday, a friend (doing the obligatory Q & A) asked if I did anything special this year… “Eh” I said “it was pretty much the same… quiet, low stress.” “You don’t really do much for your birthday, do you…” It wasn’t a question, really. It was a knowing acknowledgement that I really don’t celebrate my birthday. I haven’t in years. Birthdays and me are like Tiki Torches and a can of gasoline – … in theory “brighter torches, cheaper fuel” … in reality “flaming road flares of horror” In fact, I only remember one birthday where there was a party… and it was doomed from the onset. My parents, on one of their 100 Mile Excursion research trips, had come across the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery. A fairly scenic North Georgia location with picnic tables, campsites, and well… the hatchery. And, in my folks book – outdoors, water and a little education makes for a fun afternoon all around. This is the place they picked for my …