Month: August 2011

Lammykins and the Big Pit of Fire

There’s a woman at the top of the hill that sells baby “pet” goats and sheep. It’s true, the crudely hand painted sign attests to it. “PET BABY GOATS AND SHEEP FOR SALE” Although I am inclined to believe that no one actually buys them as “pets“. The stock of hooved beasts rotates in and out, the community of blaying residents swells the hillside to bursting, then one by one they vanish into the night. If anyone within a drive-able distance were actually stocking their yards with hairy lawn ornaments, I’d have seen them. There aren’t any. What there is… is a never-ending caravan of umm…ethnic men in trucks picking up a couple “pets” for a thrilling weekend of fire, beer and barbecue. Yes my friends, she is providing a food source. I, myself, have been tempted to liberate a couple of her tasty, furry pets for my own entertainment, but thankfully… our neighborhood covenant doesn’t allow livestock – pet or otherwise… and, I’m not all that sure I could butcher a fluffy lamb… and besides, well.. goat eyes just really creep me out. …

Curb Market Crawl – Muscadines

(Hillbilly Grapes) About a mile or so down the road, where the road widens just a bit to accommodate a bridge, there’s this guy. He has the requisite battered pick up, the frayed plastic-strapped lawn chair, and a propane cooker teaming alive with bobbing brown gold ( goober peas…. boiled peanuts). Most days I pass him by. I’m a fully developed Southern man..I know how to boil my own peanuts… and on the rare occasion that I want some, I do my own. But this time as I was cutting the corners off the road as it winds down towards the Etowah River, my eye caught a new addition to  the ramshackle set up. A small card table stacked high with little quart baskets… each one brimming with those unmistakable black-purple orbs. Muscadine Season has arrived to the Mountains. Now, I know, it’s a love / hate thing with muscadines – there’s no middle ground, they are an acquired taste. Not everyone can handle that tannin assault of the skins, the uber tartness, or that odd, over-ripe, Mogen David muskiness of the fruit. But, if …

Curb Market Crawl – The Cob & Run Culprits

Every other day for the past week, there has been a bushel of corn on the front porch. Those wonderful, well-meaning do-gooders are keeping me up to the ears (pun intended) with juicy fresh corn…. and I’m not complaining….. …yet. You’ll find three distinct types of good corn up here in North Georgia. Note, I said good. I grew up on Silver Queen, Country Gentleman and Trucker’s Delight – all of which are less sweet varieties. I’ll get hate mail for it, but I consider sweet corn and the hybrid Super Sweet varieties an abomination. The sweeter the kernel the less true corn flavor comes through. All you get is sugar… and that’s fine for a Snickers Bar, or creamed corn (which is kinda the same thing)…. but not in my vegetables. In the less sweet varieties – if you reduce the sugar, you increase the starch.. which is a mighty fine thing when you’re frying corn. (Which is how we roll). Silver Queen White Corn With tight, plump, even rows Slightly tough skin Silks …

Curb Market Crawl – Hungarian Peppers

Hot and Sweet.. that’s the way I like it. A simple lush pepper bisque is just the ticket to showcase these beautiful peppers I picked up the other day. I paired it up with a little crunch from some Crispy Cornmeal Crusted Okra. Nothing says summer like okra and peppers. Hungarian Pepper Bisque Serves 4 Ingredients 6 Sweet Hungarian Peppers – Seeded and Chopped 2 Cloves Garlic – Whole 1 Cup Grape (or Cherry) Tomatoes – Whole 1 Cup Chicken Stock 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar 1 Cup Tomato Juice 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 1 Tablespoon Sugar 1 Teaspoon Salt Black Pepper to Taste (Even sweet, Hungarian peppers carry a fair amount of heat, test the soup before you add the pepper) 1 Large Sauce Pan with Lid Immersion Blender Large Screen Strainer Fried Okra Croutons (Get Clara’s Fried Okra Recipe Here) With the sauce pan on medium heat, add the oil, peppers and garlic, stir well to mix with the oil Saute until the peppers begin to soften (about 4 minutes) Add the tomatoes, cover and cook for …

Slaw Dog Millionaire

I’m pretty picky about my wieners… Get your smutty mind out of the gutter.. … I’m talkin’ hot dogs…. more specifically – German style wieners. And the absolute best wiener in the world is made by Schaller & Weber. (Visit them at http://www.schallerweber.com/ and place an order.) There is just something about that pork and beef blend, their traditional German spices and that crackly, ooohh soo crunchy natural casing that just defies an adequate, justifying description. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong (for some people) with Hebrew National or Nathan’s – but they’re all beef – And an all – beef wiener (quit giggling) is just tough and chewy. A winner wiener needs some pork to make it tender; it needs fat to make it unctuous; it needs natural oinky intestine casings to give it that critical crack when you sink your teeth into it…. otherwise, you might as well be eating Oscar’s bologna. and… It needs one more thing to make it perfect SLAW – You see, I’m a minimalist when …

Sufferin’ Succotash !

If I were any more of a geek, that – in fact, would be my preferred cursing exclamation. It expels the appropriate amount of exasperation… it’s food related… and when you say Sufferin’ Succotash… people know you mean business… Over the years sitting on my grandmother’s porch, I became a pro at shelling limas, or butter beans (as my family refers to them). We’d sit for hours picking the tough little strings off both seams. Then with a quick squeeze and a flick of the thumb, the liberated disks would tumble into the waiting battered aluminum pot we were given to hold our bounty. A summer visit to my grandmother’s invariably ended with a large brown paper bag of bean pods and a quick shooing to the side porch. After a failed start with Fort Hook limas earlier this spring, we finally got up and running with a pack of Baby Lima Beans. Although smaller and much more tender than the Fava-esque Fort Hook, the Lima bushes are really starting to produce the bean pods. …

The Picnic

Even in the mountains, there’s no escaping the heat. Nights have barely broken 78 degrees and the daytime temps here at Turtle Creek are a consistent, sweltering, egg frying on the pavement – 98 degrees. It’s almost enough to make a person lose their religion. But this morning, we woke to an amazing thing, 68 degrees… in August! the air was down right cool and breezy. It felt like a day to to relax and… do…  absolutely… nothing. I just wanted to get out, drive and bask in the near spring weather. I decided to get myself and mom out of our convalescing rut, go on a picnic and enjoy the brief repast from the insufferable heat. Actually, I just roasted a fresh hen yesterday, and cooked up a passel of homeless vegetables that showed up on our doorstep. (Neighbors and friends have begun the Cob and Run Marathon – leaving their excess garden produce on your porch when you aren’t home)… So the picnic wasn’t a huge undertaking to get things ready. So I …

Curb Market Crawl – Banana Peppers

Yeppers! We’re still crawling the neighborhood produce markets, bringing you the very best in what’s available on the side of the road….. besides the boiled peanuts and dead possums. Today’s pickin’s… Banana Peppers… Once again we’re out at Mack ~ Aaron’s Apple House up towards Ellijay on Hwy 52. Do yourself a huge favor and stop in if you’re up this way anytime from now through Apple Season. When it’s high season, from late August through December, they have probably the broadest selection of apples available in Georgia. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable… and they make some pretty damned fine fried pies, to boot. But it isn’t apple season…yet. Now, you will find local produce, jams, jellies, fresh – tree-ripened peaches, peanuts… and pie. While I was scooping up the dried apples for yesterday’s post, I spied, with my big green eyes, a bushel of beautiful, glowing banana peppers…. and I knew exactly what I was going to do with them… Stuffed Banana Peppers with Italian Sausage and Orzo Serves 2 to 4 Ingredients 6 …

Curb Market Crawl – Dried Apples

I stopped in to Mack ~Aaron’s Apple Barn yesterday to pick up a bag of preservative-free dried apples. They dry their own apples and these taste just like the ones my grandmothers had quietly wrinkling on sheets in the back pantry. Slow air-drying apples creates a wonderful deep, rich flavor as the drying fruit concentrates all the residual juices into tart, slightly chewy, little bits of apple leather. As kids, I remember sneaking into the back pantry, dizzy with the aroma of drying fruit and stealing a handful of my grandmother’s carefully prepared apples. I have to say, dried apples make the perfect apple pie. Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh apples as much as anybody, and a fresh apple pie with those crisp, juicy slices of apple suspended in that thick, syrupy filling is all but impossible to beat. But…   Dried apple slices, lightly spiced, cooked into a near apple sauce consistency and packed into a fresh flaky crust, just produces a much denser, immeasurably more intense flavored pie. Especially as a fried …

The Intruder in the Sprouts

I’s been inhumanly hot in the garden, the white flies are devastating everything with a leaf, and I scream like a little girl every time a Japanese Colossal Hornet gets within twenty feet of me (believe me, I have every right). So, needless to say, the garden is suffering. My tidy produce spot has become unkept. I leave the water hoses trailing about the walkways, whatever plants haven’t wilted from the insectile assault have a perma-dusting of Sevins and my lack of diligence has allowed the crab grass to start reclaiming the once pristine gravel paths. It’s a sight. So my plan this morning, shake ‘n bake heat or not, was to get things back to square inside the walled garden. Since I had dropped the hose where it lay during the last hornet attack…really, they’re frightening…. Doesn’t look that scary? “normal” Hornet (left)  Colossal Hornet (right) Just so you know….. Colossal Hornets grow to about 3″ in length, are perpetually in a “pissed off” mood and toxins in their sting can deteriorate flesh at …