Month: June 2013

One from Column “A” – Braised Tofu with Pork

So, I used to go to this little hole-in-the-wall Chinese place. It was partly because of the “other” menu, as they did serve some pretty non – standard fare… or at least they did when “the usual suspect” was dining with me. I had my first Shark Fin Soup there, my first 1000 year old egg, and my 1-1/2 hour Oyster Pancakes  I found out later that they really didn’t take that long, they ran out of oysters and made a special run to the international market to buy enough for the cakes… so it was partly because of the service… But mainly, it was because of the chili sauce they brought to our table. It was spicy without being painful. It was oily. It was electric. It was supremely flavorful… and it was porky…. yes… porky. There would be nights that we would only order dumplings – and a bowl of that sauce with rice crackers. It was addictive. After six years trying to wrangle the recipe out of them, I just gave up. …

Curb Market Crawl – Back to the Peach (Part 2)

So.. peaches. I never really had a nickname growing up. I don’t know why. I guess my own name was odd enough for the times. I tried calling myself Steve (my middle name) for a while but it never stuck. In the mirror I just didn’t look like a Steve, I didn’t feel like a Steve… and I ended up giggling uncontrollably when people eventually began calling me Steve. I abandoned the whole idea after a time and just stuck to my christian name – Toby, it was memorable enough. My mom’s family is rife with those quirky little terms of endearment that only children can understand… my aunts were Bootsy, Mott and Mutt. There were a heap of JW’s & JV, JR’s and Jr, and an uncle they called Taa…. Gotta love the South. I have a wonderful friend. Actually, I have several, but this one is special. She calls her son Peach… and always has. And it’s not in the Southern ” Be a peach and get me a coca cola” sense.. just peach… …

Curb Market Crawl – Back to the Peach (Part One)

Inevitably, in dealing with local farm markets there’s going to be a couple of repeats in what’s available every season and what I choose to buy. Occasionally, something new pops up… like the parsnips. But more times than not, it’s the same actors in the play every season. Just think of it like a cheesy dinner theater. Peaches are quite possibly my favorite fruit – so I always buy more than is prudent – and that means I bought two large baskets of them… at $8.00 each. In case you’re wondering… that’s a lot of peaches. This year’s variety of choice are Flavor Rich Peaches from R&A Orchards. in Ellijay, GA. Flavor Rich are an early season Cling peach ripening in early may through to mid June in slightly cooler climates. Characterized by dense fuzz, and rich, deep yellow flesh with swatches of blush into the nipple end of the fruit. Since the pit stay well embedded in the fruit, you’ll leave a fair amount attached to the pit when they’re sliced – making this …

Curb Market Crawl – Persnickety Parsnips

I popped in to one the numerous curb farm markets the other day on a mission. My dwarf long pod okra plants are disappointing – as in puny, sickly little plants – and in my head I figured farm market = farmer. I mean, I can grow okra. And over the past four years I’ve become fairly adept at growing well producing, Jack and the Beanstalk tall okra plants…. so I know a thing or two. But these dwarf plants… there’s just no love there. They are barely 8″ tall, and at the rate we’re going, it’ll be October before I see pod one. I wanted some help. Turns out, Farm Market  = Green Grocer and he wasn’t all that much help in that arena except to suggest that maybe I should pull up the dwarfs and  lay in some Clemson Spineless Okra plants (which he happened to have a large shelf full of right by the register). Not a whole lot of help – but I did grudgingly pick up a couple of pots …

Hydra – Flummoxed

See this? This is a BLUE lace cap hydrangea. I know it’s blue because it was probably the first thing I planted 5 years ago when I started landscaping the property here at Turtle Creek. Every year it’s grown larger, fledged out a little more, and rewarded us with a cacophony of lazy soft blue crowns that bowed and dipped as you entered the walled garden where I do the hay bale thing. Only, this year it’s white. Now, I know that you can affect color changes by adding sulfur or lime or by increasing the acidity, but nothing has changed in that bed. And the other mop-head varieties lower down the way that feed from the run-off of this bed are still their mottled purple and brilliant blues. So it’s a pretty good bet there’s nothing wrong with the PH. It’s a puzzlement. And I tend to obsess about puzzlements. So the other day I registered & logged on to a  well-respected garden site (who will hereafter remain nameless) and posed a question about …

Feeding the Beast – Three Meat Pie

No, you really can’t call me a connoisseur of that flat meat pie. I typically go with the old adage – Pizza is like sex… even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. My oldest, fondest, memory of pizza was getting a take-out box (“Warning! pizza from Geno’s can be habit forming”) from Geno’s out in the middle of nowhere on Austell Road when I was a kid. Looking back, I really don’t think their pie was all that good – the crust was uber chewy and the sauce had so much oregano it would curl your nose hairs. But hey, Dad brought it home, and it was a very rare thing, so ominous warning label or not… it was pretty damned good. If I had to say what was the best pizza I’d ever had… that would be a multi-player toss-up. It could be “The Sleeper” from MJ Pippins Or that guy on Pat Mell Road that made you write your own order on a scrap of mimeograph paper Or the slice of cheese …

Merry Christmas – it’s a pig…

So, I can always count on my brother to put a lot of thought and effort into any gift he slings my way. He read my mind (or maybe just saw the slightly more than slick shoes on the truck) and got new tires for the beast. One year it was a big slammin‘ box of assorted cheese from Artisanal Cheese Company. My fishing gear became badly depleted, and some fishing tackle arrived. Christmas, This past year my gift was a piece of paper that said – “It’s downstairs…  in the freezer.” It was a pig. It was a nude, scrubbed, bubble wrapped, pink, 14 lb. piglet… with bright blue eyes. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in…. pig. I was stoked! No, really.. I was. I’ve always wanted to do a pig roast. But the thought of : 1. Buying an 80 lb. pig 2. Brining and Seasoning the beast 3. Trying to wallow the greased carcass into a pit 4. Figuring out what to do with that much cooked pig… …