Tag Archives: Recipes

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JAMIE DEMENT, THE FARMHOUSE CHEF, + A PECAN PIE RECIPE

In honor of the autumn season (and national dessert day this past Monday), we’re taking a look back at our favorite cookbooks and recipes. A favorite of The Factory is Jamie DeMent’s The Farmhouse Chef: Recipes and Stories from My Carolina Farm.

Jamie DeMent and her partner, Richard Holcomb, own and operate Coon Rock Farm, a 55-acre farm in Hillsborough, North Carolina, that grows sustainable, heirloom varieties of produce and livestock. Jamie also owns the award-winning restaurant Piedmont, located in downtown Durham, North Carolina. She is also a guest lecturer at UNC Chapel Hill, NC State University, Duke University, and teaches cooking classes around the country. Jamie uses her work to find ways to revive the simplicity of eating healthy, locally grown food. The Farmhouse Chef offers over 150 recipes for all occasions, inspired by seasonal harvests.

With pecan season approaching next month, we share a recipe from the book for Cane Syrup Pecan Pie—the only pecan pie recipe you’ll ever make again…

CANE SYRUP PECAN PIE

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Makes 6–8 servings

1 unbaked piecrust
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups pure cane syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon

Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the piecrust. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour and cornstarch until smooth. Add the cane syrup and sugar, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. In a separate small bowl, beat 2 eggs. Add the eggs and the rest of the ingredients to the pot, and stir them to mix well. Pour everything into your piecrust and lightly tap it on the counter to even out the nuts and release any air bubbles. Place the pie in the oven and bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350° and bake for an additional 30–35 minutes—until the pie is done and not jiggly in the center. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool a little before serving.

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Images by Felicia A. Trujillo. Recipe and images courtesy of UNC Press.

RED BEANS + RICE + A RECIPE

In the grey lull between the end of the holiday season and the first signs of spring, we retreat indoors to soak up as much warmth as we can—spending more time in our favorite reading chairs, piled on the couches, and gathered in the kitchens. Alabama Chanin friend and photographer Pableaux Johnson visited during this time last year, and we’re reminiscing about his famous Red Beans + Rice recipe (and eager to get him back to The Factory). Pableaux and his Red Beans Roadshow cure those winter blues.

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During his 2018 Red Beans Roadshow Dinner at The Factory Café, Pableaux also exhibited his vibrant photographs of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians. Pableaux was kind enough to share his recipe below:

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PABLEAUX JOHNSON’S RED BEANS + RICE

1 lb Kidney Beans, soaked (Pableaux uses nothing but Camellia Brand Red)
1 lb good smoked sausage, preferably andouille, sliced into coins
3 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
Pinch rubbed sage
3 bay leaves
Crystal Hot Sauce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, minced
Cooked rice for serving

Heat oil in a large heavy pot. Brown the sausage, stirring frequently, to render as much fat as possible. When well browned, remove sausage from the pot and drain on paper towels. Add onions to pot and season with lots of Tony’s, salt and pepper.

Cook onions over medium heat, stirring frequently, until well browned. Add garlic and cook 5 to 10 minutes; add celery and bell pepper and cook until translucent.

Drain water off the soaked red beans and add the beans to the pot. Cover with fresh water. Rub the basil between the palms of your hands as you add it to the pot. Add sage and bay leaves. Add sausage back to the pot and stir well.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. When beans are tender, mash some with a potato masher until the mixture looks creamy.

Stir in the chopped green onions and most of the parsley, reserving some parsley for diners to add at the table. Season well with Crystal Hot Sauce.

Serve hot with cooked white rice, extra parsley, and more hot sauce.

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WHITE CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL

Toast the season with a Christmas cocktail (or two).

WHITE CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL

1 ounce Jack Rudy Elderflower Tonic
4 ounces Prosecco
Fresh rosemary

Fill a cocktail glass with Jack Rudy Elderflower Tonic and top with Prosecco – garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

THE END OF SUMMER + A COCKTAIL

As summer comes to an official close, it seems to be getting hotter and hotter in Alabama. (Some things must get worse before they get better.) Luckily for us, The Factory Café has concocted the perfect late summer cocktail to keep us cool through the last of these sweltering days. This cocktail was served at our most recent Supper Club.

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ENDLESS SUMMER
Serves 8

1 bottle rosé
1 bottle Prosecco
2 whole peaches
6 dried juniper berries

Remove the skin and pits of both peaches. Cut one peach into 16 equal slices and purée the second peach in a blender with one tablespoon of water until smooth.

Combine the rosé, peach slices, peach purée, and whole juniper berries. Chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

In a wine glass, add 2 slices of peach to 3 ounces of the rosé mixture. Top off the glass with chilled Prosecco.

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SUMMER VEGETABLES + BUTTERMILK-HERB DRESSING

Summer is the season of vegetables, whether from your local farmers market or your backyard garden. And there are countless summer veggie recipes on the Journal, like this one for a Southern Antipasti, the beloved Tomato Sandwich (the secret’s in the homemade mayo), or a Grilled Vegetable Quiche.

At The Factory Café, we eagerly anticipate each summer when fresh vegetables are in abundance. And while they are delicious on their own, we love any excuse to accompany them with our Buttermilk-Herb Dressing. Perfect on salads, sandwiches, or as a dipping sauce. Find the recipe below.

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BUTTERMILK-HERB DRESSING
Makes one quart

1.5 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise (or the mayo of your choice)
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon dill, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Mix all wet ingredients together. Mix in fresh herbs until combined well. Serve in a Weck Juice Jar (available at The Factory).

Lead image: Fresh vegetable delivery from Sonlit Meadows Farm

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REBECCA WILCOMB + FRIENDS OF THE CAFÉ + A SUMMER SOLSTICE COCKTAIL

In June, The Factory Café hosted James Beard Award-winning chef Rebecca Wilcomb for an evening of savory and sweet dishes with an Italian-Cajun spin, complete with a specialty cocktail and wine pairings.

The dinner began with a Summer Solstice cocktail (find the recipe at the end of this post) made with peach and Prosecco, and the passed starters included everything from shrimp, to crab melts.

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Beef with Anchovy and Olive

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Shrimp Spiedini

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Toasted Crab Melts

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Chickpea Fritters with Caponata

The first course, a chicken tortellini in a rich broth, was served for the first time outside of a family setting and dedicated to Rebecca’s grandmother, Giannina. The pasta was paired with a young Pinot Noir Rosé, light and summery.

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Giannina’s Tortellini

The second course highlighted pork belly from our friends at Bluewater Creek Farm, and Open Blue Cobia and was served with an Italian rice salad, Lunchbox peppers, and charred okra.  A Petit Selve with cherry notes complemented this course

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Bluewater Creek Farm Pork Belly

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Hand pies filled with summer fruit like blueberries, figs, and peaches were served warm with whipped cream, and accompanied by a crisp, sparkling Rosé from Argentina and cold brew coffee.

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Below, our events coordinator shares the recipe for the featured cocktail of the night:

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SUMMER SOLSTICE

2 ripe peaches (Chilton Co. Peaches are our favorite)
1 bottle Prosecco
1 teaspoon sugar
6 fresh mint leaves

Place the peaches and sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth. Press the mixture through a sieve and discard the peach solids. Give the mint leaves a smack on your hand and rub the edge of a flute with them. Add about 2 tablespoons of the peach puree into each flute and fill with chilled Prosecco.

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RUSSET POTATO + DILLY BEAN SALAD WITH ASHLEY ENGLISH

We’ve long been fans of Ashley English—southern cook, homesteader, and holistic nutritionist. We have listened to her advice on how to be a gracious host as we create memorable experiences for our guests at The Factory—and even made a few of her pies. Ashley is back with a newly released cookbook, Southern from Scratch: Pantry Essentials and Down-Home Recipes. The goal of the cookbook is to help the reader build their very own southern-style pantry, completely from scratch. And it puts your new pantry to use with over 100 recipes.

We’ve picked out several must-try recipes, but our favorite is the Russet Potato + Dilly Bean Salad. Enjoy making the recipe below.

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RUSSET POTATO + DILLY BEAN SALAD
Serves 8 to 10

¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sea salt, for the cooking water
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
1 cup Dilly Beans, chopped to ¾-inch lengths
½ cup Dilly Bean brine
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons coarse prepared mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Stir the vinegar and salt into 3 quarts of water in a large pot. Add the potatoes and turn the heat to high. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn the temperature down to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the potatoes are done, drain them well in a colander and let them sit for 5 minutes to let off some steam.

Spread out the potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Transfer the potatoes to a medium mixing bowl. Gently fold in the dilly beans, pickling brine, mayonnaise, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator. Cool at least 1 hour before serving.

DILLY BEANS
Makes about 5 pints.

2 pounds green beans
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
¼ cup pickling salt
10 garlic cloves, peeled
5 teaspoons dill seeds
5 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
2 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns
10 sprigs fresh dill

Fill a canner or large stockpot with water, place five-pint jars inside, and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to the boiling point.

Bring the vinegar, water, salt to a full, rolling boil in a medium pot. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the brine to a pourable, spouted container, such as a heatproof measuring cup, if desired.

Using a jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canner and place on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. Place 2 garlic cloves, I teaspoon dill seeds, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon peppercorns, and 2 sprigs fresh dill in each jar. With the help of a canning funnel, pack the green beans into the jars, topped off by the brine, reserving ½ inch headspace.

Use a spatula or wooden chopstick to remove any trapped air bubbles around the interior circumference of the jars. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth. Place the lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.

Again using a jar lifter, slowly place the filled jars in the canner. Be sure that the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, and then process for 10 minutes, starting the timer once the water is at a full, rolling boil.

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P.S.: We’re hosting an Instagram giveaway with Ashley for your chance to win a copy of Southern from Scratch. To enter for a chance to win, follow @smallmeasure, @roostbooks and @alabamachaninfactorycafe on Instagram, leave a comment on @alabamachaninfactorycafe’s post and tag a friend.

The giveaway ends on June 30th at 11:59pm CST and is open to U.S. residents 18+ older. We will pick a winner next week and message you for your contact information. Good luck!

Recipe courtesy of Southern from Scratch by Ashley English, © 2018 by Ashley English.  Photographs by Johnny Autry, © 2018 by Johnny Autry. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

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COCKTAILS @ THE FACTORY

Visiting chefs contribute cocktail recipes for our Friends of the Café Dinner series—now in its fourth year—with chef Steven Satterfield.

For The Factory Café’s new Supper Club series (learn more here), our in-house team creates their own unique cocktails. We’re sharing the recipes from our 2017 Harvest Dinner below. Impress friends at your next gathering, or make and shake and bring in another weekend. Either way, cheers.

MUSCADINE VINE

1 oz Muscadine Simple Syrup
2 oz prosecco
3 oz white wine
.5 oz lime juice
Mint for garnish

Yield: 1 cocktail

Mix all ingredients together and garnish with mint.

MUSCADINE SIMPLE SYRUP

Mix equal parts fresh, whole muscadines, granulated sugar, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until muscadines become soft and break open. Remove from heat, strain syrup, and allow to cool completely.

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CIDER SPARKLER

1 part Singin’ River Cider (or your hard cider of choice)
1 part sangria (1 bottle red blend wine, 1 cup orange juice, juice of 1 lime)
1 part prosecco
Cinnamon sugar rim

Yield: 1 cocktail

Moisten and dip the rim of a glass in cinnamon sugar. Add cider and sangria to glass and stir, top off with prosecco.

Stay up to date on all events happening at The Factory on our Events page.

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APPLE BBQ SAUCE

Last week we shared a group of recipes inspired by cooking over open flame. We’ve written extensively on the subject of BBQ and its respective sauces in the past, and even barbecued wedding dresses for the Southern Foodways Alliance. And though winter isn’t the ideal time to BBQ, we bring you a seasonal take on BBQ sauce created by our chef, Ray Nichols. We love to serve this Apple BBQ sauce over meat and roasted vegetables at The Factory Café.

Though this recipe calls for apples, it can be altered to include any similar fruit like pears, persimmons, plums, and pineapples. This versatile recipe can also be adapted to suit your mood or the season—add more or less sweetness, heat, or acidity to personalize it.

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APPLE BBQ SAUCE

1 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice from 1 orange
1/4 cup sorghum
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce (we like Franks Red Hot)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt to taste

Heat the canola oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and season with salt, cooking until translucent. Next, add the apples and cook for about one minute before adding the spices. Cook until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients and stir, bringing to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer for about an hour or until mixture has reduced by half. Take off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Blend in a blender in batches until you have a smooth sauce the consistency of ketchup. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve if desired. Adjust salt and chill in the refrigerator. The sauce will last up to a month in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

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CAMPFIRE RECIPES

Groundhog Day brought us six more weeks of winter, but here in Alabama the weather is trending a little warmer—and that has us dreaming of outdoor adventure. There’s nothing quite like cooking over an open fire, whether at a campsite or in your backyard. Chef Ray has cooked up some recipes that are perfect for preparing over a campfire and taking advantage of winter’s lingering harvest.

BURIED SWEET POTATOES

This recipe is called “buried” sweet potatoes because you wrap them in aluminum foil and bury them in the coals of a fire. It works great with smaller sweet potatoes because they have a delicate, sweet flavor and a much shorter cooking time.

8 small sweet potatoes
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole head garlic, cut in half laterally across the equator
10 sprigs fresh thyme
4 fresh bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by washing the sweet potatoes thoroughly. Next, roll out two sheets of aluminum foil 24″ by 12″. Stack them on top of each other to create a double layer. Place the potatoes in the middle of the foil, drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, season generously with salt and pepper, and add the garlic and herbs. Fold over the ends of the foil packet to make a tightly sealed pouch. Using tongs or a shovel, make a coal bed by the side of your fire and place the foil packet directly onto the coals. Place more coals and ash over top the packet to insulate it and speed up the cooking process.

The total cooking time should take 40 – 50 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. However, every fire is different and you should begin to check them after 30 minutes of cooking. Use the tongs to poke at the sweet potatoes, when they begin to soften they are done.

Carefully, remove the packet from the coals and let rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, open the packet, and the sweet potatoes are ready to serve. (If you don’t have a campfire, you can also make this recipe on a charcoal grill or in a 400-degree oven.) Serves 4 people.

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BRAISED CABBAGE

The recipe is very simple, calling for just three ingredients. It can be made at home on the stove or outside over an open fire. Use the type of cabbage that looks best at your local farmer’s market. (Red cabbage turns a beautiful purple color once cooked.) Aside from salt and pepper, use the vinegar as your other seasoning. Taste throughout the cooking process to dial in the level of acidity. Add crushed red pepper flakes to the pan after you add your butter to make it spicy.

1 large head cabbage, red or green
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or any other vinegar you like)
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by removing the loose outer layer of leaves. Next, cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. After removing the core cut the cabbage into 1-inch pieces. This doesn’t have to be exact, you’ll want bite-size pieces. Next, use a shovel or rake to move the hot coals from the fire to the side and make a coal bed big enough for your skillet or dutch oven. Melt the butter in the skillet until it begins to bubble, then add half of the cabbage. It will wilt down once it starts cooking. Add the other half of the cabbage and season generously with salt and pepper. Once the cabbage starts wilting, add the vinegar. Simmer on high for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is cooked to your liking. (I like to have a little bit of crunch left in mine.) Check the seasoning and acidity before serving. If you think it needs more vinegar, add a splash and give it a stir.

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EMBER-GRILLED COWBOY RIBEYE

This dish is an homage to the time I spent working under Chef Sean Brock at Husk Restaurant in Nashville, Tennesse. Working there gave me a love for cooking over embers and open fire. Husk sources beautiful ribeye steaks from Bill and LeeAnn Cherry at Bear Creek Farm outside of Nashville near Leipers Fork, Tennessee. They would be seasoned, grilled directly over the embers, and served with what we called “love love” sauce. Here is my version of that dish geared towards a campfire.

2 1.5″-thick cut, bone-in ribeye steaks (set out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature)
1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil (canola, vegetable, peanut, etc.)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground coarse black pepper

For the baste/sauce:

1 stick of unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 lemon juiced (keep the lemon after juicing)
1/2 cup of Worcestershire sauce

Once your campfire has been burning long enough to have a substantial amount of coals, it will be the perfect temperature to cook the steaks. You will need a long pair of tongs, a small pot, two rocks roughly the size of a softball, and a grill grate or wire resting rack.

First, rub the ribeyes with oil and season heavily with salt and pepper. These are very big steaks and you are only seasoning the outside, so don’t be shy.

Let the steaks sit for about 15 minutes and begin working on the basting sauce. Melt the butter in a small pot. Once it is melted, add the garlic, peppercorns, and herbs. Cook until they become fragrant and then add the Worcestershire and lemon juice. Toss the lemons in the pot and place it at the edge of the fire to stay warm while you cook your steaks.

Rake hot coals to the edge of the fire to make a coal bed big enough to fit under the grate. Set the grate directly on the coals and let it heat up for a few minutes. Once hot, place each steak directly on the grate. Cook for about two minutes without disturbing them then check for a nice sear. Flip the steaks and repeat on the other side. After the first flip, use a pastry brush to baste the sauce on the steaks. Repeat this until you have reached the desired doneness (125 degrees Fahrenheit for a nice medium rare). Because you are cooking directly on the coals, the steak will color quickly. Place the two rocks to under the grate to lift it off the coals and slow down the cooking time. Don’t be afraid to flip and baste often. Every fire is different and your patience and persistence will be rewarded. If the coals smother out before the steaks are done, rake fresh ones underneath the grate and keep grilling. Once the steaks are cooked, pull them from the fire, baste one last time, and let rest for ten minutes. Cut off the bone and slice against the grain or serve the steak whole. Once you’ve eaten a steak cooked directly over embers, it’s hard to go back to a gas grill.

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NATALIE’S APPLE CRISP

Desserts can be tough for camping. S’mores are the gold standard, but when I camp I want something that warms you up. When I found out Natalie had a recipe for apple crisp, I couldn’t think of a better camping dish. Natalie’s Whole Wheat Apple Crisp recipe has been modified from a home oven to a cast iron dutch oven that can be used on a campfire. This recipe was originally featured in Bon Appetit’s October 2015 issue.

6 medium tart apples (such as Pink Lady or Gala), peeled, sliced
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Peel and slice the apples then place in a 2-quart cast iron dutch oven and toss with brown sugar and butter. Toss oats, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, remaining ¼ cup brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a small bowl until evenly mixed and no dry spots remain (it should be very wet and form into clumps when pressed together). Sprinkle oat mixture over apples.

Place the dutch oven on a small coal bed, covered for the first 20 minutes. Check after the first five minutes to see if it is simmering. Add or remove coals to get desired temperature. Rotate, uncover, and bake for another 30 minutes. Press down on the crust halfway through baking to smash the apples. This step should be done on a coal bed and near enough to the fire so that some color appears on the top of the crumble. Bake until topping is golden brown (it will crisp as it cools) and filling is juicy and bubbling, 50-60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes to let juices set. Serve topped with scoops of ice cream. Serves 8.

Images courtesy of Abraham Rowe and styling by Susan Rowe.

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BURNT HONEY SWEET POTATO DRESSING + A RECIPE

One of the best parts of a good salad is the dressing. Good dressings introduce flavors that complement the ingredients without overpowering a salad. A staple on our menu, The Factory Salad has always been served with a Lemon Citronette dressing—until last year, when we introduced two new dressings: Buttermilk-Herb and Burnt Honey Sweet Potato.

The seasonal Burnt Honey Sweet Potato dressing combines an earthy root vegetable flavor, brightened with vinegar, and subtly sweet with caramelized honey. It’s also a great way to use up extra or over-cooked sweet potatoes. We share the recipe below for you to make at home.

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BURNT HONEY SWEET POTATO DRESSING

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, roasted until soft, cooled and peeled
3/4 cup sherry vinegar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup neutral oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice and zest of 1 small orange
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons burnt honey

Begin by washing your sweet potatoes then coating them with oil and salt and pepper. Roast in a 375° oven until soft, the time will depend on the size of the potatoes. Allow them to cool and then peel off the skin. Place the potatoes and all other ingredients except for the oil and honey in the blender and blend until smooth. You might need to stop and scrape down the sides to get it to blend properly until smooth.

In a small pot on the stove cook honey until it comes to a boil for approximately 3 minutes or until it begins to caramelize and darken slightly in color. The color change will all depend on what honey you use and the color it is to begin with. Once darkened, drizzle into the blender until honey is incorporated. On low to medium speed, slowly drizzle in the oil until completely combined and emulsified.

Once combined, taste for salt and acidity level. This will vary based on the size of your potatoes and your taste for acidity in your typical salad dressing. If the dressing appears to be too thick add a splash of water and blend to combine.

This recipe works great with any roasted root vegetables like winter squash, pumpkin, or carrots. Serve over salad greens or even in a grain bowl.

P.S.: Find The Factory Salad on the Daily Menu at The Factory Café.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CHERRY BOMBE COOKBOOK

CHERRY BOMBE: THE COOKBOOK

You might have noticed that, while the mainstream culinary world might still be considered a bit of a boys’ club, more and more women are working their asses off to earn their spots in the food world. Take, for example, the ladies behind Cherry Bombe, a biannual magazine founded by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, who met while both working at Harper’s Bazaar. After Diamond—at that point a fashion journalist—and her boyfriend opened a restaurant, she realized that there was not a major community of women she could go to for advice, connect with, or collaborate with.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CHERRY BOMBE COOKBOOK

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, she and Wu launched the magazine, which focused more on community than on a traditional recipe-based format. And from the void that Diamond experienced emerged a strong and talented collection of women, across all disciplines and occupations. Cherry Bombe the magazine has birthed “Cherry Bombe” the radio program and Jubilee, a female-centric food and beverage conference. It was inevitable that the two women would write Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook.

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The cookbook is a collection of recipes from 100 women from various creative backgrounds—chefs, bloggers, celebrities, models, and more. The bubblegum pink cookbook is as irreverent as the magazine and includes dishes from influential women like Ashley Christensen, Lisa Donovan, Vivian Howard, Karlie Kloss, Padma Lakshmi, and Chrissy Teigen. The book is fun but practical and definitely not intimidating.

“Food is having a feminist moment,” Diamond said to Vogue in a recent article. We agree, and we are convinced that this is not a moment—it is a movement.

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ALABAMA CHANIN – HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: LATE AUTUMN

HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: LATE AUTUMN

“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can’t beat the taste of a perfectly ripe pear. When I’m at the market, I hear Emerson in my head reminding me of the short window I have to enjoy them. However, you can get creative with overripe pears to extend their season.

Peel, de-pit, and puree your overripe pears. Blend with a splash of Prosecco. If you have more than one bruised pear, make a big batch of this puree, then put what you don’t use in the refrigerator. (Keeps up to 48 hours.)

Our love for Jack Rudy products is no secret, and the aromatic bitters are key to making this late autumn cocktail taste like it was made by a seasoned mixologist.

ALABAMA CHANIN – HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: LATE AUTUMN

THE LATE AUTUMN

1 tablespoon pear purée
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
7 pomegranate seeds for garnish
4 oz. Prosecco
1 dash Jack Rudy Aromatic Bitters

Put a dash of Jack Rudy bitters in a 6-oz. glass and swirl to coat the bottom of the glass.

Add the pear purée and pomegranate juice. Swirl around until combined. Pour the Prosecco into the mixture and finish with fresh pomegranate seeds.

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THE SFA GUIDE TO COCKTAILS

For almost 20 years, the Southern Foodways Alliance has studied and shared the narratives of Southern food, its history, and those who make it. They share those stories not only to educate, but to honor and celebrate those who prepare and serve the food. Now, with The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails, they take that same approach to cocktails. As author Sara Camp Milam writes, “What we pour in our glasses, where we do the pouring, and with whom we do the drinking: Those matters reveal truths about our values and our identity in a diverse and changing region.”

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The book contains classic and contemporary recipes from more than 20 bartenders and must meet one or more of the following criteria: 1) they were conceived or popularized in the South; 2) they use Southern ingredients (like Georgia peaches or honeysuckle vodka from Mississippi); 3) they were created or recommended by some of the best bartenders in the region. According to the book’s co-editor Jerry Slater, the book was intentionally arranged with its first ten chapters structured around classic cocktails, moving in order of increasing strength. The sections following include cocktail snacks from chef Vishwesh Bhatt (so you’ll never drink on an empty stomach), lists of tools and glassware, and descriptions of techniques you may need as you expand your cocktail repertoire.

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Overall, the book includes over 80 recipes, each revealing elements of the South’s drinking history – ranging from classic New Orleans traditions, to the impact of religious-based “blue laws”, to the legendary outlaw stories of moonshiners. Each chapter is accompanied by essays on topics like, “New Orleans, Bar City”, “Dance Caves”, and “Bourbon and Gender”.

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Just as with our food, the South’s relationship with drinking is complicated. This book aims to explore and honor each complex element of the past and to examine the future of Southern drinking. Milam hopes that, “After reading this book, and mixing a few drinks, you will know enough spirituous lore to impress friends, family, and barmates.”

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Find The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails in our Holiday Shop and at The Factory Store. ­­­

STRAWBERRY ROSEMARY PROSECCO COCKTAIL

If you ever find yourself with a surplus of strawberries after picking, puree the extra and make a delicious summer cocktail. Any excess puree can also be stored in the freezer for future use; however, strawberry cocktails are popular at my house and there is rarely much leftover puree.

Experiment with any ripe fruit as you progress through the holidays. We’ve shared other strawberry cocktail recipes: Homemade Strawberry “Fruli” and strawberry-tarragon simple syrup with Prosecco. This recipe combines watermelon juice and orange bitters. Garnish with blueberries on rosemary stems for the perfect combination of tart, spicy, sweet, and bubbly.

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ASHLEY CHRISTENSEN + POOLE’S

It’s widely known that we believe Ashley Christensen is a total badass. We were giddy fans of her work, long before we ever really got to know her. Now that we know more about Ashley the person and are no longer admiring from afar, we find her even more impressive. Ashley may be a James Beard Award-winning chef, but she is also thoughtful and relatable—something that becomes obvious as you flip through the beautiful pages of her first cookbook, Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner.

ALABAMA CHANIN – ASHLEY CHRISTENSEN + POOLE'S

Poole’s offers home cooks recipes that nourish and inspire. There are several of what Ashley calls “back pocket” recipes that can easily be folded into your regular dinner repertoire, and there are others that may take more time and preparation (and maybe aspiration). She uses simple ingredients to create sometimes complex flavors. Her red wine vinaigrette (now a forever kitchen staple) has 5 ingredients, but the instruction provided goes beyond anything I’ve found in other cookbooks; Ashley perfectly details how things should look, how they should smell, and draws attention to the stages of change as the ingredients transform into the final product.

The recipes offered here are reflections of what Ashley believes to be important: fresh seasonal ingredients from local purveyors (whenever possible), used thoughtfully to create dishes that make sense—because they are tied to the land, the region, the people, and her guests.

ALABAMA CHANIN – ASHLEY CHRISTENSEN + POOLE'S

Even as Ashley details how the food is impeccably prepared from start to finish, she also weaves her personal story into the history of Poole’s Diner—one of Raleigh’s oldest restaurants and a place her father frequented as a young man. Almost immediately it became clear to Ashley that Poole’s history would play a part in her present. She writes, “In using the original name, Poole’s Diner, I knew that I was tapping into a collective memory, a fixture that could continue to act as an anchor for a city that was changing and evolving. Without even realizing it, opening Poole’s Diner turned me into a community organizer.”

ALABAMA CHANIN – ASHLEY CHRISTENSEN + POOLE'S

Some of the most poignant moments in the book emerge when she writes about her parents and how they passed on a fervent love of food and the comfort found in making it. Her parents danced when they cooked, they laughed and enjoyed being together, in the moment. “Dinner was never a rote exercise; it was an occasion, an experience.” Her family did not sit down to eat a regimented dinner at the same time every night. “We ate when it was ready, which meant after my parents had enjoyed winding down the day with a glass of wine and some tunes, while cooking a meal that was as much about the process as the finished product.”

ALABAMA CHANIN – ASHLEY CHRISTENSEN + POOLE'S

That same warm feeling is present in Ashley’s recipes, as is her impeccable technique. Pimento cheese is a Southern staple, but in her hands it becomes singular and a bit elevated. She admits to being most at ease when cooking vegetables—and there are plenty of options for those who want to serve fewer meat dishes at home. You can also find recipes for some of Poole’s signature plates, including their most requested dish: Macaroni Au Gratin. When Ashley participated in our Friends of the Café Dinner series, we were treated to the watermelon salad with Vidalia onion vinaigrette shown on the book’s cover. (There are instructions in the book on how to fan your avocado slices, which you will immediately want to try. It’s fun.)

ALABAMA CHANIN – ASHLEY CHRISTENSEN + POOLE'S

Poole’s Diner and Ashley Christensen’s six other properties in the Raleigh area have helped revitalize the downtown and the regional food scene. In the book, Ashley explains that those who visit her restaurants are not “customers”—they are “guests”. You can feel the difference when you eat at one of her establishments and you get the same sensation flipping through this book.

*Originally published on October 26, 2016

ALABAMA CHANIN – SPARKLING GRAPEFRUIT MOJITO

SPARKLING GRAPEFRUIT MOJITO

Traditional mojitos consist of five ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint. While this cocktail is a popular summer drink, we’ve adapted it to suit our mid-February temperatures (though the weather in Alabama has been all over the place—68 degrees one day, 30 the next).

ALABAMA CHANIN – SPARKLING GRAPEFRUIT MOJITO

SPARKLING GRAPEFRUIT MOJITO

4 mint leaves
1 teaspoon raw sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 oz Grapefruit Shrub
3 oz Prosecco
Beautiful Briny Sea Orange Chili Sugar

Moisten and dip the rim of a 6 oz. glass in the orange chili sugar.

Muddle the mint, sugar, and lime juice until the sugar is dissolved. Add the grapefruit shrub and stir. Top off with Prosecco.

Garnish with mint and enjoy.

A reminder from our cocktail contributor, Jesse Goldstein: It’s important to add a note here about muddling. All too often I see people pulverizing the mint for mojitos when they simply need to bruise it. Give it a few good presses and that will help release the aromatics without getting bits and pieces floating around.

Find more cocktail recipes on the Journal.

ALABAMA CHANIN – SPARKLING GRAPEFRUIT MOJITO

ALABAMA CHANIN – HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: SPARKLY MANHATTAN

HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: SPARKLING MANHATTAN

Our café team continues to create festive cocktails to serve at add to the menu archives for The Factory Café. This cocktail speaks to two different demographics: whiskey drinkers and wine lovers. Follow the recipe below and make your own at home. Tippleman’s Burnt Sugar Syrup and Jack Rudy Aromatic Bitters are available for purchase at The Factory.

In this Prosecco cocktail, we channeled the taste of a Manhattan to create a brunch-appropriate drink by using fresh satsuma juice, Jack Rudy Aromatic Bitters, and Tippleman’s Burnt Sugar Syrup with a hint of rosemary.

ALABAMA CHANIN – HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: SPARKLY MANHATTAN

SPARKLING MANHATTAN

2 dashes Jack Rudy Aromatic Bitters
2 tablespoons satsuma juice or orange juice
1/5 tablespoon rosemary-infused Tippleman’s Burnt Sugar Syrup
3 oz of Prosecco
Rosemary sprigs

Put 2 dashes of Jack Rudy bitters in a 6-oz. glass and swirl to coat the bottom of the glass.

In a shaker filled with ice, combine satsuma juice and rosemary-infused burnt sugar syrup. Shake until ingredients are mixed together and cold.

Strain the satsuma mixture into the glass, top with Prosecco, and enjoy.

ROSEMARY-INFUSED BURNT SUGAR SYRUP
Muddle 3 rosemary springs with 2 oz. Burnt Sugar Syrup until fragrant. This should make enough infused syrup for 8 cocktails.

ALABAMA CHANIN – HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: HOLIDAY SUNRISE

HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: HOLIDAY SUNRISE

We’ve been experimenting with seasonal fruits to make holiday cocktails for The Factory Café.  The Holiday Sunrise is made with shrub (drinking vinegars) from our friends at MOTHER shrub. You can also find a selection of MOTHER shrub flavors available from The Factory if you choose to make this simple cocktail at home.

HOLIDAY SUNRISE

2 tablespoons Black Cherry MOTHER Shrub
1 tablespoon orange juice
3 oz Prosecco
Orange wedge for garnish

In a 6-ounce glass, combine shrub and orange juice. Fill the glass with Prosecco and garnish with an orange wedge.

P.S.: Follow @alabamachaninfactorycafe on Instagram for our daily menu and events from The Factory.

ALABAMA CHANIN - ANNOUNCING 2017 FRIENDS OF THE CAFE DINNERS

ANNOUNCING 2017 FRIENDS OF THE CAFÉ DINNERS

Alabama Chanin hosted our very first Friends of the Café Dinner in May of 2014, and since then we’ve experienced meals and enjoyed gatherings that were nothing short of magical. In retrospect, we almost cannot believe the lineup of talented chefs who have graciously donated their time for these special fundraisers: Sean Brock, Ashley Christensen, Lisa Donovan, Adam Evans, Chris Hastings, Vivian Howard, Rob McDaniel, Angie Mosier, Anne Quatrano, Drew Robinson, Rodney Scott, Frank Stitt—and more.

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This year’s schedule is no less impressive, with appearances (and reappearances) from some of the South’s most respected chefs. We have long hoped to convince Scott Peacock to co-host a dinner, and this year his schedule will allow him to join us for 2017’s first event on April 15th. On June 24th, Ashley Christensen will return for her second dinner, and on August 24th, we will welcome Atlanta-based chef Asha Gomez to The Factory for the first time. (Learn more about Asha on the Journal tomorrow.) All proceeds from the Friends of the Café Dinners will once again benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance.

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Look for more information on the featured chefs in the coming months, and purchase tickets now in our online store.

THE SHORT STACK COOKBOOK

We have been fans of Short Stack Editions since they published their first short volume in 2013. Each edition is hand bound with bakers twine and focuses on a single ingredient, offering 20 – 25 clever and approachable recipes written by a variety of chefs, food writers, and cookbook authors. To date, 24 editions have been published which, together, act as a well-rounded recipe guide that encourages experimentation, discourages food waste, and offers something for just about every palate.

With these ideas as the foundation, publisher Nick Fauchald and editor Kaitlyn Goalen invited 27 soon-to-be or current authors of Short Stack Editions to participate in their cookbook, The Short Stack Cookbook: Ingredients that Speak Volumes. The cookbook (which is not a compendium of recipes from the individual editions, but an entirely original collection) uses the same types of bold colors and smart graphics seen in the individual editions to create a volume that is truly a work of art. Unlike the individual editions, The Short Stack Cookbook includes colorful photographs of finished dishes.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE SHORT STACK COOKBOOK

The book focuses on 18 meticulously selected essential ingredients—including honey, eggs, and brussels sprouts—to create over 100 new recipes that encourage the audience to develop new skills through practice. Each ingredient has 8 to 10 different recipes unique to the cookbook that celebrate the best things about each ingredient and also challenge readers to see those same ingredients in a new way.

It’s important to note that the level of involvement varies depending on the recipe. For weeknights when you’re short on time, we recommend recipes like the Smoked Mozzarella & Sage in Sourdough Carrozza. When you have more time to experiment, try the Crispy Chicken Skin Tacos, which would work well for dinner parties.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE SHORT STACK COOKBOOK

The Short Stack team accommodates all levels of home cooks. They provide helpful information on sourcing ingredients, storing, substitutes, and food pairings. Additionally, the authors included thoughtful suggestions—like hints on kitchen equipment and event-specific menus—throughout the book. The Short Stack Cookbook encourages home cooks to have fun while exploring new ways a single ingredient can exceed expectations.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE SHORT STACK COOKBOOK

Find The Short Stack Cookbook.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE JEMIMA CODE

THE JEMIMA CODE

America’s food culture comprises an undeniable mix of influences from around the world. African-American women have a significant impact on the foods we eat and have eaten for centuries. Unfortunately, that impact has often been overlooked or overshadowed by racial stereotypes like that of “Aunt Jemima” and other tropes—fetishized mammy stereotypes and caricatures that coopted African-American culinary traditions. In The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks, author Toni Tipton-Martin challenges us to look beyond the encoded message that “black chefs, cooks, and cookbook authors—by virtue of their race and gender—are simply born with good kitchen instincts,” because it diminishes their knowledge, skill, ability, and pure culinary artistry.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE JEMIMA CODE

It is true that for years African-American women worked in early kitchens throughout the United States, both as slaves and then as low-paid workers. There is a false notion that those talented cooks were directed by their white masters or employers when, in fact, most managed their own kitchens capably—often with the precision of modern-day chefs. Early recipes, like many traditions, were passed down as oral histories, which make them difficult to document—particularly because many African Americans were barred from learning to read and write. Once they were able to compile the knowledge in family notebooks or cookbooks, those women (and a few men) were almost never able to make a profit from sharing their life’s work. But slowly recipe collections began to see the light of day.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE JEMIMA CODE

Tipton-Martin has spent years collecting over 300 cookbooks written by African-American authors (one of the world’s largest private collections of cookbooks of the genre) compiling information in The Jemima Code from over 150 of those, in an effort to illustrate their impact on American food culture and traditions and to inspire African Americans to embrace and celebrate their culinary history. John Egerton (founder of the Southern Foodways Alliance) wrote in the book’s forward that Tipton-Martin delved deep and discovered the gifted cooks “who quietly broke the Jemima code and have taken their rightful place among the best of America’s culinary professionals.”

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE JEMIMA CODE

The earliest recipe collections featured in the book date back to an 1827 house servant’s manual—considered the first book published by an African American on the subject—and Tipton-Martin’s compendium extends to modern volumes by celebrated authors like Edna Lewis and Vertamae Grosvenor. The collection is arranged chronologically and chapter introductions provide important information on the cultural significance of the featured cookbooks, including histories of the authors themselves. She also includes pictures of the book covers and some individual recipe pages.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE JEMIMA CODE

Tipton-Martin won the James Beard Foundation’s award for Reference and Scholarship, which is a reflection of its relevance and the quality of its content. The author says, “My hope for this book, as it was for my ancestors and these authors, is that when we know more about them as individuals, we can then learn to respect them, to learn from them, to be inspired by them. And to return to the kitchen at a time when we’re all being encouraged to take better control of our health by cooking for ourselves and consuming less fast and processed food.” As you read The Jemima Code, you will learn just how much you didn’t know about an entire culture’s food traditions and you will be inspired to take those recipes into your own kitchen—ensuring their relevance for years to come.

Purchase your copy of The Jemima Code here.

 

VIVIAN HOWARD: DEEP RUN ROOTS

Clocking in at 564 pages, Vivian Howard’s new (and first) cookbook, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South, is by far the largest cookbook I own that is not a compilation. Vivian, friend and collaborator on our Friends of the Café fundraiser dinner, has created a modern American classic book of recipes. Almost equal parts storybook and cookbook, Deep Run Roots shows us that there is not one single definition of “Southern” cooking; each region has its own unique contributions and food histories.

ALABAMA CHANIN – VIVIAN HOWARD: DEEP RUN ROOTS

The cookbook has 25 chapters, each focusing on a single ingredient. Every chapter includes between 5 – 10 traditional recipes for its ingredient, followed by more modern or adventurous alternatives. There is something to be found for cooks of every skill level, and some of the dishes that appear challenging are remarkably easy to pull off. Each chapter also has a “Wisdom” page or section, where Vivian shares a little extra background on each ingredient, including her personal experiences, tips, and tricks. She also offers personal stories or memories, relating the ingredient to her own life.

ALABAMA CHANIN – VIVIAN HOWARD: DEEP RUN ROOTS

Like her award-winning television series, “A Chef’s Life,” this book celebrates regional culinary traditions, family, and community. When Vivian returned to her North Carolina home over a decade ago to open her restaurant, Chef and the Farmer, she decided that rather than chase food trends, she would be much more challenged and gratified by learning how to cook using the same ingredients her neighbors used—the same ingredients that have been used by generations of families in her community. This cookbook reflects her resourcefulness, her willingness to partner with local purveyors, and her sheer creativity.

ALABAMA CHANIN – VIVIAN HOWARD: DEEP RUN ROOTS

In the book’s introduction, titled, “Don’t You Dare Skip This Introduction!” Vivian explains that the book’s ingredients are characters who shape her life. “Eastern North Carolina is my Tuscany, my Szechuan, my Provence,” Vivian writes. “This is a Southern cookbook, but not one that treats the South like a homogenous region where everybody eats the same kind of fried chicken, ribs, shrimp and grits, collard greens, or gumbo. Instead, I interpret Southern cooking the way we’ve long understood French, Italian, and Chinese food: as a complex cuisine with abundant variations shaped by terrain, climate, and people.” This cookbook is massive and yet intimate. It is personal but has something for every palate.

We encourage you to pick up your copy of this cookbook in time for the holidays, as there are an incredible number of recipes that are perfectly suited to your seasonal meals.

ALABAMA CHANIN – VIVIAN HOWARD: DEEP RUN ROOTS

TOMATO SANDWICH DIET

It is (finally) the time of year to begin the Tomato Sandwich Diet.

THE BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND DINNER TOMATO SANDWICH

Wheat bread
Homemade mayonnaise (see below)
Heirloom tomato slices – patted dry
Salt & pepper to taste

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE
– from a recipe by Scott Peacock

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (very important)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Blend with whisk attachment on a low speed the yolk, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Add 1/4 cup oil drop by drop, blending constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Blend in vinegar and lemon juice, and add remaining 1/2 cup oil very slowly in a thin stream, blending constantly until well incorporated. If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil. Blend in salt to taste and white pepper.

Mayonnaise keeps, covered and chilled, for 2 days.

(Original post date: July 16, 2010)

THE GRAPEFRUIT MOTHER

If you’ve perused a drink menu in any upscale bar over the last few years, you’ve come across at least one drink made with shrub. Shrub is a mixture of fruit (or ginger), vinegar, and sweetener that was a favored drink among early settlers to the Americas. Read more about Shrubs and Switchels here.

Our friend Meredyth Archer has taken what was once considered a medicinal cordial and created a new line of drinking vinegars called MOTHER shrub.

From her website:

“Meredyth Archer first encountered drinking vinegar as a child growing up in West Virginia, when she would drink a mixture of vinegar and honey with her grandmother. Years later, she came across a recipe for raspberry vinegar in The Old Virginia Cook Book, from the late 1800s, a hand-me-down from her mother-in-law. She remembered the sweet and tart taste from her youth and decided to make a batch. Many shared batches later, MOTHER shrub drinking vinegars was born.”

For our weekly drink special, we’ve chosen Meredyth’s grapefruit-flavored shrub paired with fresh thyme and Prosecco. Join us for Saturday Brunch and a glass (or two) of The Grapefruit Mother at The Factory Café. You’ll also find a selection of MOTHER shrub flavors for sale at The Factory along with a delicious selection our of local, house made fare.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE GRAPEFRUIT MOTHER

THE GRAPEFRUIT MOTHER

2 tablespoons grapefruit shrub
4 drops maple syrup
4 ounces Prosecco
Fresh thyme

In a 6-ounce glass, combine grapefruit shrub and maple syrup. Fill glass with Prosecco and garnish with fresh thyme.

P.S.: If you can’t find a great shrub locally, The Kitchn has a simple recipe for a fruit shrub you can make at home.

BEVERAGES, BUBBLY, AND BRUNCH: THE GINGER

We’ve been playing and experimenting with cocktails for Saturday Brunch at The Factory. This week we’re highlighting one of my favorites, The Ginger, made with Tippleman’s Ginger Honey Syrup.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BEVERAGES, BUBBLY, AND BRUNCH: THE GINGER

Enjoy our recipe. Mix together:

5 ounces of your favorite Prosecco or Champagne
1 teaspoon Tippleman’s Ginger Honey Syrup
1 slice blood orange

Serve in our 6 oz Etched Glasses with an organic cotton Cocktail Napkin.
Enjoy.

See you at Saturday Brunch,
xoNatalie

Photos by Abraham Rowe

FERMENTATION (+ HARVEST ROOTS FARM)

Lindsay Whiteaker and Pete Halupka – Harvest, Alabama natives and who met in the 5th grade – launched Harvest Roots Farm and Ferment in 2011 with less than $1,000. What was then a small, organic vegetable farm has grown into a full-scale “fermentory” – focusing on producing wild, fermented food and beverages. Lindsay and Pete found that their produce customers were increasingly interested in their small line of fermented goods and ultimately switched their focus from farming to full-time fermentation. They forage and glean – and also process vegetables from local farms, then mix everything together in their Mentone, Alabama, kitchen.

In this context, fermentation refers to the low energy chemical conversion of carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide or organic acid—using yeast, bacteria, or both. Beers, ciders, kombucha, and other naturally effervescent drinks are the result of fermentation. The process of fermentation also leavens bread, as carbon dioxide is produced by active yeast. It can also be a method of preserving goods—resulting in delicious foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. Harvest Roots uses wild yeast in its fermentation and preservation techniques to create distinct flavors in foods that may also have medicinal benefits.

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TURKEY AND SUCH

Most every family has a host of Thanksgiving traditions and closely held recipes. Still, there is plenty of room for experimentation while still keeping up family rituals. Our friends at Local Palate, a print and online publication focusing on Southern culinary history and culture, share this recipe for a turkey dry rub. It is a slightly different take on a conventional seasoning mix—but still in keeping with a familiar flavor profile.

You can utilize a dry rub whether you opt to roast or fry your holiday turkey. We recommend using this recipe to dry brine (or pre-season) your bird. A dry brine helps season a turkey much in the way that a traditional wet brine does, but without the water. With a dry brine, you rub the seasonings directly into the meat and skin, then let the bird rest in the refrigerator—at least overnight.

A large bird like a whole turkey can be easily overcooked and made dry. Applying seasonings in advance draws out the turkey’s juices, which are then reabsorbed, adding moisture and flavor. The larger the piece of meat, the more time required for an effective brine. You can begin the process by seasoning the turkey a day or two in advance. The thawed and seasoned turkey should rest—uncovered or lightly covered—to keep the skin dry, making for a deliciously crispy skin when cooked.

The Local Palate’s Turkey Dry Rub

1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground thyme
4 tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoons smoked paprika
¼ cup kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. They can be stored in a sealed container until ready for use.

When ready to season your turkey, place your bird on a large surface or cutting board. Don’t forget to check the inside of the bird’s cavity to make sure the neck and giblets have been removed. Pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels.

Gently loosen the skin over the breast and legs, separating it from the meat. Season the cavity using at least 2 teaspoons of the dry rub—according to your personal taste. Rub the seasoning mixture under the skin of the legs and breast. Sprinkle the remaining spices over the skin of the turkey. Refrigerate, breast side up, in a roasting pan for 1-3 days.

You can cook your turkey using any method without patting it dry.

SHORT STACK EDITIONS

Short Stack Editions is a beautiful series of small-format, hand-bound publications that are half cookbook, half food magazine. Each 4 1/2” x 7 1/2” edition is inspired by a single ingredient and written by an array of chefs, cookbook authors, and food writers. To sum it up, Short Stack Editions are a food-lovers’ pocket-sized dream—and are as functional as they are collectible. (Our staff has been poring over the volumes since their arrival at The Factory.)

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TIKI DRINKS

We are now reaching the end of summer, but there’s still time for the beach, pool, and (for those of us with no shame) even yard sprinklers. For the grown ups, it’s a season for what I call “boat drinks”—fruity concoctions filled with rum and other exotic liqueurs—that make you feel relaxed, like you are floating away. Boat drinks—aka tiki drinks—are fantastic for parties because they are playful, but they can be dangerous, especially when the weather is hot. Their sweetness quenches thirst, but also disguises the liquor inside. Too much tiki may equal a headache the next day, if you’re not careful. Jesse Goldstein guides you through all things tiki here. We invite you to try a few, or have a party to test them all out. Still, unless you have an extra day of vacation to recuperate, try not to drift too far away from shore. From Jesse:

I used to think of tiki drinks only as sweet, brightly colored cocktails with paper umbrellas. You know, the kind you would find on cruise ships and poolside bars at resorts? Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about what really makes a tiki drink, the crazy history that brought them to life, and how to create my own. As a result, I’ve realized how wrong I was to oversimplify or brush off tiki drinks as unrefined.

To tell the story of tiki drinks, you have to start the tale all the way back in the days of Prohibition, when there was a constitutional ban on selling, producing, importing, and transporting alcoholic beverages. Prior to Prohibition, rum was not that popular here in states—where people more often reached for gin, whiskey and bourbon. And though Prohibition closed the domestic distilleries making most of those spirits, that ban did not apply to our neighboring countries, whose distilleries increased their production to keep up with this new demand. Those Americans who chose to keep drinking had to obtain spirits that were produced illegally and smuggled in from other countries. “Rum runners” introduced the country to a wave of delicious rums from the Caribbean, and the taste for rum was established.

But you need more than just rum to create a tiki drink. You need the mix of Polynesian kitsch and fresh flavor combinations. For that, we have to thank a man named Raymond Beaumont Gantt, more commonly known under the pseudonym Don Beach. He was quite the world traveler and lover of tropical culture. He settled in California with suitcases full of souvenirs from his travels to the islands and a dream of opening a restaurant that brought together creative rum drinks and foods loosely based on Polynesian, Hawaiian, and Cantonese cuisines. This dream became a reality in 1934 when he opened “Don the Beachcomber” in Hollywood, California. The concept was a success and soon others followed his lead, opening new tiki concepts like Trader Vic’s.

As soldiers returned home from WWII, they longed for the flavors of the South Pacific. The entire nation soon developed a romanticized obsession with the tropics, thanks in part to films and music of the day. Trader Vic’s and others opened locations around the country to fill that demand, each trying to outdo the next with elaborate Polynesian structures, décor, and even fake lightning and rainstorms. The competition between these bars was so fierce that unique, top-secret recipes were often written in code to avoid poaching from competitors. Some of these historic recipes are highlighted in Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean, where mysterious sounding ingredients like “Don’s Spices #4” actually refers to cinnamon simple syrup.

But by the mid 1960s, Americans were stunned by the horrors of Vietnam and no longer romanticized wartime images; the idea of pretending to spend your evenings in far away beaches no longer held the mystique it once did. Tiki culture slowly fell out of favor and most tiki bars closed their doors.

Thankfully there’s a resurgence in tiki demand, due in part to the inventive success of bars like Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago and Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles. People are rediscovering the lively world of tiki drinks and seeking them out wherever they go. Of course, traveling to Chicago just to go to a bar doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for most of us, so we’re left to make these cocktails at home. Those of us with the desire to DIY must ask the question “what makes a drink a tiki drink?” A tiki drink is best represented through multiple layers of flavors achieved in three basic categories of ingredients: booze, fruit, and spice.

Though admittedly not all tiki drinks are made with rum, many are. And many of those drinks are not only made with rum, but multiple types of rum. There are recipes that call for two, three, and sometimes even four different rums. Others might use a combination of gin and rum or cognac and liqueurs. The use of more than one spirit helps establish the foundation of flavor in most tiki drinks. It also means that they are often quite potent.

The second essential tiki element is fruit. Tiki drinks are best when made with fresh fruit juices. Obviously many of these are tropical in nature like citrus, pineapple, passion fruit, guava, coconut, and mango. As with the spirits, many recipes require multiple juices for a single cocktail, helping to mask that dangerous potency from all the booze.

But I think the true key to tiki drinks comes in the form the third element, which we’ll call spice. Be it ginger, cinnamon syrup, freshly-grated nutmeg, a dash of bitters, or even a couple drops of almond extract, unique spice combinations were part of how individual tiki bars could differentiate their cocktails from competitors. This addition of spice is an instantly recognizable element in many tiki drinks today.

ALABAMA CHANIN – TIKI DRINKS

Tiki at Home

If you’re looking to create your own tiki drinks, you should start by collecting a few different types of rums. Of course not every tiki drink is made with rum, but if you have good rums you can make a variety of delicious cocktails. Purchase high quality versions of white, dark, spiced, and even flavored rums. Look for rums from Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Barbados, and the Virgin Islands. Next, you might want to invest in some of the more unique ingredients like falernum, pimento dram, and orgeat. Falernum is available as both a spirit and a non-alcoholic syrup and is flavored with almond, ginger, nutmeg, and lime. Pimento dram is an allspice liqueur that adds a distinctive flavor to classic tiki drinks like the Voodoo Grog. Orgeat is an almond-flavored syrup that you can buy online, if not at your local liquor store. It’s worth the purchase, as there are literally dozens of classic tiki drinks that call for this ingredient.

Next, you’ll want to do a little prep in the way of syrups. Three of my favorites are a demerara simple syrup made with equal parts demerara sugar and water, a cinnamon syrup, and a passion fruit syrup. I’ve been able to find frozen passion fruit puree in Latin markets and add it to a simple syrup. To make cinnamon syrup, boil a cup of water with a few broken cinnamon sticks. Add a cup of sugar, stir until dissolved and let it sit overnight before straining.

Finally, go get some fresh fruit and juice it. Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are a great place to start. Fresh pineapple juice requires an electric juicer, so it’s entirely forgivable if you choose to purchase it instead.

When making tiki drinks, I prefer to use crushed ice, as it has more surface area to help cool and dilute the boozy recipes. If you have a Sonic Drive-In near you, they’ll usually sell you a bag of their ice (really!)—it’s perfect for tiki drinks.

Now, on to the cocktails! I offer a few classics, alongside several of my own invention, created to inspire you to get behind the (tiki) bar and play!

ALABAMA CHANIN – TIKI DRINKS

Mai Tai
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao (or homemade curaçao)
¼ oz orgeat syrup
½ oz demerara syrup (equal parts demerara sugar and water)
Fresh mint and lime wheel for garnish

Combine all ingredients and shake with crushed ice. Pour entire contents into glass and top with more ice, if needed. Garnish with a sprig of mint and lime wheel.

Zombie
1 oz gold rum
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz overproof rum
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz white grapefruit juice
½ oz falernum
¼ oz cinnamon syrup
1 barspoon grenadine
Dash Angostura bitters
Fresh mint for garnish

Combine all ingredients and shake with crushed ice. Pour entire contents into glass and top with more ice if needed. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

La Playa Royale
2 oz silver tequila
1 oz white rum
1 ½ oz fresh orange juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz cinnamon syrup
½ oz orgeat
Cinnamon stick and strip of orange zest for garnish

Combine all ingredients and shake with crushed ice. Wrap the strip of orange peel inside the glass, pour entire contents into glass and top with more ice, if needed. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

ALABAMA CHANIN – TIKI DRINKS

Sailor Bait
1 oz apricot brandy
1 oz dry gin
1 oz gold rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz mango nectar
½ oz orgeat
2 dashes angostura bitters
Wedge of lime
Lemon wheel and cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients and shake with crushed ice. Pour entire contents into glass and top with more ice, if needed. Squeeze the wedge of lime into the drink and garnish with lemon wheel and cherry.

Coral Reef
2 oz gold rum
1 oz white rum
1 oz melon liqueur
¼ oz pimento dram
¾ oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
Orange slice and orchid for garnish

Combine all ingredients and shake with crushed ice. Pour entire contents into glass and top with more ice if needed. Garnish with slice of orange and an orchid blossom if you have one on hand.

Tidal Pool
1 oz Mount Gay Barbados rum
1 oz white rum
1 oz blue curaçao
2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
½ oz falernum
Freshly grated nutmeg
Pineapple wedge and cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients except nutmeg and garnish and shake with crushed ice. Pour entire contents into glass and top with more ice, if needed. Grate nutmeg on top and garnish with pineapple wedge and cherry.

Passion Poison
1 oz white rum
1 oz gold rum
2 oz passion fruit syrup
1 oz fresh lime juice
¼ oz crème de cassis
1 oz black spiced rum
Lime wedge and cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients except black spiced rum and shake with crushed ice. Pour entire contents into glass and top with more ice if needed. Float black spiced rum on top and garnish with lime wedge and cherry.

WHITE BARBEQUE SAUCE

Barbeque lovers are often staunch proponents and defenders of their favorite preparation, favorite meat, and favorite sauce—or lack thereof. Just as there is an entire range of styles of barbeque (everything from pulled pork with slaw to smoked chicken to a plate of burnt ends), there is a whole spectrum of barbeque sauces. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of sugary red sauces; but as an Alabama native, I must wholeheartedly profess my love of our native white barbeque sauce.

Many of you may be unfamiliar with this particular variety of sauce, as it is a North Alabama specialty. But, it is a staple of almost every barbeque restaurant in the area and has found its way to our tables and local grocery store shelves. White sauce is a tangy condiment made of mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and pepper. While that might sound a little odd to the uninitiated, those in the know are evangelists for the stuff.

While white barbeque sauce has been served in the area for years, local lore suggests that Bob Gibson of the legendary Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, invented it in 1925. Bob worked for the L & N Railroad Company, but would host barbeques on the weekends, smoking meat over a hickory pit in his backyard. Eventually, his food became so popular that he quit his job at the railroad and opened a proper restaurant.

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SHAKEN + STIRRED

With Father’s Day quickly approaching, this month’s cocktail post from our Nashville-based cocktail expert Jesse Goldstein discusses the importance of an often-overlooked component of boozy drinks—water. Want to know when to shake and when to stir (or the perfect cocktail for celebrating the fathers in your life)? Read on. From Jesse:

It was in 1806 that The Balance and Columbian Repository first defined the word “cocktail.”  Simply defined, it read that a “cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.” For those with a keen eye, you might recognize this as the basic recipe for a classic Old Fashioned cocktail. But what I think of when I read that is what most people take for granted in a cocktail; the water. Besides booze, water is perhaps the most important ingredient in any cocktail, imparted usually through the use of ice. The correct proportion of water in a drink can help make it more palatable. Too much simply waters it down. So how do you get it right?

The key, I’ve learned, is all in preparation. Cocktails are made in more less two manners—shaken or stirred. Yes, there are some that you simply build in a glass, but for the sake of argument, let’s put those in the “stirred” category. With one simple rule, you can look at the ingredients of a cocktail and know which method is preferred.

James Bond always seemed like such a badass when he ordered his “martini, shaken, not stirred.” But what I’ve come to realize is that he was doing it wrong. Of course there’s room for personal preference, but if you’re like me, you like having some rules to go by. So here it is; if a cocktail has fruit juice or syrups, shake it. If a cocktail is only comprised of spirits, you stir it.

ALABAMA CHANIN – SHAKEN + STIRRED

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THE MARGARITA: A PLEA FOR TEQUILA

In this month’s cocktail post, contributor Jesse Goldstein goes deep into the margarita well (or pitcher, as it were). Everyone loves a good margarita on Cinco de Mayo—but here are a few options that will carry you through the rest of the summer in high style. From Jesse:

I catch myself feeling sorry for inanimate things every now and then. You know, the chair in the living room you never sit in, the vegetables people love to hate, and tequila. My sorrow for the latter really comes from how it’s been vilified by memories of college parties gone wrong and bright green, sickly-sweet margaritas served in many restaurants and bars.

I set out on a personal mission to make up for all that disdain and rediscover how good a margarita really can be when made with simple, fresh ingredients and good-quality tequila. In the process, I discovered a variety of ways to punch up this spirited concoction into new drinks. They don’t have to be the color of kryptonite. They can be light, bright, and delicious.

Better yet, these tequila cocktails are the perfect warm weather cocktails. Coupled with bright citrus flavors, they’re barely sweet and easy to make even more refreshing with a splash of seltzer on top.

ALABAMA CHANIN  – THE MARGARITA: A PLEA FOR TEQUILA

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HOT AND COLD TEA COCKTAILS

For this month’s cocktail selection, contributor Jesse Goldstein focuses on something that most Southerners hold dear: a glass of tea. Here he provides us with both hot and cold options that are delicious and simple to prepare—for one or for a whole group.

From Jesse:

When most think of tea and cocktails, the first thing that comes to mind is a good hot toddy. There’s nothing wrong with a classic, but if that’s the extent of your use of tea in cocktails, you’re missing out on a beautiful spectrum of flavors just waiting to be incorporated into all types of boozy beverages.

For me, a great cocktail must have balance. This most commonly comes in the form of balancing boozy sharpness with sugar and citrus, but even that can still fall flat on the palate. Think of a well-balanced cocktail like your favorite meal in a restaurant. The spices and seasonings enhance the main ingredients that make that dish so memorable. When it comes to cocktails, freshly brewed black, green, and herbal teas can impart bright herbal notes and bitter tannins that supplement just a few simple ingredients and compliment many spirits.

If you’ve read the previous blog post, Reclaiming Church Punch, you know that teas have a place in cocktail history. Much like the punches of yesteryear, these new tea cocktails can also be made in large batches for entertaining—or just a lazy weekend afternoon on the porch with friends. Just be sure to always start with fresh, high-quality teas and chill them prior to making iced cocktails.

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HOMEMADE BITTERS (REVISITED)

In December of 2011, we started playing with bitters. Today, we explore how craft meets cocktail with Jesse Goldstein. Read on to learn how to make variations of your own of cocktail bitters and how to use this relatively simple ingredient to add complex layers to your own drinks:

It was in 1806 when the word “cocktail” was first defined in print. The Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, NY classified it simply as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.” Fellow cocktail enthusiasts may recognize this description as what we would call an Old Fashioned today; but it’s that last, often misunderstood, ingredient listed in the lineup that has fascinated me for many years.

The term “bitters” typically refers to alcohol infused with a variety of botanical ingredients resulting in a somewhat bitter or bittersweet taste. There are really two classifications of bitters: digestive bitters like Campari are sipped neat or on the rocks after a meal; concentrated tinctures of cocktail bitters (often referred to as aromatic or potable bitters) like Angostura are used in drops and dashes in many classic and modern craft cocktails. I’ve often referred to bitters as the “salt and pepper” of cocktails, providing amazing depth and flavor that you can’t get from basic booze ingredients alone. But the more I looked into bitters, the more fascinated I became with their history, their variety and, eventually, the process of making them myself.

Though modern Americans are only recently regaining an appreciation of bitterness, our ancestors once embraced the taste of bitter flavors. Bitters were originally developed for medicinal purposes, with a history traced as far back as ancient Egypt. The proliferation of distilled spirits and an obsession with pharmacology led to even more concentrated varieties in the Middle Ages. The use of bitters for ailments continued for generations, often used as preventative medicine for everything from seasickness to heartburn.

Bolstered by the renaissance of craft cocktails, bitters have been gaining steam amongst cocktail connoisseurs for the past few years. The old standbys of Angostura and Peychaud’s have been joined by companies like Hella Bitters, Scrappy Bitters, and The Bitter Truth popping up all over the country—reimagining bitters in small batches with flavors created specifically for cocktails. These purveyors are joining classic bittering ingredients of gentian, quassia bark, dandelion, or wormwood with ingredients more commonly found in your kitchen spice cabinet. But these craft bitters are not cheap, often fetching more than $10 for a single ounce.

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COLLARDS & CARBONARA

Vino or Moonshine? Both, please. Memphis chefs, Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman’s new cookbook, Collards and Carbonara: Southern Cooking, Italian Roots published by Olive Press, showcases their distinctly Southern-Italian dishes—or is that distinctly Italian-Southern dishes? Either way, it’s fusion cuisine with an accent.

The two chefs and best friends opened the upscale Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis back in 2008. After much acclaim, they opened a more casual sister restaurant, Hog & Hominy, right across the street in 2012. The two attended culinary school together in Charleston, South Carolina, and refined their skills in Italy. They compare their partnership to the dynamic of being in a band; they feed off one another for ideas and are always discovering inspiration together. The cookbook is a manifesto of sorts that establishes the greatness of duplicity in heritage cooking. At the root of their success is the fact that they simply love to play and work and learn and cook together. They share their stories revealing the secret to their success and the gospel of food according to these good Italian boys.

Each dish represents a new discovery and a step on their culinary pathway. The funky fusion dishes are as beautiful as they are humble. Warm pig’s ear salad with pears and Gorgonzola, fried green tomatoes with blue crab and bacon jam, gnocchi with caramelized fennel and corn; the pairings may seem unusual, but the flavors make sense together. Recipes for basic dishes like their famous boiled peanuts and pizza dough each have unlikely nuances that bring Italian and Southern American cuisines together.

COLLARDS & CARBONARA

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BUBBLES X 8

In anticipation of upcoming holiday celebrations, we asked Jesse Goldstein, our cocktail contributor, to come up with a couple of new twists on classic sparkling cocktails. Celebrate responsibly and come back for more great cocktail recipes in the new year.

I’ve often said that it’s a shame sparkling wine seems to be reserved for special occasions. Gone are the days that the only options at your local wine shop are cheap, sweet bubbles or expensive French Champagne. These days you can find many amazing (and affordable) varieties of Italian Prosecco, Spanish Cava and California sparklings. Even better, you can also find outstanding rosé varieties, which often have more depth and flavor than their white counterparts.

But just because you’ve got a good bottle of bubbly does not mean there’s no room for improvement. Adding a splash of cordial or a special garnish turns up the flavor of your bubbles and makes it more memorable and delicious for your guests.

Here are a few of my personal favorites.

PROSECCO PUNCH

1 bottle chilled rosé Prosecco
6 cherries (pitted and frozen)
6 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces brandy
1 ounces Cointreau or Grand Marnier

If using fresh cherries, freeze them first. This helps break down the cellular structure of the fruit and makes for better flavor absorption. Place the frozen cherries in a small jar with the pineapple juice, brandy, and Cointreau. Seal and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, mix with the bottle of chilled rosé Prosecco, reserving the cherries to drop into each glass as a garnish.

BUBBLES X 8

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A RECIPE FOR FIGGY PUDDING

Last year, when delving into the history of holiday carols, I found myself asking a question that I’ve wondered about since my youth: What exactly is figgy pudding?

The traditional English dessert is mentioned several times in the popular carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (Now bring us some figgy pudding and bring it right here), referring to the caroling traditions of 16th century England where Christmas treats and drinks were given to carolers by wealthy well-wishers as a thank you for the songs. Often, these treats included puddings.

After a bit of research, I discovered that figgy pudding is actually more cake-like in form. It is similar to modern-day Christmas puddings and plum puddings, and—like it or not—is a cousin to the unjustly maligned fruitcake. But, don’t let that keep you from trying this delicious, boozy dessert. (Yes, classic figgy pudding includes a good dose of rum and brandy—perfect for warming chilly carolers.)

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VIVIAN HOWARD + BUTTERY TURKEY

Thanksgiving is a holiday rich with memories, traditions, and foods we only eat this time of year. For about two days leading up to Thanksgiving dinner, I can guarantee that there is nearly always something either going into or coming out of my oven, and aromas both sweet and savory waft throughout the house.

Our friends at Local Palate share a love of food and storytelling through their magazine, recipes, and blog (look for more on their revamped website and a Q&A in the coming weeks). You can find quite a few delicious seasonal recipes in their catalogue (conveniently sorted by holiday), including this offering from North Carolina-based chef Vivian Howard.

“This combination of turkey, cranberry, pecan, and sorghum, will make you hide your gravy boat for a year or two. All joking aside, these components, when paired with a green bean dish and side of sweet potatoes, would compose a perfectly balanced Thanksgiving plate all by themselves. And if turkey’s not your thing, this profile works beautifully with chicken, ham, or duck.” – Chef Vivian Howard

BUTTERY TURKEY WITH WARM SORGHUM VINAIGRETTE and CITRUS SWEET POTATOES WITH PECAN CRANBERRY RELISH

–From Chef Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina, star of the PBS show A Chef’s Life, and featured on the November 2014 cover of The Local Palate magazine 

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GETTING IN THE MOOD (AGAIN)

This post originally ran on November 12, 2011. I’m making the pie again today for our guests who will arrive in the coming days.

Happy Thanksgiving week…we’ve got lots to be thankful for.
xoNatalie

My daughter Maggie has been decorating the house for Thanksgiving this last week. In fact, she went directly from Halloween to a strange mixture of Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one. (Yes, our holiday tree is up and mostly decorated.) All this festiveness—along with the sound of too loud holiday music and too many left-over pumpkins—has moved us directly from unicorn costumes to Thanksgiving delights.

My friend Stacy orders tamales from Texas to celebrate the holidays. I have an uncle that believes pilgrims would have preferred steaks and potatoes so he spends the day grilling. At the farm, we eat a load of Gulf seafood in Low-Country Boil style off of a wooden board across the tailgate of the truck. I am also somewhat of a traditionalist at heart and delight in the staples—no Thanksgiving comes without dressing. (Gulf Shrimp + Dressing—you don’t know what you are missing until you have tried it!) However, despite the fact that most consider it a staple, I’ve never been one to put a pumpkin pie on my holiday table. I actually have always had a strong dislike for the most revered of Thanksgiving desserts. Then, I tried this recipe.

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HOMEMADE CURAÇAO

We have reached that time of the year when, even in Alabama, we have to accept that winter has arrived. While there are many things to celebrate during colder months, the early frosts are the hardest to embrace. So, we were excited when guest contributor Jesse Goldstein offered up a bit of a tropical concoction for this month’s cocktail post. Enjoy:

Although I hesitate to admit it, I once thought of Curaçao as the blue stuff that went into supposed “fancy” drinks. Of course, this was in my early college years back when I felt very grown up ordering Rum and Coke. What I’ve learned over the years is that Curaçao isn’t always blue, has an amazing history, and, when made properly, is worthy of even the most discerning palate.

HOMEMADE CURACAO

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LAVENDER-INFUSED VODKA

This month, we offer our second installment on creative cocktails from Jesse Goldstein on the often overlooked of beauty lavender as a flavor. Hopefully you will be inspired to experiment with your own infusions to create spirits with complex, but delicious, flavors.

While the idea of infusing herbs and botanicals into spirits may seem to be more popular these days than taking a “selfie”, the practice is nothing new. Take Chartreuse for example: infused with more than 130 botanicals, Chartreuse has been made by the Carthusian Monks in the French Alps since 1737. But just because infusing is an old idea does not mean that we can’t continue to interpret (and reinterpret) the process to create flavors that are fresh, modern and, most importantly, breathtakingly delicious.

The flavor of lavender has never really caught on in this country, though for centuries it has been used around the world as an herb and condiment. (Please watch Juliette of the Herbs.) While it often finds its way into an abundance of scented candles, lotions, and soaps, all too rarely does it find a home in our food and drinks.

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RECLAIMING CHURCH PUNCH

Today we welcome Jesse Goldstein, one of Nashville, Tennessee’s resident cocktail experts, as a regular contributor to our Journal. Jesse will be sharing stories of Southern culture and the spirits that surround it. Look for a cocktail recipe each month—including traditional mixed drinks and their modern interpretations.

One of my favorite things as a kid was going to the local volunteer fire department potluck suppers with my family. The quilt-covered folding tables were loaded with all sorts of casseroles, gelatin-based “salads”, and sweets that I would never get to eat the like of at home. One of my ultimate treats was what most people in the South like to call “church punch.” This version was made with a combination of ginger ale, pineapple juice, and sherbet and was like drinking pure sugar from the little waxed paper cup. I remember pretending not to love it for my parents’ sake but secretly savoring every sip of the sugary nectar.

Luckily our tastes change as we grow older. These days I prefer my salads without colored gelatin and cringe at the thought of how sweet that punch was. But there is something wonderful about the convivial aspect of a big bowl of punch and there’s no reason it can’t be brought forward to today with a recipe you would be proud to serve—to adults, that is.

Punch has an incredible history that goes back hundreds of years. Long before the invention of the cocktail, spirits were consumed socially in the form of punch. Made in large batches, punches were ideal for celebrations of all sorts. Times have changed, but punches still have a place at a party. All my friends know I’m a big fan of cocktails, but I personally prefer making punches when I’m entertaining. A good batch of punch takes time, effort, and the investment of good spirits that good friends are worthy of.

RECLAIMING CHURCH PUNCH

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HISTORY OF DEVILED EGGS (+ A RECIPE)

It takes a special kind of food to require it’s own specific food transportation system. Anyone who has ever attempted to serve – and certainly travel with – deviled eggs knows that eggs resting on an ordinary plate will end up smashed, flattened, or in the floor. I personally have at least 3 different deviled egg plates – one plastic, one ceramic, and a “fancy” glass one for special events. As a child, I would rush to the buffet table at every church dinner to get the biggest egg. As an adult, I ration out only one on my Thanksgiving dinner plate, but have been known to sneak extras when no one is looking.

My grandmother’s were always my favorite growing up, perhaps because they were made with dill pickle relish and an extra spoonful of mayonnaise. I avoided my aunt’s because she made her eggs with sweet pickles, which I strongly disliked. Our neighbor (who called them “angel eggs” to avoid association with wickedness) topped her eggs with paprika, which seemed elegant, colorful, and exciting. But—at heart—the deviled egg itself is not particularly fancy and has many incarnations. These days, I like them all.

The basic deviled egg is hard boiled, shelled, and halved. Each half is filled with a scoop of the hard-boiled yolk mixed with ingredients like mayonnaise, mustard, and pickle relish and served cold. Each family seems to have their own variation that might include vinegar, paprika, chili powder, or even kimchi or Sriracha chili sauce.

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SUMMER’S LAST PEACHES (+ A COCKTAIL)

The last day of summer is officially September 22nd, but Maggie started back to school weeks ago. As the long days wind down, we must begrudgingly say farewell to peach season. This year, I found myself with an abundance of peaches throughout the summer. Whenever I swiped the last one from the counter to eat in my oatmeal, another batch would show up on my doorstep. Into the house that bag would come. The moment of anticipation and joy of standing over the kitchen sink—house perfectly silent—and biting into the soft flesh, savoring the moment as juice runs down my arm…for me, this is the essence of summer.

All peach lovers know that peaches develop their sweetness and flavor while on the tree. Once they are picked, they just get softer and juicier. Stay away from peaches that are firm and look for those who yield slightly to gentle pressure. To test firmness, don’t poke the fruit with your fingertip; hold the peach in your whole hand and squeeze gently. Peaches that are green around the stem are not yet ripe; shriveled skin means the fruit is too old. The best test for a peach’s flavor is its smell; a peach will taste almost exactly how it smells.

You can store firm peaches at room temperature. Once they begin to turn soft, put them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and plan to eat them soon. If you find yourself with too many peaches, you can freeze them (peeled and sliced) and keep them for up to 6 months.

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SUMMERLAND + ANNE STILES QUATRANO

James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur Anne Quatrano is enthusiastic about food and community—passions I admire and write about often here on our Journal. Around her home-base of Atlanta, Georgia, she is referred to “Queen Anne” and is the city’s “undisputed Grande dame” of the farm-to-table movement according to The Local Palate. It makes sense; Anne owns and operates six of Atlanta’s most celebrated restaurants, including: Bacchanalia, Quinones at Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Provisions To Go, Floataway Café, and Abbattoir.

Anne was raised in Connecticut and attended culinary school in California, where she met her husband and business partner, Clifford Harrison. After school, they relocated to the East Coast, but decided to journey to the South in the early 1990s. Anne had family from Georgia, and Atlanta seemed like the perfect Southern city to make their home-base, as it was becoming a cultural and culinary hub at the time. Although they work in Atlanta, they live on Summerland Farm near Cartersville, Georgia, a property that has been owned by Quatrano’s family for five generations. Anne makes the 80-mile roundtrip to commute to Atlanta every day, because she “can’t imagine living anywhere else.” Summerland is where she and Clifford grow and source food, host gatherings, and delve into true Southern hospitality.

Much to our delight, Anne has released a book of recipes celebrating the South, sustainable food, and life on the farm. Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating Southern Hospitality focuses on eating seasonally, and each chapter is associated with a specific month, kicking off with September—perfect timing. I’m looking forward to trying her October cocktail, the Mint Julep. Anne notes that “many people think of the mint julep as a spring or summer drink, associated in particular with the Kentucky Derby. But the brightness of the mint with the warmth of the bourbon is just as appropriate for the fall.”

SUMMERLAND-03

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VIVIAN HOWARD’S CUCUMBER LIMEADE COCKTAIL

A few months ago, I spent a couple of days with friends at Gray Bear Lodge in Hohenwald, Tennessee. While there—in addition to the yoga sessions, sauna time, tub soaks, and hikes—I was treated to a (mini) juice cleanse for a few days. And though I recommend consulting your doctor before embarking on your own juice cleanses, I must say that I walked away from the experience feeling healthy and refreshed.

I returned from my trip, bought a juicer the next day, and it has changed my life. Diann from Gray Bear walked me through the juicing regimen which always seemed a bit complicated and demanding for me.  She taught me to: simplify, use ingredients that I like, experiment with combinations, and taste as I go to come up with an array of variations. “Plus,” she says, “once you have the raw ingredients on hand (and the juicer out and running) make enough for a few days.” While that might not be as good as juicing and drinking right away, this is real life, right?

After a few weeks, I also discovered that these fresh fruit and vegetable juices also lend themselves to delicious cocktails. (However, it should be noted that fresh juice cocktails don’t maintain all of the health benefits of fresh juice alone.) During Vivian Howard’s recent dinner at The Factory, we used my juicer to create the Cucumber Ginger Limeade cocktail that opened the evening. Since the dinner, there have been several requests for the recipe. Break out your juicer (but juice—and drink—responsibly).

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DIY RECIPES FOR TEXTILE PAINT

Every day of the week, we use textile paint to transfer stencil designs to our 100% organic cotton jersey. While the colors that can be produced by mixing paints are limitless, we primarily work with the following base colors: opaque black, transparent sand, opaque blue, pearl silver, opaque red, opaque white, opaque yellow, opaque sky blue, pearl red, and forest green. By mixing these colors, we create all of the hues and shades that help define our patterns, stencils, and collections. Our artisans use our painted stencils as a guide for embellishing our designs with appliqué, reverse appliqué, and beading techniques. We have also discovered that a basic garment featuring a subtle stencil adds texture and delicate details to our designs. Many of our Studio Style DIY customers and workshop participants have asked for these unique combinations of textile paint; below, we share recipes for some of our most popular colors. You can find everything you need to create your own stencil and spray kit in our online store.

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ALABAMA RED
500 mL opaque red
15 mL opaque black

CREAM
105 mL opaque white
70 mL transparent sand
1.25 mL opaque yellow

PEARL BROWNIE
300 mL pearl silver
100 mL brownie (see recipe below)

BROWNIE
115 mL opaque red
115 mL fluorescent blue
15 mL transparent forest green (Shake)
250 mL opaque yellow (Shake)
42.5 mL opaque black

CHARCOAL
15 mL opaque white
19.5 mL opaque black

LEMONADE
100 mL opaque white
10 mL opaque yellow

MOSS
5mL opaque white
100 mL transparent forest green
25 mL opaque yellow
30 mL transparent sand
5 mL opaque red (Mix)
1.25 mL opaque black

NAVY
75 mL fluorescent blue
20 drops opaque black

MIST
45 mL opaque white
5 mL sky blue

COMMUNITY COOKBOOKS (AND COOKS)

Community cookbooks – collections of recipes gathered by churches, women’s societies, rotary clubs, and other regional clubs and foundations – have been the foundation of home kitchens across America for decades. These collections often present an air of nostalgia, using old-fashioned techniques, offbeat ingredients, and occasionally include really great anecdotes. They are—in their best versions—a direct reflection of the region of their origin and an admirable labor of love. The recipes are seldom fancy, and most often highlight the kind of meal that is made in an average kitchen on an average evening by an average cook who finds an epiphany of enlightenment in a great recipe. Even more captivating is the community cookbook filled with family recipes passed down from prior generations and lovingly shared with the community at large.

Caxton Press in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania published what is believed to be the very first charity cookbook in 1864, during the time of the Civil War. This assortment, titled A Poetical Cook-Book, by Maria J. Moss, was filled with foods common to that era, like leg of mutton, mince pies, johnnycakes, and hasty pudding. The book was sold to provide funds for field hospitals and aid wounded soldiers.

Many, like the ones I was given by my mother, grandmothers, and aunts, are overflowing with sense memories of a location and an era. While similarities exist among the cookbooks, there are distinct differences between what the women of the Virginia Eastern Star were making in the 1920s and the dishes prepared by the late 1960s Junior League of Coastal Louisiana. Regardless of the when and the where, there is copious information on what the (mostly) women were like in each specific time and place. The ingredients tell a story of rural vs. urban landscape and wealthy vs. working class cooks. If a recipe called for a pinch or a handful, you might assume that the writer was a seasoned home cook who learned passed down recipes and perfected dishes by taste, not by measurement. If a recipe was “eggless” or “butterless”, you might suppose that it originated during wartime, when certain foods were rationed.

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VIVIAN HOWARD’S BLUEBERRY BBQ CHICKEN FLATBREAD

Blueberries have made their way to peak season here in Alabama. While they have many health benefits, their taste and convenience are equally valuable. Ever since Maggie and I planted a bush in the backyard, there are days that we eat them by the handful. We’ve been serving a variety from our local farmers’ market along with our café’s crepes (a not-so guilty pleasure).

We debut our monthly menu curated by Peabody award-winning chef Vivian Howard. Vivian provided us with an array of seasonal, flavorful dishes from her restaurant Chef & the Farmer, including the (absolutely) delicious recipe below – Blueberry BBQ Chicken Flatbread.

Stop by the café during the month of July to experience tastes from Vivian’s repertoire, as well as beloved recipes from The SFA Community Cookbook. Also, make plans to join us on the evening of July 25 for A Piggy Bank Dinner fundraiser for the Southern Foodways Alliance, featuring Vivian and friends.

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The recipe below is straight from Vivian’s kitchen at Chef & the Farmer to recreate the dish in your home kitchen.

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HOT AND HOT TOMATO SALAD

This month, we launched our “Friends of the Café” Dinner Series with James Beard award-winning chef Chris Hastings. When searching for like-minded chefs and restaurants to collaborate with for our ongoing chef series in the café, Chris was one of the first people who came to mind. His dedication to locally-sourced ingredients is something we value highly here at Alabama Chanin, and it was wonderful to see (and sample) his work at The Factory.

A big hit of the evening was the Hot and Hot Tomato Salad, a fresh and colorful take on an old Southern favorite: succotash. Guests watched in awe as Chris and members of the Alabama Chanin team put together mouthwatering layers of the tomato salad. The special version of the salad presented at our dinner was topped with fresh Alabama Gulf shrimp (and bacon), and served with fried okra on the side.

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TOMATOES WITH BASIL + GOAT CHEESE

Nothing tastes like summer quite like a fresh, home-grown tomato. In fact, I embark on a tomato sandwich diet each summer. While I’m still patiently waiting for my own garden plants to get ripe enough for picking, I’m enjoying the vegetables from my CSA share each week (and of course, our locally-sourced café ingredients).

Good tomatoes don’t need to be dressed up to be delicious. But, it can be difficult to source really great tomatoes – just another benefit of buying local produce and knowing your farmer. Unfortunately, most tomatoes that you find in chain grocery stores are there because they survived the journey; they were the toughest and able to maintain nice color and shape in transit. Tomatoes bred for shape, color, or endurance don’t always have the best flavor.

Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club, whose recipes are featured in our café this month as part of our ongoing chef series, understands that delicious produce offers complex flavors. When you take the time to find quality ingredients, they shine on their own, without too much fuss.
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FIRST PRIZE PIES

Allison Kave, a truly creative baker and expert on all things pie related, credits her mother with her passion for food. Her mom, Rhonda Kave, is owner of Roni-Sue’s Chocolate in New York’s Essex Street Market. Growing up, Rhonda had a rather unexciting childhood filled with canned and boiled vegetables and she wanted more nutrition and excitement for her own children. Research into various cuisines led to a love of chocolate, which inspired her very own confectionery shop. All of this unbridled love of food couldn’t help but inspire Allison and her brother, Corwin, a renowned executive chef in New York City.

Like some of us, Allison did not find her calling immediately. Her route to the culinary life modeled the circuitous path her mother took. Eventually, her boyfriend encouraged her to enter the First Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off – and she walked away with the award for Best Overall Pie. So, she asked: Why not make pies? In fact, Allison recently partnered with fellow baker Keavy Blueher, and together they are opening Brooklyn’s first dessert and craft cocktail bar, Butter & Scotch.

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HIDDEN KITCHENS: NASCAR (+ GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE)

We all have different definitions of comfort food—the dishes that make up those meals that leave our bellies (and our hearts) full. They are the dishes you crave when you are far from home; a hankering for something familiar and soothing. For me, this includes an array of casserole dishes, fresh garden vegetables, and my Gram Perkins’ egg salad.

When Davia and Nikki of The Kitchen Sisters agreed to be our featured chefs this month as part of our ongoing Factory Café Chef Series, I started browsing through my copy of Hidden Kitchens. Soon, I found myself totally immersed in the stories I’d heard on the radio years before. I began re-telling stories to the staff at The Factory, and we were all excited about a recipe I found in the chapter about NASCAR kitchens, titled “Slap It On the Thighs Butter Bar”—aptly named, since the ingredients called for yellow cake mix, egg, margarine, powered sugar, and cream cheese. The recipe was originally from the 25th anniversary edition of the Winston Cup Racing Wives’ Auxiliary Cookbook, published in 1989. Curious to know what other comfort food recipes from the kitchens of racing existed, we tracked down a copy of the book on Ebay.

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HIDDEN KITCHENS: THE FORAGER (+ WILD FENNEL CAKES)

Foraging is the act of searching for and gathering wild food. Perhaps you remember learning about nomadic hunters and gatherers in grade school—these early societies moved from place to place, following animals, fruits, and vegetables in order to sustain life. Modern humans followed this way of life until about ten thousand years ago, when agriculture was developed.

Today, most of the world’s hunter-gatherers (or foragers) have been displaced by farmers and pastoralists. Modern foragers often look for food in their surrounding environments, and do not move from camp to camp like their predecessors. In fact, foraging has become a livelihood for some—by sourcing wild food resources for restaurants, chefs, markets, and the like.

Below, The Kitchens Sisters share their discovery of modern-day forager Angelo Garro (and his hidden kitchen).

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THE FACTORY CAFÉ CHEF SERIES: THE KITCHEN SISTERS

This May, Alabama Chanin is featuring two of my personal heroines (and, now, dear friends) as part of our ongoing Chef Series at the café. They might not be chefs, but Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva are The Kitchen Sisters—independent producers who create radio stories for NPR and other public broadcast outlets. Davia and Nikki are two of the most genuine and real women I know. Without their dedication to telling the real story, I would not be the person I am today. Route 66 changed my perception of storytelling in the autumn of 1994. I remember the first moment I heard their tracks; in the third story of a rented house on a square in Savannah, Georgia. Just like that my life changed.

Davia and Nikki met and began collaborating in the late 1970s, hosting a weekly radio program in Santa Cruz, California. Their name was taken from two eccentric brothers—Kenneth and Raymond Kitchen—who were stonemasons in Santa Cruz in the 1940s. One night, they were discussing the Kitchen Brothers, who were featured in a book about Santa Cruz architects, as prep for an interview with the book’s author—while also cooking dinner for a group of people on the commune where Nikki lived—and got caught up in legends of local masonry (chimneys, yogi temples, Byzantine bungalows…), and food prep fell to the wayside. Dinner that evening was a disaster, and The Kitchen Sisters were (laughingly) born.

Oral histories heavily influenced their style of radio production. Over the years, they have produced a number of series, such as Lost & Found Sound, The Sonic Memorial Project, The Hidden World of Girls, and Hidden Kitchens. Regardless of topic, Davia and Nikki find a way to build community through storytelling.

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THE BLACKBERRY FARM COOKBOOK

For several years now, Alabama Chanin has drawn ideals from the Slow Food movement (Slow Design is rooted in the tenets of the movement)—a philosophy we share with Blackberry Farm. We are currently featuring some of their goods and recipes on our café menu and are excited to be holding a Weekend Away Workshop there this June.

A few years ago, Sam Beall, proprietor of Blackberry Farm, wrote a cookbook that he hoped would reflect what he and others involved at Blackberry Farm experience every day and that would inspire readers to not only enjoy the recipes born from the Farm but encourage them to “savor [their] own region, meal by meal.”

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BLACKBERRY FARM’S GREEN TOMATO PIE

It is no secret that Southerners love green tomatoes. We fry them, pickle them, stew them, bake them in pies, and even write books about them. Readily available at the beginning and ending of each summer season, this under-ripe fruit has a firm flesh and an acidic, sour taste—which allows them to be used in an array of dishes.

The chefs at Blackberry Farm suggest selecting medium-size green tomatoes, since larger ones can have woody, inedible cores and clumps of bitter seeds.

From The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm, page 109:

“Here is our classic twist on a classic Southern favorite, red tomato layered pie. We borrow the flavor and textures of the traditional accompaniments to fried catfish- tart lemon, creamy tartar sauce, and fried hush puppies- and present them in an untraditional way: Green tomato stands for lemon to provide the acid, buttermilk mayonnaise and cheese provide the creamy richness of the tartar sauce, and the flaky crust that holds it all together stands in for the hush puppies.

The lard and the buttermilk contribute flakiness and great flavor to this pie crust, but the real secret to its tenderness is the rolling method. Folding the dough onto itself and rolling it out several times forms thin layers within the dough. When the fat melts in the heat of the oven, the evaporation of moisture contained in the tiny space between the layers forces each layer to rise, just like in puff pastry.”

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BLACKBERRY FARM’S ZUCCHINI CAESAR SALAD

This month, we are featuring Blackberry Farm and Chef Joseph Lenn as part of our ongoing Chef Series here at The Factory. As promised, we are sharing our favorite recipes with you; this week, a twist on a simple spring salad.

From The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm, page 121:

“When the garden and farmer’s markets are overflowing with zucchini, it’s time for this salad, which pairs lovely long threads of sweet raw zucchini with a creamy yet light dressing and Blackberry’s twist on Italian frico, made with our own Singing Brook cheese (Pecerino Toscano is a very appropriate substitute).”

The café is serving Blackberry Farm’s Zucchini Caesar Salad alongside our Quiche Lorraine and local greens. Stop by The Factory Café this week and explore our menu, or recreate the tasty dish yourself.

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INTRODUCING THE FACTORY CAFÉ CHEF SERIES: JOSEPH LENN + BLACKBERRY FARM

Beginning today, Alabama Chanin is launching a Chef Series for The Factory Café. Each month, we will feature seasonal dishes on our menu from chefs (or restaurants) that share our values of celebrating place, artisanal craftsmanship of all kinds, and, simply said, good food.

Our focus through these collaborations will be on regional chefs and regionally-inspired cuisine—dishes that we can recreate in our café by locally sourcing ingredients. In the upcoming year, The Factory will host brunches, dinners, book signings, and even cooking and cocktail workshops with an array of chefs.

A few years ago, I made an extraordinary trip to Blackberry Farm, located in beautiful Walland, Tennessee, on the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ever since that first journey (thanks to friends at the Southern Foodways Alliance), I’ve had a deep appreciation and respect for the artisans and chefs working at the Farm—and have loved using their cookbooks in my own kitchen.

From making biscuits to hosting an upcoming Weekend Away Workshop, my relationship with Blackberry Farm has grown over the years. So, I was thrilled when Chef Joseph Lenn and Blackberry Farm agreed to launch our Chef Series in the month of April.

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GRAM PERKINS’ EGG SALAD + HOMEMADE PICKLES

My Gram Perkins passed down several recipes to me through the years. I keep most of them in a recipe book my mother compiled of family recipes. From Chocolate Pie to Thanksgiving dressing, Gram Perkins’ delicious Southern dishes continue to make their way onto my table—always tasting amazing, but not quite as good as when she made them.

One of the simplest (and most beloved) recipes she gave to me was for egg salad, featuring homemade Fourteen-Day Pickles (also known as sweet or bread-and-butter pickles). I think of it as one of the ultimate comfort foods. When I was a child, Gram Perkins often served it to me as a summer lunch or afternoon snack. I have vivid memories of sitting in her kitchen, watching her prepare her famous egg salad sandwich for me—always with extra pickles in a jar on the table.

After my Gram Perkins passed away, my granddaddy, lovingly known as Perk, continued making the famous Fourteen-Day Pickles. My mother carries on the family tradition today by gifting pints of these treasures every holiday season. Egg salad is definitely better with this homemade version but there are great bread-and-butter pickles available on the market today that you can use for your homemade egg salad. We recently taste tested the Blackberry Farm version and found it delicious.

No one really knows when egg salad itself was created, but it became a popular luncheon salad in the early 1800s, after French chef Marie-Antoine Carême invented mayonnaise as we know it today. A sister to tuna and chicken salad, egg salad is a nice option for those looking for a simple lunch, packed with protein.

We’ve started serving Gram Perkins’ egg salad in The Factory Café, complete with homemade pickles, made from her recipe. Stop by for lunch and try it served open-faced on house made ciabatta.

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THE HISTORY OF LANE (DRIVE) CAKE

Alabama Chanin’s first-ever sewing workshop took place in 2008 alongside a seminar on Southern cooking, organized and presented by our friend and collaborator, Angie Mosier. While the sewing participants stitched and chatted, the food preparers fried up some chicken, steamed collard greens and made pot likker, then baked the most delicious Lane Cake. At each meal, Angie explained the history of each dish and its significance within Southern culture. This is where I first learned the details behind one of Alabama’s culinary specialties, the Lane Cake.

Lane Cake was created by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, as her entry into a county fair baking competition in Columbus, Georgia. She originally called the recipe, “Prize Cake,” but eventually leant her name to the dessert for all posterity. She self-published a cookbook called Some Good Things to Eat in 1898 and included the recipe as one of her featured desserts. Lane Cake is a white, layered sponge cake (originally designed for 4 layers) iced with a frosting that includes coconut, raisins, pecans, and bourbon. It is often found in the South at receptions, holiday dinners, or wedding showers. Chef Scott Peacock writes in The Gift of Southern Cooking that he was served a Lane Cake every year on his birthday.

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BLOOD ORANGE POMEGRANATE COCKTAIL

Ever since I read about classic Southern drinks in the latest issue of Garden & Gun, I’ve been craving a crisp, refreshing cocktail. We’ve shared some grenadine-inspired libations before and, in keeping with that theme (and continuing our love affair with Jack Rudy’s Small Batch Grenadine), we created a blood orange-infused pomegranate cocktail.

Boasting a deep and rich citrusy flavor, blood oranges are considered to be among the finest dessert oranges in the world and are at their seasonal peak right now. These oranges are quite sought after by most bartenders—they are only ripe for a few months each year. The perfect pairing with a range of spirits, we chose to mix ours with Cathead Vodka.

Tip: Blood oranges will only last a couple of days at room temperature, so we suggest refrigerating them; they will last up to two weeks that way.
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CHICKEN STEW

As a Southerner and a cook, I often find myself included in lively debates about regional cuisine, long-winded discussions of the dozens of types of barbecue preparations, cornbread recipe swaps, or conversations on the perfect biscuit dough. Those of us who love food treasure the dishes we were raised eating and love to swap recipes and tips.

In my travels, I have done my fair share of boasting about my hometown’s specialties. One dish that I speak of frequently, that is such a big component of The Shoals’ local food culture, is chicken stew. And almost every time I mention it (outside of my home region), no one else in the room seems to know quite what I’m describing.

“Is it like a vegetable soup?” Not exactly. “A Brunswick stew?” Hmm. Not really.

So, I gradually came to understand that this dish—that was as ubiquitous to every neighborhood kitchen as cornbread or tea—wasn’t a staple meal for the rest of the world. In fact, it really doesn’t exist much outside of our small region of the Tennessee Valley.

Truthfully, the origins of chicken stew cannot be traced. And, no one can explain exactly why it is so specific to this region. I remember being told by an aunt that, once upon a time, chickens were kept for the eggs they produced. By the time a family killed a chicken for its meat, it was a “tough old bird,” only suitable for stews and other slow-cooked dishes. As with many rural households, you made the most of what you had and, logically, a stew fed more mouths than one fried chicken. Most likely, as with most regional foods, the recipe was created when poverty crossed paths with farmers, native people, and West African-style dishes. The result, in this case, is a dish that’s similar to existing recipes but that remains explicitly exclusive to one place.
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HOMEMADE MINI MOON PIES

Our café kitchen has been testing, developing, and tasting new items for our dessert menu. We are intent on staying true to foods that reflect our roots, incorporating traditional Southern elements into decadent dishes.

Moon pies are treats that fit the criteria of being both definitively Southern and decadent. For those who have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing one, a moon pie is a sandwich cookie consisting of two layers of a soft graham cookie, a marshmallow filling, and a flavored coating, typically chocolate.

The first Moon Pies were made by the Chattanooga Bakery in 1917 and were based upon requests from hungry coal miners. When a Chattanooga Bakery salesman visited a company store that catered to coal miners, the miners told him they wanted something solid and filling, because they often didn’t get time for a full lunch. When the salesman asked them how big the snack should be, a miner framed his hands around the moon hanging in the sky and said, “About that big.”

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A CAKE FOR GEORGIA GILMORE

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. week, we turn the spotlight to one of the unsung heroes (or heroines, rather) of the Civil Rights Movement: Georgia Gilmore.

Georgia (whom we have written about before) lived and worked in Montgomery, Alabama, and was a true servant to the cause of the movement. Georgia was a big lady with a big personality—frankly put, she didn’t take any bull from anybody. She worked as a midwife, as well as a cook at the National Lunch Company. After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to leave her seat on a bus in December of 1955, a group of black ministers and community leaders formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA)—and initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Led by Martin Luther King, Jr., the Association often held secret meetings around the city. As soon as Georgia heard of Rosa Parks’ arrest on the radio, she joined the MIA, determined to aid the effort in any way she could.

Outspoken and feisty, Georgia let her disapproval of the discriminatory bus drivers be known—an action that got her fired from her job at the cafeteria. When that happened, Dr. King and other leaders helped her set up a restaurant in her home kitchen. Georgia was well-known around town for her fried chicken, pork chops, and stuffed bell peppers and often served these and other dishes to Dr. King and fellow supporters of the boycott. She even hosted secret MIA meetings there in her kitchen.

Georgia’s love (and talent) for cooking and her passion for equality and change led her to start a club with a few of her friends, named “The Club from Nowhere.” The ladies in the club, most of them maids and cooks, sold homemade pies and cakes (and even Georgia’s chicken dinners) to supporters of the movement in order to raise money for the boycott. The Club from Nowhere often set up shop in beauty parlors, Laundromats, and on street corners in downtown Montgomery. Both black and white supporters of the boycott were able to contribute anonymously. The Club from Nowhere used the money they collected to buy gas and station wagons, which were used to transport people to and from work during the boycott. Georgia always said that the money came “from nowhere.”

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

The Momofuku restaurant group started up in 2004 as a postage stamp-sized ramen noodle bar in New York City’s East Village. It garnered a following rather quickly for the innovative ramen dishes and simple, but incredibly addictive, pork buns. At the helms of chef-owner David Chang, Momofuku steadily grew over the years to include numerous branches and locations in New York and Toronto, such as Ssäm Bar, Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ko, Ma Pêche, and Milk Bar.

Momofuku Milk Bar, which opened in 2008, was the group’s long awaited ode to classic, sugary concoctions. Headed by Christina Tosi, Milk Bar offered a menu that consisted of familiar sounding sweet treats cleverly graced with the creative edge the brand had come to be known for. Cornflakes were steeped in milk and sweetened to make cereal milk soft serve, and were mixed into cookie dough with marshmallows and chocolate chips to create a rewarding cookie with an extra crunchy, sweet and salty flavor.

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THE HISTORY OF TEA (IN THE SOUTH)

There is one food tradition that seems to cross all social, ethnic, and economic boundaries in the South: iced tea, particularly sweet tea. In the movie, “Steel Magnolias” Dolly Parton’s character referred to sweet tea as “the house wine of the South.” In many homes and most restaurants, this is certainly the case. But, why is iced tea such a staple in Southern homes? The history is more complicated than you might think.

Tea was introduced to the United States in South Carolina where it was grown in the late 1700s. In fact, South Carolina is the only state to have even grown tea commercially. It is believed that French botanist and explorer Andre Michaux imported it, along with many unique varieties of flowers. Iced tea began appearing in American cookbooks in the early 1800s, first as alcoholic punches. These first punches were made with green tea, rather than the black tea commonly used today.

Households began to keep iced tea on hand when refrigeration became popular – and with it, ice. The first known version of iced tea, as it is prepared today, was printed in 1879 in a publication called Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Recipe author Marion Tyree wrote that green tea should be boiled and steeped all day. Then, the preparer should “fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls of granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar.” This first iced tea recipe also called for a lemon garnish.
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POTATO CANDY

The winter holidays seem to evoke the strongest food memories from many of us. Certainly there are family Thanksgiving dinner traditions, and the plethora of other delights that come with the rest of the season – pumpkin pie, homemade eggnog, savory soups, and gingerbread cookies. When I was a child, potato candy was one of the treats that only made an appearance in the days and weeks before Christmas. It is hands-down the strangest of holiday treats, but perhaps the delicacy was more delicious as the wait from year-to-year seemed immense.

To those who have never eaten potato candy, the concept may seem a bit odd. But those who have eaten it know that it is incredibly sweet, much like fudge or caramel. In retrospect, perhaps this dessert is reserved for the holidays because it contains so much sugar. It is possible that the adults chose to ration the candy in order to contain rambunctious children. (I know that I am guilty of that.)

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ALABAMA BISCUIT MIX + NATALIE’S APPLE CRISP

The Alabama Biscuit Company is changing the way people perceive (and eat) biscuits. Jonathan Burch of Birmingham, Alabama, has developed a delicious and healthy recipe for biscuits using organic sprouted spelt flour, aluminum-free baking powder, and organic Celtic sea salt.

The biscuit mix is now a favorite of the Alabama Chanin team. We made biscuits with it at the Heath event this past August and are now using and selling it in our café.

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THE HISTORY OF AMBROSIA

For many Southerners, ambrosia salad is a dish often associated with holiday potlucks or aunts and grandmothers. It occasionally gets a bad rap, along with the often-maligned fruitcake, but when prepared correctly it can be light and delicious. The dividing line between love and hate seems to be one ingredient: coconut. But, this much is clear – ambrosia salad absolutely must include coconut.

Ambrosia salad also has a bit of an identity crisis. Depending on your family’s prerogative, it might be considered a salad, but it may also be considered a dessert. It is a fruit dish so, depending on preparation, it can be light, like a salad. Other recipes are sweeter and include layers of whipped cream or even marshmallows, placing it clearly in the “sweets” category. My family always placed it in a different spot in the buffet line, depending on which aunt had prepared the dish.

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WINTER VEGETABLES + A RECIPE

This year, I’ve been supplementing my garden’s harvest with fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ markets and the occasional Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. Typically, participating in a CSA program involves purchasing a share of a farmer’s crop before it is produced, but some farmers (like ours) will accept weekly payments for pre-ordered boxes. While quantities vary, the amount of food in a CSA box, usually a 1/2 bushel, typically feeds a family of four for a week. That is a bit too much food for just me and Maggie, so I seldom order a box unless I’m preparing a large meal for family and friends or needing quality, local ingredients for The Factory’s new café. Our friends at nearby Jack-O-Lantern Farm wrapped up this year’s CSA box program last month and I was able to pre-order and pick up a box for the café from their last batch of the season.

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MOTHER + SON THANKSGIVING DRESSING

Open any Hallmark card or watch a coffee commercial between now and the new year and you will be flooded with the storybook sentiment of the holidays. Ask anyone their feelings about Thanksgiving and they will tell you it’s a time for family, for great food and for, well, giving thanks. All of those things are certainly true for me. When I was young, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. I have strong sense memories of being in my Grandmother Smith’s house, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television while the smell of roasted turkey wafted in from the kitchen. The air is always clear and crisp in these memories. I can recall running across the farm hills and valleys with dogs and cousins, the smell of barn hay, and the full stomach, distended from too much pie.

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ROASTED PUMPKIN + A RECIPE FOR SOUP

Autumn is most certainly the season of the pumpkin. I admit that, though they are beautiful decorations, I haven’t always been a big fan of the fruit. But, as we get older, our tastes continue to change. These days, I find that I crave them more than ever. The flavor can be sweet, even complex, and I am looking for more ways to incorporate them into our meal rotation. Here, I share some of my favorite, easy preparations for adding pumpkin to your table.

Pumpkin soup is, outside of pumpkin pie, perhaps the most common recipe available. While you can find cans of organic pumpkin at many grocery stores (and I’ve successfully used them on occasion), there is a distinct difference between canned pumpkin puree and a fresh, roasted pumpkin. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of roasting a pumpkin, it is easier than you think. I don’t recommend using carving pumpkins for roasting because they can often be stringy and less flavorful. Sugar pumpkins (also known as pie pumpkins) or any of the smaller varieties are tastier but, depending upon size, you may need to prepare more than one.

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TASIA’S KITCHEN + MAKING CHEESE

Our friend Tasia, owner of Alabama’s Belle Chevre creamery, has been busy with several new projects since we last saw her at Southern Makers. Her first cookbook, which features a foreword by Natalie (and is full of amazing Southern and Greek-inspired recipes), was released last year. Tasia has been crafting new recipes, teaching cooking classes, working on a second book and, most recently, she opened a new cheese tasting room at their flagship storefront in Elkmont, Alabama.

A few months ago we discovered Belle Chevre’s DIY Kits are perfect for gifting (and for starting your own goat cheese tasting room). We often snack on Tasia’s amazing cheese creations here in the studio. Tasia notes that her goat cheese can be used as a base for many of her recipes, as well as a substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter. The possibilities are endless. We recently substituted some of our homemade goat cheese for mayonnaise in a warm potato salad, sprinkled with fresh herbs from the farmers’ market, and served alongside baked organic chicken. The results were richer and creamier than a traditional potato salad. And a bit of leftover goat cheese was devoured atop fresh pumpkin bread with some local honey. Decadent and delicious. Here’s Tasia’s recipe for making goat cheese at home.

TASIA'S KITCHEN + MAKING CHEESE

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RECIPE FOR A WELL-LOVED DRESS

We frequently talk about the heirloom aspect of our hand-made clothing, the timeless design and lasting quality that allows for an Alabama Chanin garment to be worn for years and, in some cases, passed along to a younger family member. While we know this to be true, we don’t often have the opportunity to witness a specific garment change and evolve over time. Perhaps a perfect example: my daughter, Maggie has been wearing the above dress for five years (and counting).

The dress was made for her, cut from an oliver + s pattern, when she was a curly headed, cherub-faced two year old. Made with our organic cotton jersey in Butter and Natural, the dress has been through about a million washes and worn on too many occasions to count. It’s been stained, ripped, appliquéd (to cover the rips), and dyed blue (to cover the stains). No longer a dress but a summer top, she will not give it up.

RECIPE FOR A WELL-LOVED DRESS

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EAT ALABAMA SEAFOOD + A RECIPE FOR SHUCKING OYSTERS

It has been over three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated the Gulf Coast and, in turn, the livelihoods of many. The Alabama seafood industry was practically devastated, but is rebounding with determination and the support of restaurateurs and loyal customers.

Alabama has 50+ miles of coastline bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Add that to our tidal coastline of bays, creeks, bayous, and rivers that touch the tidewater and the coastline grows to 600+ miles. Because of the salty gulf water, Alabama seafood means fish, shrimp, crab, and oysters. The Alabama Gulf Seafood organization has done a great job connecting Alabama fisherman and oysterman with our state’s chefs and seafood consumers. The beautiful images here are of postcards Alabama Gulf Seafood published (and consequently inspired this post).

EAT ALABAMA SEAFOOD

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A FIRE IN MY BELLY

Kevin Gillespie grew up in Locust Grove, Georgia, outside Atlanta, with nine cousins within five years of age living five hundred feet from each other. While his parents worked, his paternal grandmother watched the kids, cooking three meals a day so the family could always sit and eat together. At age ten, Kevin became interested in cooking and decided his grandmother shouldn’t be the only one feeding the family. The family supported him one hundred percent, even when he turned down a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to attend culinary school at the Art Institute of Atlanta.

Fire in My Belly is a collection of Kevin’s memories and stories on how he came to love food with classic recipes tweaked and made simple for the home cook. Almost every tale focuses on family and the person who introduced him to a new food or way of cooking. There’s an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients, just the way his grandmother always cooked. Nothing is too fancy and every component is easy to find, no matter what part of the country you live in.

FIRE IN MY BELLY

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PHILLIP MARCH JONES, COUNTY CLUB, AND A RECIPE

We are pleased to welcome back friend and writer, Phillip March Jones, who we have convinced to join us as a regular contributor to this Journal. Phillip will be writing about art, visual design, music, food, and travel.

This week, Phillip shares a photo essay of (and a delicious recipe from) his new favorite restaurant, County Club, in Lexington, Kentucky. This new gathering spot is a stones-throw from Institute 193, Phillip’s gallery. Chef Johnny Shipley’s menu looks mouth-watering and County Club’s Instagram feed has me ready to jump on a plane to Lexington.

Please welcome Phillip with lots of comments below,

xoNatalie

Turner & Guyon, a design team based in Lexington, Kentucky, recently partnered with local chef Johnny Shipley, to transform an abandoned cinder block garage into a full-service restaurant and bar named County Club. The original structure, located on Jefferson Street in the historic Smithtown neighborhood, was built in 1974 as a storage facility for the Rainbow Bread factory’s day-old shop. The factory closed in the early 90’s, and the storage building was eventually purchased by a local man who used it as a garage and auto body shop.

Hunter Guyon and Chesney Turner (Turner & Guyon) have both lived within a few blocks of the building for years, and their familiarity with the neighborhood is evident in the restaurant’s interior, which is elegant, sparse, and comforting.

Memory is one of the driving forces behind both the restaurant’s design and menu, which explores new takes on classic barbecue dishes with a special focus on regionally sourced, in-house smoked meats. County Club, which only opened a few months ago, already feels deeply rooted in the fabric of Lexington’s food and social culture.

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A CHATTANOOGA WHISKEY COCKTAIL

In anticipation of tomorrow evening’s opening exhibit of our BBQ’ed Dresses Collection at Warehouse Row in Chattanooga, Tennessee, we mixed up a celebratory cocktail. Our friend Brooks Reitz of the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. sent us a few more bottles of his Small Batch Tonic for the event, and the Chattanooga Whiskey Co. is providing the booze, so we mixed the two together, plus a touch of lemonade for sweetness, and found ourselves in a dreamy barbeque state of mind.

A CHATTANOOGA WHISKEY COCKTAIL

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A RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE PAINT

I’ve been thinking about painting my back porch and deck white since it was built last summer. After all, we spend about fifty percent of our time out there. I’ve long disliked the toxicity of commercial paints on the market. Most common indoor and outdoor household paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs contain a variety of chemicals, some of which give off noxious fumes and may have short term or long term adverse health effects. According to the EPA, levels of some VOCs are 2 to 5 times higher inside a home than outside; when you are painting or stripping paint in your home, particularly in older homes where lead paint may have been used in the past, indoor levels of VOCs may be 1000 times that of outdoor levels. I’ve used VOC-free paints for all of my indoor and outdoor painting since they came on the market some years back.

In thinking about my outdoor living area, I wanted to investigate additional ways to paint more safely, and came across two options that I could possibly make myself: whitewash and milk paint. Whitewashing, which many of us remember from Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was commonly used for years because it is inexpensive, can be homemade, and homeowners could use ingredients they had on-hand, improvising their own recipes. It is still used in rural areas to protect wooden surfaces like fences and barns, or by designers who want to give furniture a rustic look. The mixture’s base is always lime and water, which makes a chalky type of plaster. Then, ingredients might be added to thicken or strengthen the mixture, like flour, glue, sugar, soap, soil, or milk.

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ONE PAN, TWO PLATES

It is a goal of mine to have as many sit-down dinners with Maggie – and our guests – as I can each week. My summer garden continues to grow and I am so anxious for those first tomatoes (my favorite part of summer). You hear talk on all fronts about managing time, finding the right balance between work and family, healthy lifestyles, and “doing it all”. Keeping Maggie, and all of those other things in mind, you can imagine that I was intrigued by a cookbook called, One Pan, Two Plates.

Carla Snyder’s recipes really do make just enough for two adults. If we’re facing one of Maggie’s pickier days, there might even be enough for a small lunch for me the next day. There is little waste if you follow the recipes as written. Plus, I have found, with prep time included, you can be sitting down at the dinner table well within an hour. That works well at our house, where homework, playtime, and bedtime all have to be considered in the evening’s plans. There are options on how to enhance each dish for the “extra-hungry” and Snyder has added wine pairings for each meal as well.

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ALABAMA SOUR COCKTAIL

A couple months ago, we launched a line of cocktail napkins made with our 100% organic cotton jersey and printed with the Alabama Chanin logo. We also shared a new favorite cocktail: our version of a Maiden’s Blush. Friend Brooks Reitz of the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. sent us some of his small batch grenadine, which set off a quiet frenzy of cocktail experiments and creations around the studio. We work hard, and we like our rewards.

Our latest grenadine-inspired libation is the Alabama Sour (with a Sunrise flare). It’s a twist on the classic New York Sour Bon Appetít shared in April 2013. The classic recipe calls for an ounce of red wine floated atop the whiskey sour. We opted for Brooks’ sweet, yet tart, pomegranate-based grenadine instead of wine. Grenadine is denser than whiskey, causing it to settle on the bottom of the glass, hence the vibrant red, sunrise effect. Over ice, it’s a perfect early-summer evening quaff. We love it.

ALABAMA SOUR COCKTAIL

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SOUTHERN CHEFS/SOUTHERN LIVING

I’ve been a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance for years. I plan to be at the 16th Annual Symposium this coming October, if I can get a ticket soon enough (last year’s event sold out in minutes). The Symposium (as it’s loosely called) is wonderful simply in the fact that you spend the series of days learning, dining, and drinking among such an amazing group of individuals working to preserve the South’s culture and history through food. Last year, Alabama Chanin designed BBQ-inspired dresses for the 15th annual Symposium. This year, we have new plans in the works.  As I’ve written over and over again, what I love most about the SFA is their commitment to documentation and preservation of the present, the who’s who, if you will, in Southern kitchens (across the nation) today.

In the February 2013 issue of Southern Living, an article featured a handful of chefs from Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and of course, Alabama, who are preserving southern cuisine in new and reimagined ways that reflect the changing landscape and demographics of the contemporary South.

SOUTHERN CHEFS/SOUTHERN LIVING

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CHERRY BOMBE

Makers and doers Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, two friends and former Harper’s Bazaar colleagues, have teamed up to produce the first indie food magazine to celebrate women in the food world. Beautifully designed and expertly curated, Issue #1 – The Tastemaker Issue – will be released in May. I’ve just contributed to their Kickstarter Campaign, which ends this Friday, May 3rd.

Kerry Diamond, working on the editorial side at Harper’s, went on to open two wonderful Brooklyn restaurants (Seersucker and Nightingale 9) and a coffee shop (Smith Canteen) with her chef boyfriend. Claudia worked on the creative team at Harper’s, later starting her own design firm, Orphan, and the cult indie publication, Me Magazine.

These Real Women are making tremendous inroads, and doing it (really) well. Read more about Kerry Diamond on Refinery29 and more about Cherry Bombe Magazine on their Kickstarter page. Make a donation and get good magazine.

Cherry Bomb

MARIMEKKO FOR LUNCH

For Marimekko Week, we wanted to make (and eat) one of the delicious Finnish dishes on the Marimekko Feeling Festive blog. Armi Ratia has been an inspiration to so many, myself included, for decades. The clean lines and graphic look of Marimekko patterns are both simple and exciting to the eye and the bold, bright colors exude confidence and happiness. I feel a distant kinship with Armi and the Marimekko process. There exists a shared desire to create beauty in things that will last a very long time.

That colorful simplicity of Marimekko design finds its way into the Festive blog recipes. This Carrot Butter was well loved by our staff on a very cold, grey day.

MARIMEKKO FOR LUNCH

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KITCHEN TWINE + SCISSORS

We spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, planning meals and testing out new recipes to share, while I spend evenings trying to please the taste buds of my picky eater. I’ve found that kitchen twine has a number of uses, including trussing or tying meat when cooking or when you want to keep a stuffing firmly placed inside of something. Use it to tie fresh herbs in a bouquet garni or bouquet garnish (see recipe below) or wrap bacon on the outside of your roast or bird. I also use my twine for tying up birthday presents and pony tails—and stuffed animals at my house are often doctored with bits of twine.  You might also try making our Knotted Necklace with this twine. It is thinner than our Cotton Jersey Pulls but made in the same way.

Twine, especially for use in the kitchen, shouldn’t be made from synthetic materials (they can melt or chemicals can seep into your food), and we’ve found this organic, non-toxic option works perfectly.

KITCHEN TWINE AND SCISSORS

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GULF SHRIMP + A RECIPE

It’s been nearly three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and the repercussions still linger. Tar balls continue to wash up on shore as we wait patiently to learn how much BP will pay in restitution. But the fishing, shrimping, and oyster industries have rebounded in strides, as restaurants on the coast and inland support our ocean’s harvest.

Friend and Chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, has played a significant role in supporting the industry, spearheading a campaign with the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission to bring awareness and support to Alabama Gulf seafood, and sharing recipes like his Alabama Bouillabaisse with the reading public.

GULF SHRIMP + A RECIPE

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GREEK LOVE

We try to share a staff lunch once a week here in the studio. It gives everyone a chance to sit down together, laugh, and share ideas. We are, after all, a family of sorts. This week we had hoped to entertain and enjoy time with our friend and collaborator Anna Maria Horner, to whom this week’s journal theme is dedicated. But sometimes life gets in the way, and we were unable to coordinate our time; however, we decided to have a Greek lunch in her honor anyway.

Anna Maria’s family comes from Greece and her grandmother passed down many Greek traditions and treasures to her, including hand-loomed wool blankets and recipes. I love tzatziki, and even though cucumbers are not technically in season yet, we fortunately have a local organic farmer with a solar powered greenhouse – Jack-O-Lantern Farms – and were able to acquire some Alabama cucumbers for the tangy, yogurt dip, as well as greenhouse-grown tomatoes and south Alabama eggplants (still beats vegetables trucked in from Mexico).

GREEK LOVE - TZATZIKI

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A RECIPE FOR INDIGO

We have been working with indigo-dyed cotton jersey for years now. Between Father Andrew and Goods of Conscience in New York City and Artisan Natural Dyeworks in Nashville, Tennessee, there has never been a need for us to start our own indigo vat. And in the quantities we dye, it’s better to leave it to the experts. However, there has always been this little part of me that covets an indigo bath and I dream of one in our studio for “play.”

Since we set about exploring indigo this week, it seemed a perfect time to also explore recipes for a vat (which Father Andrew says is “very much like making beer”). While investigating recipes, I remembered a text message I received last fall from friends A.J. Mason and Jeff Moerchen about an indigo vat they created in the woods of upstate New York. Here they share the story of their vat:

A RECIPE FOR INDIGO

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MAIDEN’S BLUSH (AND COCKTAIL NAPKINS)

We’re not quite in the cocktail business (yet), though we seem to be sneaking behind the bar more and more lately. Our collaboration with Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. brought about the Jack Rudy Bar Towel, which we featured early last month along with the Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, both available for purchase on our website.

Last week, our friend Brooks Reitz of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. sent us a beautiful, hand-written thank you note, along with a bottle of their newest creation – Small Batch Grenadine. Handcrafted in Napa Valley, the grenadine arrived just in time for our latest addition: the Alabama Chanin Cocktail Napkin.

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SISTER SCHUBERT AND THE YEAST ROLL

Yeast Rolls can be such a source of Southern pride that even the best cooks shy away from these elusive delicacies.  My grandmother made the best yeast rolls in the county, maybe this entire country. Although, I suspect that half of Lauderdale County would say that their grandmother made the best. (Perhaps you feel the same). The truth is that there are just about as many recipes as there are grandmothers.

A Google search reveals recipes with shortening, recipes with lard, and recipes with butter.  This alone can bring chefs to heated debate over glasses of wine and/or cocktails.  I once asked John Currence, “Butter or lard?” He answered, “For what?” Some believe “half-and-half” works best (and I’m not talking about cream).

Boil the milk, add eggs, don’t use eggs, Carnation Milk makes an appearance in one recipe I have… one thing they all say is “serve hot.” (My grandmother served often.)

Last week, I had the pleasure of eating yeast rolls from the queen herself, Sister Schubert. One of our great local schools, Riverhill, hosted a luncheon with Sister and one of our great local chefs, Betty Sims.

SISTER SCHUBERT AND THE YEAST ROLL
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PINK DEVILED EGGS

I get lost in the thousands and thousands of captivating images and creations shared daily on Pinterest. One thing leads to another and before I know it I’m fifteen tabs deep in my web browser…

While pinning to our boards recently, I came across a beautiful food blog – one of many that belongs on our ‘The Kitchen + Other Pleasures’ board.

On said food blog, there is a recipe for Pink Deviled Eggs, vibrant and saturated with a deep pink-purple hue. Perhaps this pin fits better with Reds (Carmine, Rose, and Pink)?

So to continue our theme of all-things-Valentine, we made these Pink Deviled Eggs for our studio lunch (along with some extra homemade fundraiser soup made by Zach for Maggie’s school).

I share a traditional recipe for Deviled Eggs in Alabama Studio Style. While you might not pass this recipe down to your daughters, it was fun to make, look at, and eat.

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JACK RUDY PINK GIN + BAR TOWEL

This post published last Wednesday in the midst of technical difficulties that lasted more than a week. We are deeply proud of this collaboration, adore all things Jack Rudy, and want to be sure that everyone gets a chance to meet Brooks up-close (or at least closer). Here we re-publish  the story, giving the Pink Gin it’s due.  Besides, it’s a good week for everything we (heart):

Since we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, it’s only natural to throw a cocktail in the mix. And so, in keeping with the season’s color palette, I’m drinking a Pink Gin and Tonic made with Jack Rudy Handmade Tonic.

Alabama Chanin loves Jack Rudy and we have used it in several cocktails, from a rosemary-infused Vodka & Jack Rudy to our Handmade Cocktail made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. We collaborated with Brooks Reitz, one of the creators of Jack Rudy, to design a hand-stitched 100% organic cotton French Terry bar towel especially for Jack Rudy enthusiasts.  Our Jack Rudy-inspired bar towels are available on our website, and you can also choose to bundle them with a bottle of Jack Rudy Handmade Tonic (bring your own gin).

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RED VELVET CAKE + HOMEMADE SPRINKLES

Red velvet cake is as much a Southern tradition as fried chickenpot likker, and cornbread. So when the idea for red velvet “Valentine’s Day” cake came up, it was a given that we would be eating the cake at our weekly office lunch.

In our community, this three layer cake is traditionally topped with a cream cheese icing – although I have seen it with buttercream, chocolate, as well as with a combination cream cheese and chocolate icing. I prefer the subtle tang in the cream cheese version, with or without the commonly used addition of chopped pecans or shredded coconut. We’ve added an Alabama Chanin touch of homemade pink sprinkles in our Facets stencil pattern cut to fit perfectly over our cake.

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REAL WOMEN EAT LETTUCE (+ SHERRY HONEY VINAIGRETTE)

On Monday, Sara wrote her thoughts on fashion and designing for real people with different body types. We’ve written before ‘On Beauty’ and the comeback of pin-up style. Even though media representations might make you feel differently, the fact is that women come in so many beautiful shapes and sizes. This is a deeply important and significant subject, and will be a recurrent theme for us this year. Our journal is a platform to share our views and opinions on any matter of the body (and mind), and we always encourage you to share your own stories and thoughts in the comments section.

It’s the New Year (10 days in already), a time when many of us reflect on our life in the past year, resolve to find peace in each day, and to look ahead to new goals and achievements. 99.9% of the time, weight loss is a top goal for resolutions in the New Year.

Diet. Eat salad. Lose weight. Be skinny.

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PEACE CHICKEN (WITH OLIVES)

It’s a bit of a stretch to call chicken made with olives “Peace Chicken,” but it did recently bring a bit of peace to my family life.  Here’s the story:

Although I have spent years cultivating my backyard garden, honing my cooking skills, learning how to shop in my small community (grass-fed local meat from here, fresh vegetables from there, rice in bulk, milk from only one store in the community – on Thursdays only.) Yes, years have been spent on this orchestration.

All these years of refinement, patience, planning, and adaptation and I am stuck with a six-year-old who can’t stand my food – any of it. “This is the worst dinner I have ever had,” she sighed (loudly) in the kitchen one night. She has a sweet tooth of the worst kind. I would like to blame her, but the love of sugar does run in my father’s family so, as we say in Alabama, “she comes by it honest.” I have twin aunts who are as “big as a twig” put together and, as a child, I remember them eating only sweets (or at least it seemed that way).

My father and my six-year old have come up with elaborate excuses to head out to my most dreaded part of town, “The Mall,” only to return with a dozen Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. These days, they have stopped making up excuses and just go, on a regular basis. They will visit one of my twin aunts and grandmother with a dozen. Ritual.

This child of mine would eat jelly toast at every meal if I would let her. For a change of pace, she would like biscuits or pancakes.  To her, the ingestion of one-quarter of a freshly picked, crisp apple is worthy of a trophy and, as far as she is concerned, that trophy should be of a bowl of ice cream (not sorbet).  It’s enough to make me crazy.

I go through phases where I just tell her to go hungry. She will, after all, eat those peas if she is starving?  Instead, she has a will of stone and far more patience than I ever possessed in my 50 years; she will hold out until school, or Meme and Pop’s house, or anywhere else she can eat to avoid a freshly cooked vegetable.

However, this particular chicken recipe resulted in a sweet glance and the words, “Mama, this is the best chicken I’ve ever eaten.” See what I mean? Peace Chicken. The funniest part is that the first time I made this dish, I was simply trying to clean out the refrigerator; just about everything went into the pot. It never crossed my mind that she would eat it, let alone like it. Continue reading

THE YEAR IN EATS (+ A NEWFOUND LOVE FOR SORBET)

This year saw our Journal take a more structured tone and we devoted particular days to particular topics. Wednesday’s became Recipe Wednesday and we worked to get ourselves organized and cook. EVERY WEEK.  It was quite a feat of organization since we also run the production office, online store, design, pay bills, and as I mentioned on Monday, also manage this Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook. It’s a lot of content. Erin joined the team full-time early in the year, Sara continues to make this stuff worth reading, we planted the garden (again), and we got cooking.

My biscuit recipe made it into the Wall Street Journal thanks to Charlotte Druckman. (More on Charlotte’s terrific new book Skirt Steak in the coming months.)

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THE NEW YEAR TRINITY

In our family (as many families in my community), today will be celebrated with Hog Jowl, Collards, and Black-eyed Peas (although you might want to try the Three Sisters with some root vegetables). It’s one of the few days of the year my father (who is gratefully still with us and in remission) actually cooks (well, at least the Hog Jowl).

This holy trinity of the South supposedly brings us health, prosperity, and love (along with our famously thick waistlines). Tomorrow is (gratefully) another day and we will take care of our waistlines then…

Happiest New Year,
xoNatalie

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ROSEMARY VODKA

Everything from roasted potatoes to strawberries and Prosecco  (sometimes in the same meal) have been flavored by my rosemary plants; I have been known to make flower arrangements (and wreaths) from the fragrant leaves and drink rosemary infused tea at the same time.  And while I use rosemary year-round, this evergreen bush is readily available in the deep of winter, when all the other herbs have died back. Perhaps for this reason, there is something about the flavor of rosemary that just feels like the holidays.

Rosemary flavored vodka has recently become a bit of a staple amongst our friends. It’s easy to make and looks absolutely beautiful when you include a fresh sprig for garnish. It’s been tested and approved in a modified screwdriver: just mix 1 ounce of rosemary vodka with the juice from one orange and serve over ice.  Rosemary vodka is also delicious with a bit of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Small Batch Tonic or in your favorite Bloody Mary recipe, but the possibilities are endless. If you have a great idea for a rosemary cocktail, be sure to let us know in the comments section.

Make extra of this easy infusion for your upcoming holiday gifting.

Homemade in three days—can’t beat that.

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FALL GARDEN

Apples, sweet potatoes, autumn squash, turnips, rutabagas, leeks, and greens of every shade—I await the fall garden and all of its bounty each year with as much eagerness as the changing of the leaves and the relief from blistering Alabama summers. Root vegetables are at their prime this time of year and their heartiness is a beautiful accompaniment to braised meats. A meal of slow-cooked beef or pork alongside a simple roast of beets, potatoes, and turnips is my way of welcoming the season. Autumn squash, with its wonderful versatility, may find its way into a bisque or pie. And no fall meal is complete without a serving of greens—collards, mustards, turnips, kale, cabbage, spinach, etc.—served braised, sautéed, or dressed in salad.

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TASIA’S TABLE

Tasia Malakasis, owner of local fromagerie Belle Chevre, is a dear friend of Alabama Chanin. She, like so many Southern women, has never met a stranger and can spend an afternoon discussing recipes, bourbon, and the weather, with genuine ease and enthusiasm. Her big heart and zeal for life are not easily contained and show through in so many recipes in her new cookbook, Tasia’s Table.

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A RECIPE FOR BBQed DRESSES

Alabama Chanin, Florence, Alabama, in collaboration with Drew Robinson, Jim ‘N Nick’s, Birmingham, Alabama

Ingredients

64 yards 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey, colors white and nude
47 spools Button Craft thread
112 yards embroidery floss
1 pound white glass beads
9 garment patterns
4 stencil designs
1 quart textile paint
24 talented embroidery artisans
27 needles
Embroidery scissors, both large and small
8 sticks hickory
Kindling
Matches
Patience

Construct garments by combining the first 10 ingredients, adding love and care. Once constructed with love and care, smoke embroidered dresses with hickory. This is the wood most commonly used for barbecue in our part of Alabama because it is the most plentiful. As luck would have it, burned hickory produces a subtle flavor and color in pork and dresses, respectively.

It made sense to us to use the same wood to smoke our homegrown garments (well, as much sense as it could make to smoke a dress, anyway).  Like a pig, dresses require a low temperature and lots of finesse.

Once you get the fire going, smoke your dresses at a temperature close to 170 degrees for about 18 hours.

Serves the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, 2012.

GRAVY #44 – PLEASANTLY LUMPY BARBECUE SAUCE

Thank you to the Southern Foodways Alliance for allowing us to share “Vinegar and Barbecue: Tales of Live Cultures and Red Herrings” by Hugh Acheson.

The perfect prelude to a barbeque infused Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium weekend. Oxford, Mississippi awaits.

xoNatalie

From Gravy #44:

In the world of barbecue, vinegar is a seasoning, a spritz, a wash—an agile épée to porcine succulence. Vinegar is a necessity when it comes to giving barbecue its glory. Good barbecue has a char, a pit-borne crust, and a rich, tender interior that yearns for that jolt of peppery vinegar.

I will not speak to the Mendoza Line of barbecue sauce, where vinegar yields to sweetness. I will not debate the merits of mustard or tomato, for the sauce I will share with you has both, but neither is dominant. I will not regale you with arguments about how whole is better than finely chopped. Or how ribs pale in comparison to brisket. Or how I think baby back ribs are a red herring, a cut sucked into vacuum bags in the deep recesses of a factory in China to be sold many moons later at a chain restaurant in the suburbs of Hoboken. I will tell you of the sauce I love.

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JOHN T. EDGE’S THE TRUCK FOOD COOKBOOK + A Q&A

As John T. Edge explains in his new book, The Truck Food Cookbook, (which we mentioned here) the food truck phenomenon that has swept the country over the past several years has been exciting to watch. Citizens of many American cities are challenging the regulations placed on food truck vendors in an effort to make streetscapes more alluring and encourage the street food movement. (Note: A simple Google search reveals an ongoing–sometimes heated–dispute between cities and food truck owners.)

Food trucks are practical on several fronts when considering the state of our economy – they offer value-driven meals and are relatively inexpensive start-ups.  Plus, our current society has become accustomed to eating on the go, which has also contributed to the movement. Rather than venturing into fine-dining ambitions, young chefs have opted “to dish the culinary equivalent of the Great American Novel from retrofitted taco trucks.” Immigrants are using the mobile meals approach to showcase their native cuisine. Consumers have begun to blend a demand for “quick access food” with a desire for “honest and delicious food,” and street food has answered the call on both fronts.

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HOW TO BUILD A CAMPFIRE

As the days grow shorter and the nights become chillier, I find myself craving an evening around the fire. In my family, I am a renowned fire builder. My patience for building fires was nurtured as a child as we built fires at our family camping spot to roast hot dogs and grill hamburgers; at summer camp, a fire pit meant a night of songs and making “best friends forever.” These days, I love building a fire because I know that it means a night of grilling vegetables, toasting friends, great stories – warmth inside and out. I have spent hours with a friend in our community talking about techniques, fireplace designs, and wood.

To safely** make a fire, I recommend gathering the following:

A SAFE PLACE TO START YOUR BURN. Make sure that you are a safe distance from structures, trees and bushes.

A SOURCE OF WATER. Whether a hose, a bucket, or any other vessel, make sure that you have water to put out the fire or to use in case of emergency.

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APPLE BUTTER

With the introduction of the Foxfire Book Series on Monday, we began our two week discussion of modern homesteading.

Modern homesteading sounds like an oxymoron; I prefer to think of it as a simple lifestyle adapted to contemporary times. Technology has made leaps and bounds since the 1970s when the Firefox series was written. We do and make things differently now, but often times seek the very same outcome. We have traded in the act (art) of “making” in order to, well, “make” our lives easier. On Monday, we shared an article on Facebook that further discusses (criticizes?) the modern DIY movement.

Apple Butter, like most food, is a good example of this shift from making a product in the traditional way to producing in a more convenient manner. Apple Butter was a staple in my home growing up and my daughter has a new-found love of the spread.

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PEAS + SUCH

Thank you to the Wall Street Journal for including me for their “In My Kitchen” series. “Crafty Cook Natalie Chanin”  by Charlotte Druckman (who was a pleasure to work with).

Here you have the full interview (with a small disclaimer) and the recipes for the full menu we cooked that day:

“I GOT MY NICKNAME from biscuits,” said Natalie “Alabama” Chanin, the force behind the handcrafted clothing and housewares company Alabama Chanin, based in Florence, Ala. She earned the moniker a dozen years ago after baking her signature buttery discs for a group of hungry strangers while on vacation in Venezuela. “They called it ‘pan de Alabama’ [Alabama bread] and they’d call me that, too,” she said. That same generous spirit is one of the defining principles of her business practice—she recently introduced a line of table linens at a more accessible price point than the rest of her wares, and she makes it a point to employ local seamstresses and pay them a living wage.

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BREAD PUDDING + VISITORS

Last month, I had the incredible honor of hosting a studio visit from three amazing women who have inspired me for years. On a beautiful summer day, Rosanne Cash, Gael Towey, and Maira Kalman arrived in Florence for a two day sewing workshop and adventure. The idea for the trip was hatched on a spring afternoon in New York City and I can hardly believe that it actually happened. With incredibly busy schedules, these three women cleared their calendars, bought their tickets, organized their lives, picked up their daughters, and headed south.  Gael Towey (an incredible woman who has shaped the look of modern life as we know it) wrote about their Alabama adventure for Martha Stewart’s “Up Close and Personal Blog”. I spent an amazing afternoon with Gael talking about all things design and inspiration… that post will be coming in the next weeks.

Magpie + RUTH, my son Zach’s catering company, made a fantastic lunch for us each day. The bread pudding recipe below was a favorite with the entire crew, our Alabama Chanin team, and the photo above a favorite with our Facebook followers.

Bon Appetit,
xoNatalie

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AFFOGATO AL CAFFÈ

The warm months in the south are a little extra-warm for us in the studio, so we are always looking for an excuse to cool down- even when having our afternoon coffee.  What better way to cool down your afternoon coffee than with ice cream?

The first time I had an affogato was at a friend’s home during one of her “fancy” dinner parties. She always had a knack for making me feel special, pulling out her best dishes, even when it was just the two of us.

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TOMATO + TOMATO PIZZA

Last week, during a photo shoot at my house for our new Indigo + Carmine pieces, my son Zach took time from his busy day of new fatherhood and running his growing catering company to make us lunch: a simple, delicious pizza piled with tomatoes.

This summer has been hard on my garden. Many of my herbs have simply withered away, and my tomatoes have been scorched in the harsh sun. Between the drought and my absence in travels, I’m surprised (and thankful) I’ve managed to gather a few heirloom tomatoes.

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JEN’S WHOLE WHEAT CRACKERS

From Alabama Stitch Book, page 94:

One day when I was feeling a bit down, my friend Jen Rausch called. She told me I was allowed 20 minutes of self-pity, but then I was to get up and get on with my work. A few hours later, Jen arrived at the office with a tray lined with a beautiful tea towel, which held a china bowl, a jar of warm soup, and some homemade whole-wheat crackers. I will always be grateful to Jen for that sweet gesture.

Today, I’m pairing Jen’s Whole-Wheat Crackers with Zach’s Farm Cheese for an afternoon snack at our photo shoot. These recipes are fitting for most any occasion and come with little prep-time.

xoNatalie

JEN’S WHOLE-WHEAT CRACKERS

¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
3 cups quick oats
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to about 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend or beat the liquid ingredients, and pour them over the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix, then roll out the dough on the bottom of two large baking sheets to the edges. Sprinkle with salt, and cut 2” squares. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Yield: Makes about forty 2”-square crackers.

FARM CHEESE

My son Zach has a beautiful way of adapting traditional recipes in his cooking. For our studio lunches, he makes a salad with handmade, moist farm cheese crumbled on top. We also enjoy it (probably too much) with fresh baked bread and crackers.

Farm cheese got its name because all of its ingredients could be found on any farm. Many “well-off” households during my grandparents’ youth had their own farms, or at the very least, one cow to supply milk for the family.

This very simple recipe can be made with just a few ingredients from your refrigerator: milk, buttermilk, and lemon. My refrigerator is always stocked with organic milk. I have lemon, which I use for hot tea. And buttermilk often lingers after biscuit-making endeavors on the weekends.

The added convenience is farm cheese is fast and easy to make. It requires no special equipment, except cheesecloth.

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PEOPLE’S POPS

Every summer in our part of the world is hot, so hot that you barely want to move. And this summer seems particularly, endlessly hot. By the end of August, we will all be looking forward to the coolness that comes with fall. Until then, Maggie and I are cooling off with afternoon dips in the pool, ice cream treats from our local shops, and recipes from People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop – which can be compared to eating lightly sweetened, frozen fruit on a stick.

My friend Nathalie Jordi and her partners at People’s Pops started making their incredibly popular ice pops in Brooklyn, New York, during the summer of 2008. From their website, “We transform local, sustainably grown fruits and herbs into creative, delicious hand-made ice pops and shaved ice…” Check out their blog here.

Luckily for us, their book, the self titled People’s Pops, was released at the beginning of this summer season. Fitting their commitment to local, sustainable community, the recipes are organized by season, which makes it easy to select ingredients from the farmer’s market or right from the garden.

The book is a delight to the senses, filled with simple recipes using common popsicle ingredients like strawberries or cherries, and not-so-common ingredients like cucumber and violet, or honeydew and ginger. Jennifer May’s beautiful photographs capture the popsicles’ textures and colors, and some of the many people who enjoy them. Reading through, it is hard to decide on which recipe to make first.

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MORE GINGER

In March, Kristy shared a few of her favorite simple syrup recipes, which are a flavorful way to smooth your favorite cocktails.

Though gin is not my spirit of choice, the ginger and mint made this by far my favorite drink of the summer. As posted this morning, I have a particular love for ginger and I love to put a splash of this ginger syrup into a glass of Prosecco.

KRISTY’S GINGER + MINT + GIN

Ginger is such a versatile flavor that plays well with almost any spirit. This recipe uses it in a refreshing cocktail that’s great for welcoming summer.

For the ginger syrup:

1 medium piece ginger root, peeled and cut into ½ inch discs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water

Combine the ingredients in a pot and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 more minutes. Strain off the ginger with a fine mesh strainer and set aside. Cool the remaining syrup.

For the cocktail:

1 ½ ounces gin (I prefer Hendrick’s for this cocktail.)
¾ ounce ginger syrup
1 large sprig fresh mint, stem included
Juice of 1 lemon
½ ounce spring water

Combine ingredients in a shaker with lots of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

GINGERADE

Since I was pregnant with Maggie 7 years ago, I have loved ginger. Before that pregnancy, I couldn’t stand the smell of it. But it seems that Maggie gifted me with many things, including a love of all things ginger, particularly ginger ale and ginger candy, which was written about here. I am going to try growing some next summer.  Any tips on that?

I had this delicious Gingerade every afternoon at the Penland Coffee Shop. I will be making this at home this week; however, I will be substituting grapefruit juice for the orange juice—simply because I prefer it. And, I am thinking that this would be good with just about any kind of juice:  apple, blueberry, and pineapple.  (I can hear Sara saying that she will have hers with a shot of vodka.) Indeed.

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REPORT FROM PENLAND: WEDNESDAY 7/18/2012

The food might just be the best thing about Penland… other than the yoga every morning (and afternoon), the view, the beautiful studio, the great people. Let’s just say that the food is one of the things that make Penland great.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served on schedule. No preparation or clean up – thanks to the amazing staff, core students, and work study students. This allows you to settle into life and to think about nothing but creativity, development, and growth. It is a beautiful and nurturing place to grow.

I have been eating salads every day but my commitment to my detox wavers when I see something like these Mexican Hot Chocolate Short Bread cookies calling to me.

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WATERSHED FRIED CHICKEN + A QUILT

I first tasted the fried chicken at Watershed restaurant in Georgia about 10 years ago, while visiting friend and colleague, Angie Mosier. This was also my first meeting with Scott Peacock, the then-head chef of Watershed who led them to a James Beard award in 2007.

Scott’s close friend and culinary mentor, Edna Lewis, is hands down the Mother of Soul food, a legendary figure and icon to the Southern culinary world—dare I say the world at-large. Together they wrote, The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks, a staple in my kitchen.

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FRIED PIES

If you’ve been to a convenience store in Alabama, chances are you’ve encountered a fried pie, stowed in a basket at the counter and wrapped tightly in cellophane or butter-drenched wax paper. Growing up, family road trip pit stops didn’t mean Cracker Jacks or candy bars for me; it was the fried pies I coveted, portable pockets of apples and peaches wrapped in a pie crust shell. A certain gas station in Cullman, Alabama, sold my favorite pies, so stopping there was always one of the most anticipated parts of a trip to the beach.

I was inspired to try my hand at the fried pie after a recent brunch at Dyron’s Lowcountry in Birmingham, where I had an apricot-goat cheese fried pie served alongside brown-butter ice cream. This got me to thinking about the endless possibilities of fillings and thus the fried pie experiment began. Two things I’ve since learned: don’t overstuff the pies, and make a large batch because they go fast. Here are a couple of recipes that I hope would make my Southern grandmother proud:

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STRAWBERRY COBBLER

Some five years ago, Martha Hall Foose visited Florence, and made the best strawberry cobbler I’ve had to date. Strawberry season came a little early this year. In early May, my patch began producing.  I’m hoping that the plants will continue bearing through the coming weeks so my son, Zach, can make his classic strawberry cobbler for our 4th of July celebration.

We originally shared his recipe in our ‘Celebrate America’ catalog.

Looking forward to the upcoming holiday…
xoNatalie

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SAVORY STAR BISCUITS

I have collected quite the assortment of cookie and biscuit cutters over the years, all crammed into a drawer in my kitchen. Each year for Valentine’s Day, my daughter Maggie and I make heart-shaped biscuits. We also have a few animal shapes for pet themed birthday parties…

What more appropriate shape for Independence Day than the star?

The colors and shapes of our table setting have bold, graphic qualities with a simple color-blocking that appeals to my design aesthetic.

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ROASTED PORK LOIN AND NEW POTATOES

A traditional southern barbecue will almost always have the option of pork, whether in the form of pulled pork sandwiches, slow-cooked ribs, or smoked pork butt. Our July 4th pork dish may be a little more formal than those options, but it is actually very easy to prepare.

Our pork loin was sourced locally and roasted with fresh herbs from my garden. It looks even more delicious in a Large Serving Dish by Heath Ceramics. The dish helps hold the moisture, keeping the pork moist and allowing the flavors to emerge. I love the red color in contrast to our White and Navy Center Stripe Table Cloth.

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CELEBRATE AMERICA 2012 CATALOG

Old Glory

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.” –George Washington

The flag is the centerpiece of American cultural imagery. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, the flag came to mean so many different things: pride, controversy, rebellion, commitment, more, so much more…

It has taken me decades of living, working, and traveling the globe to understand my own relationship to this symbol of our great nation. I have grown to love the flag in all its incarnations – as a reminder of where I come from, our collective history, and, of course, of the wise and honest standard to which I believe we are raising our repair.

xoNatalie

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TODDY

Summer is my favorite time of year, although there are some who don’t share my love for the south’s steamy heat. Since the heat can be extreme, one summer staple is a batch of Toddy cold-brewed coffee. It’s so simple to make and has so many variations that it can be the only coffee base you need for the long summer days.

Although the Toddy doesn’t use hot water to devolve all of the coffee’s oils, the fullness of the coffee flavor isn’t affected. In fact, Toddy is actually 67% less acidic than the traditional, hot-brewed version.

TODDY
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TART APPLE PIE + Q&A WITH JOHN BIELENBERG

John Bielenberg and his work with PieLab aren’t new to Alabama Chanin, or our blog. We were curious what John has been up to, so we caught up with him between his travels to learn more about Project M, PieLab, and recent goings on in Greensboro, Alabama.

We also got our hands on a delicious recipe from the pop-up café, PieLab, for our Wednesday Recipes.

Their Tart Apple Pie with White Cheddar Crust has a beautiful lattice top that looks like the pies I ate growing up. Combining the tartness of the apples with the savory of the white cheddar makes for a fabulous slice of pie. If only it weren’t a three hour drive down to Greensboro to get a slice. Recipe then Q&A with John to follow:


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DIY BEER COCKTAILS

For me, the warmer, sunny days of spring mean patio lounging and a cold, crisp beverage. It’s during this season that beer spikes in popularity in my house, becoming my libation of choice. But cracking a cold one doesn’t necessarily mean simply turning up the bottle or emptying its contents into a cold mug. On the contrary, beer cocktails are excellent thirst quenching alternatives to other mixed drinks. They offer a refreshing effervescence and lower alcohol content, perfect for springtime afternoon sipping. Below you will find our take on some classic beer cocktails and styles. Beer purists may wish to read no further.

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THE JULIAN

I’ve been trying my hand at making the perfect Old-Fashioned Cocktail for our Visiting Artist Series tomorrow evening, and my friend Angie Mosier suggested that I try The Julian, Julian Van Winkle’s version of the Old Fashioned. Created by Sean Brock at HUSK in Charleston, South Carolina, the drink highlights the – now famous – bourbon founded by Julian Van Winkle’s grandfather, “Pappy” Van Winkle. Pappy started his family business in the 1870’s and was the creator of their original wheated bourbon recipes that are still used and aged today.

The Old-Fashioned happens to be Faythe Levine’s drink of choice, so I thought – what better time to showcase my new-found knowledge on homemade bitters and use the Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon so graciously sent to us by Julian at the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.

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KRISTY + HER COCKTAILS

If there’s one thing that rivals my love for creating a delicious, soulful meal, it’s mixing a good cocktail. I’ve enjoyed the classic cocktail revival that’s swept through restaurants and bars, as well as the focus on fresh, seasonal cocktail ingredients. But, as much as I like to travel and seek out mad-scientist mixologists and their latest creations, there’s a special pleasure that comes from mixing cocktails in the comfort of my home, sharing them with friends on the back porch or around the kitchen table.

One of my favorite ways to spice up a cocktail is by adding an infused simple syrup. Syrups are quick, easy, and affordable to make and are good for the at-home cocktail party because most of the preparation can be done in advance. I think of flavors that I like to use together when cooking, such as lemon and thyme or blackberry and sage, then simmer these ingredients with sugar-water and incorporate the resulting syrup with a complimentary spirit. Straining off the ingredients you are infusing will allow the syrup to last longer, up to a month in the refrigerator. Below are some simple cocktail recipes using infused syrups:

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BOURBON SORGHUM SIMPLE SYRUP

Our studio has been somewhat sorghum obsessed lately, so I thought this would be the perfect time to use this southern treat to create a variation on the everyday latte.  I love enjoying a simple coffee on a day-to-day basis, but sometimes it’s nice to spice things up a bit with ingredients that feel near and dear to my southern roots and make me feel warm and cozy inside. While spring has certainly sprung here, I know that a lot of cities just a bit north of us are still covered in snow and need to indulge in something to make the heart feel warm. Continue reading

MOLASSES + COOKIES

As a child, I ate molasses these ways: drizzled over my biscuits at my grandmother’s table, in Shoofly Pie, barbeque sauce, and baked in fresh gingerbread. As an adult, I’m beginning to notice plenty of restaurants adding this sugar cane syrup to their dishes in glazes and sauces, salad dressings, and many delicious cocktails. I have eaten molasses-rubbed pork tenderloin, a tuna sashimi with pomegranate molasses, and at Blackberry Farm, I had a to-die-for cocktail sweetened with molasses.

Molasses is making a comeback. Like beer, there are modern versions that might be considered “craft” molasses. Today’s molasses is more than a sweet syrup – it’s also a presence in the re-emergence of handmade, small, traditional, and local goods. Continue reading

GRILLED VEGETABLE + WHITE CHEDDAR QUICHE

For our weekly Studio Lunch, my son Zach prepared a savory Grilled Vegetable + White Cheddar Quiche with cherry tomatoes. In a move that delighted me, he delivered it to the studio and included a heaping salad of fresh greens- Butterhead lettuce, Red Oakleaf, and arugula- all from Jack-o-Lantern Farms, one of our local farmers’ markets. For the salad, he also made strawberry-balsamic vinaigrette, with which I (for certain) over saturated my greens.

Quiche is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner depending on your choice of ingredients. Continue reading

MUSHROOMS + FERNS

Meet Kristy – friend, caterer for our Weekend Workshops @ The Factory, and the newest contributor to this blog. I love the symbiotic relationship between the ferns and the mushrooms – along with Kristy’s recipe. Enjoy!
xoNatalie

On a visit to the Florence/Lauderdale County Farmers’ Market last fall, I was taken by the beautiful shiitake mushrooms offered by one of the vendors. ”These are grown locally? Wow!“ was my initial thought, and that was before I tasted them. The mushrooms were not only beautiful, but deliciously earthy and some of the tastiest I’ve ever tried.

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COFFEE 101

Whenever I meet someone, the first thing that usually comes out of their mouth is, “You’re the girl that made me coffee that time.” And as long as that statement is followed by, “It was the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had,” I am a happy girl. I had 6 years of coffee-slinging under my belt before laying down the steam wand and picking up a sewing needle, so I’ve learned a few things about this “black gold” that so many find themselves indulging in on a daily basis.

People that love coffee tend to be among my favorite people – kindred spirits, of sorts. Benjamin Franklin stated that, “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.” I’m one of those that not only loves coffee as a hot beverage, but I also love the entire ritual of it all; it’s more than just a drink, it’s an experience: the selection of the perfect coffee bean, the method you utilize to brew, and your additions or tweaks that make your coffee the perfect enhancement to a normal day. I may even enjoy making coffee more than I like drinking it. Continue reading

THE SFA COMMUNITY COOKBOOK + STUDIO LUNCH

Since the beginning of time, food has been an essential part of family life and, on a larger scale, the community. As the kitchen is often described as the heart of the house- the recipes and food made within move outward- connecting people to their neighborhood and even their region. A community cookbook exemplifies that connection with a collection of recipes from an array of contributors, all bound together by a sense of place.

Community cookbooks have graced the kitchens of every grandmother and mother in the South for decades. The Southern Foodways Alliance pays the ultimate tribute to said books in its Community Cookbook, and does a mighty fine job of compiling the prized recipes of chefs, artisans, farmers, writers, and cuisine-fiends from our beloved region. The beautiful publication is presented complete with metal binding rings.

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SOUTHERN BISCUITS + GINGER ALE

Biscuits are a popular topic of conversation here at Alabama Chanin. We’ve enjoyed their flaky goodness in friends’ company at Blackberry Farm, pondered the great question of butter or lard (butter trumps here), and—of course—given you our favorite recipe in Alabama Stitch Book. Just when we think we know all there is to know about biscuits, Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart teach us even more in their glorious cookbook, Southern Biscuits, that pays homage to the floury, doughy concoctions. Continue reading

GET YOUR GRAVY (+ MAKE BROAD BEANS)

Get yours online and join the Southern Foodways Alliance that you can have this kind of deliciousness mailed to your door (with a side of grated tomato):

 

Slow-Roasted Broad Beans by Sheila and Matt Neal of Neal’s Deli, Carrboro, NC
– from pages 8-9 of Gravy #42

WE THINK OF OUR PASTRAMI PLATE AS A MODERN MEAT-AND-TWO, built around our house-smoked pastrami and a couple of side dishes from the deli case. Broad beans, also known as Roma beans, are one of our favorite sides at the deli. We serve this dish every year when they are plentiful. (We cook most of our sides with vegetables procured from nearby farmers.) They make a great plate with our pastrami and creamy coleslaw. This is a great entertainment dish: It’s economical, it feeds a crowd without too much work for the cook, and it tastes better if made a day ahead.

INGREDIENTS

2 5 lbs. broad beans (also called Roma beans), rinsed and stemmed
5 cup peeled and thinly sliced garlic
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 medium-sized tomatoes, grated*
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
5 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 bay leaves
1 cup water
5 cup extra-virgin olive oil

PROCEDURE

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Gently and thoroughly combine all the above ingredients in a roasting pan. Place parchment paper directly onto the beans. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid or foil. Cook until the beans are tender, stirring well every 15 minutes for about an hour and 15 minutes. Keeps well for 3 days.

* This is a great trick we try and share with everyone. The easiest way to “peel” tomatoes is to grate them. Cut the tomato in half, and with your fingers remove as many seeds as you can. Place the cut side of the tomato down on the coarse holes of a box grater. Run the tomato back and forth until all the flesh is grated and you are left with the skin. Discard the skin.

 

BITTERS

A month ago I was totally intimidated and scared of bitters, what they were, and how to use them. A recent encounter changed that.

It all began with a cocktail drink at Patois in New Orleans.  The beautiful drink menu started off with a lovely champagne cocktail that was something like this: Champagne, Cointreau, Orange Bitters and a twist of orange.  Sounds simple right?

I turn to Nathalie and Brett and ask, “What exactly IS Orange Bitters?” I am not the biggest fan of orange-infused anything and I wanted to be SURE to make the best of the most delicious cocktail that evening. Drew explained that bitters are essentially any fruit or spice marinated in 100% Pure Grain Alcohol. Nathalie added, “You can make it yourself.”

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THE YEAR IN EATS (AND A RECIPE)

In the spirit of “The Best Of” week as we move towards New Year’s Eve, I had to recap some of the best meals of my year – and they were plenty (despite my detox).

2011 started with a trip to Blackberry Farm’s Taste of the South with an amazing array of chefs and artisans.  The weekend is somewhat of a blur – perhaps because of all the wine tasting with Angie Mosier, and Charles and Kristie Abney.  I remember a biodynamic wine that was a glowing, beautiful orange color. (Charles and Kristie – if you are reading, can you remind me of the name of this wine? I would love to share it with others!)

Pardis Stitt will not let you leave her house, restaurant, or presence without a “to-go” box. And I know this may come as a surprise, but one of the best meal moments of my year was eating freshly cooked homemade chips and charred onion dip from Bottega in my car, on my way home to North Alabama. The recipe for this deliciousness can be found on page 23 of Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef’s Love Affair with Italian Food. I have not been able to replicate the perfection of that afternoon in my own kitchen – must have been the “Pardis Love” that made the difference.

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ALABAMA ROYALE

I have been taste testing tonight for our Holiday Market and cocktail party this Thursday evening. Come by The Factory to visit with great artists and musicians and, of course, to try my Alabama Royale:

Fill glass with Belstar Prosecco
Add two wedges of organic lemon
Drizzle with a teaspoon of Elderberry Syrup

Sip + enjoy (responsibly).

Thank you to Brian Herr with International Wines in Birmingham for the lovely Belstar Prosecco!
xoNatalie

BRILLIANT Y’ALL

For those of you who have been reading this blog for years, it will come as no surprise that I have a girl crush on Virginia Willis. For me, she embodies all of the things that are required of a great Southern Chef with an added hearty laugh. Her book Bon Appetit, Y’all is in constant rotation in my kitchen and the beautiful photographs still take my breath away.

Book - Basic To Brilliant Yall - Robert Rausch (1)

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PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE + CLIMBING DAISY

We have so very much to be thankful for this year – and decade.  It has been a time filled with friends, family, color, design, light, laughter, growth, and, of course, good food.

May your celebrations this year be filled with laughter, light, love, and Pumpkin Cheesecake!

xo from Natalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin

To make pumpkin puree:

Cut in half one sugar pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Place the pumpkin half-side down on a roasting pan and fill with ¼ inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, or until soft. Scoop out the meat and puree until smooth.

I have also used organic canned pumpkin with good results.

For the crust:

1 c. graham cracker crumbs (I have also used crushed shortbread cookies)
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. brown sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan, with the raised side of the bottom part facing up.

In a medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of springform pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

For the Filling:

4 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, very soft
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1 T. bourbon
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt
4 large eggs, room temperature

Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix). Add pumpkin puree, spices, bourbon, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into springform, and gently smooth top. Transfer to oven; reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).

Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.

Gently lay our Climbing Daisy Stencil over the top of the cooled cake and dust with cinnamon.

 

SERVING TONIGHT: THE HANDMADE

Made (and Grown) in the USA:

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Small Batch Tonic
Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Lemon Verbena – from my garden (and thanks to  Angie Mosier)

My friend John T. Edge – the man who understands everything culinary and loves “liquor and its accompaniments” – wrote yesterday of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Small Batch Tonic: “Just told Blair I want some for Christmas…”

Combine with Tito’s Handmade and drink responsibly…

Also in the picture at top:

Limited Edition Commune DesignHEATH Ceramics Bowl and Clemson Spineless dried okra – from my garden.

xoNatalie

FRESH GINGER LAYER CAKE

Autumn is definitely in the air – even here in Alabama. With autumn, comes a selection of spicier, richer deserts for all the upcoming festivals and celebrations. I adore fresh ginger: the color, the smell, to drink ginger tea and to eat ginger candy.  Our local Ginger Ale – Buffalo Rock – is beautifully hot (very hot), spicy, and hands-down my favorite Ginger Ale.

Get your ginger fix with this great new recipe – the latest in our stenciling series combining cooking with our Bloomers Stencil from Alabama Stitch Book:

FRESH GINGER + BLOOMERS LAYER CAKE

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PICO DE GALLO

I arrived back from Berlin to find that tomatoes are still dropping off the vines in my backyard.  I just can’t seem to keep up with them this year.  In a situation like this, the best thing to do is to make Pico de Gallo.  A great dish for the heat of summer, it’s also known as Salsa Fresca, a name that can cool you off just by saying it. If you have a small vegetable garden there’s a good chance that you can get most of the ingredients right outside your back door.

Assembling the ingredients reminds you that the garden knows what flavors do well together.  Or, as my friend Angie reminds me, “What grows together, goes together.”

Even the colors are beautiful together. What better way to prepare for my trip to Texas?

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3 APERITIVI

I thought a lot about what I would drink once my cleanse was over, and I could have alcohol in my life again. I’m a lover of white wine, but just before my cleanse started I was introduced to the world of vermouth cocktails by a talented barkeep at Blackberry Farm. In July, he served me up a simple drink so light and summery that I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’ve always kind of thought of vermouth as that terrible stuff in some grandmother’s liquor cabinet that no one ever touched. But it turns out there are lots of delicious vermouths that, when mixed with fresh fruit juice and soda, compose a cocktail more refreshing (and sometimes lower in alcohol) than the lightest white wine. Perfect for cooling off in the evenings.

Because I’m new to these, I got a primer from a friend of mine in the booze business. Here’s what I learned:  Vermouth and many other “aperitivi” almost always come from France or Italy. They are usually fortified wines infused with herbs, roots and barks. They can be sweet or savory; every house has a different style. And because they are so flavorful on their own, you usually only need very simple mixers to create a complex tasting cocktail. Oh, and one more tip: for best results, store in the refrigerator and drink them within a month or so. They are not that much stronger than wine, so they will spoil.

Here are some recipes I’ve been playing with. Don’t be too literal with them. Just trust your gut and blend to taste.

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WABI-SABI CLEANING CUPBOARD

A perfect list from page 67 of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House

The Wabi-sabi Cleaning Cupboard

  • Hydrogen peroxide to remove mold and disinfect
  • Club soda to clean and shine fixtures and windows
  • Vinegar to cut grease and lime deposits and soap buildup, deodorize toilet, remove film on floors
  • Baking soda to scour and remove smudges or scuffs
  • Lemon juice to remove grease and tarnish
  • Salt mixed with water to destroy bacteria
  • Baking soda with vinegar rinse for stainless steel
  • Olive oil to polish furniture (mix 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar for a cleaner shine)

REVERSE APPLIQUÉ BLOOMERS PIE

Labor Day in my family means delicious home-cooked food.  And while I won’t be indulging to excess this year, I still look forward to family get-togethers and the cooking involved.  While browsing my cookbook collection in preparation for our family meal, it occurred to me that covered pies are really just applique with dough. Fascinated by that concept, I began to imagine all of the things you could do with stencils in the kitchen. With this recipe for Reverse Appliqué Bloomers Cherry Pie, I start exploring ways to combine Alabama Chanin stencils with good home cooking – imagine the possibilities.

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(RE)DETOX – DAY 7

(Re)Detox – Day 7 – and I have to say that it is so much better to detox with friends than alone. We have been sharing lunches, telling stories, laughing, and, at times, commiserating.  This round has been easier for me (although I had a little slip on Friday night that involved a bottle of beer) and I continue to feel better and better.  I made this soup last week which was a favorite – and everyone wanted the recipe you find below.

The preparation is very simple – slightly off the plan since it contains tomatoes, but they are still growing in my backyard and dropping on the ground.  I will stop eating tomatoes in October when there aren’t any more good ones to eat.

My friend Sara cringed, “Seriously? No tomatoes? That is upsetting to me.”

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THREE SISTERS AND A NEW TRINITY

Last weekend, I finally got a chance to read my Gravy: Special Louisiana Edition, the Spring 2011 Issue of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s “Food Letter” to its members. (Better late than never!)

On page 6 of the downloadable PDF, you will find a story about – and a recipe by – Susan Spicer of New Orleans. Titled “Eggplant, Oyster, and Tasso Gratin: A New Sort of Trinity,” the introduction to the recipe refers to the “trinity of Louisiana cookery: onions, celery and bell pepper.” Susan, a “self-described eggplant freak,” created her own trinity with eggplant, oysters and Tasso – recipe included. (You will also find this recipe and text on pages 35-36 of the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.)

While I was reading about Susan and her trinity, I kept thinking of the Indian legend of The Three Sisters. If you aren’t familiar with this story, it is really just a beautiful explanation of companion planting told in story form. The tale explains that corn is planted on a mound and provides the stalk for the beans to climb. In turn, the bean vines embrace the corn stalk and provide stability. The squash planted on the mound shades it from direct sunlight and prevents moisture from evaporating. Native Americans encourage eating the three “sisters” together, since together they offer the elements to sustain life: the corn delivers carbohydrates, the beans provide protein, and the squash contains essential vitamins.

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CLEAN LIVING

As reported last week, I eased off my detox and back into everyday life. Using the photo shoot for our HEATH Ceramics collaboration as a happy start-date, I indulged easily back into my old way of eating and living. After enjoying some (quite a bit of) bread, a piece of wedding cake (or 2) that we had made for the shoot, some after-work cocktails, and other earthly delights, I am happy (and surprised) to report that I miss my new way of eating.

Saturday, I went back to the farmer’s market and yesterday my girlfriends and I started our “hard core” cleanse – together and one week early. In the coming weeks, I will share some of our favorite recipes that we develop while navigating the backyard garden, the farmer’s market and Clean.

The recipe below was a favorite of Angie and Cathy this week while we were shooting – it is absolutely approved under the Clean program.

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CUT-UP WATERMELON SALAD

When our good friend Kristy brought this amazing dish to our last weekend workshop, I instantly knew it would become a summer staple in my kitchen. The sweetness of the watermelon  balances perfectly with the acidity of the tomatoes, and the hint of mint makes it extra refreshing on hot day.

Everyone was asking for the recipe. Not very much to it:

Cut-up watermelon, remove seeds (I used about a quarter of a watermelon)
Diced tomato, seeds removed (I used two medium tomatoes)
Spinach or other green
Feta (as much as you’d like)
Mint (4 sprigs, stems removed and leaves chopped)
A drizzle of olive oil
Pepper

Let everything reach room temperature (to bring out the flavors) except for the watermelon and add the chilled watermelon at the end just before serving.

(And leave out the feta cheese if you are – like me – in a “cleansing” phase – still delicious. Day 9 and going strong!)

LEFTOVER BISCUIT + TOMATO PIE

This recipe was the lucky culmination of a recent visit to the Lodge Factory Store in Scottsboro, Alabama, the abundance of cherry tomatoes in my garden, and leftover biscuits from this morning’s breakfast. It features the biscuit recipe from page 80 of the Alabama Stitch Book and is a riff on the Put-Up Tomato Pie on page 89 of Alabama Studio Style.

Maggie woke up clambering for biscuits this morning and I was one cup short of the white flour that she loves best.  So, I substituted one cup of wheat flour on the board and used that for rolling.  It made a light but hearty biscuit that was the start to a great day; we finished our evening with this hearty dish that was a hit with my family (i.e. no leftovers).

Add some Benton’s Bacon for meat lovers.

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THE DAY AFTER THE LONGEST DAY

NATALIE’S PLUM DELIGHT

1 shot vodka
6 crushed plums
Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Lemon basil
Ice

Porch.

AVEC ERIC

I wrote about Eric Ripert back in 2008 when friend and colleague Angie Mosier was documenting the PBS television show Avec Eric and working on the companion book.  (By the way, individual episodes of Avec Eric are now available for download as podcasts at the iTunes store.)

I finally have the Avec Eric book in my hands and am totally in awe.  I can attest that it is a difficult thing to write a book.  You have to get so many, many things right: the text, the photos, the technical details (in this case the recipes), the design, the printing and all the myriad of details in between.

(Read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird should you ever want to be a published author.)

Avec Eric is a forthright, relaxed, joyous celebration of food that is neither too heady nor too difficult for the lay-chef.  Eric Ripert is a stunning story teller and the book is infused with the beautiful photos, prose and spirit of our friend Angie.  Star Chef named it one of the Top 10 cookbooks of 2010. Wiley hits a 100% as it is graced with lovely paper, printing, trim size, photos, stories and is simply a beautiful collection of recipes.

As I refuse to part with my copy of Avec Eric, I have purchased a copy of for my son who has opened his own catering company a few years ago called MAGPIE + Ruth (after my Maggie and his sweet girlfriend Ashley).  I am hoping that he will be preparing Crab-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers and Cornmeal Biscuits for us all this summer.

Get your copy of Avec Eric.

You will not be disappointed on either count.

I love what Anthony Bourdain writes about the Avec Eric television show in the introduction:  “Remarkably, the TV show, Avec Eric, for which this volume is a companion, does NOT suck!”

Indeed.

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS TODAY (+ SNOW CREAM)

From Taste of the South (amazing again!) at Blackberry Farm to home… let it snow (again)!

The Alabama Chanin office we will be closed for business today.

Everyone is now very busy in preparation for important snowball fights, snow men and snow cream.

Enjoy the moment.

MAGGIE’S SNOW CREAM

Mix together, tasting often:

1 cup fresh whipped cream
1 cup fresh snow
Sugar and vanilla to taste

CAST IRON COOKING

This is what I want for the holidays: the largest cast iron skillet that can be had for oven-roasting vegetables.

I am no recent convert to the joys of cast iron cooking as the pans pictured above have traveled the world with me for 30+ years. However, I was reminded of the detriments of aluminum while reading Clean last week and want an alternative to parchment paper and the large “roasting” pans in my kitchen cabinets.

In terms of sustainability, reasonably priced cast iron lasts forever and, with a bit of care, provides a stick-free surface for life. Use kosher salt and water to clean and your “seasoned” pan will thank you.

When I was pregnant with Zach, my doctor was shocked that my iron levels kept getting better and better as I had a tendency towards anemia… of course the answer was cast iron cooking.

I am planning a family outing to the Lodge Factory in South Pittsburg, Tennessee and have been dreaming of designing my own pans.  Imagine “Alabama Chanin for Lodge”… mmmm.

Any great recipes for cast iron that I need to try over the holidays? Please comment! Continue reading

SHRIMP, LOBSTER, OKRA

My daughter Maggie was digging around in a drawer the other day and found a deck of cards from New Orleans that my son, Zach, bought over fifteen years ago.  They were purchased at the gift shop of a paddle boat on the Mississippi River. It was New Year’s Day and I remember that we thought the ride was a little boring and turned to playing Gin Rummy for distraction.

Since that time, the deck disappeared, has been buried in drawers, carted around the world and surfaced this week only because Maggie is ALL about playing cards these days.  She pulled out the cards – called Louisiana Cajun: Deck O’ Meals and we started playing using rules from UNO.

You might remember seeing these “Deck O’ Meals” cards at one time or another; each card has a Cajun recipe on the face-side and the front of each card is an illustration of recipe ingredients like shrimp, lobster, okra, bell peppers, etc. Because of these illustrations, Maggie deemed our new game “Shrimp, Lobster, Okra.” The other day as we were playing, she was in the lead, got down to one card and when the excitement overcame her she screamed out “SHRIMP!”

Zach and I have had such a laugh and, of course, the rules of the game now require the winner to yell “SHRIMP.”  I actually caught Zach yesterday morning reading the recipes and day dreaming of New Orleans. One of the best cards – the 8 of Diamonds – includes a recipe for “Smothered Alligator.”

I got on the web this morning and found out that the cards are actually quite well-known and the recipes have circulated through all sorts of sites.  According to my (brief) research, it seems that the recipes themselves are highly rated.  I suggest that every family order a few decks for holiday gifts and spend some time playing (and perhaps eating) “Shrimp, Lobster, Okra.”

I wrote to our long-ago traveling companion to remind him of our “Deck O’ Meals” on the Mississippi River:  “Funny how things from the past will jump up and grab you when least expected.”

“Shrimp, Lobster, Okra” or the Louisiana Cajun: Deck O’ Meals


WORKSHOPS + WALKING CAPE

Thank you to everyone who came to our studio in Florence last weekend to participate in the Weekend Workshop.  What a great group… the stories, fellowship, sewing, and laughter were perfect.

A special thanks to Amy for sharing the sewing of her beautiful wedding dress.  What a special way to start a lifetime of beauty and commitment… and to Sarah – who made the trip from New York.  More about Sarah later this week.

Saturday’s meatloaf was amazing and everyone was clamoring for the recipe which, thanks to Kristy, I have posted below.

We have just posted our Weekend Workshop dates for 2011. Fill your holiday stocking, plan your trip and join us in the studio:

March 4 – 6

June 24 – 26

November 4 – 6

Look for our Berkeley workshop at the Edible Schoolyard soon and congrats to Deborah Kennedy for being the lucky winner of my favorite Walking Cape.

Check back soon for other special offers, visit us this Friday, November 12th from 12 -5 and Saturday the 13th from 10 – 5 for our annual Holiday Open House & Sample Sale.

We have extended hours this year and will also be open Friday November 19th from 12 – 5.  Get there early as everything goes quickly.

And now, Kristy’s Individual Meat Loaves

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THE BEST OF THE BEST

“I daresay any fine recipe used in Jackson could be attributed to a local lady, or her mother – Mrs. Cabell’s Pecans, Mrs. Wrights’ Cocoons, Mrs. Lyell’s Lemon Dessert.  Recipes, in the first place, had to be imparted – there was something oracular in the transaction – and however often they were made after that by others, they kept their right names.  I make Mrs. Mosal’s White Fruitcake every Christmas, having got it from my mother, who got it from Mrs. Mosal, and I often think to make a friend’s recipe is to celebrate her once more, and in that cheeriest, most aromatic of places to celebrate in, the home kitchen.” — Eudora Welty of Jackson, Mississippi

I returned this week from Bloomington, Indiana to find a box containing my copy of The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.  One part old-timey church cookbook, one part storybook, the compilation of recipes from SFA Members is spectacular.  Edited by friend John T. Edge with Sara Roahen, the recipes vary from Brown Butter Creamed Winter Greens by Linton (“Why It Is Worth So Much”) Hopkins (on page 70) to Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad by our friend Blair Hobbs (page 61). Indeed, the entire book contains the best of the best.

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GREEN GRAPES + SIX WEEK SLAW

According to friends, I might be the only person in North Alabama still harvesting tomatoes.  I was angry at myself for not getting them in the ground earlier this year; however, it seems that my busy life made the perfect storm for a great harvest.  One of Zach’s friends gave me a load of heirloom plants to try and I have to say that there were some great selections in the mix:  purple, yellow, and plums to name a few.  However, the “Green Grapes” have become coveted around my house.  I have saved some seeds for next year and will certainly (hopefully) have more than one plant.

Try out this great lunch:  Six Week Slaw (recipe below) with shaved Parmesan and halved green grapes.

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HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE

In my quest to reduce the amount of plastic that we consume as a family, I have finally succeeded in making my own toothpaste. After collecting the simple recipes for a couple of months, I played with the ingredients to make a paste that is to my liking.

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ALABAMA LEMONADE

I have been remiss in posting this last week. In all honesty, this heat has made me a little slow.

The interview with Roman (see post below) is coming; please be patient with me.

To this extreme heat, add the fact that my (baby) Maggie starts school tomorrow. It seems hard to believe that time passes so quickly – even when you savor every moment, it flies. Seems like just yesterday…

Well, my mind has been elsewhere this week.

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PIMENTO CHEESE + TWO HOUR WORKSHOPS

Thank you to everyone who braved the weather and joined us for our Open House, Sample Sale and Earth Day Celebration over the weekend. (And to Butch and Robert Rausch for playing along…) It was lovely to open our studio and the event was so successful that we decided to go ahead and plan for next year… Mark your calendar & plan your trip:

Alabama Chanin
8th Annual Open House & Sample Sale
April 29 & 30, 2011

We have also added Two-Hour Workshops to both our Events and to the Open House next year. The seating is limited for each session so register early. We also have a range of these new Two-Hour Workshops coming soon:

May 1st and 2nd @ Textile Fabrics in Nashville

May 8th @ Barneys in Chicago

May 14th @ Purl Soho in New York City

June 12th @ Warehouse Row in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Contact us for more information.

My son Zach cooked for us at our Open House over the weekend. I asked him to write up his recipe for Pimento Cheese since we had so many folks rave about his special blend. I have always prided myself as a good cook but I believe that Zach has surpassed me.

Lovely when your children do you one-up…

Zach’s Pimento Cheese

3 cups shredded Hoop or Sharp Cheddar Cheese (about one large block)
9-10 squirts of Tabasco (Or as you see fit)
1/4 cup Roasted Red Peppers diced
2 tablespoon Prepared Horseradish
1 1/2 tablespoon Lemon or Lime juice
1/2 cup Aioli or Mayo made with olive oil
Fresh Herbs fine chop (Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley)
Salt n Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and stir vigorously.  If too spicy add another tablespoon of Aioli.  If not spicy enough, add more Tabasco.  You may want to find some of the different styles of Tabasco such as Chipotle or my favorite, the Roasted Garlic style.  Enjoy!!

If you have another great Pimento Cheese recipe, please share it with us in the comments below!

CHOCOLATE PIE

I am upcycling this blog post from 2006 as I have just had so many questions about it recently…

Celebrate the official release of Alabama Studio Style this week by Baking a Pie for a Cake Plate:

Below is my Gram Perkins’ famous chocolate pie recipe that my cousin Joy continues to make. It was printed in 1958 in the “Favorite Recipes of Alabama Vocational Home Economics Teachers” cook book. My mother gave me a copy of this book when I moved out into my first apartment. You can find other great community cooking in A Gracious Plenty by John T. Edge and Ellen Rolfes.

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MAGGIE’S FAVORITE COOKIES

Maggie has her Valentine’s Party this morning at school and she started the day jumping up and down saying, “I am so excited. I am so excited. I am so excited.” Her enthusiasm for this holiday has been amazing to see crescendo as the week comes to a close. This (almost) four year old girl has been sitting for a week now patiently writing her name on each card and envelope. Then, she meticulously packs cards, candy and treats inside the envelopes – custom-stylized for a special friend. Amazing.

The gist of this is that we are going to celebrate Maggie’s new favorite holiday by making her (my) favorite sugar cookies over the weekend and I have to get ready today.  Notice how the hearts (cookies) in the drawing above are larger than anything else in her world – including house, pets, and parents! Got to love a girl who loves to cook…

The base of our recipe comes from Kim’s Cookbook For Young People that was given to me by my Grandmother Smith on my 13th Birthday.

For whatever reason, this recipe has never been surpassed – well, with a few modifications:

MAGGIE’S FAVORITE COOKIES

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (we use raw sugar)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon homemade baking powder (see below)
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and raw sugar on medium speed until they are creamy – about 3 minutes. (That mixer would make a great Valentine’s Gift for a deserving chef if you still don’t have an idea and they don’t already have one.)

Add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter and raw sugar and blend on medium.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and add in quarters to dough. Blend on low until just smooth – do not over beat.
Chill your dough for 1 hour – trying not to taste.

Roll to about 1/4” thick on a lightly floured board. Cut with floured heart cookie cutters. Place on parchment paper lined pan and bake for 8 -10 minutes. The trick is not to overcook. Test often to make sure that the cookies are “done.”

Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Decorate with Buttercream Frosting.

A Note on Homemade Baking Powder
The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock (In my top ten list of cookbooks and also a great Valentine’s Day gift):

Distressed by the chemical additives and aftertaste of commercial “double-acting” powders, Miss Lewis years ago started making her own baking powder – a traditional mixture of cream of tartar and baking soda. When I first used her formula (from her books, before we met), I couldn’t really taste any difference. Soon, though, I realized that muffins and quick breads made with aluminum-sulfate-based powders left a metallic “tingle” on my tongue. Today, I make up a batch of this powder every week for use at the restaurant and bring a jar home for Miss Lewis. We recommend it for all the recipes here. If necessary, you can substitute commercial baking powder in equal amounts.

Sift 1/4 cup cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons baking soda together 3 times, and transfer to a clean, tight-sealing jar. Store at room temperature, away from sunlight, for up to 6 weeks.

Happy Valentine’s Week(end),
From all of us @ Alabama Chanin

SNOW + 1/2 CHILI

A blanket of snow gave a surprise visit in Alabama today and, in typical Southern fashion, we celebrated by closing the city and cooking.  I made a pot of my famous secret-recipe chili – one of my favorite dishes.

So… here you have my secret chili recipe.The secret is really in the homemade chili powder:

Homemade Chili Powder

I make a supply of this by doubling or tripling the recipe then storing in an air-tight jar.
3 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon cumin (I love cumin so always add an extra shake or two)
3 teaspoons cayenne (best picked and dried from the garden and ground just before using)
3 teaspoons dried oregano
Optional:  1 tablespoon garlic powder – I prefer to use fresh cloves and eliminate the garlic powder.  I add the fresh cloves during cooking (see below).
I always find the best way to test a chili powder is to just smell it. If it smells like chili you would like to eat then it is perfect.

Natalie’s Chili

1 lb. ground beef (preferably locally raised and grass-fed)
Worcestershire sauce in desired amount
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Olive oil, a turn around the pan
1 onion – chopped (I prefer the chop a bit on the larger size for a hearty chili)
Homemade chili powder – as much as you can take or about 6 tablespoons
6 cups stewed tomatoes (from your garden if possible)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Generously douse your ground beef with Worcestershire sauce before you start your cooking and set aside.

Press 3 cloves of garlic and set aside separately (garlic reaches its full potential and is ready to use after sitting for approximately 10 minutes!).

Chop your onion. In a large pot, coat bottom of pan with olive oil and saute chopped onion over low heat until it just begins to caramelize.  Raise heat to medium, add meat and excess Worcestershire sauce and cook until almost brown.

Add pressed garlic and chili powder, stirring and turning constantly for a few minutes.  Turn heat to high only to raise the temperature and quickly add stewed tomatoes – a quick steam to release all the flavors.

Turn heat immediately back to low and simmer for as long as you can stand.  I have boiled chili up to five hours.  Add salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to simmer and add additional water or beer as necessary to keep chili from getting too thick and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
If you have time, cool and let chili sit in the refrigerator overnight. If you don’t have time, just go ahead and add the beans, following the instructions below and eat.

We sometimes cannot wait until the next day and have to have this for supper before adding the beans… At my house, this stage is called 1/2 Chili. Serve 1/2 Chili with hoop cheese, sour cream, hot sauce and nacho chips – our family favorite.

If you are using dried beans, wash and soak your beans overnight in salt water.
Cook dried kidney beans in 6 cups water and keep adding water (or beer) as needed until beans are soft.

Alternately, if you are using canned beans, simply add beans to warmed chili and stir constantly over low heat for about 30 minutes. Cooked beans & chili will stick to the bottom and burn if not watched, loved and stirred constantly.

If this happens, don’t tell anyone and skim the unstuck chili from the top – being careful not to scrape the bottom – and serve with hoop cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and cornbread.

PLAY DOUGH + SOUTHERN LIVING

Thanks go out to everyone @ Southern Living for the lovely piece in their February issue. We have gotten lots of emails and calls about the article. There have also been several requests for the play dough recipe that Maggie and I were making that afternoon when Southern Living visited…

One of the simplest things to make in your own kitchen:

Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 cup salt
Food coloring

Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead on a floured board until cool and soft. Keep in an airtight container. Play often.

*Thanks to Robbie Caponetto for the lovely pictures and note that Maggie is still wearing her apron – in fact, it might be her favorite plaything.

FARM-TO-TABLE

Okay – before I start – I have to say – JOIN THE SOUTHERN FOODWAYS ALLIANCE… good?

I made it through the snow and ice in Arctic temperatures to Walland, Tennessee. My trip to Blackberry Farm might be one of the most extraordinary trips I have ever taken – anywhere. I know that is saying a lot BUT the warm, gracious hospitality that you experience from the time you drive in the gate is exquisite. Add to Blackberry the wit, education and pure joy of the Southern Foodways Alliance and you have – hands down – one of the best events in the world.

I could fill this entire page but have to just highlight a few morsels of the weekend:

Blackberry Farm – I had the luxury of sitting next to Sam and Mary Celeste Beall on Thursday night and was struck by their deep knowledge of this farm and understanding of the ultimate Farm-to-Table experience.

The Blackberry Farm Cookbook – on the inside flap – says it best: “In the foothills, you don’t eat to eat, you eat to talk, to remember, and to imagine what you will eat tomorrow.” The book is lush with photographs of the estate, the kitchens, the gardens and luscious Farm-to-Table recipes.

While talking about the upcoming weekend, Sam and I spoke about the biscuit making classes (see below) and he asked me, “Butter or Lard?” This was just about the best question I have ever been asked over a five-course dinner – with wine pairings. You just have to love a man who understands the true essence of good bread. I laughed and replied, “Butter.”

Friday morning, the Blackberry Farm Chef Team of Josh Feathers, Adam Cooke, and Joseph Lenn offered a Cast Iron Skillet demonstration – which I unfortunately missed – but came home with the following recipe by Chef Josh Feathers which I am going to make and then bake in my cast-iron:

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes **Courtesy of Taste of the South notepad so generously supplied for all our cooking and tasting notes!

3 pounds red bliss potatoes 6 ounces butter 10 ounces buttermilk half & half – as needed Kosher salt – to taste 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Simmer potatoes until tender. Strain and dry in the 300-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Run potatoes through a food mill with a medium die to mash. Stir in remaining, heated ingredients. Taste for seasoning.

Note: Those of you who are new to cast iron, NEVER wash your pan with soapy water. Clean your skillet first with a handful of kosher salt then rinse in warm to hot water and dry thoroughly. I learned this from Angie Mosier while working on Alabama Studio Style.

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FISH SOUP

In 1999, at the tail end of the last decade, I chose to leave my life in Vienna, Austria, to spend what I deemed a “sabbatical” on an island off the northern coast of Venezuela called Los Roques. How I got there is a story for another day. What had drawn me there was a woman – Nelly – and “El Canto de la Ballena.” Little did I know that my entire life was about to change.

I credit the beginnings of the work I have done the last ten years with a few months spent on that island. It was a time when hurricanes and storms wreaked havoc and destruction to the coast of Venezuela. I was on this tiny island – due north – as the weather passed through for weeks on end.

I wrote this story in February of 2000 when I had landed in cold New York but still had the stories of Los Roques fresh on my mind… I hope that my translation of Nelly’s words from the original Spanish do her justice.

Fish Soup

The point of the whole thing is food,” she said. “Good food. Real good food. A lot of people have forgotten,” she continued. “Three meals a day, sit down, take your time and eat warm food that is prepared with good ingredients and love. That’s the key,” she stresses, “love. It’s the way it’s washed, it’s the way it’s cut, it is the way one touches and it is the way one thinks as one touches. That,” she said, “is food and food is love.”
–Nelly Camargo, December 1999, Los Roques

Nelly made fish soup that day. I remember that is was one of those first days when the waves began to crash onto the porch. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but I know that by that day, the beach was already gone, taken by the hurricane. And, I definitely remember that it seemed on that day like the waves were coming back for the porch. Soon after this day, we made sandbags because shortly after, the house next door fell into the sea.

The soup took hours. As the weather had been acting up again, everyone had the feeling of being wet and cold. Saying nothing, Nelly just went into the kitchen and started to work. In went the fish, the heads, the bones and just about everything else that could be found in the kitchen and on the island.

I guess that everyone who passed Nelly’s house that day could smell what was going on. So the soup cooked and the word spread, “Nelly is up to something.” And before I knew it, we were five people in the kitchen. Everyone was washing and cutting and chopping and rolling and laughing and talking. I know that I had never seen anything like it before that day. Music blared from the stereo and some were even dancing in the tiny, warm space.

In Nelly’s kitchen there is a window which looks down the hall and out to the sea. When you stand there and see the wooden spoons and the open window and the green-green sea in the background, you cannot help but stand still for a moment and breathe deeply. But that day, no one even looked to the window until about one in the afternoon, when the first faces began to appear.

The islanders were greeted with a big, warm smile and the question, “Are you hungry?” We went on that day to feed what seemed to be the whole island. Many faces and stories and laughter passed through my life that day. Nelly asked everyone, “Have you met Alabama?”

The feast went on into the night and here are a few of the recipes that were made. The fish soup was the best I have ever tasted in my life, but it remains Nelly’s secret. All I can remember is to put in everything you can find (plus coriander – the “spice of life”) and to do it with lots of love and laughter.

Fish in the Pan

Crush 5 cloves of garlic and salt in mortar. Add juice of two limes and a splash of soy sauce. Pour over fish fillets and let stand for awhile. Cook the fish on hot skillet with  the marinade.

Zucchini Carpaccio

Grate zucchini with skins into thin rounds. Lay flat on a big plate. Cover with juice of lime, salt, pepper and a little vinegar. Finish by grating parmesan cheese to cover.

Serve.

Red Cabbage

Cut cabbage into very thin strips. (The cutting is very important!) Crush garlic and salt in mortar; add roasted sesame seeds and crush a little bit more. Add vinegar, a little sugar, a little sesame oil and more roasted sesame seeds. Pour over cut cabbage and serve.

Nelly’s Arepa

Mix salt (about one-half teaspoon) and warm water (about three cups) in a big bowl with a tablespoon of oil. To this mixture, add ”P.A.N” or Arepa Flour until dough is of a consistency to roll in your hand. Shape into 1/2” thick rounds and fry in hot oil. Cook until brown. When they are finished, you have to “thump” them. If they are really done, they make a kind of hollow sound.

This is just the basic recipe. You may choose to add white cheese, sesame seeds or just about anything you want to add.


Nelly moved El Canto de la Ballena in January of 2000, just after the storms had stopped. The new building is a bit further from the beach and behind the fishing pier.

I left Los Roques a few weeks after the Y2K panic was over and our world continued to spin; however, I don’t think that we would really have noticed any computer meltdown on that island. I have not laid eyes on Nelly since that time and have not spoken to her for much too long. I hope that she remembers me and will be proud when I say that the seeds for my work with the former Project Alabama and now Alabama Chanin were watered in her kitchen.

HEATH RED

From Vogue Daily:

Still under the radar, West Coast-based Heath Ceramics is a Vogue editor favorite. Imagine our delight upon discovering that their new color for fall, out today, is this divine shade of red, reminding us of the fall collections (think Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Galliano). “Even though we’re in California, the warmth of red ceramic ware in winter takes the chill off our damp, foggy afternoons,” says coowner Catherine Bailey of the new shade.

Heath is a family affair (Catherine owns the company with her husband, Robin), and when asked what they will be serving in this fabulous casserole (of which only 75 were produced), the couple suggest Maryana Vollstedt’s Brussels Sprouts and Baby Onions with Mustard recipe from The Big Book of Casseroles (Chronicle).

“Our whole family loves brussels sprouts, and the bonus is that they look great in this red dish.” Another suggestion is a Baked Couscous Pudding with Raisins from John Pawson and Annie Bell’s Living and Eating (Clarkson Potter). “The recipe is simple and the texture is a great surprise in a pudding. I find the leftovers can make a great breakfast as well,” says Catherine. It is no wonder they count Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse among their clients (they collaborated on the restaurant’s dinnerware) and, as they happily admit, they have found solace creating simple, beautiful things. What’s next? A collaboration with Alabama Chanin is in the works.

Heath Ceramics large red casserole, $195; heathceramics.com.

—Virginia Tupker

Photo: Liam Goodman

Recipes below…

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THE BASIC FOUR

While I love a good apron and The Gentle Art of Domesticity, cleaning has never been a particularly sexy task around our house. However, I loved the article below that ran in our local paper on Tuesday of this week.

It makes me happy that living clean is going mainstream.

Maggie loved mixing the ingredients with me in the kitchen last night.

BUT, I still swear by Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena for washing our clothes…

*Make your own apron like the one above with the Bloomers Pattern available as a pull-out from our Alabama Stitch Book.

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STRAWBERRIES

My little strawberry patch is working miracles this year. It is wonderful for us to be able to go out the back door and pick breakfast. Maggie has appointed herself the official color inspector and tells me which ones are red enough to pick and which ones have to wait until tomorrow. I follow her lead religiously.

For a special treat this weekend, we are making our own version of Strawberry Shortcake with the recipe for my Aunt Mae’s Pound Cake that was originally posted about Georgia Gilmore. There is a reason that they call it Pound Cake.

Here it is again and perfect for fresh strawberries:

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GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT

Okay. Sorry to send you to the same place two days in a row… BUT I am SO making these caramels over the weekend!

Holiday Gifts Good Enough To Eat

**And scroll on to the bottom for Chocolate Truffles and Flavored Salt!

THE GIFT (PART 2) – OR SQUASH ON THE DOORSTEP

Okay. If you live in the South (and perhaps everywhere else for that matter), summertime is filled with anonymous gifts left on your porch.

Martha Foose writes, “When it is not possible to eat all the squash that comes out of the backyard garden quickly enough, the Kornegays have admitted to leaving anonymous gifts on neighbors’ doorsteps under the cover of darkness. They, too, have been on the receiving end of this generous gesture.”

Well, let me attest to the fact that this has been “one particularly prolific summer” for crooknecked squash.

When I lived in Vienna, I visited a restaurant called “Panigl” just about every (other) night of the week. (Is my name still scrawled under the table at my seat?) Well, I used to love an antipasti dish of slow-roasted vegetables that seemed to melt in your mouth. My dear friend, Agatha Whitechapel, once told me how to make the dish and I have approximated her instructions here:

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PIMENTO CHEESE

After our “Sewing, Cooking and Community” extravaganza in Atlanta, just about everyone asked me about Angie’s Pimento Cheese recipe (pronounced “puhmenaaacheeeez”).

The first time I saw Angie’s recipe, it surprised me to see onion included, but now I firmly believe that this is the trick.

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CHANNELING WHITECHAPEL

Did I forget to mention that Maggie is having a holiday with Butch in the woods?

Ingredients:

Two handfuls of fresh fingerling potatoes
Two small finger eggplants (one and one-half inch in diameter)
Two red peppers
One whole garlic bulb
One 4” sprig of fresh rosemary
Grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Huber “HUGO” – Gurener Veltliner (purchased from my local wine cellar)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut fingerling potatoes into approximate one inch cubes (triangles, rectangles, and the occasional octagonal shape permissible as well.)

Remove head and slice eggplant down the middle.

Place potatoes, eggplant and red peppers into a baking dish, add fresh rosemary leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper and mix with hands to coat evenly.

Slice top from garlic bulb and place into baking dish.

Sip wine.

Bake for 20 minutes, remove red peppers (to be used for pimento cheese tomorrow) and stir potatoes. Continue baking 10 minutes.

Sip wine.

Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese onto eggplant and continue baking 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and arrange potatoes and eggplant on plate. Squeeze roasted garlic from its paper shell and use as decor (not to mention for dipping eggplant.)

Sip wine and eat.

Nap and enjoy.

(Whitechapel, I enjoyed our conversation today and wish that you were here.)

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

This is shaping up to be the week for Children and Adults.

While in the doctor’s office, I picked up the May issue of Country Living Magazine to find this lovely piece about buttercream frosting:

This article and a spend-over with friends’ children inspired me to try out the recipe below which I received literally YEARS ago from a friend. I believe that this recipe originally came from Magnolia Bakery in New York City. I used my “Mother’s Day” mixer which made the batter smooth and the clean-up really easy.

The kids said after our cupcake extravaganza was over, “This is just like a party.” To which I replied, “This IS a party.”

While my frosting did not spread to create the lovely formations shown in the Country Living piece, the cupcakes were delicious. Following the “Tips and Tools of the Trade” section of the article, I am buying a pastry bag this week.

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PETERSON FIELD GUIDES + DANDELION SAUTÉ

Some days I fantasize that I am prepared to forage from our local woods to sustain my family. The blatant truth is that like most folk, I would most likely not know which plant would kill us or sustain us.

For that reason, I love these Peterson field guides. These two books have helped me start learning how to eat from my own backyard:

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Virginia Marie Peterson and Roger Tory Peterson

A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs by James A. Duke, Steven Foster, and Roger Tory Peterson

NATALIE’S DANDELION SAUTÉ

Dandelions grow rampant in our part of the south; but, Angie Mosier reminded me that when picking these greens to eat, we should be careful to pick from a yard that has not been treated with chemicals or fertilizers!

This recipe can be used to cook any type of greens, but because of the dandelion’s strong peppery taste, we like to mix it in with spinach or any other mild green.

Dandelion leaves
Spinach, kale or other mild green
Olive oil
Garlic
1/2 lemon
Sauté garlic in olive oil.

Add greens to your pan, allowing them to wilt. Drizzle with juice from one-half lemon and sesame oil. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.

Eat.

GIRLFRIENDS – FROM BLAIR HOBBS

The other day, I received a voice message from my sweet friend, Lisa. “Blair, I was just at the farmer’s market and saw Lady Peas, and I always think of you when I see Lady Peas, so I left you a bag on your front porch bench.”

When I thanked Lisa, I forgot to ask why she thinks of me whenever she sees Lady Peas. Perhaps it’s because I once wrote a pea-themed love poem for my husband, but more likely it’s because I once created a Lady Pea bruschetta for her birthday party. About a dozen of us, dressed-up with tall cocktails in hand, huddled around the dining table’s full platter. The crisp bread rounds, smeared with gobs of olive oil and puree, were garnished with the remaining peas. The appetizers were tasty, but as soon as we bit into the toasts, the peas flew–like buckshot–all over floor. Everyone got a pass on manners that evening, and we had an extra good time.

Also left on the porch bench (that very day) were some old cookbooks a neighbor found in her mother’s belongings. She left them for my husband, whose work is the study and writing of food culture. Spiral bound, the pages of the old cookbooks present a tightly knit community of women. Each recipe, in the lower right-hand side–like an artist’s signature–is signed with the proud contributor’s name.

Blair’s Lady Pea Bruschetta

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TUSCAN CHEVRE

I briefly mentioned Belle Chevre in a post from a few weeks back and feel compelled to talk more about this company today.

I had the opportunity to meet Tasia recently and fell in love with her story, her passion and the Tuscan Chevre that she so kindly left at our studio.

Last night, in a hurry to eat, read books to Maggie and generally manage life with a two-year old, I threw together a dinner from the fridge which was one of the best I have had in awhile. It literally took about 15 minutes and serves 4.

NATALIE’S TUSCAN CHEVRE SALAD

4 handfuls fresh green salad mix from the garden
1 cup cherry tomatoes– our local farm has a greenhouse and already has delicious tomatoes
2 left-over grilled chicken breasts
Tuscan Chevre from Belle Chevre
One-half lemon – juiced
Salt and Pepper
Crackers

Place jar of Tuscan Chevre in hot tap water to warm. Slice cherry tomatoes in half, lightly salt and set aside. Slice chicken breasts into one-eighth inch strips and set aside. Wash and dry greens.

Fill one-half of a plate with greens and add salted cherry tomatoes. Fan chicken slices on other half of plate. Spoon warmed goat cheese on to top of each slice of chicken centering the cheese on each slice. Remove remainder of goat cheese from jar, leaving oil and place the cheese in bowl to be eaten at the table. Spoon oil & “goodies” from the jar and drizzle over the chicken and cheese slices

DRESSING

Add juice from one-half lemon and pepper to taste to remainder of oil in jar. Close lid and shake. Pour dressing over salad and eat.

Put crackers on the table to enjoy the remainder of your Tuscan Chevre.
Enjoy

*Photograph from Southern Living – April 2008

GEORGIA GILMORE REVISITED

Georgia Gilmore worked at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama, cooking her renowned fried chicken for both white and black patrons. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, she brought home-cooked meals to mass meetings. This evolved into what became known as,“The Club from Nowhere,” an underground fund-raising effort built on her delicious cakes and pies. Georgia and her fellow bakers would sell fresh baked goods to local Laundromats,beauty parlors and cab stands. Montgomery citizens who supported the boycott could now contribute to the cause anonymously. Georgia always said that the money came “from nowhere.” Take what you have, do what you know to do and make use of it. The cost of change is mitigated by the cost of staying the same.

Georgia Gilmore and The Club From Nowhere

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STAIN REMOVAL WISDOM TO LIVE BY

My mother taught me that it’s important to use the beautiful things in your life every day. She gave me her first set of china with the one direction that I should use it and enjoy it, not store it in a closet. I have taken her advice to heart with all of the things in my home. However, when you use textiles to enrich your everyday life (especially with a two year old), you’ll also need some of the old-wives’-tale wisdom my grandmother shared with me:

OLD WIVES’ TALE + WHAT IT MEANS

Don’t rub it in; dab it off — Blot; don’t rub it in more
A stitch in time saves nine — Get to it as quickly as possible to avoid more work
Out, then in — Start on the outside of a stain and work your way in

STRATEGIES:

Absorb: Use cornstarch or talcum powder to blot stain

Bleach: Use 1 part lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 part water
Dissolve: Use all-purpose household cleaner as solvent for grease
Soak: Use 1/2 cup salt water per quart of soapy water
Wash: Use all-purpose cleaner like dish or liquid laundry detergent

AND HOW TO USE THEM:
Protein Stains: Soak, Bleach & Wash

Coffee and Tea Stains: Flush with Bleach, Soak & Wash
Tomato and Sauces: Dissolve, Soak & Wash
Oils Stains: Absorb, Dissolve & Wash

My new motivation for everyday cleaning are these great products from Mrs. Myers Clean Day. Aromathrapuetic Household Cleaners – how good is that? I love all the Lemon Verbena products.

Visit their website for their entire selection.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES + A LITTLE GIRL’S APRON

My two year old daughter loves everything about cooking and the apron is her new favorite kitchen accessory. This Little Girl Apron beautifully sewn by Jane and the Ducks arrived last week in a lovely little package, complete with our own Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

We play in the kitchen now every day.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
– from Jane and the Ducks

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3.4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes: remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

 

PECAN TREES

In the south, there is a pecan tree in just about every yard. Every autumn, we pick up pecans and my aunt, Elaine, shells them all winter long. She says that she cannot sit still at night with nothing to do – so, when she is not stitching, she shells and when she is not shelling, she stitches. This last year, she shelled about 300 lbs of pecans. (Of course, she will also tell you that she picks about 100 gallons of blackberries every summer too!) But she did shell an awful lot of pecans and I have to say that she is not stingy at all and shares the hard-to-come-by meat with everyone!

Our friend Precey makes the best pecan tarts you ever put in your mouth, and here is her coveted recipe: Continue reading

GRAM PERKINS’ CHOCOLATE PIE

Below is my Gram Perkins’ famous chocolate pie recipe that my cousin Joy continues to make. It was printed in 1958 in the “Favorite Recipes of Alabama Vocational Home Economics Teachers” cook book. My mother gave me a copy of this book when I moved into my first apartment. You can find other great community cooking in A Gracious Plenty by John T. Edge and Ellen Rolfes.

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CHOICE ORGANIC TEA

There is nothing I love more than a cup or glass of tea – hot or cold, winter or summer. We grow herbs, pick fruits, leaves, stems and blend them together into all sorts of concoctions. But there is nothing that says summer like a glass of southern sweet tea.

NATALIE’S TEA

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil
Add 3 Choice Organic Black Tea bags
Steep for 3-5 minutes
Combine in (tempered) glass pitcher steeped tea and 1 cup organic brown sugar

Add 2 sprigs of fresh peppermint when tea is cooled and serve over ice.

** I have broken many a beautiful, vintage tea pitcher with water that is too hot. Be sure to use tempered glass or wait until the water is cooler to pour into your glass container.