Yearly Archives: 2008

CONFESSIONS OF A SEWING BASKET CASE

Dear Sweet Blair,

You are a gift to our lives and cake for our souls. I will forever think of you with a pair of pink “granny panties” stuck to your back! I was thinking this week that after 40 (some odd) years, I am just now learning to stand in my own shoes (a miracle, that). And I am sure that if I went to the mirror right now, I will have a pair of granny panties (or worse) on my own back.

(I once crossed the entire dining room of a very chic New York restaurant with a stream of toilet paper at least 8 foot long attached to my heel. My bridal train.)

Thank you for coming to Atlanta, for bravely threading your needle, for standing there in your own shoes and then for writing about it. We love you dearly…

Confessions of a Sewing Basket Case

–Blair Hobbs

After attempting to sew at the “Feeding Desire” workshop in Atlanta, I more than ever respect those who are nimble with needle and thread.

To several confident attendees, I explained how I once cross-stitched a stuffed doll to an art project canvas, and although I was proud of the initial outcome, I was mortified when I discovered that in my stitching process, I had stupidly sewn the backside of the canvas to my skirt. I stood up and the entire contents of my lap were attached: canvas, stuffed doll, and cute not-bought-on-sale linen skirt. I had to unzip, violently shimmy, and toss the whole tangled affair into the trash. Over the years, my sewing has demonstrated zero improvement. If Natalie had awarded whipstitch badges at the end of the workshop, I would have left the presentation as one empty-handed little Girl Scout.

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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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SPOONFLOWER

I guess that I am the last person on the planet to learn about printing fabric with Spoonflower – well, just happens that way sometimes…

BUT, I have signed up on the list and can’t wait for my turn.

Until then, I will occupy myself playing with these great instructions for making repeats in Photoshop:

Learn more: How do I repeat an image to make a pattern?

THE GIFT

THE-GIFT

Blair brought me this beautiful bowl to Atlanta as a present (as if her posts were not present enough). The bowl came wrapped in a pretty box and tied with an orange ribbon that was affixed with masking tape at the bottom (her son Jess’ art material of choice.) As I opened the box, Blair talked about the McCartys and how they sign their work with a piece of their home: Mississippi mud. Their signature slides down the front of my bowl.

I have proudly placed this bowl on my kitchen counter as a reminder of how something as simple as dirt can become a treasured vessel when you talk to it with your hands.

Visit McCarty’s Pottery

 

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.)

ADIEU WHITE LILY

From The New York Times, June 18, 2008:

Biscuit Bakers’ Treasured Mill Moves North

By SHAILA DEWAN
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.

FOR generations of Southern bakers, the secret to weightless biscuits has been one simple ingredient passed from grandmother to mother to child: White Lily all-purpose flour.
Biscuit dives and high-end Southern restaurants like Watershed in Atlanta and Blackberry Farm outside Knoxville use it. Blue-ribbon winners at state fair baking contests depend on it. On food lovers’ Web sites, transplanted Southerners share tips on where to find it, and some of them returning from trips back home have been known to attract attention when airport security officers detect a suspicious white dust on their luggage.
White Lily is distinctly Southern: it has been milled here in downtown Knoxville since 1883 and its white bags (extra tall because the flour weighs less per cup than other brands) are distributed almost solely in Southern supermarkets, although specialty stores like Williams-Sonoma and Dean & DeLuca have carried it at premium prices.
But at the end of June, the mill, with its shiny wood floors, turquoise and red grinders and jiggling armoire-size sifters, will shut its doors. The J. M. Smucker Company, which bought the brand a year ago, has already begun producing White Lily at two plants in the Midwest, causing ripples of anxiety that Southern biscuits will never be the same.

Read the whole story here…

BLAIR’S 4TH OF JULY

My husband, John T, just came home with a pork butt the size of a hippopotamus, so now we have to have a 4th of July event around the smoker. It’s funny because neither John T nor I like this holiday. John T says it feels “forced.” I don’t like this holiday because it makes me feel lonely.

When I was a little girl, we used to have fourth-of-July family reunions just outside of Selma, Alabama, at a place called “Billy’s Pool.” The man-made pond was on a deeply wooded patch of land called “Billy Goat’s Gruff,” and the old folks who weren’t in wheel chairs circled the pool in metal fold-out lawn chairs. The kids floated across the pond on inner tubes or swung into the water from the tree-branch rope. Of course, there were picnic tables piled with fried chicken, potato salads, hams, watermelons, lemon cookies, and sweating Jell-O molds. I loved this sunny place, and I loved the people, the family on my father’s side.

This family reunion tradition ended many, many years ago because most of the people passed away–including my stern grandmother, my pretty second cousin named Aimee, all the great aunts and uncles, and my sweet father.

Perhaps I’ll try to be more enthusiastic this 4th. Yes, folks are gone, but I have new people to share the holiday with. And, of course, I can’t be sad as I watch my son stand by his father’s side as he tends the mammoth barbecue. As I watch them, I’ll think of my own daddy and how proud I am of him, a former Navy Captain. I’ll bake a pound cake for our fresh berries and prepare deviled eggs. We may even light our favorite sparklers—pink, yellow, blue, and gold Morning Glories and watch the fire fountains dazzle up our little holiday evening that we’ll spend with a few nearby family members, a scattering of friends, and a ton of meat.

APALACHICOLA, FLORIDA

From St. EOM’s birthday party, we are on to Apalachicola for swimming, oysters, and Tupelo Honey with friend and storyteller Frank Venable.

Maggie keeps saying over and over again, “Mommy,  going beach, Mommy,  going beach.”

Don’t miss Working the Miles by Joe York, a tribute to the men and women of 13 Mile Oyster Company, honoring Tommy Ward who, like his father before him, has served as a guardian of the Apalachicola Bay.

EARNEST SEWN PRESENTS “A NEW HIVE”

EARNEST SEWING - BEE BAG

“The honeybees are disappearing, and it’s …. scary, considering that our civilization kind of depends on pollination and all…

Shining a spotlight on this catastrophe is Earnest Sewn with the latest in their ongoing installations: “A New Hive.” Bee-inspired works by Derrick R. Cruz, Caroline Priebe, Natalie Chanin, Cory Gomberg, Monica Byrne and others will be included in the exhibit at Earnest Sewn’s flagship store in NYC’s Meatpacking District. The hope is to bring attention to this extremely pressing issue, because as Cruz puts it: “Curiosity leads to contemplation, internalization, and then to genuine concern.”