Category Archives: BEAUTIFUL LIFE

TRUCK FOOD NATION

And while we are on the subject of all things food related coming back to John T. Edge

All of the pictures – taken by dear friend Angie Mosier – for Truck Food Nation have been posted.

Our friends have elevated truck food culture to white tablecloth – amazingly beautiful and inspiring.

I can’t wait to hold (and review) the book and am looking forward to our trips to San Francisco and Portland to check out a few of their finds…

More on Portland next week… Have a great weekend.

DOMESTICALLY REFRESHED

Not that cleaning house is very exciting (or sexy as I have remarked before)… unless you choose to do it in a feather boa as my friend Whitechapel suggests.

BUT, I did have a nice childhood memory today of Saturday morning cleaning sprees.

I got ambitious (or drank too much coffee) and tried out some cleaning recipes from How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew.

Feeling very domestically refreshed, and yes, well, sexy…

BOB ROSS

Bob Ross – the Mind Reading Chicken – died yesterday.  At 20 years old, he was considered by many to be the world’s oldest chicken. Born 1990 in Abbyville, Alabama, he was a White Crested Black Polish, a show chicken and a Wonder of the World. Bob was a hit at numerous art festivals around the country from Alabama to New York and California.

He once made 364 dollars in one day during a show in Birmingham, Alabama.  At one quarter per fortune, that’s 1456 fortunes told in one day!

And Sean Hayes wrote a telling song about the amazing Bob Ross called “Alabama Chicken.”

Bob died in his sleep Feb 3, 2010 in Seale, Alabama, and was buried in the Woods of Wonder.

Link to second oldest chicken here :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilda

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 at 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 parings. 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 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Run potatoes through a food mill with 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.

. Continue reading

WORD OF THE DAY: COLLECT.

Word of the Day: Collect.

Today I am collecting my thoughts.

Collect –verb.:

1.    To come to a collected attitude:
She collected her thoughts.
2.    To gather; assemble:
The studio staff collected together.
3.    To accumulate: Rain water collected in the barrel.
4.    To regain control: She took a day to collect herself.
5.    To make a collection of:
She has a collection of the beautiful garments.  

LIFE DOESN’T FRIGHTEN ME

Maggie’s favorite poem/book of the decade (well…moment).
She says to me this morning, “I like a scary movie.”

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

By Maya Angelou with paintings by Jean Michelle Basquiat

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hail
Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don’t frighten me at all
Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn’t frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Tough guys in a fight
All alone at night
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.
Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don’t frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys pull all my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don’t frighten me at all.

Don’t show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.

I’ve got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve,
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

SWIMMING WITH BARRACUDA

The island of Los Roques is attached to an archipelago of approximately 250 islands and is the second largest living organism on the planet – second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef.

The island itself is of volcanic origin and has small rock mountains (really hills) on the Atlantic side while the archipelago side is flat and sandy. At the southeastern Atlantic edge of the island – and archipelago – is a tiny cove which is really just a curved beach with a small volcanic hill slightly offshore.  The small hill is covered with all types of sea birds and the water swirls through the chute between the island and beach with incredible force.  The beach is virtually inaccessible from all sides; to get there, you must hike, traverse a lagoon, rock climb, shimmy around edges and corners before finally dropping onto the sand..

I had that small cove in my sights as I arrived on the island, but it took me some weeks to find time, when the weather permitted, to make my way there. I packed a small bag of supplies one morning and headed out. Three hours later, I arrived at the small strip of sand, maybe the smallest beach in the entire archipelago.  The beach sits next to a large reef of dead coral.  The Atlantic was so strong that the huge pieces of coral were crashing together in the waves and making a sound like a symphony.  Hence, I named the spot “Singing Coral.”

I stood there completely alone, in awe of the coral, the ocean, the sky and the fact that I had made it around the world, around the lagoon and around my life.  The currents seemed so strong but I had an overwhelming urge to swim.  It was like everything in the universe pushed me to the water. I dropped my pack and swam towards the middle of the cove where the water seemed slightly calmer.  I lay there – floating on my back – looking at the sky and then rolled to my stomach to look down into the depths of the cove.  When I turned and opened my eyes, I realized that I was swimming in the middle of a school of barracuda.  Floating there, it seemed as if thousands of barracuda swam around me in their slow, silent, circular funnel that continued as far into the depths as my eyes could see. I lay there still, shocked, terrified and strangely invigorated…

As slowly as their circular path, I began a small paddle back to my little beach. Slowly, slowly I moved and breathed and swam until my feet touched sand.  Standing back on the beach, I let out a whoop that could-be-heard-around-the-world and thought, “I will never be afraid of life again.”

That was the day that I started my journey to Project Alabama, and now Alabama Chanin.  To this day, I strive to live my life with the same courage and conviction I felt as my whoop joined the song of Singing Coral and the universe.

To the next decade – may we all find the courage to swim with barracuda and sing to the stars…