As our world continues to evolve and expand, sometimes the origins of things, the details and processes seem to get lost. I’m always curious about where things come from, the story, the people, and the hands that go into each thing that we consume. It seems that wherever you may be, there is someone that can provide you with what you need, locally.
In 2006 the owners of Higher Grounds Coffee Roasters, located in a small town called Leeds, Alabama, gave Natalie a bag of their freshly roasted, fair-trade, organic coffee beans. Since that day, Higher Grounds has been a staple here at Alabama Chanin, something that we look forward to enjoying each morning. When we received that first bag of coffee, it seemed that local coffee roasters in the South were few and far between. Fast forward six years and it seems that everywhere you look there are new and exciting things happening in the coffee world.
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.
After our fall visit to the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, we learned about the South’s Forgotten Locavores, market bulletins, and how these newsletters helped heirloom varieties of vegetables and plants survive generations.
We subscribed to Alabama’s Farmers and Consumers Bulletin shortly thereafter and are happy to report that we received our first issue just in time for spring cultivation. Old- timey Tennessee Red Cob Corn and Cow Horn Okra will be great additions to my garden. Continue reading
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:
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
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
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!
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.
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
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.