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.
Martha Hall Foose’s A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home, has landed on our bookshelf in the studio- then made its way into the kitchen (and our hearts and minds). In her book, Martha’s recipes are accompanied by fascinating stories of life and times in the Mississippi Delta. It makes me want to hop on a riverboat and float down the Mississippi to find her kitchen. Continue reading
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
Our friend Rinne Allen has been photographing our work for the last few years and shot pictures for our upcoming Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Her work is beautiful. She also just completed the cookbook A New Turn in the South with her friend Hugh Acheson – and it’s a beauty. The combination of type, hand written notes, the lovely photographs, and the rich approach to making beautifully simple food took me aback the first time I opened the cover. This book just feels different. I gave a copy to a friend for the holidays and she said to me over lunch a few weeks later, “It is so casual, beautiful and comfortable.” I agree. Hugh has a great love for one of my favorite vegetables, the Brussels sprout. His recipe “Not Your Mama’s Brussels Sprouts” from page 207 begins like this, “Brussels sprouts are the hated vegetable of my generation and I am hell-bent on changing that.” You have to love a man who thinks like that.
Rinne took a few minutes to talk with me about her work this week and shared a few of her favorite photographs:
AC: I know that you have been shooting food for quite a while, but is this your first cookbook?
RA: Prior to working with Hugh, I had photographed one cookbook called Canning for a New Generation. It came out in August 2010. The author, Liana Krissoff, also lives in Athens, Georgia, so I was lucky to work with her on such a fun and endlessly beautiful topic. We actually just finished another project together that will be out in the fall of 2012…and hopefully there will be more projects with Hugh, too!
Our local bakery – called Sugar Bakers – makes the most beautiful cakes. I personally think of them as “old-timey,” because they remind me of my childhood birthday cakes with white buttercream frosting and plenty of scallops and swags.
Here a beautiful cake they recently made for me for a special occasion using a “stitched” Anna’s Garden pattern on the top. I think that this would make such a beautiful wedding cake (or birthday, or shower, or anniversary).
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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 (courtesy of Mothering Herbs)
Sip + enjoy (responsibly).
Join us @ The Factory:
Cocktails + Shopping
Thursday, December 15, 2011, 6 – 9pm
Holiday Shopping + Sample Sale
Friday, December 16, 2011, 10am – 6pm
Thank you to Brian Herr with International Wines in Birmingham for the lovely Belstar Prosecco!