Tag Archives: The Factory Cafe

IN THE (HIDDEN) KITCHEN

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When I was a young girl, my mother’s mother would cook green beans for what seemed like every meal. They would be fresh from the garden when in season or, during the winter, they would come from her reserves of “put up” vegetables that had been canned and stored. By the time I was about 10, I couldn’t stand the sight of a green bean. Though it took years to reawaken, my love of green beans did eventually return.

All of this cooking and storing of green beans and the bounty of summer took place in the makeshift “outdoor kitchen” that was nothing more than a concrete platform that was the roof of my grandparents’ storm cellar. The tools of this summer pop-up kitchen included a single garden hose, several dull paring knives, and a variety of galvanized buckets and tubs that had seen the better part of several decades. Beans, fruits, and vegetables of all sorts were initially washed and left to air dry on the shaded expanse of the concrete roof, which remained cool from the deep burrow below in the hot summers.  Kids and adults alike gathered there in random pairs to shuck, peel, and prod those fruits and vegetables into a cleaner, more manageable form that would then be moved from the outdoors to the “real” kitchen inside. In her small kitchen, my grandmother would boil, serve, save, can, freeze, and generally use every scrap of food that came from the garden—a tended plot large enough to serve extended family and close friends. The preserved treasures would then move from the house, back outside and into the cool depths of the storm cellar to await their consumption—just below the makeshift kitchen, and alongside a family of spiders and crickets who made that dark place home.

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I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but by offering up that summer kitchen to any willing hand (and by serving all of those green beans), my grandmother was providing love and nourishment the only way she knew how—while teaching all of us kids the usefulness and practicality of growing our own food. Stories unfolded over those buckets of produce, and because of her patience and generous time sitting on the edge of that storm cellar, I learned that food could be used to pass down a love of nature, the earth, family tradition, and culture.

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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 5.5.2014 – 5.9.2014

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“There are still traditions that bring communities and families together instead of propelling them apart. And there are people out there pumping new life into old traditions and inventing new ones, people for whom food is an all-American reason to slow down and pursue some happiness.”

– Alice Waters, from the foreword of Hidden Kitchens

Here is what we have going on at The Factory Store + Café this week, Monday, May 5 – Friday, May 9:

STORE
Come and browse our selection of gifts for Mom (featured in-store and online). Treat the mothers in your life (or yourself) to something special.

Also, don’t forget about First Mondays at The Factory. Come sit, sew, and enjoy the company of fellow stitchers.

Call Carson at +1.256.760.1090 for more information.

Store Hours Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

TOURS
Stop by any weekday at 2:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.

CAFÉ
Back by popular demand, this week’s special features tomato soup and grilled pimento cheese—the ultimate comfort foods. We’ve also added several new recipes to our menu—like vegetarian chili and poached eggs. Come and explore the tastes of hidden kitchens from around the country, as part of our ongoing Chef Series.

Café Hours Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 3:00pm

*Lunch service begins at 11:00am

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THE FACTORY CAFÉ CHEF SERIES: THE KITCHEN SISTERS

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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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BLACKBERRY FARM’S GREEN TOMATO PIE

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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 Factory Café has been featuring Blackberry Farm’s recipe for Green Tomato Pie on the menu this month, as part of our ongoing Chef Series. The dish’s popularity has been evident the past few weeks—as soon as patrons spot the words “Green Tomato” on our menu, they cannot resist ordering.

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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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 4.21.2014 – 4.25.2014

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Here is what we have going on at The Factory Store + Café this week, Monday, April 21 – Friday, April 25:

STORE
Come and explore our retail space this week. From the latest collection and accessories to our collaboration with Heath Ceramics, The Factory Store has a little bit of everything you need for spring.

Call Carson at +1.256.760.1090 for more information.

Store Hours Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

TOURS
Stop by any weekday at 2:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.

CAFÉ
This is the last full week to enjoy Blackberry Farm cuisine at The Factory Café. So, come by and enjoy a green tomato pie…we promise you’ll love it.

Café Hours Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 3:00pm

Below is Monday and Tuesday’s menu; check back on Wednesday for a new lunch menu:

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APRIL PLAYLIST 2014: AROUND THE STUDIO

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For April’s playlist, we’ve gathered some of our favorite songs to share with you. These artists are on constant rotation at the studio (and in the store and café), and serve as daily inspiration for us as we work.

We believe these musicians are producing beautiful work and we know you will love them as much as we do:

St. Paul & the Broken Bones – “Call Me”
A new favorite, from their recently released (debut) album, Half the City. (In case you aren’t familiar, St. Paul and The Broken Bones is a soulful band, recalling the sounds that put Muscle Shoals on the map.)

Pine Hill Haints – “How Much Poison Does It Take”
Alabama “ghost music,” from one of the longest-running bands of the Shoals.

Roseanne Cash – “A Feather’s Not a Bird”
The beautifully- composed opening song on Rosanne’s latest record, which follows her from Florence, Alabama, to Arkansas. In it, she sings of “going down to Florence, just to learn to love the thread.” Read more about Rosanne and The River and The Thread here.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – “Alabama Pines”
This song by Shoals native Jason Isbell has become an unofficial Alabama anthem.

Lauderdale – “Dressed Like the Devil”
Southern rock with strong Americana influences, Lauderdale has been making music in the Shoals for nearly a decade.

Dylan LeBlanc – “If The Creek Don’t Rise”
Singer/songwriter Dylan LeBlanc collaborated with music legend Emmylou Harris on this beautifully haunting track.

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BLACKBERRY FARM’S ZUCCHINI CAESAR SALAD

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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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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 4.14.2014 – 4.18.2014

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“For many Southerners, pimento cheese—or “pimenocheese,” as we tend to say it—is a touchstone of childhood, a favorite filling for lunchbox and picnic sandwiches. But this tangy blend of sharp cheese, mayonnaise, and roasted red peppers is a great grown-up food too…”
–Edna Lewis, The Gift of Southern Cooking

There are a variety of recipes for pimento cheese—especially in the South—but I’ve become partial to The Factory Café’s house made version, featuring the (not-so-secret) ingredients: horseradish and Worcestershire sauce.

We hope that you can join us at The Factory this week (for pimento cheese and more),
xoNatalie

Here is what we have going on at The Factory Store + Café this week, Monday, April 14 – Friday, April 18:

STORE
All of our favorite items featured in our Mother’s Day Gift Guide are also available in store, including DIY kits, fabric bundles, collection pieces, Workshops, and a selection of accessories and books.

Call Carson at +1.256.760.1090 for more information.

Store Hours Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

TOURS
Stop by any weekday at 2:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.

CAFÉ
Join us in the café for lunch. This week’s special is the ultimate comfort food: roasted tomato soup and grilled pimento cheese.

Café Hours Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 3:00pm
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JACK-O-LANTERN FARM + COMMUNITY-SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE

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As most of you know, Alabama Chanin strives to support local farmers whenever possible—especially now that we’ve opened The Factory Café and are sourcing local and organic ingredients for all of our dishes. Our kitchen manager, Arron, has built a strong relationship with our friends Steve and Connie Carpenter, who operate nearby Jack-O-Lantern Farm. Each week, Steve delivers the freshest local produce to our kitchen, which Arron incorporates into our seasonal menus. Steve also picks up bags our Factory Blend Coffee and house made granola that he then sells at his farm, just across the river. Watching Arron and Steve collaborate these past few months has been a wonderful (and educational) experience.

Jack-O-Lantern Farm is getting ready to launch their 2014 Community-Supported Agriculture box program—and The Factory will be a pick-up location beginning Friday, May 16.

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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 4.7.2014 – 4.11.2014

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“A few weeks into spring we wake every morning more eager than the one before to rush out to the garden…”
–Sam Beall, The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm

Last week, we launched our Chef Series (with Chef Joseph Lenn of Blackberry Farm). For the month of April, you can enjoy fresh, seasonal Blackberry Farm recipes featured on our café menu, or purchase an array of jams, mixes, and preserves to experiment with in your own kitchen.

Hoping that you have a great week and that we see you soon,
xoNatalie

Here is what we have going on at The Factory Store + Café this week, Monday, April 7 – Friday, April 11:

STORE
Visit our flagship store this week to shop our latest collection, Basics, A. Chanin, accessories, and more.

And don’t forget, tomorrow is First Monday at The Factory. Join us from 8:30am – 11:30am for a morning of sewing and socializing.

Call Carson at +1.256.760.1090 for more information.

Store Hours Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

TOURS
Stop by any weekday at 2:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.

CAFÉ
Our menu this week features our adaptations of two dishes from Chef Lenn and Blackberry Farm: Green Tomato Pie and Zucchini Caesar Salad. Both are equally delicious (and we will be sharing recipes soon on the Journal).

Café Hours Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 3:00pm

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