Archive for August, 2010

Tuesday Field Trip: Dairy Cheer

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

This field trip, Dairy Cheer. It is an eastern Kentucky chain and by chain I mean there are 2 in Pikeville, one in Prestonsburg, and one in West Liberty. After home softball games one of my coaches took us to Dairy Cheer. I always remember getting a blueberry milkshake made from blueberry ice cream where the blueberries were fake. Kind of purple and small and gell like…totally gross to think about now but man I loved that.

In recent years when I lived in Whitesburg and was able to go to Dairy Cheer more regularly, I would get the swirl cone, Orange icey soft serve swirled with vanilla soft serve for a kind of creamsicle effect. Really good and something I’ve never really seen anywhere else.

Unfortunately, Dairy Cheer is closed on Sundays. So I hardly ever get to make a visit. Saturday though, I was home helping my mom with a reception and went to Dairy Cheer for a lunch of the Smashburger and fries:

Now I have to admit, the last time I ate an actual meal at Dairy Cheer I woke up with terrible stomach pains. This time I did not get sick but the food is not that great. The burger was really overcooked and I’m not entirely sure how much actual meat was in it. I also had trouble telling what made it a Smashburger, I can’t remember from my youth, and I couldn’t really discern any special sauce or anything. The fries were great and I saw some onion rings come out that looked amazing.

Unfortunately I was too full for the swirl action, which is really yummy and refreshing. I’m going to have to accept that the food here is more nostalgicly good rather than actually good. It’s a real bummer because I feel like most of the greasy spoons and diners back home have gone this way because people would rather eat at the chain restaurants. They think it is inherently better because it is not from home.

Public House Thoughts

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Since the end of the Riverplains dinner I’ve been focusing on Public House work. The boys are busy finishing up construction which means my side will kick in soon. It is amazing all the details that you think you’ve thought of that you just haven’t…Like for instance bulk toilet paper rolls and dispensers. Anyone? Not glamorous but definitely something that affects your experience.

I just want to think about how to execute a cool secret wine club and the best menu possible and planting the garden next year for garden fresh cocktails. Granted I have spent a lot of time thinking about all those things but then there’s about 15 things to get each one properly executed. The first priority will be the menu. It is finally finalized, but now I have to find the perfect 4 cheeses and meats for the charcuterie boards.

So, I have been calling distributors to set up cheese and meat accounts, (see right there, I navigated away from writing this because I remembered I was supposed to look up how much a meat slicer costs!), putting together barware budgets, and meeting with suppliers. It will all come together and hopefully you will be there and not even notice that there were many meetings, lists, and debates! You will just be happy, full of adult beverages and lovely bar food!

Here are some hopeful things that we’re trying to make happen:
Blackberry Farm Cheese
Beers you can’t get anywhere else
Eventually garden cocktails
Lots of house infustions
A wine club
Benton’s Prosciutto
Riverplains Spelt Crackers

Any other requests? What makes a bar great? What do you miss in Knoxville bars?

Anticipating Fall and Winter

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

We still have a ways to go, but these 90 degree days will eventually end. We will miss them and the bounty that came with them. I’ve been putting up pickles left and right. I’ve also been juicing. So far I have a bag of strawberry and tomato water ice cubes. Next will be watermelon. Then I think I will be set.

I’m imagining a mid-November cocktail party with hearty meat and late fall vegetables and super light and summery cocktails.

The tomato water martini might be my drink of the summer that will roll into the fall. Equal parts tomato water and vodka (a cucumber infused vodka might make this even better) and 1/2 part of vermouth. Shake it with ice, strain, and enjoy. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday Field Trip: Tupelo Honey

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

This Tuesday Field Trip happened last Thursday evening. After coming back straight to Farm to Table preparation and execution my mind forgot that I was on vacation the week before. It’s also sometimes hard to consider time with loads of family actual vacation. You don’t really get to check out at all, so I needed a little tiny break. I turned off email, left the computer at home and we went to Asheville, NC for the night.

Thus far my favorite things about Tupelo Honey are 1) 99% of the time I call it Uncle Tupelo, still one of my favorite bands, and 2) I remember a tomato sandwich there at 2AM one drunken Saturday after a Southern Foodways Alliance event. I haven’t really been there since for a meal other than breakfast, which never stood out to me. Now I have a third, dinner!

After traipsing around and seeing most kitchens closed or closing we ended up here for dinner. It was spectacular. Very simple dishes, well, at least dishes based on the memories of simple down home dishes. I had fried chicken. But it was nut breaded fried chicken with white gravy served on sweet potato mashed potatoes and I had a side of brussell sprouts.  It was so fresh and delicious. Carlos had stroganoff made with pork, local mushrooms, goat cheese grits and some pesto. It was also amazing. Not quite as heavy as you might think.

From my experiences in Knoxville, we don’t have anything like this. Good, fresh, southern food. I love southern food. I want to eat it but I want it made with local, farm fresh ingredients. It’s one of the big holes in our eating scene here. Southern food is a special thing, just look at the number of restaurants featuring this kind of food in New York City!


Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

A German pickle for ripe cucumbers, ones that have sat on the vine a little too long. I accidentally used Japanese cucumbers to make these but I hope they will still be okay. The salting is always a cool process to me, pulling out all that water. I let these set overnight in the fridge. This is from the Joy of Pickling. If you’re at all interested in pickling go buy this book. I love looking through it. Next for me is an Indian Cauliflower pickle.

5 pounds of ripe cucumbers, peeled
1/4 cup pickling salt (There’s a reason to use this pure salt. If you don’t have it run to Food City and buy a bag which will last you for more than 1 pickling season if you’re not putting up a ton of pickles.)
3 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons whole yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices (I bought some at the Co-op.)

Slice the cucumbers in half vertically and scrape the seeds out. Slice each half into strips. Mix the strips in a bowl with the salt. Cover and leave at room temperature for 4-12 hours.

Drain the cucumber strips well; do not rinse them. IN a nonreactive pot, stir together vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds and spices. Add half the cucumber strips and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute.

Ladle cucumbers into mason jars and cover with the hot liquid, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Repeat the cooking of the cucumbers with the second half of the cucumbers.

Boil the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Store at least 3 weeks before eating.

Lovely Sunday

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Seems like peaceful Sundays are rare but yesterday was just that. After painting the walls at the Public House a cool steel gray, I picked up some supplies at Three Rivers and headed home. I had no real plans but bread pudding, gazpacho, and pickling. After a glass of wine and some debate on what to cook for dinner, I defrosted a leg of lamb from my family’s ranch in Oregon.

The bread pudding was quick and good. I used some leftover biscuits from Tupelo Honey in Asheville. Tomato Head provided the recipe. Biscuits are not usually the best for bread pudding because they kind of fall a part but these were hearty enough to hold up.

I always have an internal debate over fast/high heat cooking and slow/low heat. Generally I do not have the patience for the low heat but yesterday it seemed to make sense. So I threw the leg of lam, coated in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs de provence,  on the grill at 200-300 degrees for two and a half hours. It was off direct heat most of the time and I cooked it to about 145 degrees. It was amazing. I don’t know if was the family lamb or the slow heat or the mixture of herbs but it was seriously the best lamb I’ve ever had.

I also made gazpacho. It was  such a good summer dinner, light fresh soup and then a meaty meat! The gazpacho was tomatoes, cucumbers, a jalepeno, browned leeks and onions, white wine vinegar and olive oil.

All in all it made for a great Sunday at home. Relaxing and rejuvenating!

Sorry these pictures are not awesome. I feel like my phone camera gets worse with each use….

Tomato Chutney

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

We are lucky that tomatoes are everywhere right now. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. There is a lot to do with tomatoes canning, juicing, sandwiching, salting. On Saturday at the Riverplains dinner we topped the burgers with this amazing, incredible, craving-inducing tomato chutney from Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by Jessica Prentice. It was great on the burger and perfect with scrambled eggs (my test for any new sauce or chutney). It has a salty, mustardy flavor. This recipe makes enough, 1/2 gallon, to can. If you don’t want this much just divide it down.

3 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds
3/4 cup boiling water
4-5 tomatoes
1.5 lemons juiced
1.5 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
3 teaspoons black or brown mustard seeds
1.5 tablespoons fresh basil minced
1, 6 inch piece of ginger peeled and minced or grated
1.5 teaspoons tumeric
1.5 teaspoons sucunat
1/3 cup of whey (if you don’t have whey strain out whole fat yogurt)
2 tablespoons sea salt
1/3 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper

Pour boiling water over fenugreek seeds in a small bowl. Let them soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.

De-seed the tomatoes and cut into a small diece. Put tomatoes in a large bowl, drain the water from fenugreek seeds, and add to tomatoes.

Squeeze lemon juice over tomatoes.

In a small skillet, toast the cumin and mustard seeds until they begin to smell fragrant.

Add toasted cumin and mustard seeds, ginger, basil, tumeric, sucunat, whey, salt, and cayenne to the tomatoes. Stir thoroughly and taste. Mixture should be salty but delicious!