Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes

I remember the first time I heard the word victuals. It was uttered by Jed Clampett—only he pronounced it as “vittles”–on that great TV series from The Beverly Hillbillies+ which ran from 1962-1971 and told the story of a family who had moved from Appalachia to, well, Beverly Hills, California.  The Beverly Hillbillies, now in syndication, is televised daily around the world and the word victual, which means “food or provisions, typically as prepared for consumption” has become a go-to-term in the food world with the rise of interest in the foods of the Mountain South region of our country. The joke at the time was that the Clampett were so out-of-step with all the wonders of Beverly Hills and that included their use of the word victuals. But the joke, it seems, may have been on us as we deal with the overabundance of processed foods and yearn for authenticity in our diets. You know, like victuals,

In her book, Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes (Clarkson Potter 2016; $16.59 Amazon price) winner of James Beard Foundation Book of The Year and Best Book, American Cooking, author Ronni Lundy showcases both the heritage and present ways of southern cookery in this part of the United States and also shares the stories of the mountain. Lundy, a former restaurant reviewer and editor of Louisville Magazine, highlights such roadways as Warrior’s Path, the name given by English settlers to the route used by the Shawnee and Cherokee traveling for trade, hunting and, at times, to prepare for battle. Describing the towns, villages and hamlets along these routes, Lundy shows how an amalgam of immigrants some willing (Scots, Germans) and some not (African) brought with them foodways and how they merged with other ethnic groups and the foods available in the region.

The author of ten books on Southern food and culture, Lundy’s book, Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken, described as the first first regional American cookbook to offer a true taste of the Mountain South, was recognized by Gourmet magazine as one of six essential books on Southern cooking. Lundy also received the Southern Foodways Alliance Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award.

To gather the stories, recipes, traditions, and foodways, Lundy traveled over 4000 miles through seven states. Along the way, she did a lot of stopping and eating. Each chapter in her book delves into an identifying food of a region or its heritage–think salt, corn, corn liquor, and beans. And, in many ways, reconnecting to her own roots. Born in Corbin, Kentucky, she remembers shucking beans on her aunt’s front porch.

“They taught me how to break the end and pull the string down and break the other end and pull the string back on the bean,” Lundy says. “I would watch them thread it up on a needle and thread, and they would hang that in a dry place in the house…We developed these things, like drying beans for shuck beans, or drying our apples so that we could through the winter make apple stack cakes and fried apple pies. We’d have dried beans on hand, cure every part of the hog.”

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Bacon & Orange Sorghum Vinegar

“Delicious root vegetables love the cool of both spring and fall in the mountains. Gardeners love the twin harvest,” Lundy writes in the introduction to this recipe. “The root cellar is where such vegeta­bles were stored in plenty of mountain homesteads, although some folks kept them in baskets and bins in a cool, dark place in the house. In fact, folks with larger houses might close off “the front room,” as the living room was more commonly called, to conserve on heat when the weather got cold. That room might then become an ad hoc fruit and vegetable cooler.

“My mother kept the Christmas fruit in the front room until company came, but not vegetables. We ate them too fast then—boiled, buttered, and salted or eaten raw with salt. Today I make this lovely salad first in the spring, then again as autumn splashes the hills with the colors of the carrots and beets.”

Serves 4

  • 3 medium yellow beets, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 3 medium red beets, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked
  • Orange Sorghum Vinegar (see below), to taste
  • Drizzle of bacon grease, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Wrap up the yellow beets in a large piece of aluminum foil. Do the same with the red beets, and place both packets on a baking sheet. Roast until the beets are tender at the center when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, on a separate baking sheet, toss the carrot pieces with the oil. Season with a sprinkle of salt. Roast the carrots for about 25 minutes, until tender and caramelized.

When the beets come out of the oven, carefully open the packets to release the steam, and let the beets cool. Once the beets have cooled, gently rub the skins off and cut the beets into wedges.

To assemble the salad, lay the red beet wedges on the bottom of a large shallow serving bowl. Lay the roasted carrots on top, and then the yellow beet wedges. Throw in the sliced radishes and red onion. Break up the bacon slices and scatter the pieces on top. Season with salt and drizzle with the orange sorghum vinegar. Toss ever so gently. Give it a taste and determine if a drizzle of bacon grease is needed. Serve.

Orange Sorghum Vinegar

Makes ¾ cup

  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sorghum syrup
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Pour the vinegar into a small glass jar with a lid. Add the sorghum and shake or stir until dissolved. Add the orange juice and shake or stir to combine. Use as directed in recipes, and store any that’s left over, covered, in the refrigerator.

Sumac Oil Flatbread with Country Ham & Pickled Ramps

makes two large flatbreads (serves 4 to 6)

“In early mountain communities, one farmer might own a valuable tool or piece of equipment that was made available to family and neighbors as needed,” writes Lundy in the introduction of this recipe. “There was often a trade involved, although more fre­quently implicit rather than directly bartered. If you were the man with the sorghum squeezer and mule, you could expect to get a couple of quarts from your neighbors’ run. If you loaned a plow, you could count on borrowing the chains for hanging a freshly slaugh­tered hog. Or when your huge cast-iron pot was returned, it might come with several quarts of apple butter.

“With a little of that same sense of sharing, Lora Smith and Joe Schroeder invested in a traveling wood-fired oven for their farm at Big Switch. In their first spring back in Kentucky, it rolled over to a cou­ple of weddings, as well as providing the main course for the Appalachian Spring feast. Joe says plans are to take it to a couple of music festivals down the line to both share and perhaps sell enough pizzas to pay the gate.

“Music makes a good metaphor for what happens in this recipe. Lora adapted a fine flatbread recipe from acclaimed chef and baker Nick Malgieri for the crust, then added some local color. In the way that European mandolins and violins were transformed by new rhythms and melodies into something purely mountain, the use of sumac-scented olive oil, tangy country ham, and pungent pickled ramps makes this a dish that tastes distinctly of its Kentucky place.

“If you have access to a wood-fired oven, bake away there according to how yours works. The direc­tions here are for a home oven.

“The flatbread slices are even better when topped with a handful of arugula, mâche, or another bright, bitter green that has been drizzled with Orange Sorghum Vinegar (see recipe above).”

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal, plus extra for rolling the dough
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 2½ teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 6 ounces country ham, sliced about ¼ inch thick and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ¾ cup Will Dissen’s Pickled Ramps (page 000), at room temperature
  • ¼ cup Sumac Oil (recipe follows)

Combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times to mix.

Combine the yeast with ¾ cup of the warm water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Add this mixture to the food processor and pulse to combine; then let the processor run continuously for about 10 seconds, or until the dough forms a ball. You may need to add up to another ¼ cup of the warm water at this point if your dough is not coming together.

Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

Move the rested dough to a floured work surface and flatten into a thick disk, then fold the dough over on itself. Do this several times. Return the folded dough to the oiled mixing bowl (you might have to oil it again first). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350°F.

Sprinkle a floured work surface with a little cornmeal. Transfer the risen dough to the surface and divide it in half. Working with one piece of dough at a time, gently press it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough out as thin as possible, aiming for a roughly 10 × 15-inch rectangle. Transfer the dough to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with second half of the dough.

Pierce the dough all over at 1-inch intervals with the tines of a fork. Divide the country ham evenly between the two portions of dough.

Bake the flatbreads until golden and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes, switching the baking sheets’ positions about halfway through cooking.

Remove to racks and let cool slightly. Divide the ramps and sumac oil evenly between the flatbreads, and serve.

sumac oil makes about ¹⁄³ cup

Native people gathered the crimson berries of the sumac plant (not the noxious, poisonous white-berried variety, of course) to dry and grind them into a powder that gave a delicious lemony flavor to fish cooked over an open fire. They and the settlers who followed also used the sumac to make a drink akin to lemonade. You don’t have to gather berries and make your own; you can buy good-quality ground sumac at almost any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern market and some natural foods stores.

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Use immediately.

Slow Cooker–Roasted Pork Shoulder

“Thrifty homesteaders knew how to cook all cuts of the hogs that were slaughtered in the winter,” writes Lundy. “The shoulder, slow-roasted with fat and bone, produced a richly textured, deeply flavored meat worth smack­ing your lips for. Modern mountain cooks use the slow cooker to create the same effect that roasting in a woodstove, kept going all day for heat as well as cooking, once provided.

“I buy pork from one of several producers in my neck of the Blue Ridge who pasture their pigs and process them humanely. They also tend to raise her­itage pigs that naturally come with more fat, and the cuts I favor reflect that. The last roast I cooked like this weighed about 3½ pounds at the market with a top fat layer about an inch deep. I trimmed that fat to ½ inch and the roast was then about 3 pounds.”

Serves 4

  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3-pound pork shoulder or butt, bone-in
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sorghum syrup
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Rub the salt and pepper into all sides of the roast, including the top fat. Place a heavy skillet over high heat and as it is warming up, place the roast in the skillet, fat side down. The heat will render enough fat for browning the rest of the roast without sticking. When there is enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan well and the fat on the roast is turning golden brown, flip the roast over and brown the next side.

Brown all sides of the roast. This may entail using tongs to hold the roast to brown the short edges, but it only takes a minute or so and is worth it since it will intensify the flavor. You may also need to spoon some of the rendered fat out of the skillet as you are browning—the point is to sear the meat, not deep-fry it.

When the roast is browned all over, place it in a slow cooker. Carefully pour off the grease from the skillet. Add ½ cup of water to the skillet and deglaze it. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the vinegar and sorghum, stirring to dissolve the syrup. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker.

Peel the onion, quarter it, and break apart the sections. Scatter the pieces around the edge of the roast in the pot. Cover, and cook on the high setting for 30 minutes. Then turn to low and cook for 4 hours.

The pork roast will be well done but meltingly tender when the inner temperature is 165°F. Remove it from the pot and allow it to rest under a tent of foil while you make the sauce.

Strain the pan juices to remove the onion pieces. Degrease the juices and pour them into a small pot set over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with ½ cup of water to form a slurry. When the juices in the pot begin to bubble, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Continue to whisk as the mixture bubbles for about a minute and thickens. Remove from the heat.

To carve the roast, begin on the side away from the bone to yield larger, uniform pieces. Pass the sauce on the side.

Buttermilk–Brown Sugar Pie

“Pies were the Mother of Invention because neces­sity required that they be made from whatever was on hand. In the summer there was no dearth of fruit that could be gathered—often by small children who would eagerly do the work for just reward later.,” writes Lundy. “In the winter dried apples, peaches, and squash could be simmered into a filling for the hand or fried pies beloved in the region. Vinegar pie was as tasty as, and easier to come by, than one made with lemon, and apple cider could be boiled to make a tart and tangy filling. Buttermilk was enough to turn a simple cus­tard filling into a more complex delight. And using cornmeal as the thickener in these simple pies added character as well as flavor.

“My cousin Michael Fuson introduced me to brown sugar pie. It was his favorite, he told my mother when his family moved from Corbin to Louisville and he began spending time in her kitchen. “Well, honey, then I’ll make you one,” she said. That my mother could make brown sugar pie was news to me. Mike was as generous as a homesick teenaged boy could be and allowed me an ample slice before consuming the rest on his own. It was, I thought, one of the loveliest things I’d ever eaten. But then I made a version of my own with buttermilk instead of cream, and the sum of these two pie parts was greater than the whole of all pies put together.”

Makes one 9-inch pie

  • Single unbaked pie crust (use your favorite recipe or 1/4 batch of Emily Hilliard’s Pie Crust below)
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup very finely ground cornmeal*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the crust in a 9-inch pie pan and refrigerate it while making the filling.

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cornmeal, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Beat in the melted butter. Add the dry mixture and stir vigorously until the brown sugar is dissolved. Add the buttermilk and vanilla. When all is well combined, pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake for 45 minutes, or until the center is set (no longer liquid, but still tender to the touch).

Allow the pie to cool until just barely warm before slicing. I like to drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of buttermilk over my slice.

Emily Hilliard’s Pie Crust

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into slices
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup ice-cold water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender or fork and knife, cut in the butter. Make sure pea-sized butter chunks remain to help keep the crust flaky.

Lightly beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the ice-cold water and the vinegar.

Pour the liquid mixture into the flour-butter mixture and combine using a wooden spoon. Mix until the dough comes together in a shaggy mass. Be careful not to overmix. Use floured hands to divide the dough in half and then form into 2 balls. Wrap each ball tightly in plastic wrap. Let them chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

Note: if you cut this recipe in half, it will work for a two-crust pie.

The above recipes are reprinted from Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes. Copyright © 2016 by Ronni Lundy. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Johnny Autry. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

In Goldberry Woods: An Inn and Farm Far Off the Beaten Path But Close to Everything

       Nestled on a peninsular formed where the curve of the Galien River is intersected by a small unnamed creek, Goldberry Woods Bed & Breakfast is definitely off the beaten path even for those who know their way around the backroads of Southwest Michigan.

       “Yet we’re close to Lake Michigan and Red Arrow Highway,” says Julie Haberichter who with her husband Eric own and operate the inn.

       You wouldn’t guess that by looking around at the surrounding woods and lack of traffic sounds. And, of course, that’s part of the charm. Here on 30 acres of woods, old and new orchards, grapevines, and gardens, the Haberichters have re-imagined an old time resort albeit one with all the modern twists—swimming pool, farm-to-table cuisine, kayaks ready to go on the banks of the Galien, walking trails, and cottages and their Innkeeper’s Inn with suites for large groups or individual stays.

       Goldberry Woods is the story of how a couple painstakingly restored a resort that had fallen into disrepair, creating a major destination for those who want to get away from it all.

       But this is also a story about how two engineering majors from the Chicagoland area met in college, discovered they lived just towns apart, married, honeymooned at a B&B that was a working flower farm in Hawaii and decided that quirky inns were the type of places they wanted to stay.

       That is, until, while vacationing in Harbor Country in 2011 they happened upon what had been the River’s Edge B&B in Union Pier and decided that unique places were instead where they wanted to live. By 2012, Julie and Eric had bought the property, restored it and had opened Goldberry Woods B&B.

       A little more explaining is needed here. If you’re like me and are thinking goldberries are some rare, antique type fruit like say lingonberries, marionberries, or gooseberries, you’d be very wrong. It turns out that Goldberry, also known as the River Woman’s Daughter,  was a minor character in Christopher Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, though she never made it into the movie series. An ethereal blonde with a penchant for green velvet gowns, she was from the Withywindle River in the Old Forest and certainly seems as though she’d be at home here surrounded by ripening fruit and veggies.

       It’s obvious that the Haberichters are more familiar with The Lord of the Rings than I am but then Julie also knows someone who learned to speak Elvish, the language of the elves. If that sounds unique, consider this. According to some sources, there are more people now who speak Elvish as it is spoken in The Lord of the Rings movies than Irish.

       Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure but the name Goldberry does speak to the charm of this place where the Haberichters forage and grow old fashioned foods, plant organic, practice sustainability, and  harvest the eggs from the heirloom chickens, ducks, and quail that at times run free range in Goldberry’s gardens.

       Julie brims with excitement as she takes me on a tour, pointing out the novelty and heritage produce she grows. There are pumpkin eggplants also known as pumpkin-on-a-stick which indeed look like miniature pumpkins, ground cherries which she uses in her Jasmine and lemon tea,  Malabar spinach with its rich glossy oversized leaves, and cucumelons (tiny little veggies that can be eaten straight from the vine) among many others.

Because what’s in season changes quickly as does the weather, there’s always something different or a variation of a favorite at Goldberry Woods.

       “The oatmeal we serve at Goldberry Woods is constantly changing from season to season, served hot or chilled based on the outdoor weather and the availability of seasonal fruit,” says Julie, who shared the summer version of her Chilled Coconut Steel Cut Oatmeal (see below).

       There’s also some serious forging going on.

       “We started looking for as many fun and unusual ways to use the wild plants growing throughout our flower beds and woods as possible,” says Julie. “ We have experimented with dandelions, violets, spruce tips, and sassafras to name a few.”

       While she’s talking, Julie brings out glass jars of jam. I try the spruce tips—made from the new tips of the spruce tree at the beginning of spring. Scooping up a small teaspoon to try, I note a definite evergreen taste, refreshing and somewhat woodsy with just a touch of sweetness. It would work on buttered biscuits, toast or even as sauce for lamb and pork. The violet jam is a deep purple and there’s an assortment of pepper jams such as habanero gold pepper jelly with chopped sweet apricots. Unfortunately, Julie didn’t any have jars of the dandelion jam or the pear lime ginger jelly she makes—it goes fast. But she had a large bushel basket full of colorful peppers which would soon become a sweet and spicy jam.

  August, she told me as we walked into the old growth orchard, was begging her to make a yellow floral jelly from goldenrod flowers. So that was the next chore of many on her list.

       Having learned to determine the edibility of certain mushrooms she forages the safe ones from where they grow in the woods, frying up such fungi as puff balls which she describe as having a custard-like interior. In the spring, there are fiddlehead greens easily available, but Julie has to trade for ramps which though they seem to grow wild every place where there are woods, don’t appear anywhere within Goldberry’s 30 acres.

       Now focused fully on running Goldberry Woods and raising their three daughters, Julie previously worked as a chemical engineer in a food processing plant that used a million gallons of corn syrup per day. Now she teaches classes in how to harvest honey–there are, naturally, bee hives on the property.  If all this sounds like a real divergence from a career in corn syrup and a degree in chemical engineering, Julie started an environmental club in high school and gardened in college.

       Unfortunately, you can’t eat at Goldberry Woods unless you’re an overnight guest. But you can stop and visit as the couple has set up their Goldberry Market in a 1970s trailer.  It’s very cute plus they have an outdoors stand on the property. They also take their produce to the New Buffalo Farmer’s Market which is held on Thursday evenings. As for what to do with the unique produce they sell, there are recipes on their website and Julie will always take the time to give ideas. It’s her passion to share the best of what Southwest Michigan produces.

For more information, visit goldberrywoods.com

The following recipes are courtesy of Goldberry Woods.

Chilled Coconut Steel Cut Oatmeal

Serves 8

  • 2 cups coconut milk (1 can)
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup of seeds such as quinoa, chia, flax or amaranth
  • ¼-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Fresh sliced peaches

Bring coconut milk, 2 cups of water, salt, and the steel cut oats to full boil in an 8-cup microwaveable bowl, approximately 6 minutes.  Do not let the oats boil over as this makes a sticky mess.

Remove bowl to the counter and stir.  Allow the concoction to cool down a bit, stirring occasionally, maybe 30 minutes (this is to keep from heating up your fridge!)  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, add the old fashioned oats, seeds, sugar and spices.

You may need to add more liquid at this time to reach your desired consistency.  We find this recipe to be refreshing and like the oatmeal to be a bit thin.  Adjust sweetness to your taste.

If it’s chilly out, reheat in the microwave.

Here’s the fun part.  Stir in whatever looks good to your taste.  Here are some ideas:

  • Use coconut milk and stir in vanilla, shredded coconut, bananas, honey, dried apricots, almonds….
  • Use apple cider and stir in applesauce, sautéed apples, raisins, nuts, maple syrup, walnuts

Goldberry Woods Egg Rollup

Makes about 8 servings

Egg Mixture

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 12 eggs
  • Salt and pepper

Filling

  • 12 ounces precooked meat and veggies of your choosing (Malabar Spinach, sausage, ham, bacon, asparagus, peppers, greens, mushrooms…..)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (we usually use a good sharp cheddar and a shredded Monterey Jack that melts well—feta is great, too)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine all the Egg Mixture Ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Spread parchment over a 11×17 jelly roll, tucking into the corners.  Pour the egg mixture onto the parchment paper.

Bake the eggs for 15-20 minutes.  Wait until the top sets completely.

Remove the egg roll pan and spread the filling over the eggs evenly.

Use a towel and the parchment paper to tightly roll up the eggs.  Leave the seam side down and cover the whole rollup with the parchment paper so that it doesn’t dry out.

Return to the oven for 10 more minutes to allow the cheese to melt and the filling to heat up.

Slice into 1 ½ inch slices.

About 8 servings.

Golden Rod Jelly

YIELD: Makes 4 pints

  • 8 cups packed Goldenrod flowers
    4 teaspoons lemon juice
    2 packages pectin powder
    6 cups sugar

Make a goldenrod tea.  Put the flowers in a stainless steel pot and add just enough cool water to cover. Bring to a gentle simmer for 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow the flowers to  steep for at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Strain the flowers through a fine metal sieve.  Gently squeeze excess liquid from the flowers.  Measure 5 cups of liquid.  Add water if necessary.

Place goldenrod tea back into pot and add lemon juice.  Add the pectin, stir, and bring to a boil until pectin is fully dissolved.

Add sugar and bring to a full boil for one minute. Remove from heat and pour into sterile canning jars.  Keep jelly in the fridge for up to one month.

What to do in Union Pier

While visiting Goldberry Woods, take time to stop at St. Julian Winery’s tasting location in Union Pier. St. Julian is the oldest winery in the state. There’s also the Round Barn Tasting Room next door.

Stop at Union Pier Market for a great selection of gourmet goods, beer, and wine. Next door, also on Townline Road, is the Black Currant Bakehouse for made from scratch pastries as well as sandwiches and such distinctive beverages as their Rose Quartz Latte, Chaga Chai, and Honey Lavender Latte. Milda’s Corner Market next to Union Pier Market features foods from over 40 countries and freshly made Lithuanian fare including “Sūreliai” Mini Cheesecake bars, Koluduna (dumplings), and Kugelis.

Head to Townline Beach and then consider dinner at The Grove Restaurant, just off Townline Road and steps from the beach.

For more information on what to do in the area, visit Harbor Country.

The article on Goldberry Woods previously ran in the Herald Palladium.

Art Immersion at 21c Museum Hotel: The Place for Penguins, Bourbon, Southern Cuisine, and Cotton Candy

Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

Much more than a place to lay your head, 21c Museum Hotel with locations in Louisville, Cincinnati, Des Moines, Chicago, St. Louis, Lexington, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Durham, and Bentonville, Arkansas, is a total immersion into art or, maybe better put, it’s a night in the art museum.

Penguin Love. Photo of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

In Louisville, it started when I spied a 4-foot penguin at the end of the hall as I headed to my room but 30 minutes later when I opened my door, the rotund red bird was there in front of me. “Don’t worry,” said a man walking by. “They’re always on the move.”

Proof on Main. Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

The migratory birds, sculptures first exhibited at the 2005 Venice Biennale and now part of the collection of 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville add a touch of whimsy. But with 9,000 square feet of gallery space and art in all corridors and rooms, three-fourths coming from the owners’ private collection valued at $10 million, 21c is a serious museum.

Proof on Main. Photo of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

Carved out of five former 19th-century bourbon and tobacco warehouses, 21c is both part of the revitalization of Louisville’s delightful downtown and a transformation of art from backdrop into upfront and thought-provoking.

The sleek, minimalist interior — uber-urbanism with linear white walls dividing the main lobby and downstairs gallery into cozy conversational and exhibit spaces — is softened with touches of the buildings’ past using exposed red brick walls and original timber and iron support beams as part of the decor. Named by Travel + Leisure as one of the 500 Best Hotels in the World, 21c is also the first North American museum of 21st-century contemporary art.

Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

I find more whimsy on a plate at Proof on Main, the hotel’s restaurant, when the waiter plops down my bill and a fluff of pink cotton candy — no after-dinner mints here. For more about the cotton candy, see the sidebar below. But the food, a delicious melange of contemporary, American South, and locally grown, will please even the most serious foodinista. It’s all creative without being too over the top. Menu items include charred snap peas tossed with red chermoula on a bed of creamy jalapeno whipped feta,

Bison Burger. Photo and recipe courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

And, of course, the Proof on Main staple since first opening. 8 ounce patty, char grilled to your preferred temp (chef recommended medium rare), served with smoky bacon, extra sharp cheddar and sweet onion jam to compliment the game of the meat nicely. Local Bluegrass bakery makes our delicious brioche buns. The burger comes house hand cut fries. For the ending (but it’s okay if you want to skip everything else and get down to the Butterscotch Pot De Créme, so very luxuriously smooth and rich pot de creme with soft whipped cream and crunchy, salty pecan cookies.

Mangonada at Proof on Main. Photo and recipe courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

House-cured pancetta seasons the baby Brussels sprouts, grown on the restaurant’s 1,000-acre farm. Local is on the drink menu as well with more than 50 regional and seasonal Kentucky bourbons.

A meal like this demands a walk, so I step outside (more art here) on Main, a street of 19th-century cast-iron facades, the second largest collection in the U.S. Once known as Whiskey Row, it’s refined now as Museum Row on Main. To my left, a 120-foot bat leans on the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, across the street is the Louisville Science Center, and nearby are several more including the Muhammad Ali Center.

Heading east, I take a 15-minute stroll to NuLu, an emerging neighborhood of galleries, restaurants and shops. I’ve come for the Modjeskas, caramel-covered marshmallows created in 1888 in honor of a visiting Polish actress and still made from the original recipe at Muth’s Candies. On the way back to 21c, I detour through Waterfront Park, a vast expanse of greenway on the Ohio River, taking time to bite into a Modjeska and watch boats pass by.

21C MUSEUM HOTEL700 W. Main St., Louisville, Ky., 502-217-6300, 21chotel.com

Pink Cotton Candy for Dessert. Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

As an aside, the idea for the cotton candy originated with co-founder Steve Wilson. Here’s the story, from the restaurant’s blog, Details Matter.
“A memory that sticks with Steve from his younger years is the circus coming to town.  Steve grew up in a small town in far Western Kentucky along the Mississippi River called Wickliffe He distinctly remembers the year the one striped tent was erected on the high school baseball field. Certainly not the large three ringed circus many others may remember, but the elephants, the handsome people in beautiful costumes…they were all there.  When Steve sat through the show he got a glimpse into a fantasy world he didn’t know existed. A departure from reality.  Oftentimes, after his trip to the circus, when he was sad or frustrated, he would daydream about running away to the circus. In fact, he’ll tell you he used to pull the sheets of his bed over his head, prop them up in the middle and pretend to be the ringmaster in his own crazy circus tent!  In his eyes, the circus was where everything was beautiful, and no one would cry.

There’s that darn penguin again. Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

“Fast forward many years later, Steve met Laura Lee Brown at a dinner party in Louisville.  He was immediately smitten and wanted to impress her.  SO naturally one of his first dates was a trip to the circus at the KY Expo Center.  Whether she was impressed or not, it seems to have worked.

“Years later, as Steve and Laura Lee were working on the development of 21c Louisville, they took a trip to Mexico City.  At the end of one particularly memorable dinner, the server ended the meal with pink cotton candy served on a green grass plate.  It was sticky, messy, and immediately brought back memories from Steve’s childhood.  It was a feel good memory he wanted to last.

“Steve often says 21c makes him actually FEEL like the ringmaster in his own circus, so as the restaurant plans were getting finalized, he wanted to incorporate cotton candy as an homage to that feeling.  As we opened up each new restaurant, the cotton candy continued, each time with a color and flavor to match the color of the hotel’s resident penguins.  Eight operating restaurants later, the hope is that each and every diner ends their meal a little sticky, a little messy, and feeling nostalgic about good childhood memories.”

And again! Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

Recipes courtesy of Proof on Main

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour

½ tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp light brown sugar

1 cup buttermilk

¼ heavy cream

6 tbsp butter

2 tbsp Crisco

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Grate butter on the coarse side of the grater and put butter in the freezer along with the Crisco. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix cream and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Once butter is very cold combine with the dry ingredients with hands until a coarse meal is made. Add the cold dairy to the mixture and fold until just combined. Roll out dough on a floured clean surface and cut biscuits with a ring mold cutter. Layout on sheet trays 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes and rotate set timer for 8 more minutes. Once out of the oven brush with melted butter.

SMOKED CATFISH DIP

Smoked Catfish Dip. Photo and recipe courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

This recipe makes a lot, but you can easily divide it—or put the extra in a mason jar and give to a friend as a holiday gift.

YIELD: 1 QUART

1 lb. Smoked catfish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons small diced celery
3 Tablespoons small diced white onion
Juice and Zest of One Lemon
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper to taste

TO SERVE

Lemon wedges
Hot sauce
Pretzel crackers
Fresh dill for garnish

Flake the fish with your hands until it is fluffy. Combine the mustard, sour cream, celery, onion, parsley, lemon juice and zest and the mayonnaise together. Combine with the catfish and mix until it is well incorporated. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve cold with fresh dill and lemon wedges, your favorite hot sauce and pretzel crackers.

Mangonada

“This is a slightly complex variation of a margarita, adding smoky mezcal, bright cilantro and tangy mango-tamarind syrup. It was created as a play on the Mexican sweet treat, the Mangonada, with mango, a tamarind candy stick, and Tajin seasoning.” – Proof on Main Beverage Director, Jeff Swoboda.

3/4 oz Banhez
3/4 El Jimador Blanco
1/4 oz Cynar 70
1 oz mango-tamarind syrup
3/4 oz lime juice
big pinch of cilantro

Shake together with ice, strain over fresh ice and garnish with a Tamarrico candy straw.

Proof on Main’s Mint Julep

1 cup mint leaves, plus a sprig or two for garnish

1 ounce sugar syrup

2 ounces bourbon

Crushed ice to fill glass

In a rocks glass, lightly press on mint with a muddler or back of a spoon. Add the sugar syrup. Pack the glass with crushed ice and pour the bourbon over the ice. Garnish with an extra mint sprig.

Hungry for Harbor Country: Food, Friendship, and Fun in Southwest Michigan

Lindsay Navama

         Growing up in Tahoe City, a one stoplight town in California’s High Sierra Mountains, Lindsay Navama yearned for the big city life. Los Angeles offered just that, and she was happy there in her career as a recipe developer, personal chef, and  owner of Cookie Culture, a boutique bakery.  

Lake Life Cranberry Limeade Cosmo

         But when she and her husband, David, moved to Chicago for work, Navama felt unmoored and wondered what to do next in her life.

         Lured by articles about the wonders of Harbor Country, the swath of countryside starting at the state line and curving north along Lake Michigan to Sawyer, Michigan, the couple decided to check it out.

         Unfortunately, upon arrival the two were totally underwhelmed.

“We heard people call it the ‘Hamptons of the Midwest but we thought is this it?” says Navama.

Whistle Stop Asian Noodle Salad

         The two didn’t return for several years,  but when they did—they both experienced what she describes as the region’s magic.  It was more than just the beautiful beaches, the eight quaint small towns each unique in its own way, lush farmlands, orchards, rivers, and woods, there was also an appealing vibe. Each visit brought new discoveries– an estate winery, a fun delicatessen that became like a second home, a Swedish bakery that first opened for business in 1912–and new friends.

         Wanting to spend more time there, the couple moved into a small place in New Buffalo and dubbed it “Camp Navama.” There Navama cooked and entertained, developing her own recipes and tweaking them when needed to feed friends on gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo, and other diets. She learned the rhythms of the land and seasons such as when deep blue Concord grapes were  peaking at Dinges’ Farm in Three Oaks or when an order of fresh caught sturgeon arrived at Rachel Collins’ Flagship Specialty Foods and Fish Market in Lakeside.

Buffalo Cauliflower

         In ways it was a convergence of Navama’s experiences growing up in the High Sierras and adulthood in the ever-so-hip L.A. food and cultural scene. Navama identified with many Harbor Country residents who moved to or had second homes in the area and brought that big city sensibility with them when it came to art, food, entertaining but appreciated a more rural way of living and a lot less concrete.

         Navama no longer felt lost and instead saw the direction her life should take.

 “I wanted to preserve those memories, great meals, and good times in Mason jars,” she says.     

Of course, jars can’t hold memories, but paper does and so Navama  wrote “Hungry for Harbor Country: Recipes and Stories From the Coast of Southwest Michigan,” (Midway 2020; $34.95).

A great cookbook with 50 recipes and photos by Gabrielle Sukich of Benton Harbor, it’s also a travel guide with small maps, listings of restaurants, wineries, intriguing hideaways, and everything else the area has to offer.

“I never saw myself as living any other place than California and here I am in a tiny town in the Midwest,” she says. “And I’m beyond grateful it happened.”

Whistle Stop Asian Noodle Salad

4–6 servings 

Contributed by Whistle Stop Grocery and Chef Eva Frahm

1 pound angel hair or capellini pasta

5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

¼ cup plus ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

¾ cup hoisin sauce, divided

1 medium red bell pepper

1 medium yellow bell pepper 

¼ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce

Sriracha, to taste (optional)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the pasta water, if desired. Add the angel hair and cook 7 to 8 minutes until just al dente, so the noodles are still slightly firm and not overcooked. Drain into a colander, rinse gently with cold water, let drain again, then place in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms in ¼ cup of the olive oil for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Season with ⅛ teaspoon of the salt and ⅛ teaspoon of the pepper. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the hoisin sauce. Stir to coat and set aside.

Julienne the bell peppers by cutting them into ⅛-inch-thick strips. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 10 tablespoons hoisin sauce, the remaining ⅓ cup olive oil, the rice vinegar, the garlic chili sauce, and the Sriracha (if using). Set aside.

Add the mushrooms, peppers, scallions, cilantro, and sauce mixture to the noodles. Toss gently to incorporate. Season to taste with the remaining salt and the remaining pepper and transfer to a serving bowl or store covered in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.

Lake Life Cranberry Limeade Cosmo

1 serving 

3 ounces favorite vodka

1 ounce triple sec

2 ounces cranberry juice cocktail

3 tablespoons limeade concentrate, thawed

a cocktail shaker and martini glass in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Add the vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and limeade concentrate to the chilled cocktail shaker. Shake your booty while you shake your Cosmo for about 10 seconds, because why not?!

Reprinted with permission from Hungry For Harbor Country by Lindsay Navama, Agate Publishing, Photos © Gabrielle Sukich.

Ben Watkins Has Passed Away and We All Grieve at Our Loss.

I was just scrolling through the news on my phone procrastinating doing some work when I saw a photo of Ben Watkins. I didn’t really need to scroll any further to know what that meant. Ben, who competed in “MasterChef Junior” three years ago, had been battling an extremely rare type of cancer at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. It’s the kind of place where if you have any chance of surviving, they’re the ones who’ll make sure it happens.

Photo by Leila Edwards.

He had been diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. I mentioned above that it’s very rare–so rare that only one out of six people have been diagnosed with it.

I knew Ben and I knew his mother, Leila Edwards, who created lovely jewelry and who adored her son who was friends with my nephews, all of whom live in Miller Beach. My niece and her husband and family were friends with the Edwards-Watkins family.

Ben Watkins in his home kitchen making his special Oreo recipe. Photos by Leila Edwards, Ben’s mother.

As I’ve said before, I never met Ben’s father and Leila’s mother, Michael Watkins, but everyone I’ve ever talked to, described him as the nicest person. Which is what made what happened three years ago so baffling. He too was diagnosed with cancer and one morning took a gun and killed Leila and then himself. Ben was in the house but unharmed.

Ben went to live with his uncle and grandmother and the Miller Beach community raised a great deal of money to help with finances. As I mentioned he had competed on “MasterChef Junior” and had made it through several rounds, advancing each time but finally was sent home by Gordon Ramsay in a not very nice way. We were all aghast. How dare he. Our sweet Ben. Newspapers criticized the way Ramsay sent Ben packing. Ben was the type of kid who was totally likeable. When Ben was diagnosed with the cancer, Ramsay stepped up and donated $50,000 to his medical fund.

Photo by Leila Edwards.

Ben loved to cook, he started helping out in the kitchen when he was three and he liked creating his own recipes though sometimes, when I’d asked him how to make one of the dishes, he couldn’t remember the exact amounts and would have to do it again. He was a kid who got good grades, helped out in his parents restaurant in Miller Beach, competed in spell bowl, math bowl, chess club or also fixed broken bikes for kids in need through the Ken Parr Build a Bike program in Miller Beach. He wanted to be an engineer when he grew up. But alas, already facing so much sorrow and pain in his life, had to face more in the hospital as the tumors grew and grew. His pain may be gone now, but that of those who knew and loved him, including that of his uncle, Anthony Edwards and his grandmother Donna Edwards who took over his care after his parents died. I can’t even begin to fathom the depths of their sorrow and anguish.

Ben Watkins. Photo by Leila Edwards.

“We were praying for a different outcome,” Anthony Edwards told the Chicago Tribune shortly after his death which occurred earlier today. “But Ben’s lungs could no longer give him the air he needed to breathe. It’s been devastating.”

Photo by Leila Edwards.

Indeed.

Gordon ramsay tweeted today, “We lost a Master of @MastrChefJrFOX kitchen today. Ben you were an incredibly talented home” cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss. Gx.”

I have shared this recipe before, Ben made it up and he was so proud of it so I will share it one more time.

“Our Ben went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half battle with cancer,” wrote the Edwards in a statement. “Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know.”

Amen to that.

Ben Watkins’ Chocolate Chip Cookie and Oreo Brownie Bars

Cookie Layer:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extracthttps://cad9106d0d6494498d2fa80cdc316a59.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

2 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

24 ounces chocolate chips

18 to 24 Double Stuf Oreos, crumbled

Mix butter with sugar until creamed. Add eggs and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl mix flour mixture and baking soda. Add to creamed butter. Fold in chocolate chips and spread evenly on the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch pan.

Spread crumbled Oreos evenly over the top of the chocolate chip cookie dough.

Brownie Layer:

4 ounces unsweetened Baker’s chocolate

¾ cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

Place chocolate in microwave and melt. Melt butter, stir in chocolate and sugar. Stir in eggs one a time and vanilla. Add flour. Mix thoroughly. Spread evenly on top of chocolate chip cookie dough and Oreos.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.

Cookbooks for Holiday Giving

            I always think cookbooks make great holiday presents and so I asked Carrie Bachman and Joyce Lin, two of my good friends who work with cookbooks all the time, to share some of their favorites with me. I loved the ones they suggested, the only problem was deciding—because of space issues in this column—which ones to highlight.

            I chose Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie because I have every other cookbook she’s written and I think she’s great and I thought her recipe for Oven-Charred-Stuffed Peppers which can be easily multiplied to serve  whatever size crowd you’re expecting and can be served at any temperature so if they cool down after removing from the oven, it’s no big deal.

            I enjoyed making and serving the Curry Leaf Popcorn Chicken featured in Nik Sharma’s Season. This is the first cookbook forSharma who writes the blog “A Brown Table” and his recipes are exotic but also really easy and delicious. I also like that Sharma offers suggestions I can use in making this dish and others such as shaking the chicken (or even shrimp) in small batches in resealable plastic bags to get a uniform coating of flour.

            Named Amazon’s 2018 Cookbook of the Year, Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers by Julia Turshen is wonderful for people like me who have watched leftovers age less than gracefully in my refrigerator before, after serving their time, they get tossed. I won’t have to do that no I have a copy of Turshen’s book. Or at least that’s the plan.

            Taking the leftover thing one step further, Lindsay-Jean Hard in her Cooking From Scraps: Turn Your Peels, Cores, Rinds and Stems Into Delicious Meals—85 Scrumptious Recipe for Zero-Waste Cooking, shows how to make dishes like Carrot Top Pesto Tartlets, Danish Pancakes with Apple Core Syrup and Banana Peel Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting.

.

Oven-Charred Tomato-Stuffed Peppers

From Everyday Dorie © 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Makes 6 servings

About 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove (ormore, if you’d like), germ removed and very thinly sliced

About 8 sprigs fresh thyme, rosemary, mint and/or parsley

6 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

5 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs

8 oil-packed anchovies, minced

1 small lemon

Pinch of piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper

3 large red and/or yellow boxy bell peppers

1 pint cherry tomatoes (25 to 30), halved

For serving (optional)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Ricotta

Snipped fresh chives or finely chopped other fresh herbs

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Put a deep-dish 9½-inch pie pan (or similar-size baking dish) on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Spread a tablespoon or two of the oil over the bottom and sides of the pan, then scatter over the garlic slices, half of the herb sprigs and half of the basil and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the bread crumbs and anchovies together in a small bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon over and squeeze in the juice from half of the lemon (about 1 tablespoon; precision isn’t important here). Cut 6 thin slices from the other half of the lemon, then cut the slices in half; set aside. (If any lemon remains, squeeze the juice from it over the bread crumbs.) Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and season the crumbs with the piment d’Espelette or cayenne. Taste to see if you want some salt (anchovies are salty, so the seasoning might be just fine).

If you’d like (or need room in the pan), trim the peppers’ stems. Slice the peppers in half the long way and remove the ribs and seeds. Spoon an equal amount of the bread-crumb mixture into each pepper, scatter the remaining basil over and topeach one with 2 lemon slices. Divide the tomatoes among the peppers, placing them as close together as you can, and season with salt and pepper. (I put the tomatoes in the peppers cut side down because I think they look prettier that way, but there is no set rule here.)

Transfer the peppersto the pie pan, crowding them together and cajoling them so that they all fit. One or two might pop up, or their bottoms might not fully touch the base of the pan, but in the end they will be fine. Drizzle over enough of the remaining oil to lightly moisten the tomatoes and then strew over the remaining herb sprigs. (The peppers can be prepared a few hours ahead to this point and refrigerated,covered; let them stand at room temperature while the oven preheats.)

Bake the peppers for about 1 hour (check at the 45-minute mark), until they’re as soft as you’d like them to be — poke the side of one with the tip of a paring knife to judge. The juices and oil should be bubbling and the peppers charred here and there.Remove and discard the herbs from the top of the peppers.

You can serve the peppers straight from the oven, warm or at room temperature. If you’d like, drizzle them with a bit more oil, top them with a little ricotta (adding a dollop of ricotta is particularly nice if you’re serving the dish warm as a starter) and sprinkle with chives or other herbs.

Curry Leaf Popcorn Chicken

From Season by Nik Sharma with permission by Chronicle Books 2018.

Makes 4 servings

Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

12 black peppercorns

2 cups buttermilk

2 to 3 serrano chiles, seeded, if desired

6 scallions (white and green parts)

30 curry leaves, preferably fresh

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

3 cups neutral-tasting oil

4 green Thai chiles, seeded, if desired

Favorite hot sauce for serving

Heat a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cardamom, coriander, cumin seeds, and the peppercorns, and toast for 30 to 45 seconds, swirling the mixture occasionally until the seeds release their aroma and start to brown. Divide the toasted spice mixture in half. Transfer one half of this mixture to a spice grinder and pulse to a fine powder. (You can prepare the spices up to 1 week in advance and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.)

In a blender, combine the remaining toasted spice mixture with the buttermilk, serrano chiles, scallions, 15 of the curry leaves, the garlic, 1 tsp of the cayenne, the ginger, lime juice, and 1Tbsp of the salt. Pulse until completely smooth and transfer to a large resealable plastic bag. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Trim excess fat from the chicken, and cut the flesh into 1 in cubes. Add to the marinade. Seal the bag and shake to coat evenly. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the dredging mixture. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the remaining half of the ground spice mixture with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining ½ tsp cayenne, and remaining 1 tsp salt, shaking vigorously to blend. Finely chop 10 of the remaining curry leaves and add them to the dredging mixture. Seal the bag and shake again to mix well.

Once the chicken has marinated, use tongs to lift out half the chicken pieces, shaking off the excess batter, and transfer to the bag with the dredging mixture. Seal the bag and shake to coat evenly. Transfer the chicken pieces to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

In a medium Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350°F. Fry the chicken in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or a spider, transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain.

After the chicken is cooked, prepare the garnish: Cut the Thai chiles in half lengthwise. In the hot oil left in the pot, deep-fry the chiles and remaining 5 curry leaves until crispy, 30 to 40 seconds. Drain on paper towels.

Put the chicken on a serving plate, garnish with the chiles and fried curry leaves, and serve hot with the maple-vinegar sauce or hot sauce.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Walnuts, Garlic + Parsley

From Now & Again by Julia Turshen with permission by Chronicle Books 2018.

Serves 4 as a nosh with drinks.

¼ cup walnut halves

A large handful of fresh Italian parsley leaves (a little bit of stem is fine!)

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons coarsely grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 small cremini or button mushrooms, stemmed

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a small sheet pan or baking dish with parchment paper and set it aside.

Put the walnuts, parsley, garlic, cheese, and salt into a food processor, in that order. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse to combine.

Use a small spoon to distribute the walnut mixture evenly among the mushrooms, placing it in the cavities the now-gone stems left behind. Line up the mushrooms, stuffed-sides up, on the prepared sheet pan.

Roast the mushrooms until softened and the tops are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let the mushrooms cool for a few minutes, then serve warm.

Banana Peel Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Cooking From Scraps, (c) 2018 by Lindsay-Jean Hard. Reproduced by permission of Workman. All rights reserved.

For the cake:

Peels from 2 very ripe bananas, stem and very bottom discarded 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the pans

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 2/3 cups cake flour plus more flour (any type) for flouring the pans

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the brown sugar frosting:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup milk, 2% or higher

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 3/4 to 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To make the cake: Cut the banana peels into 1-inch pieces and place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove thepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly, then strain the banana peels, reserving the cup of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, butter and flour the sides of two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pans again to coat the paper.

Transfer the peels and the 1/4 cup of cooking water to a tall, narrow container and puree until completely smooth with an immersion blender (a mini food processor would do the trick, too!).

Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer (or a wooden spoon for an arm workout) until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing until incorporated, and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the banana peel mixture, then stir in the buttermilk until well combined. 6. In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the butter mixture and stir gently, just until combined. 

Put the egg whites in another bowl (make sure it’s clean and dry!)and whisk until soft peaks form—either by hand or with the whisk attachment onan electric mixer. If using an electric mixer, start slowly and gradually increase speed to medium-high. You’ll know you’re done when you pull out the whisk or beater and a soft peak is formed, but immediately collapses. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter and divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.

Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake pulls out with dry crumbs rather than wet batter. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans.

When the cakes are completely cool and you’re ready to assemble it, make the frosting. Melt the butter in a medium pan over low heat. Stir inthe brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk,raise the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Remove from the heat, and let cool until lukewarm. Gradually whisk in 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Add the additional 1/4 cup powdered sugar if the frosting is too loose. Use the frosting immediately, asit will begin to thicken and stiffen as it sits.

When the cakes are completely cool, remove from the pans and peel off the parchment. Put one layer of the cake on a serving platter and spread about one third of the frosting evenly over the top. Set the other layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

2018 Brown County, Indiana Morel Foray April 25th, 2018


Kids under 10 are welcome and free! (nominal fee if you want us to pack lunches for them and to participate in the feast)

**Please Note: Each person who attends receives a free Foray Bumper Sticker, Lunch, Feast, and link to the on-line foray video. Mesh bags will be available to purchase if you need one.

What is Included
Levena prepares a special outdoor picnic lunch with sandwiches, dozens of snacks, fruit, veggies, and drinks. (if you have special dietary needs, we will try to accommodate).
Chris gives a seminar teaching you all about morels and other wild edible mushrooms and plants!Image may contain: 1 person, plant
There will be a huge Foraged Feast including numerous plant and mushroom appetizers, soup, fried morels, and the pasta entree with chicken, brats, and steak! (if you have special needs such as vegetarian, dairy, or gluten free, simply email me your request and Chris will be happy to accommodate you!)
There are Hotel Rooms available near our hunting spots, or camping is also available, (details will be emailed after you register).
Everyone who registers will receive a free foray bumper sticker!
A link will be emailed to an online video of our Mushroom Hunt, Feast and Festivities to Cherish for years to come!

The Feast cooked by Chris Matherly and Levena Holmes! A complete itinerary will be emailed after you register and will include all locations, what to bring, etc.

Image may contain: tree, plant and outdoor

Where
To be held near Nashville, IN
When
April 25th, 2018
Cost
Per Person – $75.00
Registration
Register and pay right here online or feel free to call me personally

For more information: 478-217-5200; chrismathe@aol.com