Sunday, November 19, 2017

19 November 2017






The election is finally over, and I am coming up for air just in time for the holidays. Of course, I was very pleased with the results and look forward to serving the citizens of Canton for another four years. We have so many exciting projects going on, and the enthusiasm is contagious. With all the activity, however, I have not had time to cook in several weeks. With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, I was determined to get some prep work done today and escape into the kitchen for some therapy. Between work, the election and other activities, the past couple of months have been unbelievably busy, and the next couple don't appear to be less hectic.

In addition to my regular work and Council duties, I had a couple of extracurricular design engagements this past week. Last Wednesday, I had the honor and privilege to be the featured speaker at the last Lunch Circuit series in Woodstock, sponsored by Fresh Start Cherokee, an initiative of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development. Jonathan Chambers does an excellent job with the program, and it features the stories of different entrepreneurs in Cherokee County. I enjoyed telling my story and background at Grant Design Collaborative to an engaged and gracious crowd, including a lot of friends and colleagues. It was a great day. Last night, I ventured down to Atlanta for AIGA Atlanta's Big Night event at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. This humbling museum always leaves me in awe, but last night we were there to celebrate our local design community and our latest AIGA Atlanta Fellow inductee, David Laufer. I was named a Fellow quite a few years ago, and our other Fellows were there to honor David and celebrate together. It was great catching up with old friends and participating in a beautiful evening hosted by the current AIGA Atlanta board.

So today was all about planning the Thanksgiving menu, grocery shopping and prepping as much as possible. I made cornbread and homemade chicken stock for the Southern dressing. Since I needed to make stock, I decided to double up and cook enough to make tonight's Sunday Supper, old-fashion chicken and black pepper buttermilk dumplings. It was a long, but satisfying day in the kitchen, and I enjoyed every minute. In addition to the scratch stock and stewed free range chicken, I also made and rolled the black pepper dumplings by hand as well. I even went as old-school to use lard in the dumplings, but of course it was lard that I rendered myself. You can also use vegetable shortening as a perfectly acceptable replacement. I also used buttermilk instead of whole milk, and the dumplings were very light and fluffy. They turned out very well, and it was the perfect comfort food after my time away from the kitchen. For dessert, I made a simple standby, a rustic pear tart with a cream cheese crust and pear brandy whipped cream.

I'll only have three days to catch up this week but hope to find a little time to relax over the holiday weekend. Whatever the week brings, I will take time to be thankful for an abundant life, a wonderful community, talented colleagues and the most loving friends and family ever. May your Thanksgiving be equally filled with blessings, great food, fond memories and unrelenting joy.


The Menu:

- Chicken and Buttermilk Black Pepper Dumplings

- Rustic Pear Tart with Pear Brandy Whipped Cream


The Recipe – Chicken and Buttermilk Black 
Pepper Dumplings

Ingredients:

Chicken and Stock:

1 whole chicken
4 large carrots, halved
2 large yellow onion, 1 quartered for stock, 1 chopped for stew
4 stalks celery with leaves, 1cut into large pieces for stock, 1 sliced for stew
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
2 sprigs thyme
1 TBS butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dumplings:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper
4 TBS lard or shortening
1/2 to 2/3 cups buttermilk


Directions:

Place the chicken in a pot and cover with cold water and half of the vegetables in large pieces. Add all of the herbs, bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Boil the chicken until it is done and falling off the bone, 30-40 mins. Slice the remaining vegetables that were not originally placed in the pot.

When the chicken is done, pull it out of the water, cool and separate the meat from the skin and bone, tearing into bite-size pieces. Strain the stock from the pot, and place over medium high heat to reduce by half.

For the dumplings:

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Cut in the lard or shortening until the texture becomes crumbly. Add the buttermilk and combine to form a thick dough. Roll the dough out on a floured board to 1/4 inch thickness, and cut it into 1 x 1 1/2 inch strips.

Add the the sliced vegetables to the reduced stock, and cook until tender - around 15 mins. Add the chicken back to the pot, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the stew to a low boil. Drop the dumplings into the stew one at a time, cover and simmer until dumplings are puffed and firm, 5-8 mins.

Serve hot, and garnish with chopped parsley or chives if desired.

Monday, October 23, 2017

22 October 2017










It was great to get back into the kitchen at One Britt! The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy with work, election and volunteer activities, but the weekends have been the busiest of all. Two Saturdays ago, we participated in the 9th Annual Angels Walk at Soleil Laurel Canyon. This fundraiser is sponsored by the Soleil Le Marmitons, a mens cooking club, and other great individuals to benefit the North Georgia Angel House. Ron and Brenda Laird lead the event, and it was my sixth time to walk. It is always an excellent opportunity to catch up with my friends at Soleil, and of course, a good excuse to eat some delicious Le Marmiton hot dogs! During my first Angel Walk in 2011, I had the good fortune of meeting Micki Farley, so this event holds a special place for me. I applaud the Angel Walk and the $4,000 they raised this year for an excellent cause.

Last Saturday was also consumed with volunteer activity. Joining forces with Goin' Coastal and the Kell family, we collected a ton of hurricane relief supplies for Puerto Rico. Zach and Josh Kell stored most of them in the event space at Coastal, until they ran out of room and had to move more to my office at Grant Design Collaborative. Coordinated by Buen Provencho restaurant in Smyrna, we worked with the organizers to deliver Canton's contributions direct to their staging warehouse in Norcross. Due to the generous amount of donations, Jeff Brown and I had to rent a 17 foot U-Haul to deliver the supplies! Joined by Josh Kell, Cory Wilson, Stefanie Joyner, Stephanie Villasenor and her
awesome son, Ian, we loaded 30 cases of water, a dozen boxes of medical supplies, canned goods, personal hygiene items and much, much more. Once we filled the U-Haul, I drove it to Norcross, assisted by my Co-Pilot, Jeff Brown. The truck had over 141,000 miles, and it was quite interesting driving it on 75 and 285! We made it and found the warehouse filled with wonderful volunteers who were sorting and packing all of the donations. We were so proud to hear that our delivery was the single largest of their operation, so thanks again to the amazing generosity of our Canton friends and neighbors! Special thanks to Rebekah Shelnut, Zach and Bre Kell for all of their assistance and encouragement. It was a true community effort.

Last Tuesday, I had the honor of sponsoring the Steve Buchanan and Chris Chandler Golf Tournament at the Fairways of Canton. This excellent fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is organized by one of Canton's finest, former City Councilman Wade Buchanan. Thanks to Mr. Buchanan and all of the golfers who participated this year. From golf to history, Saturday's activities included serving as a volunteer docent for the Cherokee County Historical Society's 2017 Tour of Homes. Jeff and I spent the morning at the recently renovated Hawkins-McManus craftsmen style home on E. Main Street. Ms. McManus did a beautiful job on the home, and her daughter's home next door was also included on the tour. Tammy and Stan Perkins featured their stunning renovation on the tour, and I was simply speechless when I had a chance to view their work. Thanks to them, and others, who have worked so hard to restore these beautiful homes on E. Main Street, one of the most important gateways into downtown Canton. Of course, we must also acknowledge the Historical Society for their tireless efforts to preserve our heritage.

Needless to say, I was totally exhausted by Saturday evening. I had several invitations, including a wonderful Casino Night fundraiser for the Cherokee High Boosters Club, but I needed a quiet night at home to collect myself. So, I sent Jeff and other friends to the Casino Night, and I stayed home to relax with Jazpur. I was in my PJ's by 7 pm and enjoyed a bowl of cereal for dinner. Wrapped in my grandmother's quilt, Jaz and I watched a beautiful independent movie, "Maudie," about an artist in Nova Scotia who defied the odds and challenges in overcoming debilitating arthritis to find fame and love in the most unexpected ways. I highly recommend the film, and it was the perfect way to restore and recover.

By Sunday, my chore list was quite extensive, but I was determined to find time to cook Sunday Supper. I needed the therapy and focused time in the kitchen. Anticipating our holiday trip to Spain and Portugal, I did some research on Portuguese cooking and found an interesting recipe for a spicy Piri Piri roasted chicken with potatoes. Originating in Africa, the dish was adapted by the Portuguese for a comforting and relatively simple meal. To accompany the spice of the chicken, I also made a refreshing tomato and cucumber salad. For dessert, I adapted an easy Portuguese dessert recipe called Serradura, a layered creation of whipped cream, Maria cookies and fruit jam. I added my own twists by using Biscoff cookies and orange marmalade for the fruit topping. Being Southern, I also made the dessert in small jelly jars instead of parfait dishes. Shelly Farrar of Riverstone Corner Bistro will be so proud of me! The chicken was phenomenal, but the roasted potatoes were the best part of the meal. Regardless of how you roast a chicken, just toss some potatoes in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then place the chicken on top. I used the spatchcock method of butterflying the chicken to cook faster and cover more of the potatoes. The potatoes roast in the chicken fat drippings, and they are divine. However, the Serradura dessert is very simple and yummy, so I am posting the recipe for it this time around. It is easy to make, and everyone really enjoyed it.

Another busy week lies ahead, but I hope you all find some quiet time to restore, reflect and count your blessings. Bon appetite and best wishes to a very special community.


The Menu:

- Portugese Piri Piri Roast Chicken and Potatoes

- Yogurt Cilantro Suace

- Simple Cucumber and Heirloom Tomato Salad

- Serradura a la Bill


The Recipe – Easy Serradura Portuguese Dessert

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
18-20 Biscoff cookies, finely crushed
½ cup orange marmalade + 1 tablespoon of orange juice or water

Directions:

Crush the cookies until very fine. I used the old fashioned method of putting them in a ziplock bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. I actually used the jar of marmalade as my rolling pin!

Whip the cream, vanilla and condensed milk into semi stiff peaks.

Form layers by alternating cookie crumbs and whipped cream. Leave room at the top for the fruit topping.

To make the glaze, stir the orange juice or water into the marmalade, and heat in the microwave for l a minute until it becomes spreadable. Spoon the warm marmalade on top of the serradura and spread gently to cover.

Chill for several hours to set before serving.

Note: Substitute any fruit jam or fresh fruit puree in place of the marmalade to adapt to your own taste.



Monday, September 18, 2017

17 September 2017






What a week. From tropical storms to exciting large projects with Hewlett Packard at Grant Design Collaborative to new potential developments in the City of Canton, I have been a busy man. However, I am grateful we were spared any severe damage from Irma and continue to keep those who have been devastated by this storm, as well as Harvey, in my thoughts and prayers. Please join me in contributing to worthwhile relief efforts in any way possible. It appears more storms are on the way, so the need will only grow in the weeks ahead.

Speaking of the weather, it has been fickle to say the least. Just when there was a tease of Fall in the air with cooler mornings, Summer returned with a vengeance the past couple of days, but it was a beautiful weekend in Canton. Granted, it is challenging to plan for Sunday Supper menus with the changing forecast. Just when I began to think about warm, autumn-inspired comfort foods, such as stews and casseroles, I had to switch plans for the warmer weekend.

For some reason, I have been craving Asian food lately. Other than our wonderful local Thai restaurant, Chon Ngren, other types of this cuisine alludes us here in Canton. I always enjoy venturing down to the diverse culinary playground of Buford Highway in Atlanta for this type of food, but that is a long drive, especially on a Sunday. In addition, typical Asian ingredients are also hard to find in this area, so when taking matters into my own kitchen, I have to plan accordingly. Like other cuisines, you can be resourceful with substitute ingredients, but there are certain exotic ones that simply can not be replaced. So after a little online research, I came across an interesting Malaysian dish of beef and celery. I love celery, and this recipe celebrates it as a vegetable instead of the typical garnish. There were a couple of challenging ingredients, but I worked around them and added a few elements to make the recipe work in my kitchen at One Britt. If you are not a celery fan, simply substitute asparagus or some other vegetable. As a side to the beef dish, I found an interesting coconut rice recipe with an extremely spicy sauce made with yogurt, cilantro and jalapeno peppers. The rice is made with coconut milk instead of water, and I added a cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaf and cumin seeds for really interesting flavors. It was a perfect accompaniment to the earthy and aromatic beef and celery main course. For appetizers, I prepared some simple steamed edamame and baked some vegetable egg rolls to serve with homemade Chinese hot mustard. The mustard is easy to make and so much better than the prepared, packaged version you get with take out orders. I just whisk three tablespoons of Coleman's hot mustard powder with three tablespoons of cold water, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. It is spicy and a good way to clear your sinuses!

If you like a certain type of food, don't be intimidated by exotic recipes. Just use common sense to substitute and improvise. It may not always work out, but the fun is found in the experimentation. For instance, I have a couple of woks to use for stir frying, but I did not want to pull them out of the back of my cabinets for the beef and celery dish. So, I simply used my large cast iron skillet to stir fry everything in one pan. You can never go wrong with cast iron! Explore the International food aisle of your local grocery store as well. If you see interesting ingredients, simply Google them to explore recipes and ideas. We also have some amazing hispanic stores in Canton, such as Ramirez on Marietta Highway. Here, you will find a bounty of wonderful ingredients, spices, fresh produce and baked goods for Latin and Mexican inspired menus. You will also find these stores to be very affordable as well.

Here's hoping your week is filled with fascinating improvisation and delicious serendipity.


The Menu:

- Stir Fried Beef and Celery

- Coconut Rice Pilaf with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

- Steamed Edamame

- Baked Vegetable Egg Rolls with Homemade Chinese Hot Mustard


The Recipe – Stir Fried Beef and Celery

Ingredients:

16 oz rib eye steak, cut into thin strips
2 Tbsp Chinese black bean sauce/paste
8 celery ribs, strings removed with vegetable peeler, halved and cut into 2 inch batons
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp whole black peppercorns, crushed
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
4 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp mirin, rice vinegar, or black vinegar (optional)

For the beef marinade:

3 tsp cornstarch
3 tsp light soy sauce
Pinch of ground white pepper


Directions:

Place ribeye in freezer for 30 minutes before slicing. Mix marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl, then add the beef and stir to coat. Let beef sit in marinade for 20 minutes.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel a thin layer off the celery to remove strings, cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide  and two inch long batons.

Heat half of the oil in a wok or frying pan until smoking, then add the marinated beef and stir fry over high heat for 30-45 seconds. Remove the beef and reserve, leaving the browned bits of the beef in the pan for flavor.

Reduce heat to medium, then add the remaining oil, crushed peppercorns, black bean paste, and garlic, stir frying for 1 minute, until just fragrant, but don't burn the mixture. Add the celery, and fry for 2–3 minutes, then return the beef to the pan. Mix the oyster sauce, water and mirin or vinegar, and add to the pan. Stir and cook for 30 seconds longer. Serve immediately with basmati rice.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

27 August 2017








Last week was very busy. It began with qualifying for reelection to Canton City Council on Monday, a lot of client meetings and attending Georgia's Downtown Conference in Columbus on Wednesday and Thursday. The conference was very interesting, and we learned a lot about that city's turnaround, riverwalk and their man-made whitewater experience. I left inspired and thinking a lot about Canton's opportunity to make the most out of the Etowah River that runs through our city. 

On Friday, we heard through the grapevine that our newest downtown restaurant, Local on North, was doing a soft opening that night. We joined some great friends there and had a wonderful experience. The restaurant is really quite beautiful, and the food was delicious. All eight of us ordered a different entree, from crab cakes to wood fired pizza to vegetable couscous, and everyone loved their dishes. The owners were extremely friendly and attentive, and I am excited to have another great restaurant to put in our rotation. 

On Saturday, we got to the Canton Farmers Market early to get the good stuff from our favorite suppliers. Afterward, we walked over to STEEP Tea House to enjoy an incredible brunch. On the way over, we passed by two more new businesses in the process of opening, a yoga studio and an interior design shop. I am delighted that North Street has arrived, and our historic downtown loop is now a reality. In addition to other great venues throughout the city, such as Riverstone Corner Bistro and Chon Ngren Thai Restaurant, our downtown dining scene is becoming the envy of Metro Atlanta. Panera Bread Company will be breaking ground next month, and by December, the Harris Group will be ready to lease five additional restaurant spaces in the newly restored Canton grammar school and mill office buildings. There has never been a more exciting time to live, work, dine and play in Canton, Georgia!

Today, we spent some time doing chores around the house and grocery shopping for a lot of staples. We are planning a trip to Spain over the holidays, so I have been researching some typical Spanish dishes. I decided to try my hand at a potato, onion and egg tortilla, and it was very tasty. It even turned out of the skillet in the end, my biggest worry. I made a fresh tomato and pepper salad to serve with the tortilla, using the last of our Carolina Gold tomatoes from the yard. For dessert, I used the season's last peaches from the farmers market to make Tom Keller's confit of peaches with mint. It was very refreshing and delectable.

We enjoyed Sunday Supper on the Side Porch at One Britt, but or minds and hearts were, and still are, with our fellow Americans in Houston and Texas. The devastation is simply overwhelming, and I pray they will recover soon. Count your blessings, and do what you can to help others. Life is short, y'all.


The Menu:

- Spanish Tortilla with Potatoes and Onions

- Fresh Tomato and Pepper Salad

- Confit of Peaches with Mint


The Recipe – Spanish Tortilla with Tomato and Pepper Salad


Ingredients:

Tortilla:

5 medium Yukon gold potatoes 
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 tsps kosher salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste 
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
6 large eggs

Tomato and Pepper Salad:

3/4 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup diced Cubano pepper
1/4 cup sliced scallion, white and green parts
1clove garlic, minced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Peel potatoes and halve them lengthwise, then slice them, thinly, crosswise. Pat potatoes dry with paper towels then toss them with onion, garlic, paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoons black pepper.

Warm a large skillet over medium heat, then add olive oil and potato / onion mixture. The oil should nearly cover the potatoes, so add more if you need it. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust heat so vegetables do not brown. Transfer potatoes and onions to a colander with a slotted spoon, but reserve 3 1/2 tablespoons oil from the skillet. Let potatoes cool for around 10 minutes before adding to eggs.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl until well combined and season with a little salt and pepper. Stir potato mixture into eggs. Spray a nonstick skillet or baking pan with cooking spray, then pour and swirl two tablespoons of the reserved oil to coat the bottom. Pour potato and egg mixture into the pan and flatten out surface with a spatula. Bake tortilla in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Remove from oven and loosen the sides with a rubber spatula before placing a serving plate over the top of pan and flipping to turn out the tortilla. 

To make the salad, toss the tomatoes, pepper, scallion, garlic and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons reserved oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and serve over top of tortilla cut in wedges.











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Monday, August 7, 2017

06 August 2017







Summer in Canton just keeps getting better. I had the honor of being the guest emcee at the August First Friday, and it was epic. The band, Atlanta Rhythm and Grove, was off the chart, and everyone had a great time. During the evening, I had so many positive conversations about the positive momentum in the City of Canton, and the sense of community has never been stronger. You can feel the excitement in the air, and it's only getting better. The collective effort of our Main Street Board, City Staff and Volunteers are to be commended on their efforts and hard work. They never cease to amaze me.

Saturday began as usual with a trip to the Canton Farmers Market. We got there early, but so did the crowds. Everyone was looking for the top picks of local produce, baked goods, seafood, beef, farm eggs, natural products and so much more. Whim-Wham Art Farm had already sold out of bagels by 9:30, but that is nothing new. However, we were able to snag some tomatoes, basil, flowers and hummus from their table. Our fearless market leader, Micki Farley, was taking the day off, but of course she was there shopping and supporting the vendors. When we bumped into her, she told me about some amazing pizza crust by Good Things Baking Company, and she had the last one put on hold in my name. It's good to have friends in high places! I bought the sourdough pizza crust and a homemade baguette, and both were amazing! Our haul also included okra, lady peas, hydroponic arugula and micro greens, potatoes, local clover honey and fresh-picked blackberries. It was a banner day at the market.

Our dear friend and artist, Steve Martin, visited us from Blue Ridge on Saturday afternoon. It had been a while since we saw him last, so it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up. We had a delicious lunch at Steep Tea House and, of course, ran into other friends there. Speaking of Steep, Lyn Moye had live entertainment during First Friday, and we were fortunate to hear her perform a song with the acoustic duo. She sang one of my favorite songs, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and it was incredible. I never knew she had such an amazing voice. I highly recommend you check out Steep the next time she has performers since she told me she always sings one song. You won't regret it.

After Steep, we spent some time relaxing in the cement pond at One Britt. Jeff took some time to visit Meghan and Ryan Quinlan's house warming as well as their son Nolan's first birthday party. I hated to miss it, but it gave me some time to reminisce with Steve, one of my oldest and dearest friends. Later in the afternoon, I made some tapas from the sourdough pizza crust and other items from the Farmers Market. The pizza crust is out of this world, especially when topped with tomatoes and basil from Whim Wham and our own back yard.

Sunday was a relatively quiet day. It began with Jeff's delectable pancakes. He has really mastered the art of breakfast. Afterward, we took a long, 5 mile walk from One Britt to Etowah Park to hit the trail to Heritage and back home on the sidewalk system. It's a very nice walk, even when it is a bit warm, but it gave us an opportunity to walk off the pancakes! After taking a plunge in the pool to cool off, we headed out to round up the few provisions for Sunday Supper that we did not get at the Farmers Market. We are attempting to eat a lot less meat, so I made a simple tomato sauce for spaghetti and a caprese salad from our backyard tomatoes and a beautiful yellow variety from Whim Wham. For dessert, I was ecstatic to put the first figs from our tree in a rustic fig tart. I served the Good Things baguette with the spaghetti, and it was perfect in every way.

After dinner, our good friend, Gary Mullet, joined us for the world premiere of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. Gary has long been fan of this series, but I had never indulged in his guilty pleasure. However, this one caught my attention because it had a cameo by my star crush, Olivia Newton-John. We really enjoyed the absurdity and rip offs of various entertainment and cultural references, and it was nice to spend some "guy-time" with Gary after his recent knee replacement. His recovery has gone very well, and luckily, the stormy evening did not include any sharknados in Canton.

Once again, I am feeling much gratitude for another fulfilling weekend in our small town. I have always used the word "blessings" with trepidation, but I am finally understanding the meaning. While we have so much negativity, anger and sadness that surrounds us every day, it is reassuring to take time to count our blessings, big and small. After all, challenges are an opportunity to explore our capacity for grace in the face of adversity.

Wishing you grace and gratitude in the week ahead.


The Menu:

- Spaghetti with SimpleTomato Sauce

- Caprese Salad

- Good Things Baguette

- Rustic Fig Tart


The Recipe – Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed

- 2 - 28oz cans good quality San Marzano tomatoes

- 1 sprig fresh basil plus more leaves for finishing

- 1/2 tsp crushed red paper

- pinch sugar to reduce acid

- salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

Place the olive oil and crushed garlic in a dutch oven or medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat the garlic and press with a spatula to release flavor in the oil. Swirl oil to incorporate, around 2 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.

When garlic is fragrant, add the tomatoes and stir into the oil and garlic. If using whole, unpeeled tomatoes, crush them with a wooden spoon or tomato masher. You can also used chopped tomatoes for the sauce.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add the whole basil stem, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper – stirring to combine. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

When sauce has thickened and oil begins to separate a bit, remove basil stem. Off heat, stir in reserved chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste.

This simple tomato sauce is great with pasta, pizza or any other place you may use marinara.

Monday, July 24, 2017

23 July 2017









You say tomato; I say festival! I had a wonderful time serving as a judge for the 9th Annual Tomato Sandwich Festival on Saturday at the Canton Farmers Market. I have been honored to judge past competitions, but this year's crowd was quite impressive. Hats off to Roy Taylor for conceiving this wonderful idea and for managing it for the past nine years. Roy's passion for Canton, and all things sustainable, is indicative of Canton's character and charm, and we all benefit from his engagement.

We didn't have any green tomatoes in the competition on Saturday, but if we did, they stood a good chance of being fried naturally. Saturday was, by far, the hottest day of Summer this year, and everyone was commenting on the extreme heat. After the Farmers Market, we ran a few errands and decided it was too hot to do anything other than swimming in the cement pond at One Britt. Even the pool was the warmest it has been all year, but the water was refreshing, and a couple of friends found their way over to chill – as best they could. Unfortunately, I was suffering from a lot of sinus issues and had to go inside later in the afternoon. Summer colds and sinus infections are the worst, but binge watching TV in your PJs with the AC turned down low enough to make the windows sweat sure puts things in perspective.

We don't have much time to watch TV these days, so we began a marathon on Friday night with the new Netflix series, "Friends From College." Anyone who has a close group of college friends, or even a small tribe of best friends, can relate to this comedic drama. It is akin to a modern day soap opera, but the characters are interestingly neurotic. We completed the first season tonight and look forward to the next one. During my convalescing on Saturday night and Sunday, I discovered another Netflix series called, The Ranch. It took me a couple of episodes to get into it, but it is engaging and very funny. While the opening sequence shows scenes from Ouray, ColoradoThe Ranch is actually filmed on a sound stage in front of a live audience in Burbank, California. The first time I heard the audience laugh, I was a bit confused until I realized it was being filmed live. I find this throwback method very interesting, and it just makes the show more intriguing. The series stars Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger and Sam Elliott. Of course, you can never go wrong with Sam Elliot, and he does not disappoint as a crotchety old rancher. I highly recommend The Ranch and look forward to finishing the first three seasons.


My sinus woes continued on Sunday, and I didn't feel like doing anything but sleeping or laying around. I decided to take control of the situation by cooking some old-fashioned chicken soup for Sunday Supper. Yes, it was brutally hot outside, but I needed chicken soup to heal. I threw on some clothes and a ball cap, then headed out to get the supplies. I love rosemary, so I used some from the herb garden to make Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup. I used the leftover herbs to make some Rosemary Parmesan Cream Biscuits. Let me tell you, if the chicken soup didn't make me feel better, those biscuits made me forget everything else. They were divine and paired perfectly with the soup. Jeff harvested a few tomatoes and the world's tiniest beets from our raised garden, and I made a simple vinaigrette for a salad. The beets were small, but the flavor was highly concentrated and delicious. Earlier in the day, Jeff had also found the last Farmers Market peaches from Pearson Farms in the refrigerator and decided to bake a peach pie. It turned out great, and we enjoyed it, "hotted up," with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
I think the chicken soup helped my allergies, but I am hoping for some rain this week to clean the Summer air. In the interim, I turned in on Sunday night with visions of tomatoes still dancing in my head.






The Menu:

- Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup 

- Micro Beet, Spinach and Tomato Salad

- Rosemary Parmesan Cream Biscuits

- Homemade Georgia Peach Pie


The Recipe – Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:


4-6 Chicken Thighs or 2-3 Breasts

1 Bay Leaf

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, peeled dice one half

3 medium carrots, one halved for stock and two peeled and sliced

3 stalks celery, one halved for stock and two sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups homemade chicken stock or good-quality from store

3-4 stalks fresh rosemary

6 ounces wide egg noodles

2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken used for stock

salt and pepper to taste





Directions:






Place chicken, halves of carrot, celery and onion into a stock pot. Cover with 8 cups of water, add bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done.






When stock is done, remove chicken, bay leaf and vegetables, then pour stock through a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids. Skim any fat from the top of the stock and set aside. Once chicken has dried, remove skin and bones, then shred chicken into small pieces and reserve.


Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and celery and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the carrots are slightly softened. Add garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.






Add the reserved chicken stock, or packaged stock, and stir until combined. Gently stir the rosemary into the soup, and continue cooking until it reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.





Once the broth is done, remove the rosemary then add the egg noodles and chicken, stirring to combine. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes or until the egg noodles are al dente. Add more chicken stock if desired. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.




Monday, July 17, 2017

16 July 2017







With a hectic work schedule, lots of City business and ongoing home projects, Summer seems to be flying by this year. With the high heat and humidity last week, it's clear the "dog days" have arrived, even though our weather has been more tropical this year. The pop-up thunderstorms are unpredictable but offer a brief respite from the heat. Who knows what August will bring, so we need to make the most of this bountiful season in the South.

When it comes to the unpredictability of Summer storms, we came close to having a rain-out of Canton's very first Summer Concerts in Brown Park on Saturday. This is an excellent new event sponsored by Canton Main Street, and Speedy Smith with Speedy Productions handles all of the set up and equipment. Speedy is a Canton treasure and is always on hand to run the sound and technology for First Fridays, Concerts in Brown Park and countless other city events. He is definitely one of the most dedicated and hard-working guys in town, and we greatly appreciate his heroic efforts.

On Saturday, the forecast was calling for 70%–100% chances of rain until around 5 PM. The concert in Brown Park was scheduled to begin at 5:30. Speedy and his team had everything set up, but I, and many others, were convinced the event would be cancelled. Whether divine intervention or just Speedy and Main Street's steadfast determination that the show would go on, the clouds and rain cleared in time for John Michael Rose to take the stage as the first act at 5:30. The crowd was slim at the beginning and seemed stunned the weather had taken a turn for the better, but the John Michael Rose band left no doubt Canton was in for a treat. Some of you probably recall the days when John and his band were regulars at Downtown Kitchen's live music upstairs on Friday night. It was great having him back in Canton, and his rocking blues seemed to beckon more concert attendees as his set progressed. People began walking down to the park to see what was going on, and attendees got the word out on social media. By the time the second act, the Dashcrackers, took the stage, the crowd had grown to a respectable size, and they were there to have fun and enjoy the outdoor concert. The final act, TouchFire, brought even more people to Brown Park, and they closed the night out in style. All in all, it was a magical night, and I was, once again, so proud and thankful to be a Canton resident. We are hoping for better weather for the next Concerts in Brown Park on August 19, so mark it on your calendar now! You won't regret it, unless you don't attend.

After the concert, we came home and watched an interesting movie about the life of poet Emily Dickinson. Yes, I can't escape my passion for literature over thirty years since earning my BA in English from Berry College. Cynthia Nixon, from the Sex in the City series, seemed an odd choice to play the famous poet, but her performance was quite stunning. I've always been haunted by Dickinson's verses, but the movie put her life and melancholy into context. As a period piece, the movie was somewhat tedious yet captivating at the same time. In addition to portraying her life story, the background narrative included readings of her poetry to frame each scene. Hearing the readings, in the context of the movie's intriguing cinematography, brought Dickinson's words to life in a hauntingly beautiful manner. I recommend the movie for tried-and-true poetry and literature fans, especially on a rainy and stormy night. Perhaps it's time for another night of poetry readings on the Side Porch at One Britt? Yes, I geek out from time to time.

Speaking of geeking out, I woke up on Sunday morning thinking about corn. Since we were in Atlanta on Friday night and Saturday, I did not get to shop the Canton Farmer's Market this weekend. I have also been thinking about eating less meat for a while, and I figured Summer was the ideal time for this endeavor given the abundance of fresh, local produce. Maybe that's why I had "corn on the brain," but I was determined to prepare a vegetarian Sunday Supper from as many local ingredients as possible. I posted on Facebook, asking where I could find some local sweat corn and immediately got a few sources. Since it was Sunday morning, some of them were not possibilities, but Becky Buice and Scott Burns came through with the win. Becky had commented to ask Scott Burns if Great Scott Farm's stand was open, so I called them to inquire. The contact listed was actually one of the farmer's personal cell phone, and Scott Burns answered my call. He was out of town, but said he would call to ask them. He called back, saying the farm stand was open, and I ventured over to Ellenwood Drive, off of Univeter Road, to find a perfectly charming table of fresh produce, including corn, on a table under a tree. The produce was in baskets with hand written pricing, and there was an honor system with a dropbox to pay. I was overjoyed by this idyllic setting, especially when I spied some just-picked tomatoes on the table as well. Feeling drunk with my foraging, I planned tonight's Sunday Supper around those ingredients.

For the main course, I used the farm-fresh local corn to make a simple, but delicious, corn chowder. To accompany the chowder, I baked a "pone" of cornbread with some fresh cornmeal in the freezer from Liz Porter's Buckeye Creek Farm in Woodstock, incorporating some jalapeños from our raised garden at One Britt. For starters, I used the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from Great Scott to make a caprese salad. Our friends, Cory and John, have an unbridled herb garden this year, so I used some of their purple and green basil in the salad as well. For dessert, this meatless Sunday Supper called for a homemade banana pudding, and I used my mother's recipe with great success. It was like taking a bite out of my childhood memories, and the satisfaction was more voluminous than the mile-high Southern meringue.

For me, it has been a weekend of living in the now. It sounds cliche, but I find great pleasure in my surroundings and everyday experience. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of work and personal challenges, but we have to stop and taste the corn from time to time. As Emily Dickinson would say, "Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough."




The Menu:

- Simple Corn Chowder from Local Yellow Corn

- Caprese Salad with Great Scott Heirloom Tomatoes and Woodland Basil

- Iron Skillet Jalapeño Cornbread from Buckeye Creek Farm Cornmeal

- Old Fashioned Banana Pudding from Mama's Recipe


The Recipe – Simple Corn Chowder


Ingredients:


2 tablespoons butter


  • 4 scallions, white bulbs only, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 cups fresh yellow corn kernels – reserving two corn cobs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart canned low-sodium chicken broth, homemade or organic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • Chopped chives or scallion greens for garnish

Directions: 


In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the scallion, bell pepper, and celery and cook until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, two cups of the corn, reserved corn cobs broken in half, bay leaf, broth, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the corn and vegetables are simmering, use a blender to puree the remaining two cups of corn with the milk. Stir puree into the Dutch oven and add the black pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove corn cobs and bay leaf, and garnish with chives or scallions.