Sunday, January 20, 2013

20 January 2013

I am currently at 30,000 feet on my way to Michigan for a business trip. I was supposed to leave last Sunday, but I came down with the flu. I made it all the way to the airport but could not get out of the car. I turned around and went back to my bed for four days, but I am feeling a lot better. Obviously, I was unable to cook Sunday Supper last week, and I did not want to miss this week. So, I prepared Sunday Supper on Saturday night to celebrate Cory and John's move to the neighborhood! They found a beautiful home a couple of blocks away on Woodland Road. We have several other good friends on that street, so they will be in good company. We helped them move a few things on Saturday morning, and I then left to shop for dinner supplies.

I wanted to cook them something tasty and comforting, so I turned to my friend's, Nathalie Dupree's fabulous new cookbook, "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking." I have an autographed copy, and I bought the book for several of my friends at Christmas. I grew up watching Nathalie's cooking show on PBS with my mother, and we always thought she was so elegant, witty and accessible. A few years ago, we were in Charleston for the Food and Wine Festival, and Nathalie was having dinner a few tables away from us. My mother had passed a few months before, but I knew she would have been so impressed and excited for me. When we left the restaurant, I said hello to her, and she was very gracious. I asked if she would mind if I got a photo with her, and she obliged. Her dinner companions had to move out of the booth, and I sat beside her while Jeff took a photo of us with my iPhone. I thanked her again, and I couldn't wait to see the photo as soon as we got out the door. Low and behold, the photo did not come out for some reason! I was devastated, but determined, so we went back inside, and I told her the photo did not come out. She just laughed and said, "well let's take another one." We repeated the Chinese fire drill in the booth, and we got the shot that time. I still laugh every time I see that photograph, and Nathalie has been a fun Facebook friend for the past few years. Her new book is really amazing, and she has earned her title as the Doyenne of Southern Cooking.

A couple of years ago, she posted about a dish she was making for dinner, Country Captain. She said the aromas in the house were divine, so I was intrigued. I did some research and found some recipes from this exotic Southern dish. It is made with chicken, red peppers, onions, tomatoes, curry and other spices. I found a recipe from the Lee Brothers and cooked the dish then, and it was divine. However, I must admit Nathalie's recipe is the best! It simmers for around half an hour and is served over rice. Everyone enjoyed the dish, and it was a perfect way to celebrate and welcome our new neighbors. I served it with an iceberg wedge with homemade, low fat ranch dressing and bacon. For dessert, I prepared Nathalie's Apple Charlotte. It was so much fun to make, and the end result was very satisfying. I can't wait to explore the cookbook in the months and years ahead, and I thank Nathalie for her hard work on this encyclopedia of Southern cuisine. Her personal stories are also very interesting and provide great context for the recipes.

On Friday night, we saw a wonderful production at the Cherokee Arts Center: Voices from the Past. It was a series of stories from characters who are actually buried behind the Arts Center in Riverview Cemetery. The stories chronicled Canton and Georgia from the War of 1812, Civil War, World War II and other local topics. Our friend, Sandy McGrew, played a character that read letters from the son she lost in the Civil War. She did a great job. Our neighbor, Richard Kemp, also did an excellent job portraying Rebecca Johnston's father. His story was touching and fascinating. One of the last performers read from his diary during the War of 1812. The last line he read really resonated with me. He was writing about how awful the conditions were for both sides, and to paraphrase his last line, he stated, "No one wants to fight anymore, but no one wants to lose." Our friend Pat Gold was sitting beside us, and we discussed how appropriate this line seems to be for the present situation with Canton's leadership. Yes, we continue to have casualties, and we lost a great solider for Downtown Canton on Friday. It was Ginger Garrard's last day. The loss was due to the battles between the City Council and the Mayor's office, and it is a huge setback for our Main Street program and downtown.

So, some people are coming and others are going when it comes to Canton. I sincerely hope the political atmosphere becomes a lot more appetizing in the near future.

Until then, make a huge pot of Country Captain, and thank your blessings.

The Menu:

- Country Captain with Rice

- Iceberg Wedge Salad with Homemade Low Fat Ranch Dressing

- Apple Charlotte

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