Sunday, March 24, 2013

24 March 2013 – Winter Into Spring

Spring officially began this week, but the weather continues to be somewhat tedious. It has been rainy and gray all weekend, but at least One Britt has a new roof. After discovering some hail damage, Keith Pritchett Roofing made good with some beautifully installed architectural shingles.

It has been a busy and productive week. I spent Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago reviewing two client showroom projects for NeoCon 2013. This will be my 29th NeoCon, and walking into the Merchandise Mart always brings a mixture of comfort and anxiety. I'm sure the Grant Design Collaborative team will deliver the goods, as always. I returned home in time to attend the Cherokee County Historical Society's Historic Preservation Banquet on Friday night. Some amazing homes and businesses were honored for their efforts to restore and preserve our historic assets. As the newly inducted president of the organization, Jeff Brown did a great job at handing out awards to the worthy recipients. After the event, we enjoyed a much-needed fireside night cap with some great friends and neighbors.

Saturday included a great brunch at Keithsburg Cafe and an awesome dinner in Roswell at Rasa Sayaang. This authentic restaurant specializes in Chinese and Malaysian cuisine, and the food is addictive. After an amazing dinner, we returned home for a nightcap and a movie. We finally took the time to watch Life of Pi. It is an inspiring film, and Ang Lee never disappoints. Open your heart and soul, and watch this movie.

Sunday festivities began with my ritualistic viewing of CBS Sunday Morning. In the midst, I explored recipes for Chicken and Dumplings. After a few minutes on Google, I realized the day was not getting any younger. I procured the necessary ingredients from Publix, and began to perfect the Southern art of Chicken and Dumplings. The preparation was complex, and it included the inspiration of such accomplished Southern cooks as Edna Lewis, Nathalie Dupree and my mother, Franny Betty. I combined and reduced all that I know into a concoction of stewy love and little pillows of divinity. To top it off, I explored and reproduced the cheddar cheese drop biscuits by Art Smith that we devoured two weeks ago at Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in Atlanta. Oh, My, God. Shut your mouth delicious! I am proud to be a Southern cook, so measure me by my dumplings and biscuits. Tonight, they measured up for a magical gathering of friends: Carmen Tanner Slaughter, Sandy McGrew, Gary Mullet, Cory Wilson, John Clark and, of course, Jeff Brown. Palm Sunday provided many blessings.

Now we move from Winter into Spring, and I wish you all a delicious renewal. I'm ready.

The Menu:

- Cream Cheese Wrapped in Apple Smoked Bacon

- Southern Chicken and Black Pepper Dumplings

- Strawberry Shortcake Martini

The Recipe – Art Smith's Cheddar Cheese Drop Biscuits:


2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, more if needed


Preheat oven to 425°F. Place 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to heat.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in 4 tablespoons butter using a pastry blender or two butter knives, until it reaches a crumbly consistency. Stir in half of the cheese. Make a well in the middle of the ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until just moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of milk if needed.

Using a pot holder, remove the hot skillet from the oven and place two tablespoons of butter in it. Swirl to melt the butter. When the butter has melted, use a 1/4-cup measure to drop batter into the pan. It's fine for the biscuits touch. Melt remaining butter and brush tops of biscuits with melted butter if desired. Bake 14 to 16 minutes until lightly browned.

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