Sunday, April 12, 2015

12 April 2015










It has been a fun and beautiful Spring weekend in Canton! On Friday night, we had a wonderful visit and dinner with Jeff and Dana Dobson at Downtown Kitchen. Jeff is from Canton, but they now live in Knoxville. He had a lot of interesting stories about his visits to One Britt during his teenage years, so it was an interesting evening. The Dobsons were in town for the Sheep Shearing festival at Crazy D Farm on Saturday. Jeff was displaying his artisanal hams at the festival, and he was kind enough to bring me a few slices to sample. We are enjoying his product, as well as other great farm and food items we purchased from another vendor there; including stone ground grits, corn flour, habanero jelly and some heirloom seeds.

After the festival on Saturday, we ventured over to Ball Ground for lunch at Frankfurt Donor Meats. They grill some of their homemade sausages and hot dogs out front, and they are divine! This is a great little butcher shop, and they also serve a few sandwiches. After lunch, we walked around downtown Ball Ground and were impressed with what's going on there. We had a great chat with a young lady who has turned the old A.W. Roberts General Store into a wonderful wedding and event venue, the Corner District. Between the old store and the warehouse out back, they have restored and repurposed the two old buildings into amazing new spaces. We also checked out Martin's General Store's great selection of produce, candy and ice cream. It was nice to see so much activity in Ball Ground, and it looks like there are other things in the works there.

On Saturday afternoon, our dear friend Steve Martin came down from Blue Ridge, and we went over to the Cherokee Arts Center to look at the Gallery with him. He is going to be exhibiting some of his amazing paintings during Canton Festival of the Arts and June's First Friday. His work is very special, so I am excited my friends in Canton will have a chance to see it. Afterward, we took advantage of the weather by enjoying a Bloody Mary on the patio at Riverstone Corner Bistro. It was fun to see all of the high school kids in their prom attire, and of course, we got to chat with Mike and Shelly Farrar for a few before they got too busy. It's great to see them doing so well! For dinner, I made grass fed bacon cheese burgers, and we were happy to dine on the Side Porch for the first time this year.

Tonight's Sunday Supper took advantage of the local stone ground grits and some young heirloom lettuce we grew in the Victory Garden. I used the grits to make a grit and collard green casserole, and I served it with a simple cornmeal fried pork chop. I used the lettuces to make a simple wilted salad with hot bacon dressing, and we had hot fudge and caramel sundaes for dessert. Everything was good, but the grit and greens casserole was the best part. I ate too much, but I will work it off this week during my dance rehearsals with Christi Hinkley as we continue to practice for our upcoming performance in Dancing for the Children on April 25 at the Service League Ball. The journey has been interesting and fun, and I owe a special thank you to all of my friends and supporters who have contributed and donated in my name to raise funds for our local children in need. There's still time to make a donation online at http://serviceleague.net/make-a-donation/, and please be sure to note "Bill Grant" as your celebrity dancer!

The Menu:

- Cornmeal Fried Pork Chops
- Local Grits and Collards Casserole
- Wilted Heirloom Lettuces with Hot Bacon Dressing
- Hot Fudge and Caramel Sundaes


The Recipe – Grits and Greens Casserole

Ingredients:

2 cups half-and-half
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups stone ground grits
6 slices bacon
1 Vidalia or sweet onion, finely chopped
One 16-ounce package frozen collard greens, thawed
1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Dash of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyere or Monterey Jack cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a large pot, combine the half-and-half and 6 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, stir in the grits. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture has slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a whisk to break up any lumps.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until just crispy. Remove the bacon, and place it on a paper towel, patting it to remove any excess fat. Using the same saucepan, add the onions to the leftover bacon drippings and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the collard greens and the remaining 2 cups chicken stock and cook until tender, another 10 minutes. Drain the collards and onions in a colander.

Once the grits are done, add the Parmesan, butter, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Stir until the butter has melted and all the ingredients are well combined. Then add the drained collards mixture and stir.

Transfer the grits mixture to the prepared baking dish and top with crumbled bacon and the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

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