Monday, June 22, 2015

21 June 2015 – Fathers Day

Like many others who have lost their dad, Fathers Day is always bittersweet for me. However, I have learned to meet the day by celebrating the great things my father taught me. While I did not realize it as a child, one of the things was a fascination for cooking. My dad was an accomplished Army Chef in World War II, and he would take to the kitchen about one day every month to cook Sunday Supper. While he was notorious for grilling every Friday night, his Sunday Suppers tended to be more exotic: oyster stew, chow mein or beef stroganoff. He would choose his ingredients carefully, and he was very serious about food. Once a chef, always a chef. I did not always appreciate his gourmet creations as a child, but now I know how his love for cooking influenced me. Over the years, he taught me some basic techniques that I will use for the rest of my life: how to properly cut a steak with a knife without "sawing" it, how to baste barbecued chicken in a vinegar and water solution until applying the BBQ sauce at the end so it would adhere to the chicken and not burn, and how to fry fresh gulf shrimp in cracker crumbs for extra crispy results. I will never forget the last thing he taught me his final Christmas at One Britt. Daddy always deboned the Christmas ham; it was a ritual. On that Christmas morning, he handed me the knife and asked me to do the honors and said he would stand behind me to walk me through the process, which he did with patience and grace. I realized his gesture was acknowledging this would be his last Christmas, and he was passing the torch to me. So, daddy stood behind and kindly instructed me while I silently wept and "sawed" the bone out of the ham.

So tonight's Sunday Supper celebrates my father's love for cooking and the bounty of Georgia grown produce, a winning combination! After a week of working in Chicago, I was thrilled to return home in time for the Canton Farmers Market on Saturday. I went over to Cannon Park around 6AM to help Micki and Frank Farley set up a few tents and some other basic preparations. Micki and Sherri Cloud have done an excellent job with the market this year, and it gets better each week as more local farmers bring in their produce. After reading a blog by Virginia Willis about her love for Pearson Farm peaches, I was delighted to, once again, find them at our very own Farmers Market! In addition, I bought some beautiful farm eggs, German porcelain garlic and fresh sage from Whim What Art Farm. After the market, the early summer heat wave demanded an afternoon by the pool at One Britt, and I used the Pearson peaches and Whim Wham sage to craft a refreshing Peaches and Herb cocktail. As Virginia says, "what grows together, goes together," and the sage and peach combination was delicious!

On Sunday, we enjoyed brunch with Jeff's dad and mom at Crabapple Tavern owned by dear friends Beth and David Riordan. We returned home after brunch, and I began preparing Sunday Supper. While in Chicago, I read a great blog by Virginia Willis on Georgia peaches and her 20 year relationship with Pearson Farm. It included a recipe for chicken with savory peaches and basil, so we picked some basil from the Victory Garden to complete the entree. Of course, I had to make the dish my own, so I decided to do an adaptation of both chicken and waffles and chicken and grits. I used some wonderful stone ground grits that I had purchased from Rockin' S Farm in Free Home at the Sheep Shearing Festival to make a Georgia Grit Waffle, and I served the chicken with peaches and basil on top of the waffle. It was a great pairing, and I was delighted to hear that Rockin' S Farm will be at the Farmers Market this coming weekend! If they have grits or corn meal flour, your really should try some. As a side, I picked some fresh pattypan squash from our Victory Garden and stuffed them with corn, lima beans, garlic and Georgia pecans from Pearson Farm. They are my favorite type of squash, and I enjoy trying new ways to prepare them. For dessert, I served a light New York Cheesecake with organic strawberries, and we enjoyed a nice Georgia-Grown Summer dinner on the Side Porch.

On Friday of this week, I head to Savannah with some of my fellow City Council members, our new City Manager and Mayor Hobgood for the Annual GMA Convention. I look forward to learning more ways to better serve Canton and hearing exciting things other Georgia cities are doing to move their communities forward. Hopefully, I will find some time to enjoy some of Savannah's fine Georgia-Grown cuisine while I'm there.

Hope your week is peachy keen!

The Menu

- Peaches and Herb Cocktail

- Chicken with Peaches and Basil

- Georgia Grit Waffles

- Stuffed Pattypan Squash

- New York Cheesecake with Organic Strawberries

The Recipe – Peaches and Herb Cocktail

3 to 4 slices fresh peach, plus 1 slice for garnish
3 to 4 fresh sage leaves, plus 1 for garnish
Splash of simple syrup (optional)
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 1/2 ounces Cointreau
2 dashes peach bitters
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

In a mixing glass, muddle the peaches with the sage and simple syrup, if using, to make a pulp. Top with ice; then add the brandy, Cointreau, bitters, and lemon juice, and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with the remaining slice of peach and a sage leaf. I served mine in a small Mason jar or jelly jar.

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