Monday, March 13, 2017

12 March 2017

Only $29 for all of these ingredients at Ramirez Grocery!

Every now and then, we all need a relatively quiet and productive weekend, and we enjoyed one of those this week. After a very busy beginning of the year, it was nice to spend a weekend at home and around Canton. It began on Friday with one of my favorite annual events, the Cherokee County Ag Expo. Sponsored by the Cherokee County Farm Bureau, the event features local farmers and artisans in a fun and educational setting. There was a lot of great information about Georgia Grown initiatives, and we visited with some of our favorite farm community friends, such as Whim-Wham Art Farm. Micki and Frank Farley even had a table promoting the upcoming Canton Farmers Market, and I was lucky enough to win a door prize from them – a shopping bag and t-shirt designed by Grant Design Collaborative! We also ran into a lot of great friends and had a good time. After the Expo, we came home, ordered pizza and watched "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" with Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. We have enjoyed watching the series based on the making of the movie, Feud, and Jeff had never seen it before. I remember watching it with my grandmother as a kid and recalling the strange, wicked nature of the cult classic. After the movie, we continued binge watching a few more episodes of "This is Us." This TV series is simply wonderful, creative and wonderfully acted. It is encouraging to discover quality programming on television these days.

Saturday morning featured a flurry of errands and chores. Last week, I noticed some of the metal flashing had blown lose from the top of the Grant building. After trying to locate a handyman for a small repair without success, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I scaled the rooftop through the access hatch on the third floor, and leaned over the edge to nail the flashing back into place. While up there, it was nice to enjoy the views and perspective of downtown Canton. It had been years since I had been on the top of our building, so I couldn't help to think about the James Taylor song, "Up on a Roof" and take a little extra time to enjoy being on "top of the town." Even though I work with my hands a lot, especially when cooking, do-it-yourself handyman projects provide a special sense of satisfaction, and of course, it is always nice to save some money in the process.

After working up an appetite on my repair project, we ventured up to Ball Ground to have lunch at the Burger Bus. Even though it was a cold and rainy day, the town was bustling with activity. It is so great to see how Ball Ground is preserving the quality and character of their quaint downtown, and the quality of merchants and restaurants far exceeds the quantity. After enjoying some delicious burgers, we walked up to the wonderful butcher shop, Frankfurt Döner and Meats, to buy a beautiful local ribeye steak to cook for dinner. I pan seared the steak for dinner, and served it with baked potatoes, sauteed zucchini and carrots, amazing garlic bread and homemade brownies for dessert. Snug as a bug in pajamas by eight o'clock, we enjoyed four more episodes of "This is Us" before turning in for the night. By all counts, it was a perfect Saturday.

On Sunday morning, I noticed some leftover garlic bread from the night before, so I toasted it and made some Parmesan and thyme scrambled farm eggs for breakfast. It was a delicious start to the day, and I began to think about what to prepare for Sunday Supper. With a desire to continue my localvore activity, I decided to shop at the only remaining local grocery store in Canton, Ramirez Supermarket on Marietta Road. Of course, this dictated a latin or Mexican theme for dinner, and this gem of a market has all the right stuff. I shop here whenever I can because they have fresh produce, an incredible butcher counter, a bakery, homemade ice cream and even a jewelry counter! I really love this store, and the owners are great people. Most of all, it is very affordable, and your money goes a lot farther than at the chains. I realize some of you may be skeptical or hesitant to shop here, but trust me, it is simply delightful. I have started to buy as much of my produce and as many staples as I can find at Ramirez before proceeding to Publix or Ingles for the rest. For tonight's Sunday Supper, I decided to make chicken with mole poblano sauce. Mexican mole is a love or hate dish, and I happen to love it. I have only attempted to make it from scratch on one occasion, and it took me an entire weekend. However, I discovered authentic mole Poblano paste at the Ramirez butcher counter a while back, so now I use it when I'm in the mood for mole. They also carry mole negro and a couple of other varieties in the dairy section. To use the mole paste, you simply mix it with some chicken stock and add additional Mexican chocolate and any spices you want. The end result is an earthy, spicy, very slightly chocolate sauce that is unlike any other. Whenever I travel, I always seek out the best mole dish in the area. It can be hit or miss, but when it's good, it is heavenly. To accompany the chicken with mole, I made a side of rojo rice and began with homemade guacamole, chips and salsa. Ramirez is the only local place I've found that carries Milagro tortillas and tortilla chips, and they are the next best thing to homemade. By the way, if you want to make homemade tortillas, they also have fresh tortilla dough ready for pressing and cooking! For dessert, I made a fusion of tres leches and strawberry shortcake by using toasted corn muffins spread with sweetened condensed milk and topped with strawberries and lime whipped cream. Simple, but a very tasty finish to Sunday Supper.

From local farmers and purveyors to interesting Hispanic grocery stores, I really appreciate the diversity of food products in and around Canton. Sourcing local ingredients takes a little more time and effort, but it's well worth it in the end. Plus, a lot more of your money spent with local merchants stays in the community. So until my next post, I'll leave you with this message. Come, Reza, Ama...

Ramirez Supermarkado, 151 Marietta Road, Canton, GA

The Menu:

- Homemade Guacamole with Tortilla Chips and Salsa

- Chicken Mole Poblano

- Mexican Rojo Rice

- Pan de Elote Tres Leches Strawberry Shortcake 
  with Lime Whipped Cream

The Recipe – Chicken Mole Poblano


3 1/2 pounds chicken thighs and breasts on bone

3 bay leaves

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Kosher salt to taste

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 to 3 1/2 cups water

16 ounces prepared mole poblano paste (sold at Mexican meat markets and grocery stores, such as Ramirez, at the meat counter)

2 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds, ground to a fine powder

1/2 to 3/4 ounces of Mexican chocolate, such as Abuelita or 
Ibarra, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted


Place the chicken, bay leaves, onion, garlic, peppercorns and a generous pinch of salt in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Add enough broth and water to cover the chicken. Bring to a slow boil then reduce heat and simmer over moderate heat for 20 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and strain the broth into a bowl. Reserve broth and chicken.

Clean out the stockpot or Dutch oven, then add the mole paste. Whisk in 5-6 cups of the reserved broth until smooth. Add the ground almonds, chopped chocolate and salt to taste. Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate melts and is fully incorporated. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices and simmer over medium low heat until cooked through, around 10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, and skim any fat from the sauce. If you want a thicker sauce, simmer it a few minutes longer, uncovered, stirring constantly. I like the consistency of a milkshake, but some like it a bit thinner.

Place chicken on a platter to serve and spoon about two cups of the mole sauce over it. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and pass the remaining mole sauce at the table. Serve with rice and warm 
tortillas, optional.

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