Monday, August 7, 2017

06 August 2017

Summer in Canton just keeps getting better. I had the honor of being the guest emcee at the August First Friday, and it was epic. The band, Atlanta Rhythm and Grove, was off the chart, and everyone had a great time. During the evening, I had so many positive conversations about the positive momentum in the City of Canton, and the sense of community has never been stronger. You can feel the excitement in the air, and it's only getting better. The collective effort of our Main Street Board, City Staff and Volunteers are to be commended on their efforts and hard work. They never cease to amaze me.

Saturday began as usual with a trip to the Canton Farmers Market. We got there early, but so did the crowds. Everyone was looking for the top picks of local produce, baked goods, seafood, beef, farm eggs, natural products and so much more. Whim-Wham Art Farm had already sold out of bagels by 9:30, but that is nothing new. However, we were able to snag some tomatoes, basil, flowers and hummus from their table. Our fearless market leader, Micki Farley, was taking the day off, but of course she was there shopping and supporting the vendors. When we bumped into her, she told me about some amazing pizza crust by Good Things Baking Company, and she had the last one put on hold in my name. It's good to have friends in high places! I bought the sourdough pizza crust and a homemade baguette, and both were amazing! Our haul also included okra, lady peas, hydroponic arugula and micro greens, potatoes, local clover honey and fresh-picked blackberries. It was a banner day at the market.

Our dear friend and artist, Steve Martin, visited us from Blue Ridge on Saturday afternoon. It had been a while since we saw him last, so it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up. We had a delicious lunch at Steep Tea House and, of course, ran into other friends there. Speaking of Steep, Lyn Moye had live entertainment during First Friday, and we were fortunate to hear her perform a song with the acoustic duo. She sang one of my favorite songs, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and it was incredible. I never knew she had such an amazing voice. I highly recommend you check out Steep the next time she has performers since she told me she always sings one song. You won't regret it.

After Steep, we spent some time relaxing in the cement pond at One Britt. Jeff took some time to visit Meghan and Ryan Quinlan's house warming as well as their son Nolan's first birthday party. I hated to miss it, but it gave me some time to reminisce with Steve, one of my oldest and dearest friends. Later in the afternoon, I made some tapas from the sourdough pizza crust and other items from the Farmers Market. The pizza crust is out of this world, especially when topped with tomatoes and basil from Whim Wham and our own back yard.

Sunday was a relatively quiet day. It began with Jeff's delectable pancakes. He has really mastered the art of breakfast. Afterward, we took a long, 5 mile walk from One Britt to Etowah Park to hit the trail to Heritage and back home on the sidewalk system. It's a very nice walk, even when it is a bit warm, but it gave us an opportunity to walk off the pancakes! After taking a plunge in the pool to cool off, we headed out to round up the few provisions for Sunday Supper that we did not get at the Farmers Market. We are attempting to eat a lot less meat, so I made a simple tomato sauce for spaghetti and a caprese salad from our backyard tomatoes and a beautiful yellow variety from Whim Wham. For dessert, I was ecstatic to put the first figs from our tree in a rustic fig tart. I served the Good Things baguette with the spaghetti, and it was perfect in every way.

After dinner, our good friend, Gary Mullet, joined us for the world premiere of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. Gary has long been fan of this series, but I had never indulged in his guilty pleasure. However, this one caught my attention because it had a cameo by my star crush, Olivia Newton-John. We really enjoyed the absurdity and rip offs of various entertainment and cultural references, and it was nice to spend some "guy-time" with Gary after his recent knee replacement. His recovery has gone very well, and luckily, the stormy evening did not include any sharknados in Canton.

Once again, I am feeling much gratitude for another fulfilling weekend in our small town. I have always used the word "blessings" with trepidation, but I am finally understanding the meaning. While we have so much negativity, anger and sadness that surrounds us every day, it is reassuring to take time to count our blessings, big and small. After all, challenges are an opportunity to explore our capacity for grace in the face of adversity.

Wishing you grace and gratitude in the week ahead.

The Menu:

- Spaghetti with SimpleTomato Sauce

- Caprese Salad

- Good Things Baguette

- Rustic Fig Tart

The Recipe – Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed

- 2 - 28oz cans good quality San Marzano tomatoes

- 1 sprig fresh basil plus more leaves for finishing

- 1/2 tsp crushed red paper

- pinch sugar to reduce acid

- salt and pepper to taste


Place the olive oil and crushed garlic in a dutch oven or medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat the garlic and press with a spatula to release flavor in the oil. Swirl oil to incorporate, around 2 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.

When garlic is fragrant, add the tomatoes and stir into the oil and garlic. If using whole, unpeeled tomatoes, crush them with a wooden spoon or tomato masher. You can also used chopped tomatoes for the sauce.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add the whole basil stem, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper – stirring to combine. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

When sauce has thickened and oil begins to separate a bit, remove basil stem. Off heat, stir in reserved chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste.

This simple tomato sauce is great with pasta, pizza or any other place you may use marinara.

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