Sunday Brunch Day

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Fall TableThere is just something about Fall.  The crisp air, the colorful leaves, and the cooler temperatures seem to beckon you to come gather at the table.  The Fall table does not require formalities, she simply asks you to come as you are, and to come hungry.

When I was in law school and the Husband, then boyfriend, moved up here to Cincinnati, we started family dinners on Sunday nights.  It was a time to come together with family amidst all the craziness of the past week, relax together, and to reconnect.

With the Husband’s work schedule or studying often pulling him away on Sunday, we have gotten out of our little routine.  And I miss it.  This past Sunday though, schedules aligned and we brunched.

Now, I’m a breakfast person.  There is no mistaking that.  So I couldn’t wait to welcome everyone with a warm cup of coffee on a cool Sunday morning.  And let’s be honest, there’s no better way to watch football than with a warm and happy stomach.  So before the Steelers play, or if you side with the Ohio contingency of my family, the Bengals or Browns, it was time to come to the table.

pumpkinEveryone has their go-to for brunch.  Whether it’s a soufflé, your grandmother’s cinnamon rolls, or strata, there’s that one dish you pull out of your back pocket to please the morning crowd.  For years mine was a Rachel Ray casserole.  We made it the morning of my law school graduation so it only seemed fitting to make this past weekend to celebrate passing the Ohio Bar.  However, I decided to break out of the mold and break into my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

On the menu this past Sunday morning was the Farmer’s Casserole and Pumpkin Bread.  It only seems fitting.  They were delicious! So next time your family gathers, break out these little numbers and they will be sure to please.  This Pumpkin Bread would also be great as gifts.

Pumpkin Bread
From Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 2 loaves.  This can be made ahead of time, which is always key for brunch.  If making the night before, after the loaves are completely cool, wrap and store overnight.

Ingredients
– 3 cups sugar
– 1 cup vegetable oil
– 4 eggs
– 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– 1 ½ tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
–  2/3 cup water
–  1 15oz. can pumpkin

Directions
– Grease the bottom and sides of two loaf pans; set aside.
– In a very large mixing bowl beat sugar and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add eggs and beat well; set aside.
– In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
– Alternately add flour mixture and water to sugar mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
– Beat in pumpkin.
– Spoon batter into prepared pans.
– Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the centers come out clean.
– Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
– Remove from pans and then cool completely on the wire racks.

Farmer’s Casserole
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

This makes 6 big servings but I would suggest doubling the recipe because people will go back for seconds.  This can also be made ahead of time.  Cha-ching.  If making ahead, go through second step.  Cover, and chill up to 24 hours.  Then bake uncovered at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Ingredients
– 3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
– ¾ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, or a mixture
– 1 cup cooked, crumbled, turkey sausage (the recipe calls for diced cooked ham or bacon, but the turkey was great in it and a bit healthier)
– ¼ cup sliced green onions
– ¼ cup diced red pepper
– 4 beaten eggs
– 1 ½ cups milk
– 1/8 tsp. salt
– 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Directions
– Coat 2-quart square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
– Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the dish.
– Sprinkle potatoes with cheese, turkey, green onions, and red peppers.
– In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.
– Pour egg mixture over potato mixture.
– Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
– Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

What is your brunch go-to?

Oktoberfest Y’all

“I’ve decided to retire and let myself go. I’ll have potatoes for lunch and potatoes for dinner and beer. God, I love beer! And treacle pudding and cherry tart and cream, cream, cream, cream, cream, cream … as god is my judge, I’ll never eat a lettuce leaf again.” ~ from the movie “Being Julia”

oktoberfest-zinzinnati-logoYou can smell it in the air.  You can feel it in your bones.  Those crisp fall mornings that whisper Fall is on her way…those are the mornings I love.  Just recently Summer has been wearing out her welcome here in Cincinnati, and those cool mornings are the ones that greet me as I head to the gym before work.  And I for one, could not be happier.

This past weekend, Cincinnati, or Zinzinnati, ushered in Fall as only Zinzinnati can…Oktoberfest.  Touted as the biggest and most authentic Oktoberfest this side of Munich, I could almost smell the potato pancakes, bratwurst, and strudel from my office on Friday.  I love that Cincinnati does this.  What better way to ring in my favorite season of the year.  Plus…there’s beer.  Fall beer.  Oktoberfest beer.  What could be better.

ImageSince our office is right on the square, during lunch, we went to go watch the Running of the Wieners.   This event kicks off Oktoberfest, and yes, it was as great as it sounds.  From what I was told, if you have a wiener dog, you pay $50 to get a hotdog uniform (either mustard or ketchup) and a shirt that declares, “I’m a Wiener”.  Then you get placed in a heat, bring your pup to the square, and watch those little legs run.  It was hilarious.  These little pups were like celebrities.  I felt like I was watching the opening credits of 101 Dalmatians.  Each owner looked exactly like his or her pup.  I just couldn’t get enough.

Since the Husband has three tests coming up this week, we weren’t able to take part in Zinzinnati Oktoberfest more than an after work Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest.  But that doesn’t mean we didn’t help welcome Fall.

So while some in Zinzinnati welcomed Fall wearing  lederhosen, stein in hand, we welcomed her with football, walks along the trail way, and a fall feast.  I love everything fall, the boots, the sweaters, the books, but I especially fall flavors.  Even though we couldn’t go have a brat on the square, I wanted to come up with something fun to make while we watched football Sunday night…ahem…while we watched the Steelers try to play football Sunday night.  But that’s besides the point.  Enter Jenna from Eat, Live, Run.  I started reading her blog in law school and whenever I had time to try a new recipe I tried one of Jenna’s.  In this household, we’re Jenna fans.  So of course that was the first blog I visited.  And low and behold, she dishes up another winner: Beer Brats with Caramelized Onions.

Perfect.

IMG_1351We made sweet potato fries to go with them and it was the perfect fall dinner.  We’ve been eating pretty clean here at the McGlothlin household recently so typically I would use olive oil to coat the sweet potatoes, and I normally would have used turkey sausage as a substitute for the brats.  But it’s Fall.  And let’s be honest, sometimes you just have to bring it in for the real thing.

Jenna suggested a holiday beer or pumpkin beer to soak the brats.  I used Southern Tier Pumking, which ended up being a bit too sweet once it cooked down.  You’ll want a full, flavorful seasonal with a little kick.  I think next time I might try Dogfish Punkin or Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale.  Or if you want to pick up the beer while you’re getting everything else on the list, Sam Adam’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale would be a good bet.  Whatever you choose, make sure you get enough so you can enjoy some while you cook.  Prost!

Beer Brats & Caramelized Onions
Originally from Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients
– 1 lb. bratwurst
– 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
– 1 bottle beer (12 oz)
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
– 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
– Turn on the grill outside and let it heat up.
– Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
– Once hot, add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until golden.
– Add the thinly sliced garlic and saute for another three minutes until toasty.
– Add the bratwursts to the pan, along with the beer. Stir and bring to a boil.
– Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the brats turn white.
– Remove the sausages and place on a plate.
– Turn the heat to high so the beer mixture boils again.
– Add the salt, brown sugar and Worcestershire.
– Stir well and continue boiling.
– While the “sauce” is boiling, grill the sausages for only about 5 minutes, you just want to finish them on the grill.
– When done, bring the sausages back inside and place them back in the beer sauce and spoon sauce over.
– Serve brats with sauce and onions on top. (We toasted some buns and ate them that way…if your grocery store has pretzel buns, definitely go for those).

I'm sorry, I just can't get this image out of my head.

I’m sorry, I just can’t get this image out of my head.

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients
– 1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
– Melted butter (just enough to lightly coat the potatoes…and don’t skimp here.  For some reason olive oil just doesn’t have the same effect taste-wise and baking-wise)
– A couple shakes of course sea salt

Directions
– Pre-heat the oven the 375
– Mix the potato slices, melted butter and salt together
– Spread the potato slices on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes
– After 10 minutes flip the potatoes and cook for 10 more minutes
– Serve with a dollop of wasabi mayo

Oh, and for those who want to see the Running of the Wieners, check out the video on Instagram.

Have a great week!

Ree…You’ve Done it Again

By now you know of my utter and complete love of all things Pioneer Woman.  Here’s the thing that won me over…cookbooks and cooking magazines are hit or miss for me.  Sometimes you’ll find a great recipe and other times it’s a little bland.  Ree (Pioneer Woman) though, hits the spot every time!

So when The Boy was coming up to Cincinnati last week before fall break I wanted to figure out something delicious to make for when he got in.  In law school because of time and the budget or a grad student, cooking has gone to the wayside.  I’m more of a mac and cheese or turkey sandwich kind of girl most nights now.  I save it for special occasions and look so forward to relaxing and creating again.  So, this special occasion begged the question…What shall we have for dinner?  The Boy had said he wasn’t really in the mood for pasta (which let’s face it, that takes out half of my repertoire) so we had to be creative here…

 

"Don't ask me. I'll eat anything"

 

Caesar didn’t have any answers for me so I went to the next best thing.

Ree, what shall we have for dinner on this beautiful fall night? Oh, and it can’t be pasta.

Chicken and olives you say. Sounds interesting.  I’ll give it a try.

Yes, that conversation did go on in my head and before you start to make judgement calls about my sanity…remember friends, I do live alone.  When you should start worrying though is if I ever tell you I got a cat.  Then we’ll have an issue on our hands.

Ok, back to the chicken with olives.  I was a little skeptical because I wasn’t sure how all the flavors would work together but like I said earlier, Ree has never led me astray so I decided to try it.

It was a huge success! I was worried the olives might overpower the dish but it didn’t.  I loved it.  The flavor was different from anything I’d ever had and the sautéed chicken which then baked in the sauce cooked it to perfection.  The Boy loved it too and didn’t seem to mind that I put it over pasta.

This dish is simple and a warm hearty dish for cool fall nights.

 

Photo by Ree Drummond

 

 

 

Chicken with Olives
Originally from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients
-4 Tbs Butter
-4 Tbs Olive Oil
-6 pieces Chicken (Ree suggested to use thighs and legs which would good but I might try chicken breast next time) With Skin
-1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
-5 cloves Garlic, Minced
-2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Seeded And Chopped Into Large Pieces
-1 whole 28 Ounce Can Whole Tomatoes, Completely Drained And Juice Squeezed Out, Chopped
-1 cup White Wine (Again, grad student budget  so I used Low Sodium Chicken Broth)
-Salt
-Freshly Ground Black Pepper
-¼ cups Heavy Cream
-1 cup Whole Green Olives
-12 oz, weight Linguine, Cooked Al Dente And Drained

Another beautiful photo by Ree Drummond

Directions
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-In a large ovenproof skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.
-Add chicken and brown on both sides. Remove chicken to a clean plate.
-Reduce heat to medium.
-Add onions, garlic, and green bell pepper to the pan. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
-Add tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.
-Season with salt and pepper.
-Pour in wine/broth and stir.
-Add chicken pieces back to pan, cover with lid, and place into the oven for 45 minutes.
-Remove pan from oven and remove lid.
-Add whole green olives and heavy cream (drizzle evenly over the top.)
-Put on lid and shake the pan to “stir” in the cream.
-Return to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes to thicken the sauce.
-Remove from oven and keep lid on until ready to serve.

 

Place pasta into a large serving bowl or platter and lay chicken pieces on top.  Pour all of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with Parmesan.

– – –

Cooks out there…what’s your favorite oven proof skillet or dutch oven? I would love to get one and would love some suggestions.

Happy Fall!

My Last Will and Testament and a Bake Sale

“Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you can become.”

All that is left

So, yesterday was my last day at work.  That was interesting. I was excited and nervous.  I’ve never quit anything in my life and to leave a job, even if it is to go back to school, killed me.  I’ve been with these people for 4 years! How do you just cut youreslf off in one day? Not to mention, I just don’t think I process things correctly.  It didn’t feel like my last day till I got in the car, was driving away and it all of the sudden hit me.  Also, I’m terrible at goodbyes.  So all in all, an akward day for me.  

While I was cleaning up my desk, I did find these little gems.  I could’ve been selfish and taken them with me…set them up in my first class of law school, but no.  Instead, I want to leave them with those that I think will enjoy them.  Think of this as my last will and testament.  So gather round for the reading of the will.  Sorry, no one gets the car. I know that’s all what you’re here for.  It is a champ at hauling books of boxes. Hmmm…who’s first.

1. Jesus with the 5 o’clock shadow- This is bestowed upon Jason. He comes with all the rubberbands you shot at me over cubeland in Novi.  Just remember that it’s all fun and games till someone looses an eye.
2. Sharpies- A publicist always has sharpies.  ALWAYS.  I was strolling through a bookstore while there was a signing in the back.  Across the aisle I saw a woman in heels franticly running up front.  She was looking for sharpies for her author.  I dug in the purse and ta-da! Here you go bad publicist, here’s a sharpie for your author.  I normally carry three.  I’m not willing to be naked and without a sharpie nor do I think ripping off the bandaid all at once is the best way to heal so how about this.  I’ll keep one and give the rest to my fabulous publicist friends.  To Curt, Katie, Stephanie, Heather, Claudia, Brenda…may you never go without.
3. Popcorn- This goes to AJ. I also owe her gum and some advil since she always had it and I never did. 
4. Talking Jesus- Yes, it is a talking Jesus.  The best thing for a quiet office, is talking Jesus.  I feel I might have to leave this to my successor since this was left for me.  New children’s publicist meet Talking Jesus. Usuaslly I do the daily word at 8.
5. Dixie Stampede Cup- This thing cracks me up.  One of the editors brought it back for me because she thought it was funny.  It is.  But now I feel it belongs back home.  That is why my dear friend Abby. Abby, wherever you may go in life, this should go with you so you can remember home back in East Tennessee 🙂 
6. Webster- This goes to Jen…well, it actaully goes to Jake, her adorable little boy. I’d see Jen coming in the office and right after her would be little Jake.  He loved Webster so it’s only right it’s his now.  Plus, I’m a children’s publicist, something has to go to the kids right?!
7. Flair- There are two pieces of flair here.  One is a magnet from the Office that says “I Love My Job” and the other is a pin from one of the first books I worked on as an intern, Aim Low. Kristen, these are for you.  Your fantastic sense of humor will fit these perfectly.  I wish I could get you corndogs. I’ll send those.  Please where the pin to our next sonic happy hour.  Thanks for making me laugh and keeping me sane.
8. And what you’ve all been waiting for…the Publicist on a Stick. This is one of the best things I’ve ever recieved.  So funny.  Jason, this is for you.  Just remember, to whom much is given, much is expected.

This concludes the reading of the will.  But don’t leave yet!  One more thing to tell you about before I haul boxes and furniture around today in the blistering heat and humidity…

This Saturday, the fabulous Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil, one of my favorite food blogs, has organized local food bloggers including myself for a bake sale benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank. 

Check the event details out on facebook. Isn’t this such a wonderful idea?  The ladies behind these blogs are fantastic and the recipes on their sites are mouthwatering so I can’t wait to see what they whip up.  Sadly though, I’ll be out of town this weekend and unable to make it to the sale but I will be sending my favorite Lemon Ricotta cookies.  Mmm.   Be sure to check it out, get some goodies, say hello to the local food bloggers and tell all of your friends!  All of the proceeds go to help flood relief efforts here in Middle Tennessee.  I just love how food brings people together and helps out.  That’s my kind of relief effort!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Weekends are for (food)lovers- My Muse

Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.  ~Harriet van Horne

Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman aka My Muse

I have been noticing a couple of trends here in my cooking habits:

1. I have a cooking Muse– My Muse goes by the name of Ree Drummond, or as more people call her, The Pioneer Woman.  Until blogs, we had our grandma’s recipe books, the recipes we write down from our parents and compile to add to our own repertoire. Our recipe books are scraps of paper, notecards and photocopied magazine pages given to us by trusted family members and friends.  I now add to that list, Ree.  Her humor, stories and pictures, make me feel like I know her and as I star the recipes I want to try the following weekend my mouth waters.  I’m also glad I’m not the only one who has a four legged little rascal that seems so interested in the culinary arts 😉 More than just her recipes being utterly delicious, they are approachable, much like she is.  I feel like I am in her kitchen learning and making a mess right along side her.  She really is divine.

2. When I don’t run, I eat– Honestly, what else am I going to do with those 2-4 hours a day when I can’t run, it makes perfect sense to cook and eat.  Right?  Ok, so maybe there is flawed logic lurking somewhere in there but honestly, the last time I did a (food)lovers post was when I was sick with the flu and couldn’t run. Two weeks later, Piriformis syndrome and BAM. I’m in the kitchen cooking up a storm. And this weekend, I had a little extra inspiration to do so.

So without further ado, here is what my Muse inspired me to tackle this weekend.

Picture by Ree Drummond

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic
Originally from My Muse

Ingredients
-8 pieces chicken legs or thighs
-salt and peper to taste
-3 Tbs olive oil
-1 Tbs butter
-1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
-1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
-2 Tbs tomato paste
-Fresh herbs: basil, parsley, sage, rosemary
-8 cloves garlic
-16 oz of pasta
-grated parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup white or red wine

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Salt and pepper the chicken legs.
-Heat ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
-Add olive oil and butter and when it’s hot, add chicken legs to the pan.
-Using tongs, brown the chicken on all sides (about 2 minutes) and then remove chicken from the pan and put on a clean plate.
-Pour wine in, scrapping the bottom to loosen any bits.  (I used white wine, a pinot grigio in mine, mmm)

Photo by Ree Drummond

-Cook for 1 minute
-Pour in tomatoes with their juice and add tomato paste.
-Bring sauce to a boil then turn off the heat.
-Add plenty of fresh herbs (at my grocery store they had a group of fresh herbs packaged together for poultry so I used that) garlic (come on, any recipe that requires 8 cloves of garlic…perfect) and chicken legs.
-Put lid on and cook in the oven for 1 hour then remove pot from oven and allow it to sit while you cook the pasta.
-Cook the pasta to al dente, drain and add to large serving bowl.
-Remove lid and check sauce, it  is overly thin, remove chicken and boil the sauce for 5-10 minutes (I should’ve done this. The sauce was delicious but a little too watery)
-To serve, pour sauce over cooked pasta, then arrange chicken pieces.
-Sprinkle generously with parmesan (now you see why I like this woman 😉

This recipe was so easy and incredibly cheap! It hardly took any prep or attention.  Now onto breakfast, my favorite food group!

Photo by Ree Drummond. Sorry kids- don't have a camera.

Petite Vanilla Bean Scones
Recipe originally from…you guessed it…My Muse.

Ingredients
Scones
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-2/3 cups sugar
-5 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
-1 large egg
-3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
-2 whole vanilla beans

Glaze
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1/2 cups whole milk
-1 whole vanilla bean

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Split vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the “caviar” inside.
-Stir caviar in cream and set aside for 15 minutes.
-Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
-Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going till the mixture resembles crumbs.
-Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.

Delicious photo by Ree Drummond

-Turn dough onto floured surface and lightly press together until it forms a rough rectangle.
-Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick.
-Use knife to trim to a symmetrical rectangle, then cut into 12 squares.
-Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles
-Transfer to parchment lines cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes or just before they start to turn golden.
-Allow to cool for 15 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Glaze
– Split one vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out all the caviar.
-Stir caviar into milk and allow to sit for awhile.
-Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more sugar is needed to get a smooth consistency.
-One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze and transfer to the cooling rack to let the glaze set (about 1 hour)

I have never been a fan of scones but can you blame me for wanting to give them a second chance when they look so good? These aren’t the cheapest things in the world because of the vanilla bean but they are worth it. The recipe makes a lot too so you’ll have them for a couple mornings. I am enjoying one right now with my coffee, so take that Starbucks.

Tiger Balm

And for a quick running update:

Today is my first day of physical therapy.  This is going to hurt. I am getting a deep tissue massage as well, which is supposed to help.  I’m hoping they can help me out on what’s good cross training to do because even being on the bike hurts. I’ve heard swimming is good.  So we’ll see.

I’ve added two new things to my running arsenal…Tiger Balm and an awesome pair of R.E.I. compression shorts.  Tiger Balm is a heating agent which is what the Dr. said to put on before running/working out.  Then the compression shorts help keep the heat on longer during a run.  Again, we’ll see. I’ve wanted compression shorts because I love my running tights and needed a warm weather alternative.  Light running shorts just don’t do it for me. I tried on a lot of compression shorts but they were all so short! These are great because they are a perfect length and they have pockets too for my shot bloks! Hopefully I’ll be able to give these suckers a spin soon! The half is this weekend and the marathon is next!

P.S. I had a break down in the grocery store this weekend when I couldn’t keep walking to finish shopping because of the pain. Called the Dr. to leave a message with his nurse to see if I could get a cortisone shot or some kind of anti-inflammatory to allow me to run my races. I haven’t heard back. I’m sure I sounded like an addict. Perfect.  Hopefully a good running update will follow shortly.  STRETCH people, it makes a difference 🙂

Weekends are for (food)lovers- Satisfying the Southern Palate

“For those of us who live to eat, these are hopeful times.” ~John T. Edge

Oxford American- Love this photo.

A week ago, I was given a gift by a new friend, a copy of Oxford American.  He told me about it awhile ago before one of our East Nasty runs, saying that within the pages of this magazine was some of his favorite writing.  The latest issue was about food and after seeing that 1- I love food and 2- I love to write about food, he thought it would be right up my alley.

After two weeks, and not being able to find a copy for sale, last weekend as I hobbled back to my car after the 20 mile run that did me in last weekend, I found something pinned beneath my windshield wiper. It was a copy of the Oxford American.

Honestly, is there any better gift than a loaned book/magazine from someone who has handpicked that title with you in mind?

“Oxford American: The Southern magazine of good writing, proudly published from the University of Central Arkansas.”

Hmmm.

“With guest editor, John T. Edge,” the cover went on to reveal. Interesting.  Now, I hate to admit it but I had no idea what to expect from a literary magazine published in Central Alabama about Southern cooking.  I don’t like grits, I have never had collard greens and won’t touch fried green tomatoes (you can tell that my knowledge of “southern” food is hardly developed) and didn’t particularly care to read about them.  However, I have long been a fan of John T. Edge, from his column in the New York Times, NPR’s All Things Considered, and guest spots in Gourmet to his books, and since it had come highly recommended, I decided to take a bite.

Douglas Bourgeois "Refrigerator"

Eat dessert first right? That’s my motto. The first course was an article my friend marked for me titled, People of the Cake, by Diane Roberts. I was smitten. The writing was brilliant, mouthwatering and refreshing.

Article by article, I devoured the whole thing.

How silly of me to scoff and think as a girl who grew up in Pittsburgh, raised on bagels, pasta, pirogies and subs, I wouldn’t enjoy this.  I loved this magazine for the very same reasons that I have come to love the South.  These essays weren’t just about food, they were about the people and stories behind them.  These writers masterfully wove religion, rich tradition, cooking, humor and grace together in a way only a Southern writer could.

“If the recipe says fresh coconut, don’t you dare use that stuff in a bag. Suffering for your cake builds character. (We are Presbyterians after all.)” –Diane Roberts in People of the Cake

These writers reminded me not just why I have loved cooking, but writing.

I read the articles a little slower and enjoyed it a little more, experiencing trademark Southern hospitality as these writers welcomed me into their world:

Would you tattoo this on yourself? Kevin Gillespie did.

-Warwick Sabin exposes the dark side of Southern cuisine as fresh local food becomes a luxury item forcing many to go for the mass produced affordable calories instead of fresh produce that are the building blocks of Southern food.

-Jack Pendarvis writes about his favorite local hang with the best food around- Chevron, the one south of the courthouse responsible for serving up chicken on a stick, and how it was ruined once the secret got out.  We’ve all been there, I bet you are thinking of your favorite place right now, just like I am, that you only tell your closest friends about for fear it will ruin the magic.

-Mamie Morgan recants her and her boyfriend saving all their spare change to go to one of their favorite restaurants on New Years, with chef Kevin Gillespie, and how certain chefs and their food much like bands and their music, speak to us. What chef speaks your language?

Nashville's own Olive Sinclair

These stories join others about the array of people and personalities that make up a restaurant, tales of homemade beef jerky, geophagy, or in layman’s terms- eating dirt, the mysterious origins of New Orleans cuisine, and even an ode to Oregano.

Nashville’s own Olive Sinclair is featured as well as a brewery in Durham, North Carolina who’s mission is to “brew farmhouse ales that celebrate the culinary and agricultural  heritage of the South.” But these deserve their own posts so I don’t want to spoil it.

All of that said, I will be subscribing to Oxford American soon and I encourage anyone who loves good writing to do the same. Reading the Oxford American prompted me to do some cooking this weekend when I wasn’t sitting out in the sun so I’ll post those tomorrow.  Until then, I leave you with Diane Roberts’ mother’s recipe for Sour Cream Pound Cake, “the cake she’d make for people who do nice things.” Now if that’s not Southern, I don’t know what is!

The sign of Southern hospitality

Ingredients
-2 sticks of butter, softened
-3 cups white sugar
-8 eggs, seperated
-1 cup sour cream
-3 cups cake flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking soda
-1  1/2 tsp good vanilla extract

Directions
-Preheat oven to 325.
-Grease a tube pan and sugar the edges.
-Cream butter and two cups of sugar until fluffy. While that’s beating, use hand mixer to mix egg whites.
-Add third cup of sugar and continue whipping until they form stiff peaks.
-Add egg yolks, one at a time, to butter and sugar. Beat well.
– Sift the flour, salt, and soda together.
-Add, alternating wet and dry ingredients, the flour mix and the sour cream. Mix well.
-Add vanilla, then fold in the egg whites.
-Bake 60-90 minutes until skewer comes out clean.
-Cool 10-15 minutes and turn out on a plate.

Where I’d Rather Be Wednesday

I crave their brunch 7 days a week

“A great chef is an artist that I truly respect.” ~Robert Stack

A friend over at Wee Little House, has “I’d Rather Be Wearing Wednesday,” which I absolutely love! If I could raid a virtual closet, it would be hers. Anyway, it got me thinking.  If you remember I did a post awhile back about Monday mornings.  I love my job but sometimes, now that the weather is nice, I simply don’t want to be in an office all day. This is how we ended up at Where I’d Rather Be Wednesday!

This morning, as the sun creeps over the treetops to welcome what is sure to be a beautiful Spring day in Nashville, it  is especially hard to pass Marche on my way to cubeland and not pull over and ask for a job for a day.

Marche's marketplace. Picture from Metromix

Marche is a European style cafe and marketplace that has come to be my favorite weekend brunch spot. It’s not even a ten minute walk from my house and I swear I can smell the croissant french toast on any given Saturday morning. I blame this obsession with it on my dad. Mom and Dad came to visit when I was moving into my new place and we headed down there to grab some lunch and he liked it so much we went back the next day! Come to think of it, I might be able to blame all my food obsessions on my dad. We would hardly ever go to McDonald’s as kids but when we did it was because Dad was craving a big mac. Anyone who knows me knows I get some serious cravings for cheeseburgers at the most random times. But I digress, back to Marche.

It’s just so inviting to me on the corner of what is considered to be the heart of East Nashville, 10th and Main. Windows wrap around the outside giving diners the feel they are relaxing in front of their own window on the world, which for a people watcher like me, couldn’t be better! Inside it’s open, with fans whirling overhead, and the buzz of conversation is mixed with the clink of coffee cups on the naked wood tables. I adore it. The whicker chairs, the breeze meandering through the open door, the exposed kitchen, the simple flower in the center of the table, it’s simple yet otherworldly. On a Wednesday like this, although I swore I’d never want to work in food service again, I would love to be a chef at Marche.

Photo by Wander Girl on Ponder My Wanderings Blog

My sister is in culinary school and I think I am secretly jealous of her. I wish I could like her and like Margot McCormack (the mastermind behind Marche), take fresh ingredients and create something mouthwatering.  That’s why I want to work at Marche. I want to learn how to create these masterful concoctions.

So much of most of our jobs are constant to-do lists that follow you day to day and sometimes you feel you get nothing done even though you have been chugging along all day. I think because of that- even though it’s tough work, I just think there is something so satisfying and gratifying in putting a delicious meal on a table for people to enjoy with friends and family. Cooking. I with that was my to-do this today.

This Wednesday, I would rather be walking apron in hand to Marche.

Two things…

1-I’ve heard rumors about cooking classes at Marche/Margot…true or false?

2- Marche this Saturday? Bellinis and french toast? Who’s in?