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Beans, Cornbread, and Politickin’

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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1159716896/gallery_29805_1195_4296.jpg" hspace="8" align="left">by Kendra Bailey Morris

An exclusive excerpt from White Trash Gatherings: From-scratch Cooking for Down-home Entertaining (Ten Speed Press, 2006).

As often as my Granny Boohler entertained, it came as no surprise when one afternoon she sat me down with two, big sweet iced teas to tell me the story of our family’s greatest claim to culinary fame -- the time she cooked a full-on beans and cornbread dinner for her most prominent dinner guest, our very own "West Virginian of the Twentieth Century," U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd.

Back in the early to mid-1970s, both my Granny and Grandpa were rather active in local politics. As a nurse at the local hospital, Granny was often involved in issues related to health care and education. One of her biggest concerns, and a legitimate one at that, was the quality of health care (or, rather, lack thereof ) that families living in more rural areas of the state were receiving. For many, a trip to the doctor for a check-up could result in literally hours of travel. Like others involved in the cause, Granny believed that implementing rural medical outreach programs, including bringing in more doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to the hills, was desperately needed. And there was one very important person who happened to agree with her -- Senator Robert Byrd.

Not ones to pass up a chance to politicize, Granny and Grandpa attended a meeting at the local church where Senator Byrd was speaking on issues related to improving health care. When the meeting was over, they went up to wish him well, and then straight outta the blue asked the Senator to join them for dinner. It may seem shocking that they didn’t think twice about asking him over, but that’s how country people do it. It's not about how famous you are, it’s about how hungry you are.

Now, the Senator is a well-known beans and cornbread lover. Like many West Virginians during the depression, he was raised in a small coal town, coincidentally not far from where my grandfather and great-grandfather worked as miners. His story is one of achieving great success in the face of considerable odds, and although Senator Byrd may reside in Washington, his heart still rests in a little house up the holler. And apparently, so does his stomach. It seems that the older we get, the more we want to go back to that one meal that tastes like home. For mountain folk, it’s the beans and cornbread meal. Pinto beans simmered all day with a slug of fatback served alongside a big wedge of savory cornbread. Throw in a little chow chow (our version of relish), some chopped green onions, and a dollop of ketchup and you’ve true peasant food at its finest.

When Granny went to work in her little kitchen on that snowy afternoon, she knew exactly what the Senator wanted to eat, and she was a true master at making it. Just the day before she had whipped up a big pot of brown beans, so she set to work on some cornbread (we call it “grit bread”) baked in a cast iron skillet. To go alongside, apples from her backyard were gathered from the root cellar, sliced, and fried up in leftover bacon grease.

It wasn’t long before Senator Byrd and his entourage arrived, took off their snow-dusted coats, and sat down to table brimming with West Virginia specialties. After Grandpa gave the blessing (he always did this, as head of the household), the group began to eat, but not before Senator Byrd said his quick prayer of thanks. And then, like any proper country boy, he stuck his napkin into his shirt before spooning one single bite of beans into his mouth. They ate and ate, and talked about family, growing up in the coalfields, local politics, and God. Sweet tea was poured in abundance, and seconds were served more than once. Granny proudly watched it all happen, knowing deep in her heart that she was always built to cook for kings and queens. After all, the Senator exclaimed more than once that he hadn’t had cooking this good since he ate at Lady Bird’s.

After dessert, the Senator mentioned that he had a national televised speaking engagement later that evening and would they mind if he rested a while before taking off, especially after eating all that good food. So again, like a true West Virginia hostess, Granny didn’t think twice. She escorted the Senator to the basement rec room that Grandpa built himself, fluffed him a pillow, and draped a warm blanket over his shoulders. In a matter of moments, he was on his back fast asleep, with his black sock-clad feet barely poking out from under the blanket. To Granny, he was just another hardworking man from the coalfields, who, in this particular repose, seemed more like the young man who spent time working as a meat cutter and who loved to play the fiddle than a big city politician who was twice elected President pro tempore, making him third in line for the presidency of the United States. She leaned over to cover his feet and let out a short giggle when she saw that one of his socks had a hole in it the size of a quarter.

After an hour or so, the Senator awakened, fully refreshed. Granny and Grandpa said their farewells, and as the Senator put on his coat, Granny straightened his tie. It was then she saw it -- a big bean stain right on the top part of his polka-dot tie. "Mr. Senator,” she said. "I’m afraid you’re going to have to take off your tie. Seems you’ve got a bit of a spot on it." The Senator looked down to see the offensive stain and quickly removed his tie. "Don’t think I can go on television with this old thing!" he joked as he removed it and handed it over to Granny.

"Here. Let me," Grandpa said, as he took off his own tie and handed it to the Senator. "It would be an honor if you wore mine." And with that, the Senator said his thanks, put on his new tie, and left to greet his public. Later that evening, as my Granny and Grandpa reminisced about how good her beans were and how funny it was that their Senator had holes in his socks, they turned on the television to watch his public address. There he was, a standing proud West Virginian, bathed in lights and fanfare that only politics can bring, and wearing my grandpa’s tie. In that moment, the lines that separate poverty from excess, backwoods from Park Avenue, and insignificant coal towns from a parking spot at the U.S. Capitol were blurred, if only for one snowy day.

<div align="center">* * * * *</div>

The Senator’s Brown Beans and Fatback

This bean recipe is truly fit for kings and queens. Serve it up with a wedge of cornbread, homemade chow chow, and minced sweet onions for a taste of true peasant food. Just make sure to remove your tie before diggin’ in since this dish makes for messy eatin’. But beware, brown beans and fatback can be addictive, and as of yet, there is no known cure except more brown beans and fatback.

1 (16-ounce) package dried pinto beans

1 medium to large slug of salt fatback, or 1 to 2 meaty pork ribs

1 1/2 quarts water

Salt and pepper

Put your beans and water in a cooking pot on medium heat. Next, stick your fatback in a microwavable coffee cup and cover with water. Microwave on high for 30 seconds or so, then turn the fat over and do the same for another 30 seconds. Pour the fatback and broth into the cooking beans. Once the beans begin to lightly boil at medium heat, lower the temperature to low and cook for 2 hours, or until they’re soft like you like ‘em.

<div align="center">* * * * *</div>

K.G.’s Country Grit Bread

Grit bread is similar to cornbread, but it’s made with pure stone-ground grits, giving it a unique texture unlike any you’ve ever tasted. This bread is dense, moist, and not at all sweet on the inside while golden and crusty on the outside.

1 cup plain white stone-ground cornmeal (not instant)

3/4 cup yellow self-rising cornbread mix

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon baking soda

3 to 4 tablespoons sausage, bacon, country ham, or pork chop drippings

1/4 cup plain white stone-ground grits

3/4 cup water

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

Sift up your white cornmeal, yellow self-rising cornbread mix, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a big mixing bowl. Put your fat drippings in a cast iron cornbread pan (or muffin or cornstick pan) and warm them on the stove. When your drippings are melted, tilt your pan so the sides and bottom are well greased.

Mix up your grits and water in a bowl and cook in your microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stop and stir and then microwave again on high for 3 minutes and set aside. The grits will be about half done, but that’s okay. Whisk your egg in a bowl. Then add your egg with your buttermilk to the dry ingredients. Stir until the batter is well-mixed but still a bit on the firm and dry side. Now add the extra pan drippings and your grits. Mix all of the ingredients well with a large spoon. (If grits and water have cooled, reheat for 30 seconds before adding.) Your batter shouldn’t be too dry or too wet, but somewhere in between.

Pour batter into your cornbread pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (Cornsticks take slightly less time.) Your Grit Bread is done when a nice golden brown crust has formed. Now, all you need to do is get a big slab of butter and dig in!

Cooking Tip: Leftover grit bread makes mouthwatering fried cornbread. For fried bread, slice cornbread into pie-shaped wedges and then slice each into 2 half wedges, each with a soft side and a crusty side. Next, heat your griddle or fry pan to medium-hot and drop in a small piece of butter. Place one of your half wedges (soft side down) on the sizzling hot butter. Do the same for your remaining half wedges. Cook until a golden brown. Finally, lower your heat to warm and turn all the half wedges over. Allow the other side to heat thoroughly and eat ‘em while they’re hot.

<div align="center">* * * * *</div>

Jeb Magruder’s Chow Chow

2 cups chopped sweet red peppers

2 cups chopped sweet green peppers

4 cups chopped cabbage

2 cups chopped sweet onions

2 hot peppers, chopped

5 cucumbers, chopped

4 cups chopped cored green tomatoes

3 tablespoons pickling salt

4 tablespoons mustard seed

2 tablespoons celery seed

1 cup sugar

2 cups vinegar

Chop up your vegetables into little cubes, but not too fine or the mixture will be mushy. Sprinkle with pickling salt; cover and refrigerate overnight. Lightly rinse your veggies and drain ‘em well.

Put the remaining ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Add the vegetable mixture and cook for about 10 minutes. Pack into sterilized canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims and seal at once according to canning manufacturer’s directions.

This recipe makes about 8 pints.

Excerpted, with kind permission of the author and Ten Speed Press, from White Trash Gatherings: From-scratch Cooking for Down-home Entertaining (Ten Speed Press, 2006). Buy it here.

Kendra Bailey Morris (aka kendrabail) spent hours in the kitchen as a young girl learning West Virginia mountain cooking from her grandmother and mother. She is now a writer, private chef, and cooking instructor in Richmond, Virginia.

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I just don't know how to tell you. It's a wonderful memory, and a lovely bit of family lore, unique and irreplaceable---and WELL told in the telling.

Thank you for many memories---my grandmother was Mammaw, and her hands still guide mine as I sift and stir, touch a testing finger to the spring of a hot cake layer, juggle an egg white from shell to shell, and reach into her saltcrock for just the right amount to season every pot on the stove all at once.

Beans and cornbread---I wish they were as famous as foie gras and caviar. They certainly taste as good, and bring much more home-comfort pleasure. If I didn't have this big pan of snap beans ready to put on for tonight, I'd be trying that quick-soak on some pintos to get them ready for supper.

Thanks for a wonderful Fall-is-here read; it was just perfect.

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Thank you for a wonderful story and for sharing the recipes. I will try the cornbread and the beans later this week. It's a good thing I have both items in my pantry now. Again, maraming salamat.


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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This brought back memories for me. I spent some time living in South Carolina where country food reigns supreme. I doubt there was more than several weeks that went by where somebody that I knew wasn't holding a "pig picking" where a whole hog would be roasted up over 24 hours. It would often be served with collard greens, butter beans (cooked with bacon or fatback), sweet potato pie, and of course, slaw.

In a little town called Marion just outside of Florence, the food was particularly good -- and it is no wonder why it is the heart attack capitol of the US. They ate like kings and when it came time to meet their maker, they died with a smile of satisfaction on their face.

Ah, the memories of good southern food it brings back. I've always swore that someday, I'll build a big bbq in our back yard so that we can have pig pickings for our neighbors as mine did for me...

Thanks for the story,

-Art


Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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This brought back memories for me also. I have posted many times in the past about my enthusiasm for cornbread, especially the "southern" type.

I also love cookbooks like this. I have Ernest Matthew Mickler's "White Trash Cooking" cookbook and his second cookbook, "Sinkin Spells, Hot Flashes, Fits and Cravins".

Which was re-issued as "White Trash Cooking II"

A subsequent book "More White Trash Cooking" authored by Trisha Mickler, after Ernest passed away in 1988, has not been quite as well received but is still worth having, if one loves the foods of the plain "down-home" folks.

Thanks for posting about this. I just ordered it.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I, and most of my kinfolk, would be right at home at a "white trash gathering". (Can't believe I said THAT!) During the cooler months, my mother-in-law cooks beans with fried potatoes and cornbread on Monday nights. Although I work nights, sometimes, if there's some left in the pot, she sends some home with my wife for me. It's not something I could eat every day, or every week for that matter, but it sure is good when I get it. And her beans are nothing but dry white beans, some form of cured pork, and water...and maybe something secret...


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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Thank you all for the kind words. It has truly been an honor to carry on the white trash series. Moreover, I am so happy that the wonderful memories of those precious moments spent in my granny's kitchen bring back similar memories for you all. That's what it's all about-- it may be simple and cliche, but food really is what brings us all together at the end of the day.

Kendra

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When I was growing up in the mtns of nc in the 1980s beans and cornbread was a regular item on the school lunch menu, along with a side of greens and the option of a box of buttermilk. Somehow I do not think the way Asheville is now that it would be on the menu.

Meanwhile, thanks for the inspiration. I've bemoaning, make that BEANMOANING my sparse pantry and yet, I am going to have a tasty dinner tonight.


-----------------

AMUSE ME

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yet, I am going to have a tasty dinner tonight.

Us, too---this cool day and that wonderful remembrance were cause for our supper of Northern beans with ham, a pot of TENDER baby turnip greens, picked yesterday from the neighbor's garden by our son and cooked at his house last night. I added a crisp little pan of buttermilk cornbread, some COLD crisp slices of sweet onion, and some 40-weight iced tea.

I felt like lifting my glass to Kendra's Grandma.

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I enjoyed the excerpt as well as the whole book. One thing I think might be a little misleading about the in-your-face, politically incorrect title is that it leads one to believe this might be a humor book when, in reality, it's not only a serious cookbook but also contains a healthy dose of heartfelt, high-quality food writing.

Kendra, how have you been faring with the title choice? On the one hand, it's a brand so maybe the book benefits from that. On the other hand, I imagine some of the less imaginative media might feel the title is too hot to handle.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I enjoyed the excerpt as well as the whole book. One thing I think might be a little misleading about the in-your-face, politically incorrect title is that it leads one to believe this might be a humor book when, in reality, it's not only a serious cookbook but also contains a healthy dose of heartfelt, high-quality food writing.

Kendra, how have you been faring with the title choice? On the one hand, it's a brand so maybe the book benefits from that. On the other hand, I imagine some of the less imaginative media might feel the title is too hot to handle.

--------------------

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"

Great question, Steven. When Ten Speed and I first began pushing the book before it came out, quite a few entities (bookstores, well-known cooking schools and various media) were very hesitant to take on the book. Several bookstores refused to allow signings, and much of the media simply turned their heads at the whole idea.

Moreover, as a seasoned culinary instructor, I was certain there would be a few cooking classes that I would be allowed to teach in conjunction with book signings. We pitched a couple of classes to various schools throughout the country under the "comfort food" concept, and several schools went for the idea until we mentioned the title of the book. Then, suddenly, it wasn't such a good idea anymore.

Same thing happened with a very well-known national newspaper article. All was well until the title was mentioned, and then the whole project was instantly dropped.

However, now that the book is finally out, the positive response from the media (especially in my hometown and surrounding areas in Virginia/West Virginia) has been overwhelmingly positive, much in part to a few great articles in the papers (see www.richmondtimesdispatch.com Food and Balance section) and on egullet that clearly address the book for what it is-- a heartfelt, first-person account of life in my granny's kitchen with plenty of country-fried recipes that remind folks of home.

Don't get me wrong, there are still quite a few people out there who find the whole idea offensive. And to those people, all I can say is read the book and then judge. The book is highly personal with memories that were so powerful to me personally, I often wept while writing them. Moreover, I have found that the very people represented in the book don't find the title offensive at all. For us, in a strange way, it's a badge of honor. In many ways, being considered white trash, helps to shape our identity.

And while the book carries on the the white trash name, it is also different from the others in the series. The original "White Trash Cooking" and the two books that consequently followed, featured the food, stories and photos of the deep South (Florida panhandle), for example, while "White Trash Gatherings" clearly focuses on Appalachian, mountain food. Also, while the previous books had many grab-your-gut funny stories, they were a little more tongue-in-cheek than this one, I think. I wanted this book to have more of a prose-like quality (I guess that's the MFA talking). Even more, I wanted to present the great people of West Virginia, especially my family and friends, for what they are-- the most decent, kind, hard-working, God-fearing people you will ever come across. And if any of you venture to Bluefield, WVA, just stop by my granny's house and you will sit down to eat some of the best country-fried peasant food you've ever had. Believe me.

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I am not fond of the "trash" title. And I have not read or purchased the book.

I grew up on this sort of food. My Grandmothers were not trash, nor my family members.

I'm sure it was meant well???

Can't someone do a book on poor family Southern cooking without referring to those who did it as less than "socially acceptable"?

A title of "Less Than Socially Acceptable" would be better than "White Trash".

I started reading this thread being a bit annoyed, but glad that others would learn about some damned-fine meals.

Now I'm absolutely mad and disgusted. The more I read it, the angrier I get. The title really frosts me.

If you plan to give good southern home recipes, simple as they may be, stop denigrating those who made them, dammit !!! They are the ones who made your book possible.

Off to sulk now.

Maybe I'm being hyper-sensitve. I plan to sulk anyway. :angry:

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When the first book to carry this name was being researched, the author interviewed dozens of citizens who live (and cook) much as their ancestors did and who are proud of their heritage. If you read the book you will see that it is not a condemnation of these people nor does it make fun of them. Those that were interviewed and whose stories were included in the book were very proud of it.

There have been a lot of books about "down-home" cooking, "Southern Old-Time" cooking, and so on, but none have had the instant success of this book. The catchy title caught their eye but the quality of the food and the honesty of the recipes made people recommend it to others.

In 1986, Ernest Mickler's book was a best-seller. If you scroll down to the 6th article on

this page from the New York Times archives

you can see what was being said at the time.

The following quote is from the Jargon Society:

"One book stands alone - Ernest Matthew Mickler's White Trash Cooking, called by Metropolitan Home "the best American cookbook of the century," which took Jargon and the country by surprise and storm. A fun book to hold and read, a visionary laugh at stodge, it is the one book Jargon had to divest, becoming bigger than Jargon could or wanted to handle. An unusual cookbook, in many ways it represents a sea-change for Jargon - a shift from the poetic arts to more works of photography and visionary folk art. White Trash was both a blessing and a curse, bringing a spurt of national notoriety to the press, which, I believe, has since hindered its fund-raising abilities. The question arises as to why Jargon didn't establish an endowment with the money made from the book, but Jargon remained true to its Utopian passion - publishing the best books possible from an expanding project list, and expecting the best from others - that the financial backing would appear for the next project: "I do always try to figure out some way to get the book paid for before I publish it...But after it is paid for and published I don't much concern myself with what happens to it. I feel that if the public wants badly enough...the books...they ought to be willing to make the effort to find them. The way I see it, it is much like 'dropping seeds into the ground.' Something is going to happen, and it usually does." (Rooke 6)

Mickler's point was that this particular niche of society, long written off by the mainliners, had a rich, historical and important culinary tradition that had to be recorded for posterity.

He was not putting these people down! He was celebrating their lives and cultural diversity.

The fact is that the cookbook sold so well that it introduced a great many people all over the US (and other countries) to these traditional foods of the rural south.

A significant side effect was the hugely increased interest in folk art of the rural south. Many of these people who had barely existed, found buyers seeking them out, galleries competing for their artworks and giving them the chance to make a decent living. One man, who became successful in the late '80s and early '90s, was interviewed as part of a PBS special and was proud to show off the home he had built and the community center and high school he had endowed with proceeds from his folk art.

The gallery owner who discovered this backwoods artist, and several others, said that she had bought Ernest Mickler's cookbook and wanted to see for herself the people who could do so much with so little. She told the interviewer that she never knew that something as simple as beans could be so satisfying.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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It appears that we "might could'a been neighbors" a ways back, Kendra. :wink:

My children attended elementary school in Peterstown, right over the hill, when we had a home in Bozoo :smile: for some years.

As an "outsider" (ah. . an ex-New Yorker even) it surprised me at first, the general attitude you mention above about the "natives". Most that I knew while living there had a huge laugh and a toss of the head over names like "white trash". They really didn't give a hoot what anyone called them. Life was not full of money, perhaps, but it was full of loving-pride in small things.

The fact that south-west West Virginia hosts an annual "Road-Kill" festival with great humor and yes, great food - is one of the best examples of this attitude, to my mind.

Mmph. Don't make no nevermind what they say. :biggrin:

Good luck with your book, and another question. Got any recipes or good stories about Beans and Taters?


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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It appears that we "might could'a been neighbors" a ways back, Kendra.  :wink:

My children attended elementary school in Peterstown, right over the hill, when we had a home in Bozoo  :smile: for some years.

As an "outsider" (ah. . an ex-New Yorker even) it surprised me at first, the general attitude you mention above about the "natives". Most that I knew while living there had a huge laugh and a toss of the head over names like "white trash". They really didn't give a hoot what anyone called them.  Life was not full of money, perhaps, but it was full of loving-pride in small things.

The fact that south-west West Virginia hosts an annual "Road-Kill" festival with great humor and yes, great food - is one of the best examples of this attitude, to my mind.

Mmph. Don't make no nevermind what they say.  :biggrin:

Good luck with your book, and another question.  Got any recipes or good stories about Beans and Taters?

Thanks Karen-

You are so right. The mountain folk where I come from are well-known for their humor as well as our ability to laugh at ourselves. We sit around the dinner table poking fun at each other all the time! And yes, roadkill cookoff. I have been meaning to go. It sounds like such great fun.

As far as beans and taters go, my mom used to slow cook pole beans in a big slab of fatback and when the beans were nice and mushy (Southern style!) she would throw in some quartered new potatoes. Once they were cooked, we'd have a couple glasses of sweet tea and maybe some buttered potato rolls on the side. This was usually a meal we'd have towards the end of summer, especially if we still had any beans in the garden. In the winter, we'd use up any canned beans from the basement. Good, honest food at its finest.

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Kendra! The book sounds fantastic - I just added it to my wish list - highest priority to receive! We actually are neighbors! I am in Glen Allen - it warms my heart to know a fellow egulleteer is so close! Where do you teach cooking classes - I would love to put one of those on my wish list, too! Kim

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Kendra!  The book sounds fantastic - I just added it to my wish list - highest priority to receive!  We actually are neighbors!  I am in Glen Allen - it warms my heart to know a fellow egulleteer is so close!  Where do you teach cooking classes - I would love to put one of those on my wish list, too!  Kim

Hey Kim--

Good to hear from a fellow Richmonder! Thank you for the well wishes on the book. It has all been very exciting. Please come out to one of the book signings, too. We have the first one this weekend (Sat. Oct. 21 at 2pm) at Barnes and Noble Libbie Place. We can meet in person and talk shop. Regarding cooking classes, I teach for Sur La Table, but I have put teaching on hold for a little while in order to focus on the book. However, they have a bevy of wonderful local chefs offering some great classes. You can check out Sur La Table's classes online at www.surlatable.com

Kendra

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I've had the book for several days and am very impressed with it.

(I have a Memaw also and have posted her pork cake receipt.)


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Boo! I have to work on Saturday (I work at the Fresh Market - if you ever come in, please say hi!). But let me know about future signings and I will try to arrange it! I have taken a class at Sur la Table - from Martin Gravely - it was wonderful - I wish I had the time to volunteer to help at classes. I have even been thinking lately of finding out if they have any full time openings at the store just as a sales clerk - not thrilled with the current situation lately.

Anyway - let me know about future signings, please! Kim

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Boo!  I have to work on Saturday (I work at the Fresh Market - if you ever come in, please say hi!).  But let me know about future signings and I will try to arrange it!  I have taken a class at Sur la Table - from Martin Gravely - it was wonderful - I wish I had the time to volunteer to help at classes.  I have even been thinking lately of finding out if they have any full time openings at the store just as a sales clerk - not thrilled with the current situation lately. 

Anyway - let me know about future signings, please!  Kim

You should definitely stop by Sur La Table. I am sure they are hiring for seasonal work at least. Could be a good way to get your foot in the door. And I know they always need volunteers for classes. They are super nice people over there. Good luck, and I will stop in Fresh Market sometime to say hello!

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      So I tried my hand at croissants for the first time in about 5 years. I used the recipe from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. Despite the fact that I really struggled rolling them out (the dough was very stiff and resisted rolling), tore the dough layer in small patches quite a bit on the last turn, and probably took too long letting the butter get too warm, I got nice layers on the outside and on the interior and they did shatter nicely on the outside. I did not get that beautiful open honeycomb interior, however. 
       
      I’d love any tips or feedback or advice anyone could offer to do better next time—thanks!
       

    • By curls
      So, what is everyone doing for the pastry & baking side of Easter?
       
      I'm working on the following chocolates: fruit & nut eggs, hollow bunnies, Jelly Belly filled bunnies, coconut bunnies, dragons (filled with rice krispies & chocolate), peanut butter hedgehogs, and malted milk hens. Hoping to finish my dark chocolate production today and get started on all my milk chocolate items.
       
      My father-in-law will be baking the traditional family Easter bread a day or two before Easter. Its an enriched bread and he makes two versions -- one with raisins and one without (I prefer the one with raisins).
       

       
      And I was lucky enough to spot this couple in the sale moulds stock at last year's eGullet chocolate & confections workshop in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. These love bunnies help so very much with Easter chocolate production!  ;-)

    • By Rene_lorraine
      I'm a pastry cook working in NYC. We have a seasonal bread that we do with chickpeas, garlic (fresh and confit) and pecorino. We drain and rinse the chickpeas and it was working for a while but it hasn't been consistent. Bread turns out flat. What is it in chickpeas that kills the yeast and how can we counteract the effect? I'm taking a long shot by posting but wanted to further educate myself and fellow team members. Thanks so much. 
    • By Tara Middleton
      Alright so as of a few months ago, I decided to take an impromptu trip to Europe--mostly unplanned but with several priorities set in mind: find the best food and locate the most game-changing ice cream spots on the grounds of each city I sought out for. One of the greatest, most architecturally unique and divine cities I have visited thus far has gotta be Vienna, Austria. But what in the heck is there to eat over there?! (you might ask). 'Cause I sure as hell didn't know. So, I desperately reached out to a local Viennese friend of mine, who knows and understands my avid passion for all things edible, and she immediately shot back some must-have food dishes. Doing a bit of research beforehand, I knew I had to try the classic "Kasekreiner". Please forgive my German if I spelled that wrong. But no matter how you say it- say it with passion, because passion is just about all I felt when I ate it. Translated: it basically means cheese sausage. Honestly, what is there not to love about those two words. Even if that's not necessarily your go-to, do me a favor and give it a shot. Trust me, you won't regret it. A classic Austrian pork sausage with pockets of melty cheese, stuffed into a crisp French Baguette. No ketchup necessary (...and as an American, that's saying a lot). YUM. Best spot to try out this one-of-a-kind treat?! Bitzinger bei der Albertina – Würstelstand. Now here's a shot of me with my one true love in front of this classic Viennese green-domed building-- Karlskirche. Now, go check it.
       
       

    • By pastrygirl
      If so, what was it like?  Sounds similar to kouign-aman ... https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-44486529
       
       
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