Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

December 3, 2014

Hot Tamale Capital

Greenville, MS is the Hot Tamale Capital of the World. 




Greenville, MS is a little sleepy Delta town next to the river, but in October every year, Greenville, MS is transformed into the Hot Tamale Capital of World!  Activities include literacy fundraising dinner, cocktail celebration, and all day street festival.  At the street festival, there are all sorts of arts and crafts vendors selling gifts and trinkets, lots of Delta Blues music, and there are the Hot Tamale competitors and their booths with their own hot tamales.


There were over 40 Hot Tamale competitors from all over the Delta, including home cooks, caterers, restaurant owners, and hot tamale enthusiasts competing for the title of Hot Tamale Grand Champion.  There were over 10,000 visitors coming into this little town of Greenville, MS to taste and judge for themselves, who should be Hot Tamale Grand Champion.


And this year's Grand Champion, for a second  year in a row: Jodie's Hot Tamales by Hattie Johnson from Greenville, MS.  Jodie is Ms Hattie's lovely daughter, and this home business is named after young Jodie Johnson.  Hattie's hot tamales during the year are by phone order only, and you take them home and steam them when you get home.  I conducted a poll of a bunch of locals, young and old, and from all parts of Greenville, and they all say Jodie's is where they call to get their tamale fix during the year.  Everyone from Greenville says Jodie's is their favorite.   


I took a dozen of Jodie's tamales home to try these beauties for myself.  The are spice ground beef surrounded by corn meal and wrapped in a corn husk.  They are bundled 6 tamales to batch, and that is a perfect size for a meal.  The ground beef is ground to a small diameter similar to the cornmeal. The texture is smoother than what we think of as a Central American style tamale, the texture is like polenta all the way through.  The way these tamales are constructed, it is hard to tell where the spiced meat ends and the spiced cornmeal begins.  It is a cohesive dish, that combines the ingredients to make one distinct dish.  The spices are more of a traditional American chili flavor, but that is the big secret spice mix Hattie makes.  I am guessing there may be paprika, chili peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and probably more spicy goodness in the spice mix.  When I ate steamed and ate 6 of Jodie's tamales, I kept 6 frozen for later.  These little gems are so tasty, spicy, and wonderful, that I thought I made a mistake of only buying 12.  My next trip to Greenville, MS, I am taking a completely empty cooler, and buying multiple dozens to take home. 


The history of the Southern Hot Tamale is actually unknown.  This style of tamale has been around for over 100 years in the Delta.  It is thought that Mexican laborers working in the Delta brought their tamale expertise and shared it with their other laboring co-workers including African Americans, Lebanese, Italians, etc.  Folks thought this was a great way to stretch their meat budget my mixing in the much cheaper and abundant cornmeal in with the meat.  And with a variety of spice traditions, the Southern Hot Tamale was born.  


I love this Southern Hot Tamale Festival.  I am already planning on attending next year, when the City of Greenville, MS announces the dates.  I can't wait.  I long for the delicious flavor, texture and tradition.  See ya in October 2015!

November 29, 2014

4th Annual TN Local Food Summit


The 4th Annual TN Local Food Summit is happening next weekend December 5-7, 2014!  My favorite foodies, chefs and local restaurant owners, Miranda Whitcomb, Matt Spicher, Sandor Katz, Tyler Brown, Sean Brock and Laura Wilson will on hand to provide discussion of the state of local food in TN, and providing tasty meals for us. 

To register click here --->  TN LOCAL FOOD SUMMIT

For more information click here --->  TNLOCALFOOD.COM

The kickoff for the 4th annual conference will begin at Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory on Friday, December 5th with a reception, home-grown, chef-prepared dinner (arranged by Laura Wilson, the best chef in Nashville and 2 time winner of Iron Fork), and music by Beth Nielsen Chapman and Will Kimbrough.
A full day of workshops will be offered on Saturday, December 6 from 9am to 5pm. Preliminary plans include:
❧ Effects of farming on the environment
 Backyard and community gardening
 Business models and economic
opportunities
 Personal stories of research, education,
and outreach programs
 Land stewardship: Spiritual side of farming
and food
 Famous local chefs including Sean Brock and Tyler Brown, offering classes and demonstrations in Vanderbilt’s “demonstration kitchen”.

Following the workshops, Saturday evening, a locally grown, chef-made dinner will be offered, complete with live music by Darrell Scott and friends, at the University Club of Nashville.
Sunday morning, there will be a tour of a local farm Bells Bend.


November 11, 2014

I am Southern

I am Southern.  I have lived in the Southern Region of the USA the longest. I lived on West Coast, Northeast and Midwest for years as well, but I am Southern now.  I eat and share the bounty that Southern soil allows.  I breathe the Southern air everyday.  I take in water that the mighty Cumberland River provides to my county.  I feel the humidity and heat during the Southern summer months.  I am beginning to understand what it means to be Southern.  I am Southern.


I am also of Chinese ethnicity.  On October 24, 2014, the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum opened its doors to the public.  The Museum is located at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS, and it is a small one floor Museum on the 3rd floor of the Archive and Museum building of the university.   It may be small, but it is powerful in the message that the South has a very rich history to be learned and embraced as part of the fabric of what made the United States. 


Image from Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton: Lives of Mississippi Delta Chinese Grocers
 by John Jung, paperback 2011

A little history lesson:  Back before the turn of the last century, in 1865, the 13th Amendment to the USA Constitution was passed stating that, Section 1 "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the USA, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."  Section 2 "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."  Amendment 13 is a protection for any USA citizen, but it does not protect those who are in the USA who are not citizens of the USA.  So, in all the wisdom that the Legislature had, seeing the issue of many Chinese coming into the USA in 1800s, and seeing that it is illegal to kidnap , torture, kill, maim, enslave USA citizens, Congress passes the Exclusion Act of 1882 banning Chinese from becoming citizens of the USA (and this continued through 1943 as the USA entered WWII).  This opened up a new pool of labor which was not afforded Constitutional Rights because they are not citizens.  There was propaganda on both sides, plantation owners and Chinese.  The plantation owners now had a supply of laborers who had no rights of the USA, and the Chinese were coerced into believing the South USA was paved with gold, and all they had to do was work hard and they will have the riches of the golden fields.  Plantation owners could treat the Chinese laborers like slaves and it was completely legal.  (I want to make distinction here, the atrocity of slavery in this country involved systematic capturing, kidnapping, killing, torture, cruelty, violence and many other heinous acts against the will of many peoples and families of African decent.  Chinese who came to this country, although coerced, came "willingly", but did suffer injustice, torture and wrongful death with absolutely no recourse because they were banned from the path of citizenship by law - the Exclusion Act.)


 In Mississippi, there were and are (see photo above) a lot of cotton fields that needed to be picked.  This was hard work, and plantation owners needed the slaves, and after emancipation, the Chinese.  And at the time of the late 1800s and early 1900s, along side of African Americans who stayed in the Delta, were the Chinese, Lebanese, Italians, and Mexicans (and other non-citizens), trying to make a living under harsh conditions.  This path to Delta is likely how my grandfather and his brother ended up in Greenville, MS.  They were coerced into believing this is where the fields were filled with gold, they would have a great life, and send riches back to their families in China.  The reality was a hard laborer's life in the Segregated South with no recourse if they did not get paid or fed for the day because those laws protect only citizens, and the Chinese were banned from being citizens.  There was substance/alcohol abuse to self-medicate, poverty, sorrow and basically once they got into being replacement field workers, there was no way out.


In the early 1900s, my grandfather (at the time was considered an old man) sent for a wife from China.  My grandmother came by herself and a very young bride into a West Coast port, and made her way to Mississippi to be the wife of this old man, 25 years her senior.  There was some seriously bad stuff going down in China, deep poverty, European occupation and port seizures, opium wars, and internal conflict.  It wasn't safe.  It was scary.  Times were desperate.  Families were trying to send their children to the USA because it seemed like a better option than famine, war, occupation and death.  It has to be really bad before any normal family would send a child on an unknown journey, which costs the parents a life of servitude to the transporter, and there is no guarantee the child will make it alive, or even have a better life in the USA.  (Side note, there is a parallel between how many of the Chinese children of this time got to the USA, and how Central and South American children are being sent to the USA today.  There is some seriously bad stuff going on in the home country like drug wars, poverty, internal conflict, death and parents are paying a lifetime of money to send their children with "coyotes" to get them into the USA for a better safer life.)


As a good Chinese wife to the old man, my Grandmother had 5 children, my father, and my aunts and uncles.  They lived in the Segregated South, in the black part of town, because African Americans, Chinese, Mexicans, etc were not allowed in the white part of town.  Then my grandfather died, likely from complications of alcoholism, and he left my Grandmother with 5 children under the age of 10 complete destitute because he gambled away all the money.  Author John Jung called my Grandmother a Chinese Woman Warrior.  Given this hand she was dealt, given the laws of segregation, given the Exclusion Act when it was illegal to hire Chinese,  my Grandmother made it happen for her children.  She fed, clothed and educated my father, aunts and uncles to give me and my family a better life that I enjoy today.  My Grandmother opened the only Chinese owned laundry in Mississippi and made pennies, went fishing in river for fish, and kept her family fed all on her own as very young woman.   She scrimped and saved and finally was able to open a little grocery store in the Black part of town, and the home my family lived in was attached to the store.  This grocery store was necessary because old plantation stores were closed, and people of color in the Delta still needed to eat, and my Grandmother's grocery store was one of the stores that kept her community and neighbors fed.   


Because of the Segregated South, and the Exclusion Act, the state of Mississippi was under no obligation to give the separate but equal education to the Chinese, because Chinese were not citizens by law, and had no rights to education in the USA. Chinese were not allowed in the white schools nor the Black schools.   So, the few Chinese families in Greenville, MS pooled their money (my Grandmother helped pool money), and bought a plot of land and built a one-room school house.  With the help of the First Baptist Church, the state of Mississippi was petitioned to provide a teacher.  Finally Mississippi ponied-up one (1) white woman  teacher for the Chinese kids.  This is how my father was educated.  This situation played out in other communities in Mississippi and Arkansas in the Delta with other pockets of Chinese Americans in the Delta.  As all Nobel Peace Prize speeches for at least the past 60 years have stated, a part of the path to peace and justice for all is by providing education and ending poverty for all.  My family, as well as many families in the Delta, had to fight hard for education and to climb out of poverty.

Then, during WWII, the Legislature repealed the Exclusion Act, banning Chinese from being citizens.  This allowed the US Government to expand their pool for conscription in to WWII.  My father was one who drafted and is Veteran of the USA who fought for mine and your freedom.  Thank you Dad for your service in the War to End All Wars.  Thank goodness for me, he survived, and he was able to get a college education after WWII, literally became a rocket engineer and worked on those really frickin' cool NASA's first spacewalks in the 1960s, meet my mom and started his own family.   


So back to historic Greenville, MS, as it is in life, it is so in death, that the Chinese in the Delta were not allowed to live amongst whites, nor rest in peace amongst whites.  There are three cemetery systems in Greenville, MS, there are the white cemeteries, there is the black cemetery with headstones and markers of those who died as slaves, and there is the Chinese cemetery.  After a series of floods, the old Chinese Cemetery in Greenville, MS started having body parts come up through the ground surface. 



For years after the floods, various Chinese families including mine, moved the remains of their loved ones from the flooded old Chinese Cemetery to the current Chinese Cemetery.   The current Chinese Cemetery is located next to the African American Cemetery, and these two cemeteries are completely segregated from the white cemeteries.


So last month, I spent a good amount of time in Greenville, MS including going to see the old "landmarks" of my family.  My grandmother's grocery store is no-longer, it is just a concrete foundation next to a fairly dilapidated house which does not appear to be in use at the moment.  The old laundry site is still there in downtown Greenville, MS, and sits empty.  The one room school house is still standing nearly 100 years later, as you can see above, there is a portion of the building with a thin slat facade, that is the old classroom building.   Currently the one room school house was added onto with a screened in porch and additional living space.  I would have liked to go in and see the building, but is a private residence now, and it would not be appropriate to do so.

I fell in love with Greenville, MS, with an edge of sorrow.  As far as this country has come, somethings have not changed in the past 60 years in Delta.  I am looking forward to my next trips to Greenville, MS to learn more and more about the Delta, and keep falling in love with this place over and over again.

October 20, 2014

Pine Mouth vs Local Pecans


For many years now, I have gotten a large bag of local pecans from a family just over the border in Georgia.  This family has a bunch of pecan trees, and grandma spends time hand cracking open the pecans, puts these beautiful pecans in ziplock baggies, and I go and get them to use through the year.  I use these pecan when ever pinenuts, walnuts, or almonds are called for in recipes.  I have been making a sort of pecan pesto of late with my Georgian pecans, Barefoot Farmer flat leaf parsley and garlic, and The Olive Press Arbequina olive oil.  I take the base ingredients and whirl them  up in a food processor, and use it on salads, meat marinades, or simply stirred in with pasta and rice.  This stuff is so good!

I have not bought pinenuts for years because the last time I did, these little gems were way more expensive than other  nuts, and my local Georgian pecans, so I just substituted my local pecans for the pinenuts.  I am sure it has been at least 10 years since I have purchased pine nuts.  10+ years ago, pinenuts were $20/lb more or less.  The pinenuts were of either USA or Europe varieties, and the price back then reflected the rareness of the resource, the time and process it takes to harvest pine nuts.  Back in the 1980s and 90s, pesto with pinenuts became all the rage for dining experiences, but because pinenuts were so expensive, pesto made with pinenuts was a real treat, something special.


Fast forward 20 years to 2010, with the demand for pesto and pesto made with pinenuts at an all time high with pesto being the sandwich spread of choice over mayo, and a bad year for harvest of pinenuts in the USA and Europe,  Chinese pinenuts arrive to the USA through big box price-club stores and mainstream grocery stores at a cheap price.  Inexpensive Chinese pinenuts made pesto as common as mayo and ketchup.

BUT, there is one big difference between Chinese pinenuts and USA and European pinenuts, and it is simply that the Chinese variety of pine trees are a different variety than those of the USA and European varieties, and USA and European varieties are also different from each other. 

In 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration put out a general warning about Chinese pinenuts.  It says that usually 1 to 2 days after eating Chinese pinenuts, peoples perception of food eaten tastes bitter or metallic.  This perception may last for a day up to about 2 weeks.  The condition will resolve itself without intervention, and does not seem to cause any permanent damage to taste buds.  Not everyone is effected, and symptoms vary and duration of symptoms vary as well.    It is also noted that the pinenuts tasted good, were fresh, and not rancid when people reported to the FDA about their pine mouth experience.   It is hypothesized that the Chinese pinenuts cause pine mouth because of the variety of pine tree, or it is caused by potential haul stripping chemicals during processing in China.  The last part is conjecture which I have read in opinion pieces, but it is possible.

There are 4 of who conducted the experiment of eating a couple handfuls of known imported cheap big-box store pinenuts (photo above).  One of us had noticeable bitter tasting food, especially sweets.  The sweeter the pastry or candy was, the more bitter the taste became. The bitter taste effects started 2 days after dosing, and the bitter taste lasted for about 3 days.  Water was neutral, and did not have a bitter taste.  Another one of us thought lettuce tasted bitter, but the lettuce came from a the same head of lettuce that was thought to be fresh, green and almost a little sweet days before.  Effects started 2 days after dosing, and only lasted for about 4 hours for the 2nd person.  For this second person, sweet drinks on day 3 seemed to be as sweet as they ever were, indicating that bitter tasting effects were short lived.  The last two claimed no change in taste perception.

If you run this experiment, please leave a comment or email  me at LannaeFood at Gmail dot com and  tell me about your experience with pinenuts.

For me, I am going to continue to substitute pecans and walnuts myself, and let the pinenuts be.

October 12, 2014

Sofi


Taqueria Sofi
5915 Morrow Rd
Nashville, TN 37209


Sofi is an adorable toddler with an equally cute older brother, with parents and grandparents who decided to open a family owned taco shop up in the Nations.  Sofi just opened last week, and is a grassroots family taqueria.


What this taqueria has to offer is 1. The best of what you can get at a taco truck, but with dine-in ability at a few tables and chairs, 2. Mexican cokes and soda make with sugar (not corn syrup) to go with your meal, 3. Home made sauces (as seen above) which are fun to mix and match on various tacos, 4. A menu with tacos, flautas, burritos, and enchiladas, 5. reasonable prices that will not break the bank, 6.  Earnest women who in the open kitchen who want to make a nice meal for you, and 7.  It is within walking or 1-2 minute drive from most homes in the Nations, so it is so dang convenient.


Because Taqueria Sofi just opened, they do not have a menu board, or paper menus.  The gig is, you go to the register, and one of Sofi's relatives will be there to tell you want they have to serve for the day.  On the days I went to Sofi's, they have spicy pork, beef, tongue, tripe, lamb, and chicken to make tacos.  The times I have been there, they had chicken flautas and vegetarian enchiladas.   I really liked the chicken flautas with the crispy shell on the outside and shredded chicken on the inside.  The plate came with four chicken flautas, rice,  and salad.  The flautas were the perfect crispy taco roll with the homemade sauces.  I also got the enchiladas, and on this day , they were vegetarian.  The enchiladas had crumbled cheese and sauteed red peppers in side a rolled corn tortilla.  The outside of the rolled tortilla had a thin coating of red mole.  The mole was sweet, earthy and savory at the same time.  The enchiladas were light, and not weighed down with excessive amounts of mole or cheese.  The tacos are made with the type of meat you want, and the lovely ladies toss the tortillas on the griddle to crisp up the tortilla, which adds a nice texture to the taco.


I want to close this blog post by writing about the sauces on the come on the side.  When I visited, there was salsa verde, salsa rojo, and crema rojo.  I normallly do not use the side sauces because they are usually made with too much chili heat, that I can't taste my food anymore.  These sauces were made at a Scoville level that I can tolerate, and a level which I consider a flavor, not just capsaicin.  I really like the salsa verde with a bit of jalapeno heat, and a nice garlic and green tomatillo flavor.  The salsa rojo was much more pungent in chile pepper heat.  It was almost like the verde was the salt component, and the rojo was the pepper component of for the table.  Lastly, the crema rojo tasted like crema and salsa rojo together, so there was a cooling effect from the crema, and mile punch from the chile peppers.

The next time you are in the Nations, gather up your spare change, and stop on in for a tasty taco.

October 8, 2014

I Can! You Can!

  I Can!  You Can!  We all can Can!



 I took a canning class from Lyn back in September, and it was the best class in canning I have ever had!  It costs $75, Lyn came all the way from Atlanta to teach this hands on class, and I came away knowing how to can!  You too can Can this coming weekend on Sunday October 12 at the Nashville Farmer's Market at the Grow Local Kitchen.  Click here to see PreservingNow.com website and Click here to see the Grow Local Kitchen website to learn more about this up coming class.


When I signed up for this 4 hour class, the description said that I will know how to can a pickle, a tomato and a fruit.  I was a little skeptical because I took 4 other canning classes, and I did not learn how to can.  So, coming face to face with Lyn, I looked her up and down, and said, "I want to know how to put tomatoes in a jar, and can the tomatoes to put on the shelf.   I have taken 4 canning classes before, and left knowing nothing more than I just lost some cash out of my pocket to pay for those classes."  Lyn, who is delightful, has heard this before, she promised to teach me how to shove tomatoes in a jar, and indeed I learned how to CAN TOMATOES to keep them safely on my shelf!  Thanks Lyn!  Just learning this one thing make the class worth it for me!  We also learned how to make and can pickles and apple butter.  I now believe I can CAN apples, pears, and pickles too!


 I have been wanting to can for a good while, ever since we moved into our little house.  We have 3 rooms, no pantry closet, and a small 1980s style fridge/freezer.  We have no where to keep sundries, cans, or frozen foods.  If I could can, I could put cans under the bed, under couch and under the sideboard.  I started out on this odyssey trying to learn how to can safely, and learn the steps to do it.  I am an engineer,  and I like a good set of instructions that will get me from point A to point B.  All the other canning classes were led by artist types, who are more about "exceptions" and and no concrete rules to getting something done. 

This class, Lyn presented a concise way to canning, a specific method to can, and I can follow these instructions easily.  This class is how I learn best.  Lyn give me a set of instructions, and let me give it a try with my own 2 hands.  This class is the best canning class ever!  I like the instructions for canning the tomatoes because I know it will keep me safe, there is science behind the the method so botulism will not grow in the can, and I am confident I can replicate the method.


 Here is how to can tomatoes:
1.  blanch to peel tomatoes
2.  dip clean pint jars into boiling water
3.  chunk tomatoes and shove them into pint jars
4.  add 2 tablespoons jarred lemon juice from the grocery store
5.  add boiling water to top the tomatoes leaving 1 inch head space at the top
6.  stick a knife down into the edge of tomatoes and wiggle out air bubbles
7.  put a new lid on the jar, and finger tight the threading ring
8.  water bath in boiling water for 40 minutes
9.  leave the jar on the counter for a day to see how it does.  if the lid is not on tight, toss it.

That is it.  I can do this.

Helpful Hints: 
1.  The lemon juice in the jar from the grocery store is pH acidic to meet a certain level which guarantees to fend off botulism.  Lemons may not have the same acidic pH level, so it may  not add the right amount of acidity to fend off botulism.
2.  Our canning ancestors may not have used acid in preserving tomatoes before, but tomatoes were different back in the day, when tomatoes had a high level of acid.  Now, with selective farming, hybridizing and GMO, acid levels in tomatoes may vary and have less acid.  Having less acid in some modern tomatoes will not guard against botulism in canning, so adding lemon juice give the insurance policy to canning tomatoes.
3.   After the 1st 24 hours on the counter after the water bath, take the threaded ring off the jar to store.  If things go awry in the jar, you will know it by the lid coming loose.  It is harder to tell when the threaded ring is on the jar.

October 6, 2014

The Best Food Lids


 These are the best food lids ever!  Charles Viancin, a Canadian company has created silicone lids that fit on any smooth edged pot, pan, bowl, dish, and cup.  These lids provide an airtight seal, but will allow for internal gasses to escape while keeping outside air out.  These lids eliminate the need for cling wrap and foil.

The pros as I see it:
1.  BPA free
2.  Microwave safe
3.  Fridge safe
4.  Can withstand high temps to about 480F
5.  Reusable
6.  Eliminates the need for cling wrap
7.  Easy to wash
8.  Does not promote microbial growth
9.  Seals keeping air out
10. Easy to remove and replace the lid
11. Adorable to look at

These lids are now on sale all around the USA, including at least 25 stores in and around the Nashville Metro area.


A few years ago, I was in a Canadian border town, and I was walking through a local gift shop with lots of interesting cool regional gifts, including Charles Viancin food lids.  They had a display with a bowl and cup to try out the lids.  I put the lid on the bowl and the lid made an airtight suction lock on the bowl, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.  I did not buy these lids during that trip, and I just assumed I would be able to find these lids at home in Nashville.  I got home, and I went on the Charles Viancin website, and to my surprise, they were only sold in Canada.  I was so sad.  I kept on thinking about these lids, and all the whilst I was buying cling wrap, throwing away my money and throwing away used cling wrap in the landfill.


A few weeks ago, I went back to my favorite Canada border town, I left space in my carry-on luggage to get these lids, and I went to the little gift shop and loaded up an Charles Viancin silicone lids.  I got big bowl lids, cup/can lids, and soda bottle stoppers.  I was so thrilled.  Then I came home, and went back on the Charles Viancin website to discover these lids are no being sold in the USA, including Nashville!  Yes, there are about 25 retailers in the Nashville Metro area which sell these gems.  On my next day off, I am going to get more lids, and try to eliminate cling wrap in my house.

I just adore my new silicone lids.  They are so easy to use, and they are reducing the amount of trash generated in my house.  And, I think they are cute.

September 1, 2014

Hot Tamales

Dancing Tamales from the Delta Hot Tamale Festival Website


I am Southern.  The place I have lived the longest is the South USA.  I definitely feel Southern in the way I think about food, what food/ingredients I source locally (within 100 miles from my house) and what I eat.  I have worked my little plot of organic land, and I feel the dirt under my nails.  I listen to oral histories of food in the South at the Southern Foodways Alliance.  I read one quite interesting history, the Southern Hot Tamale in the Mississippi Delta.  I like that Mexican, Italian and African cultures came together to make these treats.  In the Delta, you can get red hot tamales all around the MS Delta, and there is the Hot Tamale trail, which I would like to travel one day.  But, for this year, there is the 2nd Annual Delta Hot Tamale based in Greenville, MS in October.  It is a three day affair, with the biggest part of the festival going on Saturday October 18.

For my friends in Nashville, if you want a resemblance of a traditional way to serve Delta Hot Tamales, you can go to Varallo's and get a Hot Chile Combo.  The Hot Chile Combo is a bowl with a red hot tamale at the bottom, and chile on top of it, and served with saltines.  I used to get this meal when I worked 2 blocks away from Varallo's and it holds a special place around my tastebuds because this dish is Southern food history, which I adore.

August 25, 2014

Fried Corn

  

It is Monday, and I have the day off from work.  I have time to make lunch today, rather than gulping down something at my desk as I work.  Today's lunch  is the left over lamb sandwich I got from City House Sunday Supper, and homemade fried corn as a side.  I have never made fried corn before.  I feel like fried corn is a Southern type of side dish that goes well with almost anything!  

I got a bunch of ears of corn from my CSA Barefoot Farmer, and I wanted to try making Southern fried corn.  I also got onions and garlic in my CSA, and I have cayenne from my organic veggie garden.  As a good Southern Girl, I save bacon fat to cook with later on, and bacon fat seems to be the proper way to make Southern fried corn.

I took a quick look around the internet for fried corn, and I combined them in my mind to come up with my own method and recipe.  Here it is:

8 ears of corn, blanched and kernels cut off
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 small onion small diced
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons honey
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Last night I blanched for  a minute or 2 all the corn in boiling water.  When they were cool, I cut the kernels and then put the kernels in the fridge. 

This morning, I got out my big fry-pan and heated 3 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium heat.  I added the diced onion.  When the onion became translucent, I added the corn kernels and garlic and turned up the heat to medium high.  Then I sprinkled salt, pepper, and cayenne flakes (red pepper flakes) over the top, and drizzled 2 tablespoons honey over all the corn.  I gave it a good stir to incorporate the honey.  Then I let the pan sit to allow some of the kernels to brown.  I gave the corn another good stir, and then let the pan sit to allow some of the kernels to brown. 

That is it!  I put the corn on my plate with my sliced lamb sammie, and I had the perfect lunch.

Fried corn took about 10 minutes to blanch and cut the corn the night before.  It took about 10 minutes skillet fry the corn today.  Fairly quick and easy, and delicious!

For those of you who do not want to use bacon fat, a veggie or peanut oil would work, but not lend that smoky flavor bacon fat offers, so I would find some smoked salt, and even add some smoked paprika to add that smokiness back in to the dish.  For those who don't want to use honey, regular sugar or maple syrup would work, and the substitution is 1 for 1, or 2 tablespoons of sweetness.  It is possible not to use sweet stuff, if you get the super sweet corn from the grocery store.  The corn I got from my CSA isn't the super sweet variety, so I have to add a little sweetness.  I personally would not add artificial sweeteners, as most will not hold up to medium high heat  on the stove (from the little I have read, many artificial sweeteners may breakdown to bad chemicals if heated).  For those who cannot tolerate sugar, I would just leave sugar out of the dish and try to find super sweet corn instead.


ENJOY!

July 27, 2014

Shishitos


I went to Dinette in Pittsburgh a couple years ago, and fell in love with one of the appetizers, hot grilled shishito peppers topped with olive oil, salt and pepper.  So simple, so good!  I have been thinking about these gems all the while.  Then, my gardening pal gets in 4 shishito seedlings and gives me 2 of them!  I have been raising and caring for the 2 plants in my organic garden, and here is the 1st big harvest of shishitos.  I made them in a similar tradition as Dinette, and I am over the moon with joy for how tasty these are.  Here is the recipe:

1. get a fry pan hot on the stove (med-med/hi 6/10 heat)
2. put a little oil in the pan
3. drop a bunch of shishitos into the hot pan for the sizzle
4. 30 seconds turn the shishitos
5.  30 seconds drop on the plate
6.  drizzle excellent olive oil over the top
7. sprinkle excellent salt on top
8. grind some black pepper on top

The olive oil I decided to use is from The Olive Press, and I used the Mission variety.  It is a pure EV olive oil with a bit of a peppery finish.  The salt I decided to use is from Matanzas Creek Winery Lavender collection and it is Himalayan salt with lavender.   The black pepper I decided to use is from Penzey's.