Sunday, November 22, 2009

Talking about food while on the road (and cooking too)

On my long three weeks journey, after a few days in spent Oxford, MS at the Southern Foodways Alliance Conference, I crossed the Mississippi River at Helena over to W. Helena in Arkansas.

At Pine Bluff High School I talked African American foodways and gardenways in the Jefferson era and also contemporary health issues of concern to the black community.  All 5 Social Studies classes came to the library to hear me talk. The thing they found most astounding is that there are 320 calories in a 20 oz soda; and that it would take 92 minutes to walk them off!

I bought fabulous huge Jewel Yams, young kale, mustard, and turnip greens from Charles and Bobbie Carpenter Clark at their produce market where they sell the vegetables they raise on their farm east of town.
At the middle school I served baked yams, greens cooked with onion and smoked turkey, and corn pone made on my cast iron griddle. We drizzled the pone with local made sorghum syrup and Ribbon Cane Syrup.  Yummy was the general consensus!

The smell of twenty baking yams is a wondrous experience.  After a light rub with oil I bake them till they are super soft and the sweet juice is carmelizing in the bottom of the pan.  Of course I love them hot but cold will do! And they freeze well.

I bought a smoked turkey wing and used it for the rich taste it adds to the greens.  It adds little fat and can easily replace the traditional smoked pork hock.

The next leg of the journey took me even further south followed by a hugh leap northward!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The best tastes of the Fall

Today I'm thinking about butternut squash soup; creamy, thick, deep yellow, yum!   Several versions of this soup that I've been served are too sweet for my taste. I'm usually most responsive to savory.  My recipe contains roasted red pepper, sauteed onion and garlic, half and half,  and the whole pot is whirred with my immersion blender (ain't they a fabulous tool?) to a smooth puree.   Served with thin slices of baguette drizzled with olive oil and browned up in a hot oven it is all the supper one needs.  Oh, I forgot, the wine!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Leni's heading back north

Here I am in Vicksburg, Mississippi, bookin' out ahead of Hurricane Ida!  Heading up Highway 61 just like in the Dylan song . . . . . 

"God told Abraham Kill me a son
Abe says Man you must be puttin' me on
God says No
Abe says What?
God says You can do what you want, Abe, but . . . . 
The next time you see me coming you better run
Abe says Where you want this killing done
God says take it out on Highway 61"

And that's just the first verse!  I shall rock my way to Memphis and beyond.  

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Finally some sun as I drive across the South

All the rain has played hell on the crops here in the south.  This picture is of a sodden cotton field unable to be harvested.    I also passed soybean fields still with rows full of wet, and in some cases now moldy, plants.  In addition to wiping out field crops the rain has been very hard on the US farm raised catfish industry here in the Delta.  If you enjoy catfish please be willing to pay the small bit more you might have to pay for US produced as the farmers recover.  Ok, special plea is over, but I only eat and enjoy catfish and have no monitary interest!!  
Today I'm off to Pine Bluff, Arkansas; through the Delta at Clarksdale, cross the Mississippi River at Helena.  Today my driving sound track will be Bessie Smith, especially her Backwater Blues, and Robert Johnson.  I might even stop for a lunch of crayfish or maybe fried oysters!