Friday, December 31, 2010

Bonnie Jean's Soul Food Cafe in San Diego

We had a great lunch here the day after Christmas. It was SO Southern and Soulful, we thought we were either in Mississippi or Tennessee. A special shout out of thanks to Miesha, who really made the day so special. AND of course, thanks go to Beth and Chris for introducing us to Bonnie Jean's!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Travels to Phoenix - the cooking show!

Jeff and I were in Arizona this past weekend for the Sonoma Showcase Festival. (Yes, the name was sold and "Sonoma" is now being sold as a brand. Why didn't we think of this?)  We were there to do cooking demonstrations at the event. Their fabulous PR person, Sandy Painter, arranged for us to promote the event by going on 3 different morning news shows.

For the show on Thursday morning, Sonoran Living, Jeff prepared "Dungeness Crab Stuffed Avocado with Mango and Red Chile Dressing", from his cookbook, Down Home to Downtown. While finishing up the first show Jeff was asked if he could prepare some food as props for the news broadcast the next morning out at the event location. Sure...Jeff is an agreeable guy! Since it didn't need to necessarily be what we were demonstrating that weekend, Jeff just ...created some dishes! It was pretty fun walking around the giant grocery store thinking of what food would project both Zin Restaurant's style of food while also staying seasonal AND available.

Jeff came up with three dishes, one of which was Butternut Squash Hash with Applewood Smoked Bacon, using Zin's house bacon, of course! I don't have to be psychic (which I can be on rare occasions!) to know you will want to know what else he served: Wild Mushroom Barley Risotto (which was fantastic!) and Zin smoked Fennel Sausage with Sauteed peppers. Mind you, it was just for a prop, but Jeff made sure it was seasoned properly! We were just to place the food on the plates, set them on a display table and then make ourselves scarce. As it turned out, Jeff was interviewed live on location and did a GREAT job! 

At the end of the shoot, Sandy explained she has lost her Saturday morning "cooking guest" and asked us if we could appear on yet another show the next morning! We agreed and after watching everyone devour the squash hash, decided to present that dish. We were supposed to only get 2 minutes of air time but it turned into 5! The only segment available online is the Friday show. Here is the link to that one: Jeff and Susan on ABC 15

For those that have requested it, here is the recipe for the Butternut Squash Hash with Applewood Smoked Bacon. We are making a big batch for dinner Thursday!

Butternut Squash Hash with Applewood Smoked Bacon

By Chef Jeff Mall – Zin Restaurant – Healdsburg, CA

1 medium butternut squash – peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion - peeled and diced
2 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon – diced
1 red bell pepper – diced
2 leaves fresh sage- chopped
2 oz. unsalted butter
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
½ cup chicken broth or stock

Heat large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until almost crisp.
Drain half of the fat. Add butter.
Add chopped onion, red pepper and sage.
Cook until onions are translucent.
Add butternut squash and toss with ingredients.
Add chicken broth and continue to cook until squash is tender.
Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Have a wonderful dinner and be sure to express your gratitude each and every day, not just on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sun Studio and other adventures in THE SOUTH

For all y'all who think they have "done Memphis" by going to Graceland and then to see the ducks swim in the bar fountain at the Peabody have missed out by not going to Sun Studio! We had a BLAST and got to see where Elvis stood when he cut his first "studio" record. The photo above shows that very spot!

We honestly ate ourselves stupid on this trip.

After our day of fried chicken, we ate dried fruit in the car while driving to Brooks Shaw's Country Store at Casey Jones Village, Jackson, TN, a sweet place owned by friends of ours, Clark and Juanita Shaw. Clark's daddy, Brooks, started the store and it has grown into an incredible place to eat home-style cooking and shop for ...Americana! We first learned of their incredible food at a Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium where Clark and Juanita made their famous "Baba's Cracklin' Cornbread" and we ate our weight in cornbread! We mentioned it to Juanita who sent her sister (the one that threw George Harrison out of Carl Perkin's house after Carl's funeral, but that is another story!) to take care of us. Did she EVER!!! Jeff and I were both delivered HOT cornbread along with the hot pockets of joy, fresh fried peach pie! OH LOWDY!!! I could have eaten 10 of them, or died trying! It was revealed that the chef uses dried peaches for the concentrated peach flavor. Whatever he does, it works!!!

Would you believe that all this took place before lunch? We crawled back in the car, with me wondering if I could eat again in the next day, much less in the next hour! That was put to the test when we pulled up at our destination, B.E.Scott's aka Ricky Parker's Whole Hog Barbecue in Lexington, TN. (The link will take you to an interview of Ricky by Southern Foodways Alliance. Ricky wasn't around but his son was and he was kind enough to give us a tour. Don't all tours include dressed pigs? We had an incredible pulled (not chopped - our preference)  pork sandwich...and climbed back in the car and drove back to the Country Store.

They had promised us a "soda fountain treat"...which was!!! The fountain has been deemed one of the best 50 ice cream parlors in the we HAD to try it! I had my all time favorite flavor combo of vanilla ice cream, bananas, fudge sauce, whipped cream and salted nuts! YUM!!!

We got ourselves a cup of coffee, some chocolate walnut fudge for the road (yes, I HAVE been doing Weight Watchers for a YEAR!) and drove back to Memphis where a fabulous dinner at Restaurant Iris awaited us! Can you say "FOOD COMA"???

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On the Road Again...the annual Southern Pilgrimage

A plate of pork ribs, barbecue beans and French fries with a plate of the famous BBQ Spaghetti
Our annual trip to "the South" began with lunch at Neely's Bar-b-que in Memphis, TN. We devoured the rib combo plate we got with beans and coleslaw and Jeff helped me to finish my pork and coleslaw sandwich. DELICIOUS! We crawled back to the hotel and took a VERY long nap! Afterwards we went to a little place called Automatic Slims. It was good, not great. Creative, but they couldn't quite pull it off. Close but no cigar!

For breakfast we went to Cockadoo's. They have "cathead" biscuits which means they have biscuits the size of a cat head. They were good, but not remarkable. I am spoiled by the fantastic biscuits at Zin on Sunday nights!

We bit the bullet and finally went to Graceland. It was getting embarrassing that we hadn't gone on all of our trips to Memphis...

For those of you that were born before 1970 should recognize the beautiful white front porch of Graceland. Apparently Priscilla Presley hired 2 guys from Disneyland to help create the mystique and amusement park quality of Graceland. Not a bad thing...It was fun to see!We had to be the youngest on the tour. The average age was about 70! The tour takes you through the main house, to see the kitchen, dining room, racquetball court and the famous underground play rooms. Pretty crazy decorating ideas...
It was sad to see the grave site and realize just how young he was when he passed. It was also amazing to see the level of devotion and fanaticism that still exists for Elvis. 

From there we went to lunch at one of the places our friends, Paul and Angela recommended,  Uncle Lou's Sweet and Spicy Fried Chicken. It was delicious! Uncle Lou has Homestyle, Sweet and Spicy and HOT Sweet and Spicy. It was SO good!

Not satisfied with eating only one kind of fried chicken, we had it again for dinner, this time it was Gus's Fried Chicken. I promise we don't eat this way every day! Just the week we are in the South! Back to Gus's...Michael Stern of Roadfood said it best:

I'm not sure about Gus's claim to be world famous; but if it is not, it deserves to be. Here is some of the nation's best fried chicken. Each piece, dark and white, is encased in an envelope that vigorously crunches then offers rapturous chew, all the while radiating the ecstatic flavor combo of chicken fat and pepper... (Click on the link to read all that he wrote about Gus's)

All of this crazy eating took place in two days...with 7 to go...and no stretch pants packed. I am in trouble!
If I haven't gone into a food coma, I'll write more tomorrow about the food extravaganza...and the trip to Sun Studios!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

We are Back in Business!

Our farm/garden was featured in Discoveries Magazine, August 2010
Yes, the blog is BACK! After dealing with "technical difficulties" beyond my abilities, I just said phooey and re-titled Eastside Farm Chronicles. I won't whine and tell you how busy we have been...but DANG! We have been busy!

After Farmer Jeff gave me an incubator for Christmas (yes, all his fault!) we have had a dramatic rise in the number of chickens. We also now have a dramatic number of roosters and are offering them to anyone that will take them! I have even considered butchering them and making Coq au Vin, but can't bring myself to do it...yet. It will really depend on how many more sleepless nights we and the neighbors suffer through!

I don't dare try to recap May - almost September. Suffice to say it has been a strange growing season on the farm. We have over 500 tomatoes planted...and the coldest summer in 70 years. Our melons, however, are the best ever, with Crane melons as the current favorite. They are on the Slow Food Ark of Taste along with other things we are growing such as the Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Peppers, Petaluma Gold Rush Beans. The rest of what we have planted are heirloom varieties.

We are about to move into the "preserving the harvest" phase of the year. We have peaches to turn into jam, tomatoes to turn into sauce, pears to dehydrate, and lots more to pick! Peppers and pepper roasting will follow.

Thanks for following our journey...more tales to come!