The Savoury Way

A Journey in Tastes & Treasures

Table Manners

Growing up I treasured our dinner table when we had guests.  And we had company quite frequently.  I grew up in a parsonage. Yes, I am a Pastors daughter.  And being such we had a variety of people around our table throughout my upbringing.  Being at that table was fantastic.  I got to learn about different parts of the world, varied perspectives, and diverse personalities.  There were times that those at the table held the same opinion and there were times when we were for lack of a better term – at opposite ends of the table.  But, no one ever felt that weren’t welcome at the table.

Lately, there has been a firestorm of debate over Chic-Fil-A.  And I have no desire to delve into that discussion.  The conversation has been divisive.  As debates unfolded online I heard people called terrible names, their morality, heck their spirituality called into question - until finally friends were de-friending each other on Facebook.  This is not what is to be happening around our tables.  Food is not meant to divide, it is meant to bring people together. 

For the record, I have never eaten at a Chic-Fil-A.  Their billboards and commercials always made me laugh.  But, now it all has just left a sour taste in my mouth.  And I don’t know that I ever could eat at one.  Not simply because of what was said – but because of how it caused many to hate and the alienation that followed.  Through this entire exercise I am not certain that we learned anything.  The only one that seemed to profit was Chic-Fil-A’ s bottom line.

As gracious hosts my parents despite how much they might have disagreed with a dinner guest, they never made them feel uncomfortable.  At times we would have a visitor for a week and mostly they were gracious.  But, there were times when a guest was difficult. Like a guest who wanted fried eggs with dippy yolks (Over medium) and no brown on the egg at all (top or bottom).  My mother never complained, she did her best to accommodate the guest.  Lord, only knows how many eggs it took to get it just so. At the end of the day our visitors felt like our home was their home - regardless of the cost.  It is safe to say that there are employees and customers that no longer feel welcome at the Chic Fil-A- table.

Instead of arguing over who is wrong and who is right, we should be gathering at tables appreciating each other.  We should be trying to learn from each other and enjoying the food that the good Lord provided for all of us.  The minute we can no longer do that we are no longer a civilized society.  How can we possibly persuade one another to our philosophies/doctrines if we can’t break bread together and learn from each other?  Henry David Thoreau said “True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.” May our tables (restaurants) not grow dark and may we find knowledge and light when in true friendship we gather to eat, take a break, learn and love.

Happy Hot Fudge Sundae Day!

Happy Hot Fudge Sundae Day!

Article: 10 of the World's Best Fresh Markets

Years ago, my husband and I were in Dallas and the highlight of my trip was a simple farmers market with the most aromatic produce ever.  This article provides a list of the 10 best fresh markets in the world.  A a person who frequents number 2 on the list (Union Square Market, NYC) - I would love to visit any of these markets when I have the privilege to be in any of these cities.  Enjoy!

Happy National Hot Dog Day!  (my childhood favorite way to eat a hot dog)

Happy National Hot Dog Day! (my childhood favorite way to eat a hot dog)

Some of my family from the Wiener Roast.

Some of my family from the Wiener Roast.

Enjoying a great Wiener Roast!

Enjoying a great Wiener Roast!

A Summer Tradition

Two weekends ago, I partook in a nostalgic summer tradition, a wiener roast.  It has been several years since I had actually roasted anything on a stick around a fire pit.  It may not seem as elegant as a clam bake or as exotic as a crawfish boil – but they all do the same thing – bring people together.  And that night it certainly did.

My family is unreasonably large – so many aunts and uncles to count that I run out of fingers and toes – cousins to numerous to count (and I swear we add a new one about every other month).  In essence I don’t have a family tree – I have a family orchard.  And that night around 15 or so of us hung out around the fire. 

The menu was simple, hot dogs, baked beans, macaroni salad, fruit salad and white cake with fluffy icing for dessert.  The baked beans were scratch made by Aunt Margaret.  The saucy was tangy, the bacon smoky, and the creamy starchy goodness of the beans came through.  Today there are so many canned treatments of baked beans and most of them basically tell the bean to shut up because all of the other flavors are screaming at you.  My Aunt Margaret allowed the beans to sing! 

The macaroni salad was simple as it should be. Firm pasta, silky balanced dressing (not too sour, not too sweet), crunchy celery and onions, and buttery eggs. Oh and it was served ice cold.  I grew up on this type of macaroni salad.  So, when I get macaroni salad with thin dressing that runs everywhere or the pasta melts on my tongue like a Listerine strip (overcooked), or they add relish – it drives me crazy.  My cousin Gayle got it right!

But all of this food was made divine by the company of family.  I don’t get home very often – so this gathering was special.  Sitting around the fire with the smell of smoke in the air, a plate full of food,  and getting caught up with each other is what it is all about.  

"Never order food in excess of your body weight."
- Erma Bombeck

Simplicity

We hear the phrases or should I say praises such as… simple and straightforward, not muddled, clean – all of this in regards to flavors.  And we all can imagine such flavors in our mind.  I would venture to say that at the top of some of our favorite eats list are dishes that are simplistic in the flavors and preparation.  In the movie Eat, Pray, Love – Julia Roberts is seated slurping wonderfully long strands of spaghetti coated in what appears to be a very silky marinara sauce.  It looks so satisfying and yet there is nothing complex about the dish.

This dish takes me back to simple dish my mother would prepare. She was an avid canner and would have a pantry full of quart and pint jars filled with all sorts of treats.  Mom would take a quart jar of canned tomatoes, warm them on the stove, seasoning them appropriately, folding in perfectly cooked macaroni.  That, with a sliced of buttered bread was pure satisfaction.  And it is strange, as I type this I realize that we were eating meatless before it became trendy. 

Commonly people tend to shy away from cooking thinking it requires fancy ingredients, a multi-piece knife set, and being able to produce dishes intuitively sans a recipe.  All of which are dead wrong.  For example creamy scrambled eggs only require eggs, butter, salt, pepper, milk, a spatula and a frying pan.  Also, the lower the cooking temp coupled with frequently stirring produces a very silky scramble.  Eggs like this are so satisfying.  And they are effortless to prepare. 

Novice cooks should start simple and stick with recipes.  Once you master the recipe then improvise in small steps.  Experienced cooks should consider editing – ensuring that the main ingredients shine and aren’t being covered up.  The only time I find myself cheering a cook on, to camouflage a flavor is when I am watching Chopped. - Especially when candy is in the main entrée basket.  But in most cases I prefer my flavors to be distinguishable.  And no one should fear preparing clean , simple and straightforward fare.

Which Soup Would You Prefer?  
Had lunch today at Panera and ordered soup for my girls. Suffice to say the first bowl was lacking. But kudos to the Manager and staff for promptly fixing the problem.  Quality Control People!

Which Soup Would You Prefer?  

Had lunch today at Panera and ordered soup for my girls. Suffice to say the first bowl was lacking. But kudos to the Manager and staff for promptly fixing the problem.  Quality Control People!

Happy National Ice Cream Day!
This is my favorite flavor.

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

This is my favorite flavor.

Food of Love

Several months ago, I was approaching my 41st birthday.  Having spent my 40th birthday with my sister at the hospital (she was recovering from surgery) – I wanted to do a little something special.  So, I had planned a night of dinner and movies with my husband and then another night of dinner and movies – this time with my sister.  Then my very immediate family would get together for a meal on my birthday.  It was a simple plan and I was looking forward to it. 

A few days prior to the commencement of my birthday weekend I received a call from my mother.  My dear Aunt Grace had died after struggling for months with cancer.  Shortly after the call the funeral plans had been made and she was to be buried on my birthday.  This required a trip back home to my parent’s childhood town. 

Now, at 41 changing your plans for your birthday is really no big deal - especially under these circumstances. And honestly, I had never been with my cousins on my birthday before. So, being with family regardless of the circumstances was just alright with me.

Well, the evening I arrived in town (we were literally in town for 36 hours) my cousin Kelli had made me a birthday cake.  It wasn’t that she made it from scratch and it was oh so moist. Or, that she topped it with homemade cream cheese icing.  Not even because she suggested I have it for a midnight snack and for breakfast.  It was that through food she showed me that she loved me and valued me. 

If you have watched Emeril Lagasse even for a minute – you will know that he uses the phrase “food of love.”  And I am sure we have all eaten that food from time to time.  Maybe it is a familiar dish that you’ve eaten a thousand times.  Or a meal that someone prepared for you on one of your worst days.  In either case you taste the care that went into to making it for you. 

Recently food has been undergoing intense interrogation for its starring role in obesity.  And it takes only a quick glance to find an expert talking out against the idea of comfort food.  Or as Carla Hall calls it – Food that hugs you.  Comfort Food has its place in our lives – the issue is that far too many of us have allowed it to just move into our lives and take over.  True food of love should never make you overweight. It is food made to feed your body and soul.  And over-indulging is neither good for you body or your soul. 

Back to my birthday cake….I did have a piece that night. And I even had a small one with my breakfast the next day.  And I really felt the love from cousin as I enjoyed every bite.  But, I have never had cake for breakfast since.  Because I plan to be around and healthy next year to celebrate my 42nd birthday – wherever I am and whatever I am doing.