May 28, 2010

An extra special BLT

[warning…this post contains extreme pork close-up]DSC00841

Nothing says summer in the south like fresh tomatoes. I grew up with grandparents who farmed and now that many of them have passed away, we don’t reap the benefits of their farm crops any longer. It certainly puts things into perspective when I go to the farmer’s market and have to buy tomatoes as opposed to getting them for free. When I make the rounds at my local farm stand, I always buy from the grannies and pas even if I don’t necessarily need what they are selling. There is something about going home with a sack full of still-warm from the sun heirloom tomatoes that makes me feel connected to all the wonderful folks who have loved me in my life.

One of the standard dinner fares that I make during this time of year is BLTs, a real southern staple. Everyone seems to have his or her own method to this particular madness, but I think mine is pretty basic. I toast 2 pieces of loaf bread, spread mayo really thinly on each and sandwich an ungodly amount of bacon between as many tomatoes as I can cram on there and as much lettuce as won’t fall off (some still does and I eat it too!).


The special thing about these recent BLTs is that they could actually be called BBLTs, as in Benton’s Bacon Lettuce and Tomatoes. Mr. Allan Benton is pretty famous around these parts (and really around lots of parts), but his bacon speaks for itself. Tragically, I had never eaten any of it until last night. I’ve wanted to make a pilgrimage to his store in Madisonville, TN, but just haven’t gotten a chance. I was able to get some of his tasty pork at a store in my area, but I plan to try and order directly from his site in the future to avoid the hefty mark-up. If you are ready to view some of the most delicious bacon I’ve had in a long time, scroll down.



As for pictures of the sandwiches themselves…sadly, there are none. I needed both hands to eat my BLT and couldn’t risk putting it down to pick up the camera. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend! And don’t forget to give your favorite veteran or armed forces member a big smooch of thanks! I know I sure will!

Happy Memorial Day!

May 26, 2010

A Very Berry Giveaway

strawberries in white colander

Summer is quickly approaching and one of my favorite things about this season in the sweet south is all the wonderful berries at our disposal. I have already made several trips to my local farmer's market for strawberries and blackberries and cannot wait until all the other great berries start coming in. I have one easy go-to cobbler recipe, but other than that or just eating them straight, I don’t have a very big arsenal of berry dessert recipes.

Maybe you are in the same boat as me and would like a few good recipes to add to your collection. Maybe you have lots but could always use more. Either way, I have a giveaway that I don’t think you’ll want to miss. I’m very excited because this is Southern Belle Simple’s very first giveaway (hopefully of many to come!).

The Prize:

luscious berry desserts

A chance to win 1 of 2 copies of this amazing book Luscious Berry Desserts by Lori Longbotham. It is packed to the brim with some gorgeous images of all kinds of tasty treats. If they taste half as good as the pictures make them look, you won’t be able to resist! Two lucky SBS readers will come away with this little gem.

How to be eligible:

1. Become a follower of this blog.

2. Become a fan of this blog on facebook.

3. Leave a comment saying you’d like to win.

The contest will be open until midnight on May 31, 2010. Then I’ll draw 2 names at random and send the books out to the winners! Please feel free to tell all your friends! I’m seriously tempted to keep a copy of the book for myself, but I promise I’ll share them with 2 of you!

May 25, 2010

la fete de l’imagination: Dixie Carter


Dear sweet readers….it’s time for another imaginary party and this time we are honoring the birthday of a very special lady. Ms. Dixie Carter, a southern belle through and through, passed away recently and I have a pretty good feeling she is celebrating this birthday in grand style. Upon her death, Julia Sugarbaker fans everywhere mourned the loss of a great actress who brought the character to life with wit, sass and that perfect ability to kiss your cheek and chew your hide out at the same time.

Dixie Carter always struck me as the type of person who appreciated finer things in life, but also simpler sensibilities. I picture her party as a morning drop-in event with friends coming and going as they please. Instead of setting a formal table, I see everyone congregating in the kitchen (isn’t that where we always end up at the best parties?).


We’ll catch up over coffee and homemade strawberry shortcakes. The guest of honor will keep us laughing till we cry as she tells stories of her life growing up southern, pledging a sorority in college, raising two daughters, becoming Julia Sugarbaker and marrying the man of her dreams Mr. Hal Holbrook. Every elegant woman needs a piece of nice gold jewelry so I’m giving her this dainty charm bracelet. A sturdy briefcase to keep all of her favorite books close by (she was a huge fan of Emily Dickinson and Tennessee Williams!) and a Cartier tank watch so she’s never late for an appointment. Also her very own blue suede shoes, seeing as how she spent some of her growing years in Memphis. Maybe, if we’re really lucky we can convince her to sing us a verse or two of one of her favorite songs.

Happy Birthday, Miss Dixie! I know you are surely singing now!

happy birthday dixie

May 24, 2010

Simply Southern Blogs

There are a ton of fantastic blogs out there that celebrate all different attributes of my beloved I decided to create an award to recognize these blogs and the amazing bloggers who contribute to them. The "Simply Southern Blog Award" is intended to bring a big ol' southern pat on the back to any southern bloggers and blogs. Please feel free to dispense as you see fit!
The Rules:
1. Copy and paste the award image onto your blog or website.
2. Answer the question "In your opinion, what makes a person a true southerner?"
3. Bestow the award upon a favorite southern blog!


May 21, 2010

Preppy is as preppy does

popped collar

{Me and my #1 preppy icon…my sweet dad…both in our Polos, mine with collar popped. I’m also rocking a sweet side-ponytail}

Happy Friday to all you gorgeous friends! I hope all of you are well. I must say that this whole blog experience has been such an amazing one for me. There are so many cool bloggers out there and they've welcomed me into the circle just like one of the gang. I am humbled to say that I've been honored with another blog award. A huge thank you to Shannon at Webbisodes for choosing me for this award....Shannon, I'd like to hug your neck!

I have been given the Preppy Mafia Award. I’m not sure I consider myself a prepster, although I don't classify myself as a "girly girl" either and some of my most beloved folks say that I am, so anything is possible. Maybe Shannon saw me back in the day when my collar was always popped and my jeans tight-rolled. Hopefully she didn't have to witness my grunge/goth phase. Eww. Anyway....

the preppy mafia award{the award}

The rules: 

1. Copy and paste the above image onto your blog/website.
2. Answer the questions below.
3. Pass onto bloggers that you LOVE and let them know they've been given this award.

Welcome to the Preppy Mafia! Now for a few questions, you cannot refuse.
1. Who is your style icon(s)?

Betsey Johnson, Carrie Bradshaw (yes, I know she isn't a real person), Crystal Renn, Cindy P. (my momma...except for  when she sometimes wears socks and sandals)

2. What is your favorite Socialite lit book?

Bergdorf Blondes, also sTORI TELLING

3. Favorite party theme?

white trash bash (complete with Cap'n Crunch in a huge bowl and Slim Jims for everyone!)

4. Go to Halloween costume?

Always some variation of a person who would wear a leopard fur coat since I happened to have one on hand

5. Extravagance you cannot live without?

Not sure if this is what you mean, but I cannot live without real butter, dark chocolate and UN-sweet Iced Tea

6. Living person you admire?

Dana Perino (former White House Press Secretary)....she's just so darn eloquent and articulate all the time.
And of course all the wonderful friends and family in my life...awww

7. Greatest fear?

forgetting things that matter

8. Trait you deplore in yourself?

I try too hard to please some of the people all of the time

9. Which talent would you most like to have?

tight rope walking or tap dancing

10. Greatest Achievement?

pretty sure I haven't achieved it yet, but up until now I'm kinda proud of myself for working full-time while completing my Master's degree.
Also, knowing that I’ve tried to live my life in such a way that would make all the people who have loved me and are now passed away very proud.


Now for the next set of honorees……

Lauren at Chasin’ Butterflies

Meg at Musings from the Front Porch

Carla at Honey Living

LeAnn at The Vintage Laundress

Sarah at Classy and Fabulous

Congratulations ladies! Thanks for doing what you do!

May 19, 2010

A few more keepers!

 book stack There are so many fabulous books out there...sometimes I get overwhelmed because I know I could never read them all. That's why I always appreciate a recommendation to get me in the right direction. I have a couple of recent treasures that I'd like to recommend to you, charming readers and I know you won't be disappointed.

backyard homestead book First, The Backyard Homestead. While the tagline reads "Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre," do NOT be fooled. This book has way more great information than just food growing and production (even though that stuff is incredibly informative). I can't even begin to touch on all the helpful stuff in here. Recipes, how-to's, cool projects, and much much more! Just go get a copy! I saw some here recently and of course there's always here.

southern farmers market cookbook Also is The Southern Farmers Market Cookbook. I just need to take a moment to bask in the glory of this book. No, but seriously, it has everything that I desire in a cookbook....tons of pictures (yay!) and easy recipes with fewer, more simple ingredients. It is divided seasonally so you can shop locally and make the dishes with the freshest products. I know I'll be adding this one to my wish list. Pick it up here or your local library…of course if you choose the latter, they will make you give it back!

I’ve gotta know…what are you all reading right now? Anything life-changing or just mood-lifting? Maybe you’ve got the skinny on some other neat books like these. Pray tell!

May 18, 2010

Make me under

coco-chanel1 There is a well-known quote attributed to Coco Chanel… "when you leave the house, take something off."  I think she was talking about being careful to avoid piling on an amount of jewelry and accessories to the point that makes us look crazy.  I like to think of this as kindergartener's syndrome. When I was in kindergarten, I would try to wear no less than seven pieces of jewelry for any special occasion. Bracelets, rings, necklaces, pins, you name it. What I have learned since then is that less really can be more. Granted there will be times when you want to pile on the jewels and sometimes it works. But with anything, whether your clothing, accessories or home style...think what statement you are trying to make and focus on that. If you try to wear too many items or fill your home with too many things, all the competing statements will drown each other out. Or at least this is my experience.

I ran across this little gem at a yard sale recently and I think it perfectly expresses the important sentiment of less is more. In its original bedazzled state, this ‘arrangement’ did not look like something I would give a second glance to, but I could tell there might be  something better hiding underneath all that plastic foolery. DSC00774

Leon giving it a sniff…I can tell he isn’t yet convinced.  DSC00775 

After pulling off all the silk floral business, a neat little twig birdhouse remains. Simple. Cute. A complete and total turn-around from how it used to look. And that’s what $2 and 10 minutes can get you ladies and gentlemen. I’m sure lots of people would have walked right by it, but to me this seemed like a great challenge. Sometimes the things we take away are much more important than the ones we try to add. I encourage all of us (me included) to be willing to let go of some things…we might be really happy with what is left behind. DSC00792  

Do you have any fabulous make-under stories of your own? Or maybe you collect twig birdhouses and would like me to send you this one! Comments, come one, come all!

{background: my not normally so peachy looking kitchen wall}

May 17, 2010

Your best foot

cover girl vogue  feet 61 We all have things about ourselves that we wish we could change, especially in regard to our physical appearance. Some of us have more things, some have less, but I feel certain that deep down we all have something. I'm not going to mention what my something is (if you really want to know, send me an email), but instead I'm going to talk about a subject that seems to give many people grief: feet. I cannot tell you how many people I know who hate their feet. This is kind of funny to me because I think, on paper, my feet might be "hate-worthy" but I do not hate them...not one little bit. I've had a few issues with them over the years, but actually I quite love them.

Maybe this is because I love shoes so much and thanks to my having feet, I get to shop for and wear shoes everyday. I recently participated in this lovely blogger's flip flop swap and got paired up with an amazing lady who sent me these cute summer sandals!  white flip flop 1white flip flop 2

This is the time of year in which much of our attention is turned to our feet. Whether you plan on wearing summer sandals or not, it is important to give our feet the proper care and maintenance to keep them healthy and feeling great. And of course it doesn't hurt if they look great too!

Some tips from a vintage Southern Living magazine article about keeping your feet in tip-top shape:

  • Never stand when you can sit....well this might be my new life motto!
  • Elevate feet as often as possible
  • Never wear enclosed shoes without stockings or stockingettes (I told you it was vintage)
  • Don't be a home medicine man. Serious foot discomforts should be treated by a licensed doctor.
  • Exercise feet daily. With legs elevated, toes pointed, use feet to draw two large clockwise circles. Reverse and draw two circles in a counterclockwise direction. Do this 10 times in each direction. Try not to laugh.

Seriously, my best foot advice is to buy good shoes. There is such a thing as a beautiful and comfortable shoe. And if you must wear horrifyingly uncomfortable ones, limit the amount of time you spend in them. Your feet will thank you later. Now point those toes ladies! DSC00020

{one of my besties & me wearing fabulous shoes! }

May 14, 2010

Hit the road, Jack!

scenic south -- road trip I don't know about y'all, but sometimes I just want to get in the car and go somewhere. Maybe it is the excitement of the unknown or the possible adventures waiting to be had, but when Saturdays roll around during this time of year, I am ready to hit the road. I think it also has to do with the multitude of fun events taking place across the region. Festivals abound and sometimes a girl needs a good festival to keep her spirits lifted!

4p-Dotty-Spot-picnic-basket-lgEven if you can't commit to an entire day of tooling around, sometimes simply packing a picnic lunch and heading out to a nice grassy spot is enough to calm the frazzles of daily life. It really is the little things that can make such a difference. I hope all of you are going to take some time this weekend to have an adventure or six. Don't do anything I wouldn't do....unless you promise to report back and tell us all about it!

Happy Friday everybody!

May 13, 2010

Talk southern to me…

creeping vine edit Words are an amazing thing. I am drawn to people who use them in vivid, expressive ways and here in the sweet south, there is no shortage of wordsmiths...folks who weave words together to paint a picture so clear that it jumps to life. Sometimes one word is all it takes to convey a particular message...other times you need a whole string of them. I have tapped into some deeply rich resources to compile for you this list of southern sayin's. Some, I've heard all my life. Some, I've said all my life. Others, I've never heard or said, but I can't wait for the perfect opportunity to arise so I can give them a whirl! {Disclaimer: some of these aren't particularly child or Me-me friendly, so be warned!} Also, I’ll try to explain the ones that aren’t really obvious…unless I don’t understand them either.

barn edit Some are simply expressions to describe a particular person or situation:

  • Crazier than a $h!+ house rat
  • Busier than a one-legged man at an a$$ kicking contest
  • He's only got one oar in the water (crazy?)
  • He could thread a sewing machine and it a runnin' (my personal favorite....don't we all know somebody this nervous and high strung?)
  • His bread ain't buttered on both sides
  • Useless as teets on the boar hog
  • Busy as stink
  • Old as Cooter Brown (variation Cootie Brown)
  • Pretty as a speckled pup
  • Tight as Dick’s hatband (means you’re cheap)
  • He found himself on the hind teat (things aren’t going too well)

Others offer a word of advice:

  • If you're going to hoot with the owls, you've got to soar with the eagles
  • Hoe your own row
  • Many hands make light work
  • When cows start flying, you've just gotta shoot 'em (referring to a cow that constantly gets over or through a fence....also a new fave of mine!)
  • You'll lose a crop that way
  • If you sleep with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas
  • If you run with trash, you're gonna smell like it
  • Don’t mess and gom (as in “I’ve just cleaned the whole house so you better not mess and gom in there”)
  • No matter how thin you slice it, there’s two sides to everything
  • The best way to go fast is to go slow

Still others just offer a random sentiment

  • In for a dime, in for a dollar
  • It’s never cost what it’s worth (referring to alcoholic beverages…cracks me up!)
  • Some drive a Cadillac, some drive a Ford, some ride a donkey and swat it with a board, but they all get where they’re going eventually

This list is by no means complete, so feel free to add your favorite southern sayin’ as a comment!

May 12, 2010

Biscuits make everything better!

just biscuits 

I'm not sure if there is any food in the world that combines the same amount of love, comfort and deliciousness as the biscuit.  When I think of the love that went into making all the biscuits I have eaten in my life, it brings tears to my eyes. In my opinion, the biscuit  is a magical thing that should be celebrated. Thankfully some important local movers and shakers are taking this into consideration and the biscuit is getting its due. Beginning at 5pm on June 4th and running through Saturday June 5th, the biscuit takes center stage at the first ever International Biscuit Festival on Market Square in Knoxville, TN.

The festival combines anything and everything biscuit including bake-offs, biscuit art, songs about biscuits and a biscuit beauty pageant (say that five times fast!). Rest assured that I will be there and I advise all of you to come out and see what's what! 

I guess this would be the time to make a confession. As a proud southerner who considers herself at least a decent cook, I have never actually made biscuits. I've watched my grandmother(s) make them many times, but since I've been an adult (eek!) living on my own, I have never tackled the task. Thankfully, I have both my maternal great-grandmothers' biscuit recipes (each is lovingly handwritten) and will be attempting them soon. I think each recipe was used at least once by different members of my family for 4-H demonstration competitions…and some even won with them! This doesn’t surprise me in the least because I enjoyed many a biscuit made by both of these special ladies.
Linnie Mae Biscuits
{Linnie Mae Hampton’s Biscuit Recipe}
Eugenia W. Biscuits
{Eugenia Maxwell Whiteaker’s Biscuit Recipe}
In case you aren’t a big biscuit fan, you should probably leave this blog immediately…No, no, I’m only kidding (sort of). Do you have an award-winning biscuit recipe of your own? Are any of you planning to attend the Festival? I hope to see you there! I can’t wait!

May 11, 2010

I like big hair and I cannot lie!

060811_antoinette_vmed_2p_widecIn the south, there are certain things that we take very seriously and our hair is most definitely one of those things. When I was really small, I had the cutest little ringlets (not to brag), but as I got older and wanted to let my hair grow out, it turned into quite the frizzy mop. My mom didn't have a lot of experience with curls or how to style them (you tried Momma!), so my usual hair style was a tight French braid (ouch!) or that one time I had bangs and a short bob (NEVER AGAIN).

Because my hair isn't straight or even brush-able, I have been forced to adapt my methods of caring for it. I guess my best hair advice is this: do what works for you. The only reason certain rules came to be is they worked for the majority of the people, but if your hair goes against the need a new set of rules. If washing your hair every day works for you, be my guest. If I tried washing my hair every day, it would be as dry as a haystack and I wouldn't have time to do much of anything else. I wash mine about every third (fourth) day and only with conditioner instead of shampoo. Sound crazy to you? Maybe so, but it works for me. If we have similar hair, it might work for you as well. Otherwise I think you should try to figure out what works for your hair and run with that.

A few tips.....

1. Be brave: Want to try a complete new color or style? What's the worst thing that can happen.....(famous last words). No, but really. If you have a hairstylist that you trust (this is key!), he or she will try his/her darnedest not to let you down. And usually if you hate it, they won't let you leave until they've tried to fix it.

2. Be realistic: If you've seen my hair, you know that it will never look like this:  hts-383x300-gwynethpaltrow That doesn't mean I didn't spend much of the 90s trying to get it to, but come flatiron ever created could get me there. I finally decided to embrace the hair God gave me and try to make the best of it.

3. Be a mad scientist: Some of the greatest things I've used on my hair weren't even hair products. For years, hand lotion has been my go-to frizz fighter and it smells great too. Also, foamy shaving cream works in a pinch when you don't have mousse on hand.

hair stuff

{My current trifecta of frizz fighting power!}

me and camille curly hair

{My little sis & me a few years ago…curl power!}

Do you have any hair triumphs (or woes) that you’d like to share? Maybe a new product that just hit the market is your new go-to…or maybe an old stand-by is your fave? Let us all in on your little secrets!

May 10, 2010

A major award…

antique trophyFor the first time in the history of Southern Belle Simple, I’ve been given a blog award!  


The Rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 7 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Many thanks to Tracey from Tales of Little Bitty for bestowing a blogger award on yours truly. I've been a follower of her blog for a bit now and I love to see what that sweet baby Jack is up to! Now for the seven magical disclosures about myself...

1. I'm a bona fide pack-rat and have to force myself to purge my closets regularly lest become a hoarder.

2. As a child, I memorized an entire book of Shel Silverstein poetry and can still recite most of the poems to this day.

3. I was googling family names the other day and ended up finding my 19th great-grandfather Philip de Hampton who lived in England in the 13th century.

4. Smell is my dominant sense...I smell everything (often an annoyance to the folks who know me).

5. I would love to have an art studio where all my art stuff can live in one easily accessible spot (it is currently stored away in lots of nooks and crannies).

6. I rode to my high school prom in a green Plymouth Acclaim with at least one hubcap missing and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

7. I am so obsessed with health and beauty products that when I was in London, I skipped out of touring the British Museum to go to a drugstore and buy make-up!

My 7 New Favorite Bloggers:

Rachel of Southern Swaps

Bella Michelle of Southern Somedays

Same Sweet Girl of Memoir of a Southern Belle

Michelle of Big Black Dog

Kora of Dixie Lust

Belle of Belle on Heels

Rita of A Pookie Pantry

Thanks again Tracey for choosing me! My first blogger award…now I gotta make some room on my mantle!

May 7, 2010

Now everything is easy cause of you…

lindsay gross photo pink peony

The post that I had planned for today was a list of great gift ideas for Mother’s Day…but now it just doesn’t feel quite right. Our parents teach us so much, both about how we want to be and how we don’t. We learn from their actions, by their examples, and according to their attitudes. Our entire existences are shaped by them and the choices they make.

me and mom beach when i was little I cannot even begin to put into words how I feel about my mom. No gift could ever encompass it, no card could capture it, no special day could ever equate it. If you know her, this probably makes sense to you. She’s an amazing lady and there aren’t too many like her. I hope that all of you have someone special to celebrate on Sunday, whether it is your mom, adopted grandmother, great-aunt or whomever. If you are a mom, I hope your kiddos (big or small) celebrate you and make you feel oh so grand indeed. 

Please share anything you’d like about the lovely ladies in your life and how you plan on making them feel special this weekend!


{I know I said that no gift could express my feelings for my mom, but if I had an extra $53k just lying around, I would buy my mom this car. She’d be so cute driving around town in it…with the little hatch stuffed full of her latest Goodwill finds!}

May 6, 2010

Make a mess…of poke!

fence rail baxter ayla Other than mosquitoes and the crazy humidity, there really isn't anything that I don't like about living in the south. And one of my most favorite things about living here is the abundance of festivals that are held all through the year in small towns and communities across the region. I usually get my calendar out at some point in early spring and scour the internet as well as local newspapers and magazines for dates of festivals that I might want to attend. Starting today in quaint Gainesboro, Tennessee is the annual Poke Sallet Festival which is a celebration of the poke weed. The festival boasts lots of wonderful food, entertainment, rides and then some! I’ve never been to this particular festival, but I have been to Gainesboro to see the historic courthouse and to eat at the Dairy Queen with my Pe-pa (a Pe-pa is a southern grandfather or the male equivalent of a Me-me, in case you were wondering).

Poke Salad While I haven’t been lucky enough to enjoy an official Poke Sallet festival, I have eaten my share of poke. My great-grandma would pick it (only the young leaves are edible and even then they must be boiled two or three times so as not to be poisonous) and scramble it up in some eggs for us. {Disclaimer: Please don’t try to find/prepare/eat poke unless you are knowledgeable…I don’t want anyone to die of food poisoning because he or she read this blog!}

If you are going to be in the Jackson County area of Tennessee this weekend, make sure and check out the Poke Sallet Festival. If that particular festival doesn’t do it for ya, find another one that does! One great place to search for local happenings is your state’s website. My state website has a travel & tourism component  with tons of useful information about events and things to see.  What are you doing this weekend? Are there any great festivals that your family attends each year? Please share so we can all enjoy them!

{top photo from my cousin Ayla…taken at our family farm in Baxter, TN}

May 5, 2010

Plum good!

 carrot_cake_520x500 Awhile back I did a post on a lovely little spot near my neighborhood, Blackbird Coffeehouse. One of the yummy treats I sampled there was a delicious carrot cake (pictured above) made by Ms. Lindsay Beeson, aka The Plum Baker. I caught up with Lindsay and she was gracious enough to answer some questions for us! If you haven’t tasted her treats and sweets, you are definitely missing out! They are available at several different locations in the Knoxville area including the Market Square Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

plum baker.bmpSBS:What is the first thing you can remember baking (how old were you, etc.)?

PB: I have very early memories of sitting on the counter watching my mom make bread from scratch; she'd always tear off some dough for my brother and I to "bake" ourselves. So I'd say that's the first thing I baked. But the first thing I absolutely remember doing myself was either sugar cookies or carrot cake. I was ... eight?

SBS: What has been the most challenging thing about starting your own business?

PB: The most challenging thing by far is knowing how to stay on top of the stuff that *isn't* baking. And then balancing it with the stuff that *is* baking. I've spent the last year slowly figuring it out; and I know there's plenty more to learn.

SBS: If you could only bake one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

PB: What a question! It has me stumped. Let me think about that for a minute ...... OK, I thought about it: the macaron! I've recently found that I enjoy being challenged in the kitchen; macarons are a constant challenge. It's part of their identity, almost. So if it had to be one thing, it would be macarons. And I would find a way to always make them new.

SBS: What is a kitchen tool or utensil that you absolutely cannot live without?

PB: My man-power. I love my KitchenAid, but I can live without it. I use a wooden spoon I love, but it's replaceable. And did you know that people started whipping egg whites before they invented the whisk (they used twigs, or even their bare hands)? I put a lot of stock in the human will that has brought baking (and cooking more generally) to what it is today. With all the tools I have, I still get my hands dirty; my arms still get tired.

macarons_variety_520x500 SBS: Are macaro(o)ns the next big thing?

PB: Macarons are ... simply delicious. I follow a hundred and fifty (or so) food blogs, and I see pictures of macarons, tales of macarons (and tales of woe) every day. They're definitely the next treat for treat-lovers. And for bakers who like to dedicate themselves to the science and patience required to figure out how to make them from scratch in their own kitchens, they are definitely the next horizon to conquer.

SBS: Which one of your delicious treats is your favorite to eat?

PB: It changes! Usually with each bite of each new thing I bake up. I just nibbled a little hazelnut macaron shell, in fact. And it was my favorite thing ever.

SBS: It is a beautiful Saturday in Knoxville...where might you be spotted?

PB: The Market Square Farmers’ Market! The season is upon us [started May 1st]. I'll be out there with Meg Parrish of Old City Java on Saturdays to serve up macarons, scones, cookies, biscotti, and some surprises.

chocolate_chip_cookie_corey_mcpherson_520x500 SBS: What is your favorite thing about living in the south?

PB: It's hard to tell; I've lived here my whole life (I was raised in North Carolina, I went to college in Virginia, and my husband and I moved here three years ago). So let me answer you this way ... some things that I enjoy about my life here are: washing my dishes and looking out the window to see five different types of birds, squirrels, rabbits!; taking the long way home so I can drive curvy, slow, verdant roads; meeting smiling faces on the farmers market and having random, easy conversations with people who come to our booth.

These pictures are making my mouth water…I can’t wait to sample more of the tasty items that are available from this wonderful baker. Many thanks to Lindsay Beeson, The Plum Baker for giving us some insight into your world! And what a sweet world it is too!

{Food photos credited to Corey McPherson from The Plum Baker website}

May 3, 2010

Pickle me this?

photo by Randy Mayor
Pickles have always been one of my favorite foods. As a kid I used to eat a snack of pickles dipped in mustard. I am equally fond of dill and sweet pickles, spears and chips, all variety, shape and size. Last night I was going through some old recipes with my Me-me (a Me-me is a southern grandmother by the way) and we found my great grandma's 14-day Pickle recipe in which the cucumbers are soaked for 2 weeks in a huge crock jar. One part of the recipe specifies adding enough salt to float an egg, which I thought was pretty funny. Then my Me-me told me a bizarre story that I felt I must share.

Apparently when she was a girl, her mom was making pickles and asked her to help. She believes that something in her body's chemical make-up caused the pickles to get mushy and soft and therefore, she was not allowed to help make pickles anymore. She said that there are certain people who cannot pickle because of this body chemical or mineral. I have combed the internet for any type of information having to do with this and am just baffled. While we were talking about this, someone else added that there are also certain people who aren't able to can tomatoes for the same reason. I'm still googling furiously to get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime...has anyone else ever heard of this? I would be very interested in hearing y'all's theories.