Relatives


Relatives are arriving, so though I have material for reviews and some nice new pics of the “Grand Opening” of the Snellville Farmer’s Market, I don’t have time to post them yet. My wife has us all working hard in preparation. Many apologies, and once the relatives are here, the madness may calm enough for me to post a photo or review or two.

I will say this. Relatives arrive around 6pm at Hartsfield. We can get them home and put up things by perhaps 7:30pm. Most places will be packed with Father’s Day eaters. So what’s a good place to eat circa 8pm (or even 9) on a day like this? I’ll be happy to check out any suggestions.

Tomatoes have been producing well (surprising how they can do that potted but not in the soil of my yard), the Japanese eggplant is fruiting, and for the first time, my sole boonie pepper is flowering.

One of the nicer things about the holidays is all the home made food, such as this good gumbo, from my father’s current partner.

And Zapps, which I’ve known for their Cajun potato chips, now has a salsa.

Barking Rocks winery, which is owned by relatives of mine, had a nice article written about them via the Texan News Service. The article, written by Morgan Christensen, can be found here. Another interesting link, a tasting of Barking Rocks wines, can be found here. But perhaps more pleasing is this reaction, on the blog Jundogirl, to the article I wrote about Royal Tofu House. Royal Tofu is a mom and pop eatery whose owners really go the extra mile for their customers. Jundogirl happened to be their daughter. Also, many thanks to Gene Lee for mentioning Mirak Korean Restaurant. In my opinion, Mirak has been a little overlooked in the blogging world and I’m glad to see it catch up in the hands of Korean food experts.

I got some books on beer this Christmas, and perhaps the best of them is “The Brewmaster’s Table“, by Garrett Oliver. Garrett Oliver is the owner/brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, and this book attempts to educate people about the possibilities of good beer and how to match beer with food. Useful as a coffeetable book (though it’s small and fat) is Michael Jackson’s book “Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide“. It has picture and short blurbs about a host of beers. The books is alphabetized and an easy read. My brother found this book and went into “Hey, I drank this one!” mode for hours on end during the holidays.

Pearl Street Station is an eatery recommended by Tiberia of Barking Rocks, and as the owners were thoroughly familiar with my extended family, this isn’t the usual critique. The owners were present and actively suggested food, talked about their business and mentioned their preference for catering as opposed to managing a storefront.

The eatery is not far off the town square of Granbury, and carved out of an old Sinclair gas station. The remnants of the station are all over, and variations of the green dinosaur appear on Pearl’s hot sauce bottles, for example.

Suggested often were their sandwiches. The best were the smoked turkery sandwiches, of which there were only 4. I ended up getting a beef brisket sandwich, along with a bowl or two of Pearl Street’s gumbo.

Lighter and drinkable.

smoked turkey sandwich

Chicken gumbo is on the left; seafood gumbo is on the right.

The sandwiches were good. Because the brisket in the sandwiches was delivered with plenty of sauce, it was impossible to judge how smoked the brisket really was. My wife raved over the smoked turkey sandwich, and my brother said it was the kind of sandwich he’d come back for. Opinions of the gumbo were a little mixed. I thought the gumbo had a lot of good ingredients, started a little thin and finished well.

Throughout the meal various cousins and aunts were recognized, people dropped by, hugs and handshakes traded. Granbury is a small community and the people at my table were clearly the most recognized group in the store. The owner and his wife had a big catering job up coming and so apologized a number of times for prepping for the catering job, but I never felt we were ever ignored. In fact I’d say the warmth and character of the owners are one of the real plusses here. If regular customers get half of the care we did, then they would be very well cared for at Pearl Street Station.

Pearl Street Station, a Cajun and Bar-B-Q Eatery
120 West Pearl Street
Granbury, TX 76048
(817) 579-7233

Pearl Street Station, A Cajun & Bar-B-Q Eatery on Urbanspoon

It’s not often you go to visit relatives and find yourself in a winery. But as it turns out, one of my cousins married a man who has indeed set up a small winery in Granbury, Texas.  The name of the winery is Barking Rocks, and this isn’t any kind of critique, but has to be seen as a journey, driven by surprise and wonder.

Compared to the Atlanta area in which I live, this section of Texas is spare, dry, rocky and rather pretty. That said, you can grow grapes here, though Barking Rocks creates most of its wines from grapes they purchase.

The grounds are attractive enough that people have held several marriages here. Walls of the buildings are mostly made of the stone so common in these parts. Inside is a bit more homey, more comfy.

Later I managed to have a couple glasses of Barking Rocks wine. I liked what I had, but I am a biased judge of their product. The rest of you should try it and judge for yourself.

Barking Rocks Wine
1919 Allen Court
Granbury, Texas, 76048
(817) 579-0007

Just what is a holiday lizzie?

In a recipe found in the Our Fair Lady cookbook, my grandmother makes a cookie that she calls a Holiday Lizzie:

Recipe for Holiday Lizzies

Recipe for Holiday Lizzies

I’ve never made these. The cost of this kind of cookie was always so prohibitive that I shied from making it. But it does beg the question: what is a holiday lizzie and why are they called that?

It’s clearly a kind of fruit cake cookie.  And while information on the fruit cake cookie is scarce, finding good sites that talk about the fruit cake are relatively easy to uncover. The Wikipedia has a good article, the site What’s Cooking America has a nice article, but the nicest and most exhaustive I’ve seen so far is on the site Food Timeline. Their article on fruit cake is a pleasure to read. The site covers all kinds of topics, from the beginnings (covering things like emmer and einkorn wheat) to quirky fads such as Space Food Sticks. Lynne Olver, a librarian in New Jersey, is the little engine that keeps this site going and I have to say, boy am I glad I found it.

I suspect I’ll have to ask her what is the origin of the phrase “lizzie” because I really can’t see or find it. Dictionaries have preserved the phrase “tin lizzie” (a reference to a model T, circa 1915) but “holiday lizzie” seems to have escaped them. I can’t help but think “lizzie” is early 20th century slang, from which both “tin lizzie” and “holiday lizzie” are derived, but tracing it will be tough. The Urban Dictionary offers some clues, but I’m wondering if the context is entirely lost.

To scan the blogs for fruit cake cookie recipes, the Blog Magnolia Blossom offers a nice one: Great Aunt Audrey’s fruit cake cookies. Another interesting recipe comes from the Gardening Granny, who uses a pumpkin bread base for her fruitcake cookies.  The blog Christmas Recipes features fruit cake cookies that include raisins in the mix (my grandmother’s recipe didn’t use raisins that I can see). The blog Life’s Just Beachy has a Lizzies recipe, but the site is down. This cache, for now, recovers the recipe.

Pico, pico, pico

I went shopping at Buford again, and picked up a pretty yellow tomato, a red onion, and some long hot peppers. I wanted to make a pico de gallo, and wanted one with a bit more color.  I tried Jo’s lick test on the long hot pepper and it was plenty spicy when licked.  I thought they were about as hot as a jalapeno, buut.. I have pictures of long hot peppers here:

I suspect these "long hot peppers" are in the cayenne family.

I suspect these "long hot peppers" are in the cayenne family.

And if you take a look at those, and take a look at cayenne peppers on Miss Vicki’s site, wouldn’t you say they are similar? That’s my impression. In any event, I’ve wanted a bit spicier pico and I’m hoping these will provide the extra heat. I used red onion and a yellow and vine ripened tomato. The recipe, such as it was, was something like this:

3 tomatoes, 1 yellow, 1 roma, 1 vine ripened, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 bunch green onions, minced.
2 long hot peppers (one turning red), diced.
1 bunch cilantro, minced.
juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime, extracted with a spoon.
mix well, cover with a plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator.

The result looked like this:

pico looks brighter with a little yellow tomato.

pico looks brighter with a little yellow tomato.

We usually marinate overnight to yield flavor, and it’s better when marinated two days.

kumquats

I had never had kumquats before, so I bought some at Trader Joes.  I took a picture just before we finished the last of them.

kumquats next to a garlic clove.

kumquats next to a garlic clove.

They’re small, about grape sized. I’m not sure if I’ll get them again, as for the same price I can pay for half of a box of clementina oranges. But for those looking for a new recipe kick: Picky Cook’s grapefruit, avocado and kumquat salad.

Boonie pepper seeds.

We have discussed boonie pepper seeds in the past. The first of mine have arrived, from rightbbq. It turns out the email seller rightbbq is the eBay incarnation of The Pepper Pilot. The Pepper Pilot site seems incomplete to me, so I’d buy seeds through eBay till the site is completed.

Found on the blogs:

The blogger Vegeyum has scored again with a very nice summary post. To point out two excellent links from her summary, there is Culinate.com’s glossary of grains, and Red Ramekin’s quinoa salad.

My mother died when she was 60, almost literally the spitting image of her mother. It was scary, the resemblance, and the only reason she died so young – my grandmother was almost 90 at the time – is that my mother smoked. It wasn’t an addiction that anyone wanted, but both my parents smoked back in the day, back in the early 1960s when people thought it was sexy. Just, my Dad gravitated to the occasional pipe and cigar and my mother stuck to a pack a day.

My brother and my mom engaged in a cigarette war for a while. He’d throw her packs away, break her cigarettes, or when he was feeling sneaky, he’d just poke a hole in her cigarettes just above the filter, so she couldn’t draw the smoke.  But she persisted in smoking, persisted until they found the cancer. She stopped then, but it was too late. Great drugs gave her 5 more good years, but then the good drugs didn’t work any more and the bad drugs were almost as bad as the cancer itself. There were the heartless residents too, unwilling to treat her anemia because she was going to die anyway, and they acted that way until my father pointed out, in his own way, that they had better treat her. Two units of blood later, the life would be back in her, her skin would flush with color, and she could smile and speak again.

In the aftermath, which was tough, I lost track of Mom’s side of the family. I could get news of them – it’s an athletic half and they have their share of press clippings, and even SI articles, but that was all I would get. Relatives would dutifully clip out their exploits and send the newspaper clippings to my father, so we would know how they were doing. But it had a ship passing in the night feel. I knew of them. I didn’t know if I knew them anymore.

So I find my more well known relatives, track them down through online articles. I look for phone numbers but get work numbers and work emails. I’m a lot more comfortable these days with email so I try that.  Work emails were getting blocked, though. I didn’t know if that was policy or if they were blocked because they get nagged by reporters. I was going to have to call.

I found two phone numbers that could be my uncle through Google, and then tried to sleep. No, not much sleep, I might have fallen asleep around 4 in the morning. I get up in the morning, practice what to say a couple dozen times, and then call. I’m lucky. First number I try is him. I stumble through all I want to say and then he echoes my name and we begin to catch up.

” Where is my brother?”, he asks. Overseas, I tell him, and why. I get some info, trade some info, get a cousin’s phone number. It’s a cell phone and he says, “Just keep calling until she answers.”

I call the cell, not thinking there is much of a chance of getting anyone, but I do get her. There is a moment when she’s trying to figure out who I am, and when she does it seems as if her voice goes up 3 octaves. We’re not on the phone for long, because she did have to go, but I have an email address now. I sent pictures, and now once again I wait.

I have to say I’m hoping. It’s not the stories that can be clipped out of a paper I’m wanting. I want to know if my uncle still hunts, is he still the crack shot of his youth? My cousins: red licorice or black licorice? Do they cook? What is their favorite pie? Have they ever been to the House of Pies? Yes, I miss the House of Pies. Pulled pork or beef brisket? Jalapenos, habaneros, or none at all?

There is so much I’ve missed, so much catching up to do. But better that, than lose my mother’s heritage entirely.