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Tag Archives: potatoes

Crocus Pocus

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Spring has an undeniable magic: a warm breath of wind on what should be a chilly morning; a thread of scent, spicy and sweet–winter honeysuckle, perhaps–that’s gone before you’re sure it was there; buds that swell into being seemingly overnight.

Spring, much like hope, springs eternal

All this magical blooming and bursting and bubbling up of new life has side effects, of course: every swathe of green grass (more violently green in those patches that the dog favored last fall) sprouts a bumper crop of bodies–singles, couples, families–intent on exposing winter-white and waxen limbs to the rays of the young sun while lolling on bright quilts and tartan throws (that icon of spontaneous picnickery plucked from the trunk of the family truckster). These ground covers are regarded as talismans imbued with miraculous powers to protect the lollers from the simultaneous dangers of rampant sunburn, grass allergies, and rising damp that precedes a a sore throat and sniffles by about 24 hours after having engaged in the perilous practice of casting off clothing (a.k.a. “spring-fling”) too early in the season.

(With apologies to poet William Stevenson, “Back and side go bare, go bare, both foot and hand go cold…”)

In a nutshell? Enjoy the magic of spring from the safety of your socks, shoes, and sweaters–at least until the frost melts and the oak leaves are as big as squirrels’ ears, phenologically speaking. Or, in post-modern terms, plant your non-genetically modified heirloom ‘taters when the girls at the schoolbus stop shed their Uggs for flip-flops…

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Here’s Your ‘Cue…

Asheville may not have the reputation of towns like Memphis and Austin, but we still have some mighty good options when it comes to barbecue (or ‘cue, as some enthusiasts prefer to call it).

My latest find is Okie Dokie Smokehouse on Highway 70 at Exit 59. It’s the quintessential “little red barbecue building,” which immediately puts you in mind of the roadside barbecue stands that dot the byways of America. You can smell the smoke from the parking lot, which was still slap full this past Saturday at 2 pm.

Inside, you can seat yourself at the various tables or booths or the L-shaped counter and wait for a server to bring your menu and take your order. I’ve had takeout from ODS several times, but this was my first eat-in experience. My friend and I started with sweet tea and and an order of fried pickles while we waited for a pulled pork plate with black-eyed peas and new potatoes (mine) and a roast turkey plate with cheese grits and collards (my friend). If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know how I feel about fried pickles, and these did not disappoint!

An order of fried pickles at Okie Dokie Smokehouse

An order of fried pickles at Okie Dokie Smokehouse

Our plates arrived soon after, and we dug in to really excellent pork, turkey, and sides. A lot of places can smoke or roast meat, but sometimes the proof of a superior barbecue experience is actually in the sides–and these were mighty good! In fact, these sides were *better* than most of the other ‘cue joints in town*. Made me wish I had enough room to try the mac-and-cheese and slaw and beans…and top it off with chocolate banana pudding. Never fear, though–I’ll be back for more of what the staff T-shirts proudly proclaim as “Swannanoa Swine Dining!”

Pulled pork w/black-eyed peas and new potatoes

Pulled pork w/black-eyed peas and new potatoes

roast turkey w/cheese grits and collards

roast turkey w/cheese grits and collards

*The most written-about barbecue restaurant in town (which shall remain nameless, since my point is not to run them down) has not won me over with their sides. It always seems like they’re trying too hard, like adding nutmeg to collards to give them a “new” kind of flavor.

Farmer’s Market

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Haven’t blogged lately; have been traveling to other locales and checking out their locavore action. More on that topic later.

As a family (parents, siblings, in-laws and offspring), we generally get together every Saturday night and have dinner. Last night was no exception, except that dinner came almost entirely from the WNC Farmer’s Market. The menu included new white potatoes boiled in their thin little jackets, fresh sweet corn (could be sweet, fresh corn, but it actually was sweet corn as opposed to field corn), fresh cabbage, and (of course) my mother’s corn bread.

A perfect spring meal. The potatoes were fork-tender and moist, almost the consistency of firm custard. A sprinkle of salt is all they needed to achieve potato nirvana, at least in my book.

We’re mostly a corn-OFF-the-cob family, so we sliced into slabs of fresh corn, watching them topple away from the cob in perfect yellow sheets. Once you’ve cut off the kernels, then you scrape the cob with the edge of the knife, releasing the milky corn-hearts to pile up on top of the corn already on your plate. A little salt, a little fresh lime juice squeezed over it–fresh corn heaven!

(Sidebar: Years ago, I was on the Copper Canyon train near Creel, Mexico, and encountered elotes vendors for the first time. They were carrying 5-gallon buckets out of which they dipped and sold paper cups full of freshly-cooked corn mixed with salt, lime juice, butter, and some variety of red pepper sprinkled on top.  It was SO good, even though I’m not a fan of butter on corn, believe it or not, that I could have probably eaten a whole 5-gallon bucket full of of the stuff. Ever since that day, I’ve been cutting my corn off the cob and adding salt and lime. S&L is also really good on baked sweet potatoes, especially since I don’t like butter on them, either.)

After dinner, we had a fresh cantaloupe for dessert. Does it get any better than that? The only flaw was that we’re still experiencing a few dregs of blackberry winter, so it was damp and chilly rather than feeling like spring. Oh, well. At least it TASTED like spring!

Farmer's Market

Posted on

Haven’t blogged lately; have been traveling to other locales and checking out their locavore action. More on that topic later.

As a family (parents, siblings, in-laws and offspring), we generally get together every Saturday night and have dinner. Last night was no exception, except that dinner came almost entirely from the WNC Farmer’s Market. The menu included new white potatoes boiled in their thin little jackets, fresh sweet corn (could be sweet, fresh corn, but it actually was sweet corn as opposed to field corn), fresh cabbage, and (of course) my mother’s corn bread.

A perfect spring meal. The potatoes were fork-tender and moist, almost the consistency of firm custard. A sprinkle of salt is all they needed to achieve potato nirvana, at least in my book.

We’re mostly a corn-OFF-the-cob family, so we sliced into slabs of fresh corn, watching them topple away from the cob in perfect yellow sheets. Once you’ve cut off the kernels, then you scrape the cob with the edge of the knife, releasing the milky corn-hearts to pile up on top of the corn already on your plate. A little salt, a little fresh lime juice squeezed over it–fresh corn heaven!

(Sidebar: Years ago, I was on the Copper Canyon train near Creel, Mexico, and encountered elotes vendors for the first time. They were carrying 5-gallon buckets out of which they dipped and sold paper cups full of freshly-cooked corn mixed with salt, lime juice, butter, and some variety of red pepper sprinkled on top.  It was SO good, even though I’m not a fan of butter on corn, believe it or not, that I could have probably eaten a whole 5-gallon bucket full of of the stuff. Ever since that day, I’ve been cutting my corn off the cob and adding salt and lime. S&L is also really good on baked sweet potatoes, especially since I don’t like butter on them, either.)

After dinner, we had a fresh cantaloupe for dessert. Does it get any better than that? The only flaw was that we’re still experiencing a few dregs of blackberry winter, so it was damp and chilly rather than feeling like spring. Oh, well. At least it TASTED like spring!