Sunday, August 1, 2010

50 Years Of To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year so some of this past Saturday's savories were in honor of Harper Lee's classic tome. To Kill A Mockingbird holds a very special place in my heart for various reasons. My mother named me after Gregory Peck after being inspired by his performance in the 1962 film adaptation of the book. I'm grateful Mom was inspired by Mr. Peck's acting a bit more than the characters or I might have been named Scout, Boo or Calpernia. I totally dig the name Atticus, though....I may rename one of the cats or simply just start calling Keith Atticus.

Mom, in fact, named all three of her children after film actors (Shirley Temple and Mona Freeman) and that action was probably the spark that lit my film loving flame. The book became, in time, my all-time favorite classic and the film would end up on my most-beloved list of flicks as well. So, how will I pay tribute to this renowned read?

I must point out, firstly, that we were fortunate to get not one but two deliveries of food this week. I got my Fresh Connect KC (www.freshconnectkc.com) delivery and we also received a box of various meats from Burgers Smokehouse in California, MO. Keith had the winning bid on this box of meaty marvels in the silent auction at the Excelsior Springs Chamber Dinner and it was fortuitously timed to arrive at the same time as the FCKC box. Factor in some goodies from this week's E.S. Farmer's Market and we were able to sustain local love in the kitchen all day long.

Had I possessed the foresight to honoring To Kill A Mockingbird, I would've began last week with the rustic blackberry tarts. Dewberry tarts are a dish served in the novel and dewberries are similar to blackberries. So, in retrospect, let's reflect on those and move on to Saturday. For breakfast, we went with omelets and fried potatoes. I've wanted omelets as I still have Anthony Bourdain's taunts from his book Medium Raw dancing in my head. This particular one insisted that everyone should be able to make a perfect omelet. We used eggs from Bear in The Woods farm, Country ham from Burger's and the Monet peppers from Fresh Connect. We also added some Muenster cheese we had on hand. When I added the ham to my omelet, I said, "Please pass the damn ham", as the precocious Scout did in Mockingbird. Luckily, Keith knew what I was referring to so I didn't get an omelet pan to the back of my head. My omelet, with some supervision from Atticus, er...Keith, turned out well and I even did well on my first flip. Keith used to cover for the omelet chef at the Lafayette in Ohio when he took breaks, so he has the flip down. We also did fried potatoes similar to the much-revered version his Uncle Dave makes. We used the new potatoes from Fresh Connect KC and sliced them in the mandolin for that paper-thin look. Love that contraption....love that I haven't lobbed off a fingertip in it even more. We fried some onions from Hilltop Farms of Waverly, MO to accompany said spuds. The onions are fried to a crispiness bordering on burnt and the potatoes are then added and seasoned with salt. pepper and garlic powder. Once plated, mine are dabbled with Frank's Red Hot Sauce...not sauced, but dabbed. A hearty beginning to the day...

We took a side trip to the excellent KC Public Library downtown to pick up some books Keith had on hold.....including some on canning, pickling and....ay,yi,yi....beekeeping. The wonderful facade on the library's parking garage displays it's love of literature and continues the Mockingbird theme of the day.

At cocktail hour, I decided to make Tequila Mockingbirds, of course. Hell, they're easier than making Divinity or Ambrosia, two of the other dishes mentioned in the book. This particular recipe, found online at http://www.suite101.com/ , was made with fresh nectarines that came from Fresh Connect KC this week. It made for a very refreshing drink so try the recipe...

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ripe nectarines, chopped
  • 1/4 ounce gin
  • 1/4 ounce vodka
  • 1/4 ounce light rum
  • 1/4 ounce tequila
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1 scoop crushed ice

Method:

  1. Blend nectarines, sweet sour mix, liquors, sugar and ice together until smooth.
As the evening progressed, we decided to take the Fresh Connect plums and grill them. I knew our friend JB had done this for various events but I had never watched him, so we were gonna wing it. I found a Rachael Ray recipe that sounded tasty on the Food Network site....Grilled Plums in a Balsamic Glaze with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. These were seriously to die for....we used the Black Currant Balsamic Vinegar I bought at the Tasteful Olive. A most excellent summer treat....

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe plums, California red or dark skinned, halved and pitted
  • Extra-virgin olive oi , for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pint vanilla bean ice cream

    Directions

    Preheat a grill pan to high heat. Drizzle fruit with oil to keep it from sticking and grill plums 3 minutes on each side.

    While fruit is grilling, pour balsamic vinegar into a small pot and place pot over medium high heat. When vinegar heats to a boil, reduce vinegar by half, 1 to 2 minutes.

    Combine sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in warm balsamic vinegar.

    Place hot, grilled fruit on dessert plates. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over fruit and serve.

Our final dish of the night was one we made for the following day as it had to chill overnight. We needed to chill overnight as well because this dish was giving us the jitters. We saw the recipe for Dewberry, er...Blackberry Summer Pudding in the Food Network magazine, a sort of blackberry bread pudding, and we thought it would be a delicious vehicle for the blackberries from FCKC and the Tahitian vanilla beans we got from the E.S. Farmer's Market. We made it and put it in the fridge and then, foolishly, I looked up the recipe online and saw that the dish had gotten horrible reviews. Sure enough, when we took it out the next morning it looked like a grape-stained mound of white bread. Keith proceeded to enact a righteous rescue...picture the slow-motion run down the beach a la Baywatch...and bought more berries to make more sauce which he doused the "pudding" with and returned to the fridge. Soon, we made the delicious whipped cream to top it off and tasted the final product. It was....thankfully...awesome. It tasted like a fresh blackberry cake. You can find the recipe for Blackberry Summer Pudding at www.foodtv.com and I can't stress this enough.....the recipe calls for 8 cups of blackberries..go for 10 cups.

While I've had fun with our edible homage to the classic Harper Lee novel, honest tribute must be made. To Kill A Mockingbird's expertly rendered themes of racial injustice and prejudice are as important today as ever. The cry for tolerance in this book had a profound effect on my young mind and would resonate with me for the rest of my life. I would come to know the bitter taste of intolerance again and again in my own life and most certainly will again. To say To Kill A Mockingbird made an indelible impression on me would be an understatement.

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view....until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Happy 50th, To Kill A Mockingbird.


4 comments:

Kitten said...

I miss teaching that book. It's a sophomore level novel in our district, and God knows I don't need to be knee deep in sophomores again... just a step up from freshmen, I used to always get the sophomores who decide to drop out when they finally turn 16. It was always way too sad. I'll stick to the pre-college crowd for now. That was the first grown-up novel I ever read as well. It totally was my a-ha moment in terms of my love for literature. Dell was my favorite, of course... the one inspired by Truman Capote ya know.

Kristy said...

If Keith is Atticus can I call you Calpernia? Great blog. Thanks again.

Confounded Cook said...

Thank you, Krystalena....and,no. Okay, once in a while..

Anonymous said...

Hi, Greg....I'm reading your blog!
Shirley

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