Hoe cakes. Griddle cakes. Hot cakes. Call them what you will. Rich with buttermilk & bacon grease, this recipe from Garden & Gun magazine is pretty much everything I’d want in a savory cornmeal cake and then some. To those of you not familiar with Garden & Gun, it’s a bit of an institution here in the South, and they’re hosting their annual Jubilee in Charleston, South Carolina on December 5-7. The three day festival is a celebration of all things Southern—food, music, art, made-in-the-south goods, sporting, and more food. Which is to say it’s going to be the best weekend ever, and I will be there unapologetically getting my fill of oysters, hot chicken, and all manner of low-country goodness. You can buy tickets here. If you think you’ll be there, shoot me an email. I’d love to see you there! I digress. Hoe cakes.
I’m for hand made. I’m also for sanity. And reality. I have lots of fantasies, and some of them involve having afternoons that dapple endlessly during which I roll out pasta like a nonna & sauce bubbles away on the simmer plate all day long. Others involve me living in a cottage in the Burren studying the physics and metaphysics of the herbs that populate the hedge. And yet others involve me being the sort of woman who still wears high heels, lots of lipstick, and extraordinarily complicated lingerie. Alas, my real life is not comprised of such things. Well, not usually.
It’s full on autumn, autumn flirting with winter even, and I’m finally back home here in Tennessee for a month. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been wandering as of late. There are seasons for digging your roots in deep, seasons for sprouting upward, no fear of heights. But it’s good to be home in the South during my favorite season, the season of words like crisp and smoke and everything shivering, a last hurrah of leaves aflame. Well, usually. The pernicious leaves remained green despite it being October. But the air beat of fall regardless, so I took a drive into the mountains my bones call home for a creekside Appalachian picnic complete with tiny fennel olive oil cakes and this quinoa, fennel, and parsnip salad with a raw honey vinaigrette & 5-minute eggs, the recipe for which I’ve included after the jump. My partner for this little expedition, GMC, lent me a rather swanky Yukon for the trek, and given that I come from a third generation car dealing family (I’m the only one that took a different route…), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try out a truck that could actually fit the large amounts of things & humans I haul to and fro events and workshops, dinners and gatherings of all sorts.
I saw them and, of one mind, hundreds undulated around the steeple in the pale, orange sky. A ballet of starlings. Traffic started and stopped around me, 5 pm on a Friday. I was trying to get to the damn, damn bank but road work and my stellar case of adult ADHD ended me up on the wrong side of the river. And so I saw the starlings crescendo around the steeple at sunset. I turned the radio up. Something about being high all the time or white t-shirts. Something about loss or love or sex or getting drunk, always.
Here August sits, frozen. But really it’s now months behind. These photos are a window, as autumn descends, into the Shenandoah Valley where Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something & I hosted “Gathering From Scratch” a workshop retreat where we taught photography, styling, and the art of putting together a small gathering from scratch, from the food to setting the table. You can find Part I here. In a way, this retreat was an ode to tabletops. An obsession of mine. One of my favorite things in the world to style. One of my favorite things to photograph. One of my favorite places to be, sitting at a simple but beautiful table graced with food of the same sort.