Winter Winter Chicken Dinner

We have not had much of a winter this year

See Before, supra

Anyway, in past years when nights have been colder, I have made this one dish “Lemon-Rosemary-Garlic Chicken and Potatoes” adapted from Southern Living

My family loves it

I’ve served it to guests, just by doubling and using a really big roasting pan

Trust me, you cannot mess this one up

Simply

Can

Not

One of the Southern Living editors calls it “Anytime Chicken”

I disagree

I think it’s best in the winter

It’s super easy

Combined with French bread, is a complete meal

For all the rest of you, here’s my version

If you don’t like any of the ingredients, don’t use them

I love capers, and I don’t drain the jar

Which reminds me………

Years and years ago a lady from Atlanta moved to Beaufort, South Carolina

She was in the Piggly Wiggly on Ribaut Road and was looking for capers. She could not find them anywhere in the store.  She went up to the manager and asked where she could find the capers.

He replied, “Which ones? I know all the Capers that stay out on the Seaside Road.”

The Atlanta lady stared in wonder, “Oh, no, not those Capers; the ones that come in a jar.”

“Oh, them? They stay on Aisle 3”

That lady told that story for years

 

Lemon Grapefruit Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

 

1/4 c. lemon juice -fresh or bottled – it matters not

1 3.5 oz jar capers

2 lemons  (if you use fresh lemon juice, you’ll need 4 lemons total)

1 small red grapefruit, sliced into pieces 

10 cloves garlic, smashed roughly

3 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 tbs. olive oil

6 chicken legs

4 chicken thighs – skin on – bone in

2 lbs. small red potatoes

Aforementioned French bread

Mix the  first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl.

Heat oven to 425 degrees

Place a roasting pan over two burners on the stove.  Add the oil to the pan and heat over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with desired amount of salt and pepper.  Place skin sides down in pan. Add potatoes . Cook 9 to 10 minutes or until chicken is browned. Don’t turn it until the end of this cooking time.  After, turn chicken, and pour lemon mixture over chicken and potatoes

Place in oven for 45 for 50 minutes or until chicken is brown.  Remove chicken and potatoes and pour over pan drippings as sauce, which we never do…this is one best served straight from the pan

The Arm of Flesh Will Fail You

“It shouldn’t be an act of courage to enter a place of worship,” said a survivor of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue shooting

But it is

Every day

In churches

Most recently in synagogue after synagogue

In mosques

In 2020

In America

All over America

We understand

Ever since June, 2015, Charleston, the Holy City, the City known for her houses of worship, has placed police officers at all churches, synagogues, mosques

Really

The first place in the Western world to allow almost anyone to vote and hold office, if they were white, and male, and professed a faith, any faith, not just the faith of the monarch

Dissenters

Jews

Heathens

All allowed

Home to the second oldest synagogue in the United States

John Locke wrote our initial constitutions

The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina

1669

Praising our religious freedom, Voltaire himself said, “Cast your eyes over the other hemisphere, behold Carolina, of which wise Locke was the legislator.”

He had no idea that over three hundred and fifty years later that freedom of religion would be curtailed

As I ushered in church, at a parish organized in 1680, I spoke to the police officer assigned to us

That’s right

A police officer

Assigned to us

Weekly

A man came in with a backpack

She asked him to please return it to his car

He did

A tourist with a fanny pack, oh law, also came into the church

She asked him to please return it to his car

Really

He said he was on foot and let her search it

That same man wrote a note and placed it in the collection plate on the visitors’ card

Counting the money after church, I saw the note

“Thank you for including me. Lovely service. Please pray for ________”

I wish I could have written him back

“Dear Sir, I am sorry that your fanny pack had to be searched, but we live in a sinful and broken world.”

This is America

This is worship in America

We really are soldiers

Worship as an act of war

Ye soldiers of the Cross

But I can’t help but think that Jesus would have wept

img_0409
Put on the Gospel armor. Literally.

Na-na-na-na-nineteen

 

Some of you will get that reference

Some of you won’t

Na-na-na-na-nineteen

Na-na-nineteen

Na-na-na-na-nineteen

Na-na-nineteen

’19

What a doozie

So many highs

So many lows

So many funerals

Only one wedding

However, there were great events, parties, premiers, expansions

Podcasts and productions

Births, christenings, confirmations

Fabulous trips

Writing and more writing

Law practice thriving in spite of the miserable loss of my dear law partner Gray Taylor

Our work team coming together in a way we could have never imagined

Since May, there’s been at least one funeral at month

My maternal grandmother always said, “Dying’s part of living”

Damnit

Really, 2019?

That’s all you got?

In spite of our national discord, problems at every turn, divisions at home and abroad, a non-stop and impossible land war in Asia, as a whole, we humans are doing better than ever in spite of daily existential crises

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be

As I prepare to bid 2019 adieu, I am more and more grateful to God for my friends and family

I treasure those whom I love and those who love me

As I age, I have decided that I have no time for stupid and no time for people who have no time for me

To paraphrase one of my favorite songs, people whom I’d much rather kick in the eye

Another reason why I may not be sad to see 2019 go

I lost people who loved me and whom I loved

We didn’t get enough time together

None of us ever do

I’m limiting the time I spend with those whom I don’t like, don’t respect, don’t need in 2020

That’s my Resolution

I’ll be perfectly pleasant and polite to everyone

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings

That’s just manners

But, inside my head, I will be saying to them what I want to say to 2019

One word begins with an F

The other beings with an O

You can take your auld lang syne

See y’all in 2020

If you’re reading this, then you’re not in the eff off crowd

In fact, you’re some of the folks I wish to see more of in 2020

Love to each of you

Happy New Year

father time
Father Time…that old SOB

Muchly Bedecked

Smilax smallii

This time of year, back in the day, mothers dispatched their sons to woods all over South Carolina to cut, pull, and shoot smilax out of thickets to decorate for Christmas

Smilax smallii

Native of the South

Virginia to Texas

Used at weddings, parties, and other events, formerly ubiquitous at Christmas in this part of the world

Smilax

Lanceleaf greenbriar

Jackson vine

Old timey

High climber

With the loss of woodlands and the influx of folks from off, this tradition dies a little every year

I doubt the next generation will have to do like mine

Good times some thirty years ago heading into the woods with friends armed with clippers, shotguns, gloves, a couple packs of cigs, and may be a six pack of Lite Beer from Miller

Don’t judge

The 1980s were another country

My pal Thomas Boulware and I call each other around the 22nd or 23rd of December and compare notes as to where we have harvested smilax for Christmas around Charleston County

He and I tell each other from where we pull

In situ

Smilax in situ

We tell no one else

We don’t reveal our sources

All so we can muchly smilax bedeck our houses

(That’s a reference to a wedding write up from a small town paper in Georgia where society pages author described the bridal party as being muchly orchid bedecked – thanks SNMF, VDM, LNM, CEMIII for that one)

Ages ago, my mother asked a Beaufort lady where she obtained her smilax while they were decorating the John Mark Verdier House for a party for the Historic Beaufort Foundation

Her reply, “Oh, dahlin, I don’t tell anyone from whence cometh my smilax”

That green, delicate, graceful vine covers mantels, transoms, doors, mirrors

Well, it used to do so

Garland is everywhere now

Growing up in these parts, garland did not exist

The matrons of my home town headed into their secret wooded spots and cut down smilax to go over their front doors, over mirrors, on mantels, over portraits

Or they made their husbands and sons do it for them

I had a great aunt and uncle who trained smilax to grown on their side piazza in the small town of Ridgeway, South Carolina

I should have asked Aunt Laura how she did it

As we aged, my mother would send us out to find smilax all over Beaufort

When I came home from boarding school and college, it was my task to ride around Beaufort to spot smilax and bring it home

Often, I would find a huge stash and deliver extra to good friends, saving my pals the task of going into the woods

One Christmas, my father and I were riding somewhere when we spotted a lady we knew directing her son across a ditch to go ahead and pull a mess of smilax growing up a utility pole

We honked

The lady waived

Her son gave his middle finger

Dad and I howled laughing

Shooting smilax and mistletoe out of trees is an old Southern tradition

One must wait until the right time to hang it; otherwise one will have to replace it

It dries out really fast

The 22nd or 23rd is really the best time to wander into the woods and gather the sacred vine

If the smilax has berries on it, well, then, I mean

My pal Anna Pinckney and I always joke about shooting greenery out the woods

We also joke about how it wouldn’t be Christmas without trespassing onto someone’s land just to decorate a mantel

Because it’s all trespassing

One friend, who shall remain nameless, had to run to his car a couple years ago with green leaves trailing behind him way out on Johns Island as a property owner happened upon him pulling the tendrils of green out his trees

“Get the hell off my property! ” yelled the man “Imma shoot you!”

Probably would have, too

That’s part of the fun

The chase

The risk

I have an absolutely perfect spot to pull smilax

I will never tell where it is

I will decamp to that sacred grove whence grows this vine

I will cut a ton of it

I will leave a ton of it

I will bring it home and drape my front lights, every mirror in the house, and may be even the chandelier in the dining room

Those of you who don’t know the pleasures of a smilax hunt or its graceful beauty, well, bless your hearts

Those of you who do, happy hunting

I hope your hearths and homes are muchly bedecked this Christmas

Love and joy unto each and every one of you

Merry Christmas

 

Cutting the Mustard

I love homemade Christmas presents

Especially from someone’s kitchen

It’s what I knew growing up in a small town without access to store bought gifts

Fabulous cooks abounded

May be the dearth of restaurants in my hometown created all the fabulous cooks

Not having many places to go, it seems that everyone I knew grew up in a family that cooked

Burned

Men and women both

It being an earlier age, so many cooks put their talents to good use every Christmas

May be the dearth of stores and gift shops in my hometown created all the homemade Christmas treats

Wrapped in tins, boxes, tissue paper

Peanut brittle

Cream Cheese Braid Bread

Venison sausage

Russian Tea mixes

Mocha mixes

Homemade Kahlua

Biscuits

Breakfast casseroles

Preserves

Chutneys

And, the most elegant of condiments

Champagne Mustard

Each year, our dear dear friend Mary Patrick would darken our door with her impeccably tied pint jar of her champagne mustard in hand

She didn’t give it to a lot of people, but we always received

“Mom,” one of us would yell as we saw Mary on the 23rd or 24th, “here comes Mary with her mustard!”

Gifts exchanged

Hugs

Laughs

So much love

Just like clockwork

I don’t have Mary Patrick’s receipt for Champagne Mustard, but I do have another friend’s

Mary Martha Greene

Mary Martha’s family were super talented cooks, too

Anyone else remember her aunt’s cheese biscuits? Miss Dobson? Anyone?

I cannot wait for Mary Martha’s cookbook to come out soon

Mary Martha used to babysit for us wild boys when were little

Forty plus years of friendship

She’s a love

A dahlin

Last year, she shared her Champagne Mustard receipt with me just because I asked her for it since I didn’t have Mary Patrick’s version

Three emails later, and I had the keys to the mustard kingdom

I made a batch last Christmas

I recently made a batch for this Christmas

It’s a game changer

Sweet and spicy at the same time

Set your sinuses free with a full spoonful if you’re stopped up in any way

It’s amazing with roast beast, ham, turkey, in deviled eggs, as a substitute for Dijon mustard in a vinaigrette

I have not one lick of participation in the creation of this amazing condiment

My girls love it

I hope I’m not going to get in trouble with our dear Mary Martha by giving this away

My former babysitter did tell me that NOT sharing receipts is the height of bad manners

We Southerners are known for our manners

With Christmas fast approaching, it’s time to polish our manners

It’s also time to polish the mustard spoon and put this mustard in the fridge

Yup

Polish the mustard spoon

You probably have one and don’t even know it

Or you could ask for one for Christmas as this mustard deserves its own piece of silverware

Mary Martha Greene’s Champagne Mustard

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup dry powdered mustard – I use Coleman’s English – it packs a punch

4 eggs

1/2 cup champagne or Prosecco vinegar

1/4 cup sherry

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend for five minutes. Pour into a Pyrex bowl that can sit over simmering water. Do not cook in a metal double boiler. Place bowl over simmering water and cook until thick. Mary Martha says it takes 10 minutes, but, mine always takes a little longer.

Take off the heat and let come to room temperature before putting in containers and leaving in the fridge. It lasts indefinitely, but, it never lasts that long

Well Ornamented

Every year I say it about our Christmas Tree

This one is our prettiest tree ever

Even if it isn’t

It is

Covered in ornaments each of which tell a story

We are decidedly homespun

Nothing in any design magazine would ever be on our tree

Not that those trees aren’t wonderful

It’s just not what we do

Who is this Christopher Radko?

Never heard of him

Just kidding

We have some of those ornaments, even some given to us when were newlyweds

Mainly, our fir’s branches are covered in ornaments from Christmases past

Some are almost fifty years old

Just like their owners

I made that bell at the Blythewood Kindgergarten under the tutelage of Miss Weezie Gibson who had to tell some of my classmates to not eat the paste we used that day

We keep the bell in a box labeled “Paper Ornaments”

They also include paper ornaments made by our children

From Toddler Time at St. Michael’s

From First (Scots) Kindergarten

From their grammar school years

Both of our girls rush to put their handmade treasures on the tree

Places of prominence

Lots of glitter

Glue

Tape

Construction paper

Ribbons

Such J O Y given

Each child has her own box of special ornaments that stay in a sideboard along with her own bin of ornaments that can remain in the attic the other eleven months of the year

When we married, my parents gave me just such a box

They gave the same to my brothers

Same as my bride

Her parents gave her the ornaments she made

My parents also gave us some ornaments that had been on my tree growing up which I always adored including some stiff snowflakes made by some ladies in the 1970’s

We also hang little sweetgrass baskets because the Lowcountry demands it

Along with some sand dollars and lettered olives

Each and every item has its own tale

Such as

The teachers were lazy that year

I used a lot of glitter

Hey, I remember this one from the 4’s

I used a lot of macaroni on that one

I think that was some of my best work

They made us make a lot of snowflakes

I worry that I will rip some of the paper ornaments

One of my favorites is a twirly spiral which turns into a Christmas Tree

It sits lightly on a branch

Our eldest made that twirly spiral Christmas tree under Miss Janet Sosnowski’s watchful eye at Toddler Time at St. Michael’s some 16 years ago

It has one little blemish

Repaired with a little scotch tape

Gingerly placed back in the paper ornaments box before the New Year

In 2014, the year the tree fell, all these ornaments survived unscathed

Christmas Miracle

I see the ornaments and think of so many no longer with us

I see the ornaments and think of neighbors, friends, teachers, grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, aunts, uncles, cousins

I see the ornaments and think of so many years of love

I see a painted oyster and think of my across the street neighbors, the Aimars

I see the ornaments and think of so many years passing in the blink of an eye

I smile at each and every one of these treasures

I truly have no idea where the time has gone

So quickly

As we hang the ornaments each year, I still see myself hanging many of these same ornaments in our den on The Point in Beaufort

As I string the lights, I think of the yearly discussions my parents had over placement, the stand, the lights, the securing of the tree

Discussions

That’s what we will call them

I still see myself in footie pajamas staring up at the tree

Counting the days until Christmas comes

Looking a lot like The Cowboy in Joan Walsh Anglund’s The Cowboy’s Christmas

May be it helps that I hang an ornament of the same Cowboy similarly dressed every year

Here’s wishing you all memorable trees with memorable ornaments

This year and every year

Chaud-n-froid

We still congeal things in these parts

I can’t tell you the number of fellow Southerners who still add Knox gelatin to various forms of fruits, vegetables, liquids and pour into either ring molds or individual molds and “refrigerate for several hours” as many a Junior League cookbook advise

Aspics are old as can be

Chaud froid

Actually kept meats from spoiling

Tomato aspic is a highlight, still, during warm months

Its gelatinized cousins make appearances at other meals

My maternal grandmother loved a congealed salad

Having spent a lot of time with that generation, I, too, am in love with a good wobbly concoction often served with a bop of mayonnaise

This week, we will congeal cranberries with pineapple, celery, and pecans

A two day process

It’s one of our favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal

The ring mold, with removable center for an easy salad release, is cleaned and ready to go

There is nothing fashionable, trendy, small batched, artisanal, curated, or farm to table about our cranberry salad

Well, may be the cranberries

We serve this every Thanksgiving instead of the blob out of the can which I have nothing against. We just grew up with this version or ones like it

Same with green bean casserole

Didn’t grow up with it

We don’t make it

A few years ago, a second cousin and I traded our receipts of cranberry goodness with pictures of final products

Captioned messages with

Yes we cran

Cran you dig it

Jelly?

Get it?

Jelly?

Two grown men fighting over who had the better version of congealed cranberry salad

His grandmother, a great aunt of mine, would have giggled herself silly as she often did

I think my version is the best

Especially with that bop of mayo on top

Which is a requirement

One year, we were in the North Carolina mountains for Thanksgiving with an actual blizzard raging outside

Fourteen inches of snow

There was no mayonnaise in the house

So, Thanksgiving morning, I took eggs, salt, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and vegetable oil and beat up homemade mayonnaise

What else did I have to do in a blizzard?

Those assembled loved it

As we have to have that bop of mayo on top

I have dear friend who may read this and be physically ill due to that person’s unmitigated disdain of all things congealed and the whipped fat bop on top

Apologies in advance ATP

However, I cannot imagine Thanksgiving without the following work of art on the sideboard

This version is from 300 Hundred Years of Carolina Cooking (Including Game Preparation) by the Junior League of Greenville, 1970, Greenville, South Carolina

Specifically Miss Nelle Griffin’s receipt as modified by me

Forget the Lime Dressing shown and add that bop o’ mayo

Gobble gobble

Cranberry Salad

2 packs (about 1 quart) fresh cranberries

3/4 c sugar

9 oz crushed pineapple

Juice of 1 orange

Rind of 1 orange, grated

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c boiling water

2 envelopes Knox gelatin

1 c chopped celery (minced really)

3/4 c chopped pecans

Grind cranberries in food processor until fairly small. Mix cranberries, sugar, and pineapple and refrigerate overnight. Let gelatin soften in orange and lemon juice. Add boiling water to fully dissolve. Add to cranberry mixture with remaining ingredients. Pour into ring mold or individual molds and refrigerate overnight. Serves 8