Saturday, March 22, 2014

Serendipity Saturday

Missy, The Belle, here, filling in for Julie.

I know we've shared recipes on here that have come from family. I thought today I'd share some of the fun things I remember from childhood that have changed. Things I do differently now.

First, any good southerner worth her salt learned to season vegetables with fat, and maybe a tad of sugar (learned this from my mother). In fact, in my house growing up, we seasoned them with BACON GREASE. Yes, we always had a coffee cup full of bacon grease on the stove top. And yes, it lived there, not in the refrigerator. Somehow, we never died from it. :)

When I served the chicken parm (recipe yesterday), I also served it with green beans. I grabbed a bag of frozen beans. Added a dash of water, and then butter and bacon grease.

I, however, am paranoid. So on the rare occasions I fry bacon, I keep the grease in the fridge until ready to use it. I tossed it in with the butter, salt and pepper (shhh, and a pinch of sugar).

YUM. You should try it.

Also, growing up, whenever we baked, we always sifted the flour. We had this old fashioned hand-squeezed gadget. I had one that I took from home when I moved away. I just found one like it on ebay! (Click here to check it out.)

We would sift and sift until my hand muscles would hurt and my fingers would get weak. Of course, my hands were tiny and could barely reach. I never questioned my mother about it. Just figured it was some magic step that couldn't be left out.

But then came adulthood. I began to question the old ways that were a burden! :) And finally, my excuse came. My sifter rusted out and had to be thrown away. Did I quit baking? NO! I just kept right on. And whatdaya know, everything turned out just fine.

Then, one day, I saw someone on a cooking show sifting flour using a mesh strainer. I had one of those! I'd had no idea you could use that. You could just hold it over the bowl and wiggle and tap. So much easier! Why had I never thought of that?

So now, when I feel like it, I actually sift my flour. But only when I'm feeling industrious or am channeling one of the fantastic bakers here at the cafe. :)

Cool! Look what I just found. They still make the kind of sifter my mom had! Check it out here. I have a feeling they're much easier to use nowadays.

Speaking of the old days… Remember Five and Dime stores? We called ours the 5 & 10. I used to love to go there to get bubble gum and candy.

Well, talk about serendipity. These days, one of our favorite restaurants is called Five & Ten. Located in Athens, GA, it's our go-to place for birthdays and anniversaries.

We went for dinner in January for my birthday. The food is seasonal and local. And always interesting and tasty. I love the way the chef makes such creative dishes. And they're usually works of art as well (check out the website to see some).

For my birthday, I had…

BOILED PEANUT HUMMUS  with Georgia olive oil and crostini (oops, ate a couple before I remembered I wanted photos!).

I'm still craving more of this hummus. Would love to try to make it at home.

ROMAINE HEARTS  with classic caesar dressing, parmesan, bacon, pressed bread

 How cool is that? Instead of croutons, pressed bread. Such a nice touch!

TAGLIATELLE -- That night it had root vegetable ragout, pork belly, sunflower seeds, kale (crispy chips on top)

I'm sorry this photo is so dark. I was too embarrassed to re-take it with a flash. This was one of the best pastas I've ever had.

The food was outstanding--as usual. And I even braved taking photos. A little embarrassing at a nice restaurant, but I wanted to share with all of you!

Here's a bit about the owner/chef at Five & Ten, Hugh Acheson...

From their website:

Five & Ten is Hugh’s flagship restaurant, started from scratch in 2000. “The menu,” says Hugh, “has always been an open interpretation of Southern food, melding Georgia cookery with French and Italian influences I learned growing up. It’s been a very fun restaurant over the years.”

Acheson’s fresh approach to Southern food has earned him a great deal of recognition including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef(2002), the Atlanta Journal Constitution Restaurant of the Year (2007), a James Beard winner for Best Chef Southeast in 2012, a 2007 Rising Star and 2012 winner of the Mentor Chef award from

Well, I hope you enjoyed a trip down memory lane today. What's something you grew up with that you've changed in the kitchen? Or what's your favorite special occasion restaurant?

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  1. Missy, I bet your fellow diners thought you were some famous foody guru, snapping all those pictures for your blog. You're a celebrity!

    Hmmm...childhood memories. My mother was an awful cook but a superb baker. I loved her jam cookies best. Rolled out sugar cookie sandwiches with jam in the middle. Yum. Homemade jam at that.

    We never ate out when I was a kid -- too poor, but when I was all growed up my friends and I started celebrating every milestone at the Olive Garden. Alas, they closed down up here years ago. :-( I still miss their bread...and the salad...and all those vegetarian pasta choices. Sob. I hear the franchise is still alive and well in other cities so I think I need to travel. And I have no idea why it closed because it was always packed!!!! :-(

    1. Kav, you're right! I should have acted like I was a famous foodie. :)

      I'm sorry about your Olive Garden. That's one of my husband's favorites.

  2. I hope Olive Garden doesn't close here :-( been sorta craving it...not sure I can do pork bellies- it's one thing to ignore what's in my bacon but just dont' name it indivudually...and I'm a crouton girl unless it's bread with butter to smear on it...and peanut hummus sounds interesting! might could do that!


    1. Lol, Susanna. I was a little nervous about pork belly too. :)

      The pressed bread was crispy like a crouton. So vey similar.

  3. Now I am officially starving. Hummus is one of my favorite foods on the planet.

    I don't sift flour. Should I? I thought the bag said pre sifted. :)

    1. Tina, you should try it with peanuts! It was realty good. Reminded me of boiled peanuts, which I love. I may need to do a post on boiled peanuts! I hadn't heard of them until I traveled to Georgia while in college.

  4. Missy!!!! I have two sifters, an old antique one that works great and loves to hang out with my old pastry blender that works great.... And a new shiny stainless steel one that works great, but that one SHUNS the new pastry blender because it does NOT WORK GREAT. It doesn't have the flexibility that helps when you're blending butter or Crisco with flour.

    CLUTCH!!!! So now the two sifters are FIGHTING over the aged pastry blender and I guard that sucker with my life.... No small child is allowed to think that just because it's old and decrepit that it belongs in the SAND PILE. Or the wood chips. Or the back room with their mini-kitchen stuff.

    Sometimes old tools need to go into protective custody. And I'll stand by that declaration! :)

    1. Ruthy I have a ancient pastry cutter as well! I took it from home, too, I believe. I guess my poor mom had to restock her kitchen after I moved out. :)

  5. Sifting flour! One of the stand-bys of a previous generation :)

    History lesson: (or at least, this is the way I heard it) - Years ago, flour mills ground the wheat into flour, sorted out the chaff, separated the germ and the bran from the rest and put the white flour into a bag. Because of the way it was processed, the flour would clump together and need to be sifted to lighten it up so the baker could measure accurately.

    Now the milling processes are different, and the flour doesn't need to be sifted at home.

    I never do. I use my sifter (a new one like yours, Missy) to flour the bread board or when I'm cutting out Christmas cookies.

    I love that old sifter, though. Isn't it sad that things from our childhoods are now antiques? I guess that's when you know you're really getting old.

    1. Jan, that makes perfect sense. I'm glad to hear I'm not being negligent. :)