Notes from the lost days, Part 2

October 28, 2012

Blogger’s Note: this dates from about the third week or so of August. And the photos that go with it are on my laptop, which is on the fritz. But I shall not be defeated by technology, dammit! You’ll just have to use your imagination. 

I’m home. Temporarily. Leaving again tomorrow, back Tuesday, gone again Sunday for 10 days. When I get back, I have Four Whole Weeks to catch my breath. I’m looking forward to those weeks.

It was a sort of-kind of foodie trip, though, in that most of what I shopped for while I was in the mountains of North Georgia wound up being something I could eat or cook with. Or in.

Like four new pieces of cast iron from the Lodge outlet at South Pittsburg, TN, which is rock-throwing distance from Chattanooga, if you could throw a rock over Monteagle Mountain. (Or is S.P. east of the mountain? I forget.)

I love me some cast iron. Somewhere, in one of my many moves, I got parted from my late first mother-in-law’s iron skillets she’d given me because they’d gotten too heavy for her to handle. I’ve always hated that. One of those, in particular, was a chicken fryer, as she termed it — a deep skillet, about 12 inches x 5 inches, and you could put LOTS of chicken in that, I am here to tell you. There was also a little 8-inch skillet, smooth inside as a baby’s bottom, that was the cornbread skillet, and a 10-incher that was useful for bacon, eggs and the like.

Since the loss of those pieces, which I mourned deeply (I think the movers left a box, truth be told), I’ve accumulated a 10-inch an 8-inch skillet. I wanted a 12-incher, but not necessarily one of the deep ones, as I have a Dutch oven that serves for a lot of that, plus I don’t be frying much chicken anyway. Too much work and mess.

So, as my friend Sue and I were caravanning across Arkansas on a Sunday morning headed for North Georgia, I saw the sign for South Pittsburg and thought to myself, “Self? You reckon that Lodge outlet is open?” And self said, “Well, hell, you need to stop and pee anyway.” So off we went.

I am here to tell you, I could spend serious money in the Lodge outlet. They also sell Big Green Eggs, a contraption I do not have and have never tried, and I’m not really sure why a charcoal grill/smoker is worth that much money. They had every form of cast iron one can imagine. They had some tremendously kitschy cast iron kitchen decor. They had the old-fashioned Dutch ovens with the three legs, the wire handle, and the lipped lid, so you could set them in the coals and pile coals on top (cobbler cooked in those, btw, is To Die For).

I settled for a big square griddle (which incidentally, I have not yet used, but I’ve damn sho’ got one now, anyway); a teeny square skillet that would exactly fit one sandwich made with regular loaf bread, which I plan to use for toasting spices in, and an oval gratin dish, which I bought because it was discontinued, and it was $5.99, and it’s worth that much in scrap metal.

That 40 pounds or so of cast iron stowed in the trunk, we proceeded further west, took a gorgeous drive along the Ocoee River gorge and a number of lakes, through some really spectacular scenery, off the edge of the GPS, and headed south, whereupon we eventually wound up in Rabun County, GA. And there we checked in and commenced to enjoy our conference, with assorted foodie excursions, of which there were three.

First, we hit Hillside Orchard Farms. I could have spent more significant money here, and not even had enough room in the trunk for everything. They do cider, and all sorts of permutations of it (peach, blackberry, etc.); any number of jams and jellies and preserves; any number of salad dressings, pickles, relishes, chow-chows, et cetera and so on. Oh, and fresh bread, and cider slushes. And ice cream.

Can I just tell you that a blackberry cider slush is about the best thing you can drink on a hot day?

I bought some cider and some summer tomato dressing.

Then we went to a produce market, because my traveling companion was bound and determined she was going to bring back some Georgia peaches. These were not, in fact, Georgia peaches, but South Carolina peaches. WTF, they’re both Republican. I do have to say, though, they were some quite exceptional peaches.  Big as a fast-pitch softball, and impossibly sweet. I ate one out of hand, juice running down my arm to my elbow.

But — beyond the peaches — these marvelous people had Silver Queen corn!

Now, you must realize, Silver Queen corn is the epitome of corn. It’s white, and it’s sweet, and it’s tender, and it’s the corn I grew up on, the only corn my Daddy would ever plant. I could eat my weight in it, and my daughters have, I believe, from time to time done just that when we’ve visited up in Tennessee.

And you Cannot Get It in Arkansas. At least not that I have ever found. If anyone knows differently, please let me know; I’ll be eternally in your debt.

I bought a dozen ears for $3, added them to the trunk of the car, and brought them home. Cut the kernels off every one of ’em, and put them in my new 12-inch skillet with a half a stick of butter.  Cooked them until the butter was all absorbed, added a half-cup of half-and-half, put a lid on it and simmered it really slowly for an hour.

Sweet Baby Jesus. No salt, no pepper. Just corn and fried okra and sliced tomatoes. That’s what I want for my last meal, which would mean it would have to be summertime, if you’re taking notes.

There was another foodie stop, at Tiger Mountain Winery, which will have to wait for another time. You and y’mama ‘n ’em hang with me here, until I get caught up.



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