Deer Turned Dinner: Vegetable Venison Lasagna

Vegetable Venison Lasagna is a lean dish full of flavor.
Vegetable Venison Lasagna is a lean dish full of flavor.

My husband, Kurt, got his first deer this year: a 125-pound Middle Georgia doe, which yielded about 40 pounds of meat. Continue reading “Deer Turned Dinner: Vegetable Venison Lasagna”


What to Cook This Week: Italian Chicken in Red Wine

One of the skills I’m learning in culinary school is how to fabricate meats. What once was a very intimidating process, is now a proficient experience. I can honestly say I’m comfortable with butchering a whole chicken! Continue reading “What to Cook This Week: Italian Chicken in Red Wine”

A Holiday Menu Featuring Pastured Pork Tenderloin

wpid-20131030_222638.jpgIt’s officially holiday season. Let the menu and party planning begin! I’ve put together a holiday inspired meal including a classic combination of flavors, along with some of my family’s traditional recipes that are impressive on the table but simple to execute. These dishes are special enough for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but delicious year ’round. Here’s what’s cookin’: Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Sautéed Cinnamon Apples, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole, Farm-Raised Green Beans and Grandma’s Made-from-Scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. We couldn’t celebrate the holidays without incorporating pumpkin, so for dessert, the Pumpkin Spice Trifle will make its debut appearance.
wpid-20131030_222643.jpgThe star of this show is the Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin. This time of year, I think folks get ham and turkey’d out. So, now is a great time to allow pork to step into the limelight. To accomplish that gorgeous golden brown exterior and moist meat, I use a combination of dried and fresh herbs and Georgia olive oil. Season the meat liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle it with olive oil, then massage in a healthy amount of fresh basil, fresh rosemary and about a two teaspoons of dried oregano. Here’s a tip: Cook the tenderloin in a 9 x 13 dish, and just before putting it in the oven, add about an inch of water to the pan. Roast the meat at 425 degrees for 25 minutes per pound. Another reason this tenderloin tastes amazing, is because it’s pasture-raised. This little piggie wasn’t given any antibiotics or steroids, and was free to roam and eat Georgia grass. The result is a much more nutritious animal that’s healthier to eat and healthier for our environment. Thanks to my friends at Hunter Cattle Company for raising it.

wpid-20131030_222647.jpgNothing compliments pork like a side of delicious cinnamon apples sautéed in butter. This is as simple as it gets. Slice 5 to 6 medium apples about a 1/4 inch thick and saute in four tablespoons of unsalted butter. Allow them to cook down, then season with cinnamon and keep them warm. You don’t even have to peel them!

wpid-20131030_222657.jpgGreen beans may be a popular side item, but served this way you can’t go wrong. My Farm-raised Green Beans also feature Hunter Cattle’s smoked bacon and sweet Vidalia onions and homegrown tomatoes from the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market. Cook the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels. Saute diced onion and tomato in the remaining bacon fat, season with salt & pepper and add to cooked green beans with a pat or two of butter. Top with crumbled bacon. On the left above, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole is a regular at every family function. It adds a wonderful pop of color to the plate. The topping, made of chopped pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter–is like candy.

wpid-20131030_222650.jpgFinally, no meal would be complete without Southern, made-from-scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. With a dollop of blackberry jam, bread never tasted so good.

wpid-IMG_20131101_110403.jpgAfter a mouth-watering meal, a 14-layer cake or heavy pie is overwhelming. My Pumpkin Spice Trifle hits the spot. Complimented by soft spice cake and crunchy gingersnap cookies, it’s like a pillow-y cloud of light fresh whipped cream and vanilla pudding bursting with fall flavors. Plus, it makes a stunning presentation.

For the complete recipes to these dishes and to watch me cook them in action, tune in to my next episode of Statesboro Cooks, premiering in mid-November on local cable Channel 99. Be sure to watch the show to discover my secret to the best buttermilk biscuits you ever tasted! For those outside of the area, I’ll be sure to post the episode right here on Some Kinda Good, so you can watch too. Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season. Eat well!

Table Talk and Family Ties

Our Easter Sunday dinner spread of pork tenderloin, mayonnaise biscuits, cream corn, fried okra, sautéed zucchini and squash, macaroni and cheese and pound cake with sweet iced tea.

We all know the saying, “If these walls could talk,” but if my family’s kitchen table could speak–boy, could it tell some stories. I’m fortunate enough to have been raised eating around the family table, and every day I’m thankful my parents made it a priority.

From left: Daddy, cousin Justin and Grandma Dot. Mama, the ultimate hostess, scurries in the background ensuring everyone is taken care of.
From left: Daddy, cousin Justin and Grandma Dot. Mama, the ultimate hostess, scurries in the background ensuring everyone is taken care of.

In homes across the world, the kitchen table, much like the front porch, is an iconic, central hub, especially in the American South. Formal dining rooms are different. I’m talking about the table in our eat-in kitchens–the one we cook just steps away from, where we stack our bills at the end of the day, where kids complete their homework, where the family pet begs for that taste of human food.

Family gathers in the kitchen to celebrate my Grandma’s 75th birthday.

When I think about the people in my family who’ve sat around that same oak, oval-shaped table year after year–even the loved ones who are no longer with us–and all the abundant food that’s been presented on the table top, when I consider the memories it holds, the conversations it keeps and the prayers its heard, I feel ultimately blessed to have experienced that togetherness and I recognize those are the moments that make a house a home.

Grandma Dot makes a wish on her 78th Birthday.
Grandma Dot makes a wish on her 78th Birthday.
Enjoying my 26th birthday with my traditional chocolate chip muffin at the kitchen table on April 6, 2009.

It’s around the kitchen table that we’ve celebrated birthday after birthday, eaten holiday meals, opened Mother’s Day cards and decorated Christmas cookies. It’s there every time I visit home. Like an old friend, it’s the one constant that’s part of the family too, ready to welcome us, inviting us to sit for a spell and stay a while. There, I eat my mom’s homemade chocolate chip muffin with one candle for breakfast each year, there I introduce new friends to the family. It’s the ultimate place boyfriends are bring-home-to-mama-and-daddy tested. We set it with our everyday dishes and fine china. We adorn it with fresh flowers and fruit in its center. There, we hold hands around it and bow our heads to pray.

Without it, home would not be the same.

My mama, Debbie, with Ewok and her Mother's Day tulips.
My mama, Debbie, with Ewok and her Mother’s Day tulips.

Sure, I’m one to curl up on the couch with a bowl of cereal now and then in front of my TV, but nothing beats sitting down to a home-cooked meal and a place set just for you, to share good food with the people you know and who know you and where you came from.

So much of my life has taken place at the family table and often, it’s the memories associated with that central element that have created the values and traditions I cherish today.

So here’s to you table….and thanks.

What’s your take on the family table? Can you relate?