Cooking with Lady Smokey: Starting off 2011 Right


Happy New Year Y’all!

I thought it would be good to start 2011 off with a healthy breakfast post since “eating healthy” seems to make the top five list of most of our New Year’s Resolutions year after year. Plus, some days it can be difficult to maintain my healthy eating intentions the whole day through but if I can start it off right with a healthy breakfast, there will be less guilt for indulgences later in the day.

One of my favorite quick and simple breakfasts is plain Greek-style yogurt with a little honey and ground flax seeds stirred in. Sometimes I top it off with some fresh fruit such as a fresh mandarin orange or a banana in the winter! This breakfast gets your day off to a healthy start!

One of our favorite breakfasts to make and one I always make for Dolan & Ali Marie to take on the road with them after a pit-stop in Nashville is homemade granola! It’s super easy to make and fills the whole house with a toasty aroma. Note: Granola in jars make great gifts for your friends.

Granola Jars

Homemade Granola
Note: I like to use as many organic ingredients as possible. You can find most of these items in bulk at your local natural foods grocery store. The measurements and ingredients can vary- the more you make it, the more you’ll feel inspired to experiment. Granola makes a fun snack, dessert, or an ideal breakfast served with any type of milk, yogurt, and/or fruit.

6 cups rolled oats
1 cup millet
1 cup mixed raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc)
1 cup mixed raw nuts
1 cup dried fruit (this time I used chopped apricots and cherries)
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ – ½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup agave or honey

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix oats, millet, seeds, nuts in a big bowl. I keep coconut oil in the refrigerator which creates a solid mass so with a knife, I break some off and heat in a small pan on the stove (or a bowl in the microwave). Mix the maple syrup and agave or honey in with the coconut oil. Pour the sweetener over the oat mix and stir. Pour mixture on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, checking on it and gently stirring it every 15-20 minutes. When golden brown, remove from oven and place in bowl. Mix in dried fruit and let cool.

Speaking of oats, oatmeal makes a fine winter breakfast. Sound boring? Well, then liven it up with some fresh sliced mango, coconut milk, and toasted nuts!

Southern cookbooks

I always look forward to a big fun brunch every Sunday morning. With our Sunday morning music mix waking us up, my husband Grant and I often make pancakes!

plain pancakes

Our pancake recipe comes from one of our very favorite Southern cookbooks, The Gift of Southern Cooking, by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Their recipe is for buttermilk pancakes but we have found many ways to vary this- our favorite variations include adding fresh blueberries or bananas! And one of our most recent variations resulted in what we named, Blueberry Corn Cakes. These delicious cakes set the tone for a stellar weekend! We used fresh stone-ground cornmeal we bought at Mabry Mills, in Virginia, while while on a family vacation.

Pancake Collage

Blueberry Corn Cakes
1/2 cup fine corn meal
1/2 all purpose flour (White Lily)
1/2 tsp sea salt1 tsp baking soda (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 egg3 tbsp melted butter (organic, unsalted)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (up to 1 1/2 cup, you can adjust for consistency)fresh blueberries (if you can’t get fresh berries right now, frozen will also work)

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, give it a quick whisk. Combine the buttermilk and egg in another bowl with a whisk. Slowly whisk the melted butter into the buttermilk and egg mixture. Mix the wet and dry ingredient together just briefly, until well blended. Do not over mix. Heat large skillet or griddle over medium heat and grease very lightly with a little butter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake and then drop 10-12 blueberries in each one. Cook until bubbles appear on top. Flip the pancakes and cook for 30 seconds longer.

Serve hot with butter and real maple syrup!

Blueberry Corn Cakes

And speaking of Southern cookbooks, we were at a friend’s holiday party recently. Our friend Sara can cook! She had shrimp and grits, chicken and dumplings, and the most amazing tomato pie! Her tomato pie recipe was from the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook which reminded me that we didn’t have this cookbook, yet I often enjoy their website. So, we quickly ordered it. This is an amazing cookbook. I suggest that you order one now!

The first recipe I made was Natalie Chanin’s Biscuits. I am a huge fan of her clothing company, Alabama Chanin (and of everyone I’ve ever met from Alabama for that matter), and thoroughly love their blog so this immediately caught my eye. Biscuits are perfect on a Sunday morning. I have a biscuit recipe of my own that is a combination of a Louis Osteen recipe and the recipe on the back of my White Lily flour bag. I thought it’d be fun to try a new recipe, though, and it was! We enjoyed these with delicious homemade lemon squash jam that our friend Traci brought us, Purnell’s Old Folks turkey sausage (We live in Tennessee where everyone knows at least 3 famous sausage jingles by heart so we have to indulge from time to time!), and eggs with spinach and mushrooms.

biscuit photos
biscuit b'fast

Since you have probably already ordered your own copy of Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook by now, I will give you my biscuit recipe here, which uses less butter. These are light and fluffy. Omit the cheese, sage, and black pepper for plain biscuits.

Cheddar Sage Biscuits
2 cups White Lily self-rising flouran extra tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
a bunch of fresh sage, chopped
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine flour and baking soda in a bowl. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Mix with hands gently until the butter is in crumbs the size of peas. Add the cheese and sage. Blend in buttermilk and gently mix in but do not over mix. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead gently 2-3 times. Roll dough to 1/2″ thickness. Grind pepper over dough. Cut using a biscuit cutter. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes or until golden on tops.

K's biscuits

To me, Sunday morning music is the gastronomical equivalent of comfort food- so pleasing to the ears and a perfect fit for who you really are. You turn it on and it covers you like a warm blanket. It feels just like your very best friend, lounging with you on a lazy morning.

Some of my more recent Sunday morning picks include: Roseanne Cash’s “The List”, Derek Hoke’s “Goodbye Rock N Roll”, Lyle Lovett’s “Natural Forces” , Thad Cockrell’s “To Be Loved” , Justin Townes Earle’s “Harlem River Blues” , Mavis Staples’s “You Are Not Alone”, and Gareth Dunlop’s “Rooms” . Usually, though, my Sunday morning music favorites are just like an old friend in that they have been around for quite some time… an all-time favorite is Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.

Put this on and you are guaranteed to have a perfect weekend. (Well, just like those New Year’s Resolutions, I guess I sort of fell off the healthy food wagon mid-blog. In the event that your resolutions included bringing more joy and comfort into your life, maybe this can be of help!)

(Well, just like those New Year’s Resolutions, I guess I sort of fell off the healthy food wagon mid-blog. In the event that your resolutions included bringing more joy and comfort into your life, maybe this can be of help!)