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Cooking with Lady Smokey: Don Williams is a Peach!
Peaches are one of my favorite things about summer. Growing up in South Carolina, I have to say that South Carolina peaches are the best in the world and certainly one of that state’s proudest exports. Of course, Georgia and Alabama natives always tend to argue with me. My family had a favorite peach stand in Cowpens, S.C. that we stopped at every time we drove by on our way up to visit my grandparents in Virginia.
My Mom knew all the different varieties and which were her favorites and made sure to get the “cling-free” ones that would easily allow you to remove the stone from the flesh of the peach. Nowadays, here in Nashville, I have discovered I can always find some good ole’ South Carolina peaches at the downtown Farmer’s Market.
I came up with this simple asparagus and peach salad at the very first sign of fresh peaches. We’ve made it a couple times and it is so fresh and yummy. It is really beautiful, too.
Grilled Asparagus & Peach Salad
1 bunch Asparagus
3 Peaches, peeled and halved
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Brown Sugar
Fresh Basil leaves, torn or chopped
Grill the asparagus and peach halves (we brush them with olive or grapeseed oil so they don’t stick). Set aside. In a small saucepan, cook vinegar with brown sugar and pepper together. Bring to a boil and then simmer until it begins to get slightly thicker (20-30 minutes). Arrange grilled asparagus and peaches on a plate (I cut both into smaller pieces so they would be easier to eat.) and sprinkle with crumbled chevre and basil. Drizzle vinaigrette over top.
The good folks of The Loveless Cafe, a Nashville favorite, have just opened another restaurant downtown on the corner of 3rd & Demonbreun called The Southern. They serve up plenty of yummy cocktails and favorite Southern dishes from the region. One of our favorites which they serve at both locations is their pork chops with peaches. This next recipe was inspired by their version of this classic combination.
Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Peaches
4 Boneless Pork Chops
Brine for the Pork:
2 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Cups Water
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Vidalia Onion, sliced
3 Peaches, peeled and pitted and sliced
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Brine the pork chops for about 1 hour. Grill according to your grill directions. Grant smoked these first with some hickory chips by placing the pork chops on the upper rack of our as the grill heated up (about 10 minutes) and then grill to finish down on the lower rack close to the coals. Meanwhile, add butter to a saute pan and then add onion slices. Throw in some salt and pepper. Cook until onions are starting to break down and get a tiny bit golden. Add peaches. Stir together and cook for about 5 or 10 minutes. Pour in maple syrup. Cook for another couple of minutes. Spoon over pork chops. We served these with some fresh butter beans I cooked on the stove with a little butter, a tiny bit of Balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme from our garden.
Some of my favorite childhood memories involve food (of course!). I loved eating watermelon while visiting my Nana up in the Virginia mountains. We would all gather around on my great aunt Judy’s porch with the beautiful deep purple clematis blooming and sit in old fashioned gliders or stand in the grass next to her big old fashioned stone sundial as we held big slabs of ice-cold watermelon. We would occasionally get called down for spitting seeds at each other! What fun we had.
Another favorite childhood memory is my Mom’s homemade peach ice cream. I came home with a big bag of peaches last week and we pulled out the ice cream maker to give her recipe a try. I decided we should add some bourbon so instead of adding sugar, we cooked the sugar down with some bourbon to make a simple syrup and then mashed the peaches in with it to make our ice cream base. This recipe does not call for eggs so instead of a rich custard style ice cream, it is light and icy. It is very refreshing and offered some relief from the insane heat wave hovering over the South right now.
Bourbon Peach Ice Cream
10-12 Peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 ¼ cups Cane Sugar
½ cup Bourbon
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 qt Half & Half
1 qt Whole Milk
In a small saucepan, add sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. Cook on low to medium heat and stir with a whisk until the sugar has dissolved and it begins to lightly bubble. Add to the peaches and mash the peaches with a potato masher. Mix well with the half & half and milk. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze. (For a creamier version, you can use a heavy cream and milk combination.)
Last Sunday we went down to renew our membership at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum so we could check out the new exhibits. We saw a great exhibit on guitarist and producer Chet Atkins and a huge Bakersfield California Country Music exhibit. Afterwards, we stopped at Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop to pick up the new release by Don WIlliams called, And So It Goes. It is classic Don Williams. His voice is so strong and hasn’t seemed to age much at all. He selected a great group of songs, from A-list songwriters including Kieran Kane, Ronnie Bowman, and Al Anderson, all true to his mellow style. He features voice accompaniment by a few Nashville favorites and long-time Don Williams admirers Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Keith Urban, and Chris Stapleton and used his long-time producer Garth Fundis.
Don Williams, known as the “Gentle Giant,” was born in 1939 and raised in South Texas. He was a founding member of the folk-pop trio the Pozo Seco Singers in the late 1960s. They had a few hits but disbanded in 1969. Williams then had several non-music jobs before arriving in Nashville to explore his own solo musical career. He first worked as a writer with Cowboy Jack who then signed Williams to release his own album in 1972. From there, he became a 1970s country music superstar with 17 #1 Country chart topping songs! He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
We were fortunate to see him perform last year at the Ryman Auditorium. With the release of this new album, he’ll be doing some more touring. If you see him coming to a town near you, I suggest you get tickets right away. He is amazing!
I’ll close with a couple of his classics…