Birmingham AL, 2019.
Well, this year was a different Rosh Hashanah for us.
We stayed home. We went to a friend’s back yard to hear the shofar blast on second day. We had one member of family in who hasn’t been here since the boys were babies.
Also, we (especially Shugie) made an amazing Texas sheet cake.
I lived during elementary school for a little while in Sunray, Texas and among my sweetest memories there are of cooking with 4-H where we made everything from bread-in-a-bag to tacos. Sunray was terrific. It felt like we knew everybody, Friday night football games were *everything* and if you wanted to eat out, you went to Dairy Queen. Seeing jackrabbits and prairie dogs and tumbleweeds was fun. Rodeos were huge entertainment. I spent my life daydreaming about horses, reading The Black Stallion over and over.
So making this dessert reminiscent of Texas with Shugie was fun. It’s just chocolate on chocolate on chocolate and the cake turns out more fudge-y than cake-y which is perfect and the icing is the kind that sets up quickly. You can make this in a sheet pan which is obviously the idea but I live with a certain amount of unnecessary baking paranoia that means that I like using a 9×13 dish instead. Either is fine. It’s just going to be a little bit thicker in the baking pan since baking sheets are 10×15.
I believe in Courtney Bond’s recipe from a 2016 issue of Texas Monthly with just a few tiny changes, but most recipes for this dish are incredibly, incredibly similar.
Preheat the oven to 400*. Prep the baking pan or sheet with Pam or similar.
It’s 2 cups sugar and 2 cups flour, then a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of salt, all mixed together in a large bowl.
Another bowl has 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed together.
In a pot on the stove goes 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup Crisco, 6 tablespoons cocoa, and 1 cup water but you know I’ve also seen someone suggest coffee instead and you know that would be just incredible too. Bring that to a boil, stirring constantly.
Carefully pour the hot mixture to the dry ingredients, then add to that the bowl with the buttermilk mixture. Stir until it’s all incorporated.
Bake at 400* and start checking on it around :20 though it will likely be done closer to :25 or so.
In the meantime — Courtney suggests :10 before but I needed less time and likely you will too — make the icing on the stovetop. You’ll want the icing to be hot because it will be more easily spreadable, and it’s poured over the cake while the cake is still hot from the oven.
In a saucepan, bring together 1 stick unsalted butter, 6 tablespoons buttermilk, and 6 tablespoons cocoa to a boil. Take it off the heat and add 2tsp vanilla and 1 pound powdered sugar. It’s easy to do this mixing by transferring it to the Kitchenaid but you can use an electric beater also, or by hand as long as you’re quick.
If you have people who love nuts, stir in a cup or so of pecans. I forgot to ask if our special guest was okay with nuts, so I made one half with and one half without. I like the look of the pecans uncovered because they’re so pretty, but if you add them to the icing, that’s perfect too.
Pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven. Gentle coercion with the back of a spoon might be needed to get the icing to the corners.
This is Sunday supper cake. Weeknight cake. Bake sale cake. Funeral cake. Covered dish cake. Dinner on the Grounds cake. Family reunion cake. More than a few somebodies somewhere have had it as their main wedding cake and you *know* it’s been on a million groom’s chocolate tables.
Even in the 9×13 it’s still that perfect short, short, short slice. Yessssss.
Just in the mood for something chocolate, but maybe not cake? Try considering hot fudge pie, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, boiled cookies, chocolate chess pie, peppermint bark, best-ever chocolate chip cookies, espresso sorbet, or buckeyes. Most all DFK recipes are indexed here.
We’re likely going to be in Nashville this fall and I was thinking of our favorite hotels there; the JW Marriott is definitely one of them as its right in the middle of everything downtown. Two blocks from Broadway. Easy, easy.
These pics are from the last two or three stays we’ve had here. The concierge lounge is nice, the lobby is great to just hang around in, and the whole space is airy and pulls off something of a luxe-mod feel.
The rooftop pool isn’t huge, but still a nice size:
Here, the executive lounge. It’s on the 33rd floor so great views, and it hosts breakfast, beverages, and small dishes at night:
Everything absolutely delicious and the service and views were terrific:
New York Strip
and I almost never order fries but we saw another table receive them and wow, they were fab.
Really, all positive things to say about the JW. The more I think about it, the better staying a weekend in Nashville sounds. Cheekwood has the William Edmondson exhibit going and Cheekwood Harvest goes through October 31, the Frist has the Kara Walker exhibit going on. Yep. Let’s do it.
As always, all images unless otherwise noted copyright Deep Fried Kudzu. Like to use one elsewhere? Kindly contact me here.
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Jim Roche: Cultural Mechanic exhibit at the Ogen, 2015
I received a message from Jim Roche that his new exhibit is opening September 3 at The MAC: McEachern Art Center at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. On view, many of his “Opinion” works. There will be 66 works in all.
In the September Smithsonian Magazine: At an Old Juke Joint in Mississippi, the Blues are Alive: Jimmy Holmes is the last in a line of music legends as he seeks to keep a singular American art form thriving
Goldie 1971 sculpture by Joe McCreary, Woods Quad, University of Alabama
Are You Ready for Sentient Robots? at the NYT on the new and upcoming technology at Disney, that “the kids” just won’t go for the herky-jerky movements of robots of years past. The new pieces are amazing, but wasn’t a huge part of what was fun (Showbiz Pizza, Disney up til…now) was that we were a little bit in on the “joke”? If they’re too real, they’re just real — I mean, WOW I love it too, but real. Not charmingly trying to keep up. Or in this case, stay up. Anyway, Abe Lincoln…fell over in his chair this week at Hall of Presidents:
@daytonac500Abe…you good buddy?##abrahamlincoln ##disneyworldorlando ##hallofpresidents ##fail ##fyp ##disneytok♬ original sound – Daytona 500
Related but not related: RIP, Fastpass.
Church sign in Tuscaloosa, from 2012.
Texas’s state bird is the mockingbird, its state food is chili, and its state religion is football. For more than a century, Texans have linked their sense of independence, ruggedness, and superiority to the gridiron. Generations of Texans have been raised with the belief that they came from the best football state in the country.
This tenet of state pride is now dead.
At Robb Report, ‘Top Chef’ Champion Kelsey Barnard Clark’s Recipe for Prize-Winning Fried Catfish and I like her ratio of 3:2 for the flour to cornmeal. Her restaurant, KBC, is in Dothan, and she’s just published her first cookbook, Southern Grit: 100+ Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Cook (here at Bookshop, here at Amazon). Her virtual classes are here.
Ponce City Market in Atlanta, 2017
My friend Suzi Altman presented “Saving Margaret’s Grocery” this week at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History’s “History is Lunch” program. The gofundme is here. The documentary:
Col. William C. Falkner monument, Ripley Cemetery, Ripley MS, from a visit in 2009
The public can now search letters and other documents of the Civil War & Reconstruction Governors of Mississippi Project (CWRGM), which is “digitizing, transcribing, and annotating these valuable records from Mississippi’s governors’ offices and making them freely available online. The project covers nine administrations, beginning amid rumblings of secession in late 1859, continuing through civil war, emancipation, occupation, and Reconstruction, ending in the early Jim Crow South in 1882. Thanks to the diverse nature of this collection, CWRGM documents touch on nearly every topic imaginable. These include questions of loyalty and dissent, the process of emancipation and the changing definition of citizenship, and military experiences that ranged from state militias to Confederate national service to the role of nearly 20,000 Mississippians who served in the Union Army and Navy.”
Doing a quick search, I found this letter from W.C. Falkner to Gov Pettus in 1860; that’s William Faulkner’s great-grandfather William Clark Falkner, a lawyer in Ripley, Mississippi. The letter ends:
Pardon me for troubling your excellency with such a lengthy communication. I hope to see you soon, and if there are any arms in the Arsnel, I Shall expect to get Some.
W. C. Falkner.
The US 90 bridge between Bay St Louis and Pass Christian after Katrina
Well, ’tis the season. Here’s Walker Percy’s Theory of Hurricanes by Walter Isaacson, in the NYT
Austin Motel, from a visit in 2019
The Return of Liz Lambert, at Texas Monthly
“What a good hotel does is change a neighborhood,” she would later tell me. What remained to be seen was how the hotel would change the hotelier. Lambert decided, “I didn’t really want to run a business. What I really enjoyed was the process, the creativity, and the maintenance of all this, the management of keeping it alive and well and meaningful.”
‘Tis the season to order Mississippi State Cheese (if you know, you know).
Super random section
Results of the Slotin Folk Art Auction earlier this month — in general, hammer prices look a little low
Circa 1856 Brandon Hall in Natchez is on the market, at $3.85M, and has its own driveway coming off the Trace. A punkah, too.
How You Wound Up Playing ‘The Oregon Trail’ in Computer Class, from Smithsonian
You’re keeping in mind this is the super random section, right? I’m just over here taking in the ’90s-looking Sperry collab boat shoes at Rowing Blazers and in their Vintage & Home section, there’s a…well, there’s a Domino’s Rolex. Also, sheep sweater’s back. And Murray’s has a Nantucket Reds yarmulke.
Barron’s on the new Grand Wagoneer but I don’t see a mention of wood paneling. Without it, it’s just an $87k base price Jeep. There will no doubt, though, be aftermarket shops ready to do what needs doing. Hello beautiful.
Laura Anderson Barbata: Transcommunality at Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane, through October 2: “Transcommunality offers a space to contemplate ritual, folklore and impact of the natural environment on culture…Performance documentation and stunning garments throughout the museum invite onlookers to connect with the traditions of West Africa, the Amazon, Mexico, and the Caribbean while exploring visual narratives.”
From Nosher, Why Boxed Matzah Ball Mix is Actually the Best: A food chemist by profession, my grandfather often declared there were just some things science had perfected: boxed brownie mix, onion soup mix, and matzah ball mix.
View of Montgomery, 2016
Lucille Times, who started her own Montgomery bus boycott months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, has passed away. In the NYT obit:
Over the next six months, she operated her own boycott, driving to bus stops and offering free rides to Black passengers waiting to board. Charlie, with whom she ran a cafe across from their house, collected money for gas, and they used the cafe as a planning hub — people could call Charlie to arrange a ride, and he would assemble a schedule for his wife.
Joe Light, untitled (goat), High Museum Atlanta, from a visit in 2017
Casa Bosques Chocolate in Mexico City is taking inspiration for its packaging from artists of the US South: Mary L Bennett (Gee’s Bend Quilts), Joe Light, and Ronald Lockett
Commander’s Palace, 2014
Chef Meg & Company on August 31 at Commander’s Palace will be a dinner party with a five-course tasting menu and wine pairings benefiting The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute. It’s a collab with Chef Serigne Mbaye of Dakar and Chef Melissa Martin of Mosquito Supper Club. Cocktails are by students and alumni of the Turning Tables organization.
A William Edmondson ram on exhibit at the Memphis Brooks, 2017
“The Sculpture of William Edmondson: Tombstones, Garden Ornaments, and Stonework” will be presented in Nashville at both Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and the Fisk University Galleries through October 31.
The Topo Choco privilege sign in Lockhart, Texas, taken this year
Marshall Ramsey talks with Lawrence Wells (husband of the late Dean Faulkner Wells) who grew up in Ozark, Alabama, and is now the director of Yoknapatawpha Press in Oxford
The old Andrew’s Bar-B-Q Sign in the East Lake neighborhood of Birmingham, from 2005. They closed years ago but the sign remained.
One of the great neon barbecue signs of this world is gone and I hope that just means it’s undergoing restoration.
At KCRW, the story of Biddy Mason, who was born into slavery on August 15, 1818, likely in Georgia, then ‘gifted’ as a wedding present plantation owners in Mississippi. Really interesting story here that ends with the idea that at one point she may have been the richest black woman west of the Mississippi. She gave her money for food, for schools, and a church. Besides the Biddy Mason Memorial Park, there’s a push to rename a street in her memory as well.
We had Torchy’s in Dallas last month; I especially wanted to try their queso with guacamole inside. A few years ago, Bon Appetit ran the recipe for the Bob Armstrong queso dip, which is “a now-legendary layered dip of taco meat, queso, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo” at Matt’s El Rancho in Austin, but it looks like the commenters say it doesn’t even come close to the real thing.
Speaking of queso, let’s not forget Beaux Hebert, who shared this with the LA Times back in 2017:
“I’m from the South, and queso is a Southern food staple,” said Hebert. “I mean, my sister Cammy had a queso fountain at her wedding.”
…and let us not forget this gravy fountain at an Arkansas wedding reception:
This is how we “wedding” in SE Arkansas. It’s a gravy fountain with biscuits on the side! pic.twitter.com/h9rDr2t0cW
— Melinda Mayo (@KATVMelinda) August 18, 2018
This same kind of thing with the queso recipe happened with a recipe for All Steak orange rolls at Epicurious. I made them, and they weren’t close. It wasn’t exactly a Lloyd Bentson/Dan Quayle moment: “Epicurious, I’ve been served orange rolls, I know orange rolls, orange rolls are a friend of mine. Epicurious, these are no All Steak orange rolls.” but yeah. Sometimes magazines will put out recipes that are something along the lines of “this is a recipe for X but it’s not THE recipe for X.”
I didn’t even know what a Crispito was until this article about what’s apparently the Great Crispito Shortage of 2021 and its Impending Heartache for Alabama Schoolchildren but the best part of the al.com article is this comment on a school system’s Facebook about the announcement:
“They were are always made with love, fluorescent lighting, and a styrofoam tray,” one person posted before launching into Ecclesiastes 3:4.
from a visit in 2011
The two-story dogtrot 1818 Looney home in St Clair County, Alabama is undergoing a restoration, its first since 1972.
An encore presentation of the new documentary, Clementine Hunter’s World, will be shown August 28 at 8p on Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Busy week here! Getting together (outside) with friends, enjoying summer, and getting ready for football. Pics of our sweet new chicks next week! Hope you’ve got new and fun things going on. xoxo!