Buttermilk Pie

In last week’s B’ham News, there was an article about Robyn Poarch of Porch Pies who grew up here in Alabama and is now in Hollywood, California selling her pies for $30-$35/ea.  She says:

“Back home, they’d never pay $30 for those pies,” Poarch says. “But out here, there are people who have never heard of a chocolate chess pie or a buttermilk pie. The buttermilk recipe is so easy, it’s embarrassing. It’s our best-seller, but it’s very hard to describe a buttermilk pie. I tell them the buttermilk is kind of like a Southern creme brulee.”

Ohmystars!  Never heard of a buttermilk pie?  For shame.
Well, that put me in the mood to make one of my buttermilk pies (which is like a sister to chess pie).  I’ve made lime buttermilk chess pie and chocolate chess pie here before but this time decided to make buttermilk pie in its simplest form.
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp flour
1-1/3 c. buttermilk
3 tsp. lemon juice
pie pastry (if you use ready-made, use regular rather than deep-dish size for this)
Preheat oven to 350*.

In the Kitchenaid, cream together the butter and sugar until completely incorporated and a pretty yellow:

Creaming butter and sugar

Keep the Kitchenaid running and add in the egg yolks one by one.  Now add the flour, and pour in the buttermilk slowly, finishing with the lemon juice.  Take a spatula and go around the bowl, making sure that everything is mixed well.  Give it one last whirl, then pour into the crust:

Buttermilk Pie

Bake in the center rack of the oven.  Start checking on it at 40 minutes, but I’ve never gotten this pie done in less than one hour – usually at about 65 minutes it is perfect:

Buttermilk Pie

I like this pie chilled a bit so after it comes to room temperature, I set it in the refrigerator, and this also helps make certain that it is set completely before serving.  Yum!

Miss Eudora

ll weekend I’ve been reading the new book Eudora Welty: Occasions.  It’s a collection of selected writings of hers that includes everything from a few short stories…to letters to editors about her errors writing about an eccentric subject:

First, I had said her watch was silver, when it was gold – how could I have done a thing like that to her? and she took it out of its hiding place and put it under my eyes.  Second, I had left out Sudie, who had helped her in the store for six years and Sudie felt so bad about it – “Sudie, Sudie!  Come stand here and let Miss Wealthy see how bad you feel – that’s right – that’s all, Sudie, get on back.”

…to Charles Dickens’ recipe for eggnog which her family enjoyed each Christmas:

It was ladled from the punch bowl into punch cups and silver goblets, and had to be eaten with a spoon.  It stood up in peaks. 

…to her admonition that there were not enough books in Mississippi hospitals and institutions:

To the perpetual child and the limited in mind, to the sick and infirm, and to the morally wavering, reading permits pleasure still, and this may be a pleasure greater than they’ve so far known: hope.

…a recipe for Aunt Beck’s chicken pie, which includes sliced hard-cooked eggs

…explaining the Southern writer’s inheritance:
It is nothing new or startling at Southerners to write – probably they must write…
Children who grow up listening through rewarding stretches of unhurried time, reading in big lonely rooms, dwelling in the confidence of slow-changing places, are naturally more prone than other children to be entertained…  They cannot help being impressed by a world around them where history has happened in the yard or come into the house, where all round the countryside big things happened and monuments stand to the memory of fiery deeds still to be heard from the lips of grandparents, the columns in the field or the familiar cedar avenue to nothing, where such-and-such a house once stood.  
…to her letters back and forth with Katherine Anne Porter
…to writing to The New Yorker in 1948 in defense of William Faulkner
Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Kosciusko Monuments

Since we were in Kosciusko to visit Miss Hull’s house, we took these pics at the cemetery which is just a couple of blocks away.

This couple, the Burdines, had 19 children together – their names are all on the center part of the monument:

19 Children Listed in the Burdine Family. Cemetery, Kosciusko MS

The best-known monument here is of Laura Kelly who died in 1890.  Her husband had a sculptor in Italy make a monument of her from a picture of her on their wedding day:

Laura Kelly Monument, Kosciusko MS

Laura Kelly Monument, Kosciusko MS

Laura Kelly Monument, Kosciusko MS

At the time of her death, Mr. Kelly was having their home built, so people say that is why he asked the architect to add on a third story – so that he would be able to see her monument from that window:

Laura Kelly Home, Kosciusko MS

Lots About Lane Cake, TKAM, And A Carrot Cake Recipe

Yesterday for St. Patrick’s Day, for whatever reason, instead of making corned beef and cabbage or boxtys or anything else, I made a cake.  A carrot cake.

Outside, the daffodils have been blooming and I know the azaleas aren’t too far behind…it just feels like spring, and spring means food like carrot cakes.
Well, actually I’ve been in the mood to make a Lane cake (it’s also called “Prize Cake”) but at the moment I can’t have any alcohol, so…no alcohol, no Lane cake.  For now.  Anyway, Lane cake is a special-occasion cake.  It is *the cake* of Alabama.
And one thing about Lane cake is that it is made in pie tins rather than cake pans.  I was wondering if I remembered that right, and sure enough they mention it in the Encyclopedia of Alabama article.
Here is the recipe for the carrot cake I made yesterday (and like Lane cake, it actually gets a little better after a day or two).
Carrot Cake Ingredients for a 2-layer cake:
for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil (you can use a very mild oil like canola or peanut, I even use a mild olive oil)
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
5 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup chopped pecans (in nice-size chunks – not too big, but not too fine!)
2 cake pans buttered with a circle of parchment paper in the bottom (like a Lane cake, I use pie tins sometimes)
8 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
16 oz cream cheese (2 blocks), cut into pieces
2 cups confectioner’s sugar (once you’re making the icing, taste and see if you want to use more)
2 c. chopped pecans (same size as in the cake batter)
Preheat the oven to 350*.
In the Kitchenaid, mix together the white and brown sugar plus the oil:
Carrot CakeNext, mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Now, the vanilla.  Now add the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Don’t mix too much, just until it comes together:

Carrot Cake

Add the carrots plus the pecans, mix, and pour evenly in each of the cake pans or pie tins. After 25-30 minutes, the cake should be done:

Carrot Cake

Once these are cool, make the icing.  In a clean Kitchenaid bowl, mix together the butter and cream cheese, then when that comes together well, the confectioners sugar.  It will take a while of mixing in the Kitchenaid for it to reach a good spreading consistency (probably about 6 or 8 minutes).  Add in the pecan pieces, mix again:

Carrot Cake

Flip the cake over onto a plate, spread the icing on top, then the next layer of cake, and spread the rest of the icing all over the top and sides:

Carrot Cake

I doubled this recipe and made a four-layer cake this time (which you only do if you’re feeding a crowd):

Carrot Cake

It’s sooo good!

Miss LV Hull’s House Now

We went to Kosciusko to check on Miss L.V. Hull’s house – she passed away in April of last year –  and we wanted to see how her house/yard/environment was doing now that she is gone.

I got in touch with someone at the Kosciusko paper that told me that really nothing was happening with her home one way or the other, but that they were hoping that some of her art might become an exhibit at one of the welcome centers.
We pulled up in front of the house (it’s at 123 Allen Street, close to the cemetery), and it just felt as though all the bright colors that were Miss L.V. Hull have sort-of gone with her, which is really sad.  I wish I could find the pics that Av and I took seven or eight years ago when we first visited (those were with a non-digital camera so it would take a little looking to find them) – everything was so vibrant and cheerful!  It made you smile just to look at it all.
Here’s how her home looks now:

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

I didn’t realize this before, but in 2001, Yaphet Smith (who was part of the Sundance Film Screenwriters Lab in 2002) shot his first documentary called “Dots and Dashes: The Artist L.V.” which was of course about Miss L.V. Hull.  On the Sundance site, they explain:

The film examines the use of imagination by artist and family friend L.V. Hull in her efforts to cope with the loss of her infant son. 

Everything I’ve read before said that she started painting in 1975 for no particular reason – I hadn’t seen that it was due to her son’s passing.  Bless her heart.
(((Yaphet: if you find this post via Google, please email me at: ginger AT deepfriedkudzu —DOT— com and let me know how I can get a copy of the documentary)))

Hatch Baby Announcements

The baby announcements are here! We spent all weekend making out envelopes and we have about 200 of them going out today.  We are *so* happy with how they turned out…Hatch Show Print (the famous letterprint house in Nashville) did a fantastic job with a four-week turnaround – we gave them the information and told them that we trusted that they would make it wonderful.  They did!

One of my newest friends, Charles Buchanan, reminded me that Hatch Show Print art is a traveling exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution that’s starting in Seattle right now and will go from place to place around the country, through 2010. 

BTW, Charles is a printmaker.  We have a couple of his pieces here at home, and Av has a large canvas at his office.  See this neon sign?  
Andrew's Bar-B-Q in East Lake, just outside of B'ham

Charles made a print inspired by the Andrews’ Bar-B-Q sign.  This is in our kitchen:

We were so in love with that neon sign that when the restaurant went out of business, a sign went up in the window with an Atlanta phone number and Av called them saying that if the building was sold and the owner was going to get rid of the sign, to call him and he would consider buying it.  I don’t have the faintest idea where we would ever put it, but…

This little caddy I use in the kitchen for the ceiling fan, roomba, and tv remote.  It’s of Penny the Dog, an animated sign at the 1st Ave viaduct in B’ham.  

This is how Charles describes his process:

All of my block prints begin with an interesting photo, which I reduce to line art with a computer and tracing paper. After rubbing the back of the paper to transfer a backward image of the picture onto a rubber block, I use metal gouges to carve away every part of the image I do not want to print. Then I roll ink onto the block and press it to paper or wood to create the final printed image. Because each piece is printed individually and by hand, no two prints are ever exactly alike. I also enjoy layering, mixing, and “ghosting” the images to create one-of-a-kind pieces that feel both vintage and modern.

Charles’ work is here and his blog is here.  He told me that he saw my pics from Abbeville and wants to get down there to look around.  Can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charms

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

Each year at our Passover seders, we pass around a cup with slivers of paper inside. On each piece of paper is a number, and the number that each person pulls out signifies his/her turn reading certain sections.  I was thinking this year that we could make it a little bit nicer (and easier to keep up with than a sliver of paper) by turning the numbers into wine glass charms.

20 gauge silver wire (in the jewelry dept at crafts shop)
jewelry nippers, to cut the wire
jewelry pliers, to bend the ends into a clasp
scrapbook paper (double-sided is best)
hole punch (about 5/8″ or so)
7mm (or so) jump rings (in the jewelry dept at crafts shop)
a pin to make the hole in the scrapbook paper for the jump ring

optional: beads

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

To make a consistent diameter size (and nice round shape) for the wine glass charms, I just used the handle of a rolling pin as a guide:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

On each end of the wire, I bent it back around a pair of little jewelry pliers so that together they would make a nice secure hook.  At this point, though, only bend one of the two ends back:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

Like this:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

When you’re completely done, though, this is how the two ends will clasp together:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

With a hole punch, cut some circles out of pretty scrapbook paper.

I used a corsage pin to make the hole in the scrapbook paper so that a jump ring would fit through:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

Open the jump ring up a bit with the pliers and fit one end through the hole in the scrapbook paper circle:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

…and if you’re going for a simple look, just clip the jump-ring onto the wire and you’re done:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

Otherwise, you can add some pretty beads to each side:

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

Here I added the number (this will be reader #16):

Scrapbook Paper Wine Glass Charm

I’m so happy with how these turned out!

Frank Calloway: Pageants from the Old South

I’ve been talking with Andrew Edlin of Edlin Gallery in NYC, who represents Frank Calloway (the 112-year old artist from Tuscaloosa).

Note: his age has been well disputed.

Back in January when I wrote about the Outsider Art Fair there, the AP story mentioned that his work was being sold, which confused me because a previous AP article had said that:

His caretakers have suspended sales of his (Frank Calloway’s) artwork until after the show after finding out that some of his drawings could sell for thousands of dollars.

The show they’re referring to there is ‘The Marriage of Art, Science, and Philosophy’ at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, which doesn’t end until September 6th of this year.
Andrew was very helpful and explained that he had visited Frank in mid-December and came back with several of his drawings, many range from 15 to at times over 50 feet.  And many of them date to 2006 and earlier.
I told him that I was really interested in them, and wondered how one would display a Frank Calloway scroll, being as long as they are.  Here’s the solution Andrew told me about: they have “these kind of scroll devices to mount on a wall that enable you to display as much or little of the work as you want. This way you get to own the entire piece but choose what segment you want to display. This is what AVAM is using.”  (Pics of Frank’s work at AVAM are here)
I guess that makes perfect sense.
Tonight is the opening reception for the Edlin Gallery’s show, Frank Calloway: Pageants from the Old South, which is Frank’s first gallery exhibit.  This is the description that went along with the invitation, which puts his age closer to 95.  It has been disputed whether or not Mr. Calloway is actually 112:


Frank Calloway was born poor, black and fatherless in Montgomery, Alabama approximately 95 years ago and has been committed since 1952 to the buildings and grounds of the Bryce Hospital and the Alabama Department of Mental Health in Tuscaloosa. Calloway did farming and gardening work on the 200-acre campus of the hospital. When U.S. District Judge Frank Johnson revised work standards in 1972, replacing manual labor with arts and crafts, Calloway began to draw. Using mainly crayons and markers Calloway became so obsessed with his art that the staff began giving him 30-foot long rolls of butcher paper to allow him to continuously create.

His murals often consist of processions of farm animals, people in houses, buildings and buses, working men on their trucks, paddle wheel steamboats, locomotives and trains, and their crews. They burst with color: deep greens, highlighter yellows, navy blues and Pepto-Bismol pinks. Many are stained with tobacco juice. His images of houses with their smoke-billowing chimneys recall Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

The exhibit goes through May 2, 2009.