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Tall, medium. Shuttered hand car wash shop. Sylacauga AL. Last week.
At Bon Appetit, My Life with Edna Lewis: Chef Scott Peacock reflects on his decades-long friendship with Edna Lewis, and what it means to be a Southern chef:
Before I met Edna Lewis, I thought the South was something to recover from. I was eager to put my Alabama childhood behind me. Eager to forget summers spent picking peas in fields of hard red clay and cutting okra at dawn and dusk to escape punishing heat. And even though my Grandmaw Peacock’s slow-stewed-till-sticky chicken and rice (made with hens she raised and plucked herself) remains one of the most transcendent dishes I have ever been blessed to eat, I was eager to escape her too. Uneducated and poor, my grandmother was a struggling sharecropper’s wife whose only bathroom for much of my childhood was an outhouse.
from ‘As Mose T would See It’ exhibit at WSC in Hanceville AL, 2015.
This month’s Slotin auction included a 18.5″x19″ portrait of George Washington by Mose T that sold for $6125, >7x the estimate. The Slotin Self-Taught Art Masterpieces sale will be held April 24. The catalog, here.
From the Cowan’s American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts sale earlier this month, a cherry wood Federal chest of drawers believed to have been from Greene County, Tennessee fetched $15360, which was almost 2x the estimate.
The Modern-Day Power Of Southern Gothic Fashion at Refinery29
How to Pretend You’re in New Orleans Tonight at the NYT
’Ed Ruscha: OKLA’ at the Oklahoma Contemporary through July 5
How women invented book clubs, revolutionizing reading and their own lives at the Washington Post: By the onset of the Civil War, “nearly every town and village” in the United States had some kind of female literary group, said Mary Kelley, a professor of American intellectual history at the University of Michigan
Fellow seersucker lovers, yesss
William Eggleston and John McCracken: True Stories at David Zwirner, through April 17, and the website walkthrough is gorgeous
The new, free, downloadable IKEA ScrapsBook, a 50-recipe cookbook done in collab with chefs across North America to use the leftover bits from preparing meals
The Greenville (SC) County Museum voted to deaccession an Alma Thomas painting, “Alma’s Flower Garden,” back in October and sold it for a record $2.8M to an undisclosed party
Martha Lou Gadsden passed away this week. From the P&C: At Martha Lou’s Kitchen, Gadsden served dishes drawn from the Lowcountry home cooking canon, including fried chicken, lima beans, okra soup, beef stew with oxtails, macaroni and collard greens. “I work by air,” Gadsden said. “I do not measure.”
This week’s free doctoral thesis concept: the cohesiveness and/or disconnect between museums and the restaurants that are housed within, from Russ and Daughters in the Jewish Museum (NY) to the country ham (and bagels, and frozen lattes) being served at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville
America Magazine on the significance of Caroline Gordon in regards to her influence on Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy among others, and her own writings
Dreamy: Departures with The 18 Best Train Routes Around the World and have we just been in quarantine way too long or does even that Siberia trip sound great
Our Good Earth: Rural Life and American Art opens at the High on April 17 and runs through August 1, 2021
Jose Olivarez with Ode to Tortillas in The Atlantic
In March, we lost Jessica McClintock, ’70s & ’80s Sunday- and prom- dress designer extraordinaire, and “cottagecore visionary” as Jezebel put it. “I have a romantic feeling about life,” Ms. McClintock told a reporter in 2007. “I like Merchant-Ivory movies and candlelight and beautiful rooms. I like the patina of age.” PS: Hillary Rodham’s mom took her to Dillard’s and she picked out a Jessica McClintock dress there for her wedding to Bill Clinton
I missed this from August, but Nordroom did a feature on Louisa Pierce’s Nashville home
Chicago Magazine with Three New Spots Putting Their Spins on Jewish Deli Classics: Rye Deli & Drink with blue corn matzah balls; sweet potato and pimiento cheese knish at Jeff & Judes; vegan options at Sam & Gerties
Old Forester’s 117 Series: High Angels’ Share “showcases a selection of barrels which lost exceptional volume to evaporation in the aging process, resulting in a bourbon that is rich and multidimensional, layered with dark flavor notes, dried fruits, and unexpected herbaceous qualities.” It’s been released at the distillery in Louisville and only limited quantities at select Kentucky retailers
The second sentence of a Washington Post piece this week about the Amazon union vote in Bessemer was this: “Little-known fact: Half of the air in Alabama in March is actually pollen.”
It is with great sadness that we share some disheartening news… Our famous marquee sign has been stolen. If you have any information about the whereabouts of the sign, or any leads, please comment. #BringBackTheSign #ElArroyoSign pic.twitter.com/4aeiJVPpPB
— El Arroyo (@ElArroyo_ATX) April 1, 2021
A graphic guide to where Brood X will emerge, here
The Welty home in Jackson, 2012.
“I heard Felder Rushing tell the story about a year ago that Miss Welty’s mother quit the Jackson Garden Club when they quit having plant swaps,” said Goodwin.
The Eudora Welty Foundation will host its annual heirloom plant sale at the home on April 17.
Kenny & Ziggy’s, Houston, 2019.
Food52 declares Ziggy Gruber’s charoset the best in all the land:
Ziggy’s recipe for charoset was given to him by his Hungarian grandfather, the original deli man. It’s an Ashkenazi recipe — with apples and cinnamons, bound by apricot jam and blackberry wine—that Ziggy and his kitchen staff will spend the next few days preparing by the truckload, literally. Each year the deli sends out two refrigerated semitrucks worth of the sticky spread to families across Houston.
The Old Town Bell in Clayton AL, 2008. This old town bell was mentioned in my WPA book as having been located in the center of town for over 100 years. The book says that it was the town’s official timepiece and that it was also used in antebellum days to call together the “slave patrol” if any slaves were suspected of having run away. Today it is in the Clayton Baptist Church cemetery.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful: The New Yorker on Ann Lowe’s Barrier-Breaking Mid-Century Couture (if nothing else, you likely know her work from Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown & 10 dresses of the wedding party).
She was born in Clayton, Alabama — her grandfather, General (name, not rank) Cole, was a carpenter who worked to build the original courthouse there. Around 1860, he bought the freedom of Georgia Thompkins/Thompkins, a woman of mixed race whose father owned the plantation where she and her enslaved mother were seamstresses. They married, and Ann Lowe’s mother, Jane, was born during the War. Jane married Jack Lowe during Reconstruction. Jane’s marker at Pioneer Cemetery in Clayton reads, “The Mother of Anne Lowe.”
But by the beginning of the twentieth century Jane and Georgia had established themselves as society dressmakers in Montgomery, the state capital, catering to political wives and daughters. Ann’s education in the segregated schools of Alabama would have been rudimentary, and she dropped out at fourteen. But her apprenticeship in the family business trained her for one of the few vocations by which a woman could support herself respectably. It also gave her a rare example of female autonomy.
Before her death, Jane had taken the job to make four ball gowns for the First Lady of Alabama, Elizabeth Kirkman O’Neal. Ann Lowe finished them.
It was a chance encounter at a department store in Dothan that got her career really going on a broader scale, first to Tampa, then to New York. She was beyond successful. Incredibly in demand.
A nice Sutori here. And lots more here: Ann Lowe’s dresses are in the collection of the Met’s Costume Institute and at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has her gowns on display.
Her story is ripe for a film.
Okay, a total aside aside aside here because three little trivia-ish things.
As mentioned above, Ann Cole Lowe wound up finishing the ballgowns that her mother had started for Alabama First Lady Elizabeth Kirkman O’Neal. The First Lady, who went by ‘Lizzie’, was married to Emmet O’Neal, who served as Gov 1911-1915.
(1.) If you know Birmingham, O’Neal Steel = that family.
(2.) The Mountain Brook library in B’ham just changed its name from Emmet O’Neal to just O’Neal Library owing to his antiquated politics/views but keeping the surname in honor of the good works of the larger family. They’ve been generous.
(3.) And remember in A Christmas Story, about how Ralphie wanted the Daisy Red Ryder but was told “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid”? That happened with a Daisy to the then-6yo son of Lizzie & Emmet. That’s Kirkman, who started O’Neal Steel.
Laura Pope Forester’s home, Ochlocknee GA, 2012.
The AJC on 2021 Women of Achievement: How four Georgians left their mark includes Laura Pope Forester, who’s in this year’s class of honorees by the Georgia Women of Achievement.
Using common objects such as sewing machine parts, Model T wheels and concrete and sand from a local creek, Forester created statues and wall murals. Her works were not featured in art exhibits, but by her death in 1953, she had created some 200 sculptures and murals. A garden she created around her antebellum residence included more than 200 figurative sculptures, including three-dimensional ones.
Love this tidbit: Forester, who was photographed carving a statue in her garden while wearing a fur and tiara — an image taken not long before her 80th birthday…
The baked alaska made with Shug’s name on it, at Antoine’s in New Orleans, for his first birthday celebration
Dorie Greenspan in the NYT Magazine with Is Baked Alaska the Secret to a Long Life? A 117-year-old nun in France made me think it might be.
Zoë François: “It’s beautiful, elegant and dramatic — a flaming dessert is an attention-grabber; it’s easy to make; it’s convenient — it can be made ahead; it’s got ice cream (enough said); it’s got meringue — which is the same as saying it’s got magic; it looks gorgeous whole and just as gorgeous sliced; it’s creamy and icy cold inside, marshmallowy all around and warm on the edges.”
Dorie has a new baking cookbook coming out in October — her books are so well regarded, they’re references at this point — and Zoe has a new book out: Zoë Bakes Cakes: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Favorite Layers, Bundts, Loaves, and More (here at Bookshop // at Amazon)
John Lytle Wilson painting, Beauty Shock in B’ham, 2017.
The Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham will be at Sloss Furnace this year April 23-25. A couple of the following are friends, others I’m excited to see for the first time: Bethanne Hill (painting) // Ben Caldwell (metal) // Micheal Paul Cole (photography) // John Lytle Wilson (painting) // Tim Spanger (painting — love especially his paper airplanes)
Nonesuch on Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion’s ‘Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part,’ Due June 25. The piece mentions the inspirations, including Sacred Harp (James Joyce, the Sacred Harp hymn book, a poem by Anne Carson, the Bible’s Book of Ruth, the American roots tune “I’ll Fly Away,” and the pop perfection of ABBA…). To the Sky, this video, is from the Sacred Harp hymnal.
Also: one song on the release is an interpretation of ABBA’s ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’:
She explains, “It’s really a Bach chorale. Also, the idea of someone singing ‘Don’t go wasting your emotion / Lay all your love on me / Don’t go sharing your devotion / Lay all your love on me,’ over and over again very slowly, there’s a certain tragedy in it.
Passover, home, 2009.
Okay, Passover was (a.) positively great because we got to be with extended family who are all fully vaccinated whom we haven’t been with in over a year, and (b.) yummy because we had some great recipes for seder. If you’re running low on ideas for cooking for the rest of the holiday — I mean, we had matzah pizza last night so we’re def low on inspiration too — here’s what we served
***some of these recipes had little adjustments to make them pareve or Pesadicha:
deviled eggs // chopped liver // chicken piccata (I dredge the chicken in egg first, though. Rather than flour, I always make this with the seasoned Jeff Nathan matzah panko) // crispy smashed potatoes // roasted asparagus // broccoli kugel // matzah polenta with mushroom topping from the NYT Passover Cookbook, Danny Meyers’ recipe from his Union Square Cafe) // coleslaw // flourless chocolate cake // baby cake bites
Also, If you’re Sephardic, or Ashkenaz and peanut-friendly (we don’t eat other kitniyot, but our minhag is that peanuts are okay) like us that week, or you’re just looking for a fab peanut butter cookie recipe, this one is three ingredients and better than any with-flour peanut butter cookie I’ve ever had — and they stay soft soooo long.
Among the performers at Bonnaroo this year — just some of my faves in the bunch — Brittany Howard // Julien Baker // Joy Oladokun // Liz Cooper & the Stampede // Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit // Colony House // Kingfish Ingram // Leon Bridges // The Marcus King Band // Orville Peck // Too Many Zooz (who I really like but I have to be in just the right mood for them) and Waxahatchee — which is heavy on my spring Apple Music playlist — and if you’re not already familiar:
Morning Call beignets, New Orleans, 2014.
Since 1870, except for this most recent intermission, and now Morning Call is back. Behold, the best beignets.
crawfish at home, 2008.
‘Tis the season: a Louisiana family starts The Crawfish App to give local boiled and live crawfish prices
From West Virginia Public Radio:
This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re dedicating our show to the art of live storytelling. We’ll learn how musicians Anna and Elizabeth first met and how they incorporated the use of “crankies” into their songs. We’ll also travel to the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee where storyteller Michael Reno Harrell shared a story about his mother’s extended family.
grocery store pimento cheese display, 2013.
At the Oxford American, Pimento-Crazy by Cynthia R. Greenlee
But then she scraped pimento cheese out of a Kraft jar, not the flat plastic tub of my North Carolina Piedmont or a mixing bowl. I dismissed her enjoyment as the pleasure of the truly uninitiated.
Finishing up Passover this week and the weather can’t decide to be warm or freezing. I’m ready for the pool. Hope you’re staying comfortable and doing whatever feels good. xoxo!