This Week’s Various

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Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak at the JW Marriott, Nashville TN

Nashville, 2019.

AN Interior’s Top 50 List this year includes:

BLDGS — Atlanta
Faye + Walker — Austin
Low Design Office — Austin
Max Levy — Dallas
Marlon Blackwell — Fayetteville
Norman Kelley — Chicago & New Orleans
Silo —  Cleveland, Charlotte, Fayetteville
Trahan — New Orleans

Also: Nashville’s tallest tower is coming about due to the YMCA’s plan to build a 60-story residential tower on its property on Church Street


Dooky Chase's, New Orleans LA

Dooky Chase’s, from a 2012 visit.

Produced by Resy and presented by AmEx, the Classics Remix series for New Orleans will do a “Nina Compton x Dooky Chase’s” event the weekend of November 11; dine-in and take-out is $55 and includes Creole gumbo, fried jerk catfish, coconut-braised collard greens, rum & raisin bread pudding with dulce de leche, and a specialty cocktail. Tickets on sale now.


Floyd Shaman sculpture at Square Books, Oxford MS

Square Books, 2017.

The delightful Lee Harper will appear on Thacker Mountain Radio, October 28 6p, Live at the Old Armory Pavilion in Oxford

Her Tiny Oxford series began as an homage to Oxford fixture Ron Shapiro’s long-defunct Hoka Theatre, a pre-Starbucks coffee shop fondly remembered by generations of older UM students…led to a string of commissions and explorations of the places that give Oxford its historical local flavor — from architectural gems (both stately and homespun) to the family-run businesses that shaped life for generations.

Her Tiny Oxford, Vol. 1 is available here at Square Books


Flannery O’Connor reads “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction” and she starts by saying to the class, “any fiction that comes out of the South is going to be called ‘grotesque’ by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it’s going to be called ‘realistic.'”


Seriously, the Flatwoods Monster helped save West Virginia’s Blenko Glass.


Hokus Pokus Liquor, Alexandria LA

Hokus Pokus Liquor, Alexandria LA, 2013.

The Driest State (Arkansas) at Bitter Southerner

— and at Garden & Gun, Dispatches from a Dry County, The daring and danger of living under lingering Prohibition restrictions

…This is a genteel way of saying that, in the largely dry Alabama counties of the Tennessee River valley, the twin crimes of possessing and hauling were made universal. Each drinking-age member of a family—including many scions of staunch dry-law supporters—became what I’ll call a “citizen bootlegger.” Doing the run entered the vocabulary. We all memorized the county roads through the cotton and the various cuts and feints. 


Sherman Stewart and Son Monument, Mt Zion Methodist Church Cemetery, Cullman AL

Mount Zion Methodist Church Cemetery, Cullman AL, 2021.


Super random.

At the Clarion-Ledger: Is Tea the South’s next Lucrative Crop? These Family Farms have Mastered the Centuries-Old Art

Wes Anderson designed a train carriage in Britain, and this is beyond

Artist, professor Julie Green passed away earlier this month; she did The Last Supper series of final meal requests

Miniature Calendar

People who go to space seem to have such a clarity about the smallness of things we get caught up in here on earth. Shatner: “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this… It’s so much larger than me and life. It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.” 

When the Times Book Review Panned the Classics

Susan Spicer’s sweet potato pie recipe, with a praline sauce // Lemon-blueberry griddle cakes from The Blackberry Magazine // whiskey smash

Still completely in love with this house, on the market in York, Alabama


Pick Up & Go Food Store, New Orleans

New Orleans, 2017.

Texas Monthly gives this chili history lesson:

The Texanist would further remind you, while we’re momentarily paused here on canned chili, that Wolf Brand has stood the test of time. Before your fellow Corsicanan Lyman T. Davis opened a meat market and began selling his chili under the brand name Lyman’s Famous Home Made Chili in (the Texanist checks his notes) “brick form,” and before he began canning the stuff and rebranded it as Wolf Brand Chili in honor of (the Texanist checks his notes again) a pet wolf who went by the name of Kaiser Bill, he was selling his meaty concoction for a nickel a bowl from the back of a wagon on the streets of your hometown way back in 1895.


Faulkner, with this guide on how to pronounce Yoknapatawpha


turkey

Our 2015 Greenberg’s Thanksgiving turkey.

Greenberg’s Turkeys is back after last year’s fire.


Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, through January 2, 2022. …a new body of work drawing on language, the written word, and the investigation of divinity and devilry during the wilderness of Early America. Her pieces take the forms of long thin figures that wear the strength of the words of the people they represent.

Lesley Dill, Wilderness


Handley's Western Wear and Work Boots, Jasper AL

Handley’s Western Wear and Work Boots, Jasper AL


Well, this is… let’s remember this (above) is a 1935 March of Time newsreel about John Lomax and Lead Belly, in maybe the earliest footage there is of him playing. Below, from the Smithsonian:


It's Egg Nog Season Already!

Seems early for egg nog. Winn-Dixie, Birmingham AL, this week


Gov Guy Hunt Library and Museum in Holly Pond, Alabama

Gov Guy Hunt Library and Museum, Holly Pond AL

Gov Guy Hunt Library and Museum, Holly Pond AL

Gov Guy Hunt Library and Museum, Holly Pond AL

Gov Guy Hunt Library and Museum, Holly Pond AL

Gov Guy Hunt Library and Museum, Holly Pond AL

…if you’re thinking: “are those his insoles?” yes, those are his insoles.
And #funfact: for a while, his maid also worked for us — I noticed on the days she worked at our home, the intricately-folded notes to and from my friends weren’t exactly where I would leave them, and they weren’t folded back exactly correctly, either. XD


Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patch, Cullman County AL


Graceland, Memphis TN

Graceland, from a 2002 visit

Norbert Putnam’s We Had it All, from a 2013 Oxford American:

I felt a certain sadness as I drove home that Friday evening. Usually, I was relieved after a week of grueling Presley dates, but this time had been different. I felt I had been an honored guest at the King’s court, one of only four supporting actors playing along in his simple charade, all for the express joy of his Queen. It was an honor I would never forget. That night I took a silent vow to never tell this story, but many years have passed, and of course, the King has left us.


…on the life and work of Randy Wilson in Hindman, Kentucky:

O How Lovely is the Evening from Alexander Udis on Vimeo.


My bantam hen, Zelda

Zelda.

It’s finally cool outside. For a couple of weeks now, the new (now teenage/young adult) chickens have been living in the big coop with Tallulah and Zelda. Tallulah tells them how things are going to be, but they all get along. They all especially love the little cherry tomatoes that come off the tomato plant that I didn’t even plant this year — it just sprung up on its own outside the run. They eat their regular food along with a ton of herbs we’ve grown plus kitchen vegetable scraps, and the occasional bounty from a bag of carrots put through the Cuisinart for them, and for the worms that we keep downstairs, who also are champion kitchen scrap recyclers. Hope your pets are doing great too, that you’re enjoying the cooler weather, and that your high school football team is also destined for the playoffs. xoxo! 

Ritz-Carlton, Lake Oconee — Summer & Winter

Okay, it’s time. No, wait, I need to start like this: The Ritz-Carlton Lake Oconee (which is actually Greensboro, Georgia) is one of our favorite RCs. And it feels different than the others we’ve been to (Atlanta, Amelia Island, New Orleans, St Louis, and Dallas) because it’s so outdoorsy and not quite so buttoned-up.

I mean, I love the buttoned-up, totally polished too, but this is a sweet departure.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

It’s time to figure out holiday plans. Some of the really terrific hotels go to their highest rates and/or they run out of availability. The Ritz Carlton in New Orleans used to be really easy to stay in December over the winter holidays but not right around the bowl games. That’s changed a little, and who knows what that will look like later this year. But the RC Lake Oconee pulls down to a lower rate around the holiday, and it’s also a great time to go.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

That’s undoubtedly because one can’t do all the lake activities, etc because it’s cold outside, but the hotel makes up for that with other offerings.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

The best way to work around the fluctuations in cost is to book on points when that’s an option, and that’s exactly what we’ve done both times we’ve stayed here. For instance, there are some dates in September that rooms are $1700+. Second week of November, $1900+. There are some $500/600/700 rooms sprinkled around, but you have to get lucky or work around what you want to do with the calendar.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

In the summer, we love to go because there are kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboard, water bicycle, a great water mat, and more. You can just lounge on the lake beach and get in the water as you please. This is the RC, after all, so there are people everywhere to help with water activities or even just getting your fire pit going in the evening.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

This firepit below is used for s’mores every evening.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

The pool is a nice size with plenty of loungers, and there’s also a pool for younger guests as well as a hot tub. There’s food/cocktail service at the pool also.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

There’s also golf, a spa, an indoor pool, bicycles, access to a sporting grounds, and a little train.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Our first stay was in 2018, when the rooms looked like this, but scroll further down for our stay last December and the new look:

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia


Our latest stay was in December 2020, the last week of the year. The hotel was still beautifully decorated, and this was their gingerbread creation:

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Here, the updated room:

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ha, one day we even watched a wedding!

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

It was cold, so no swimming, and we ate outside at every meal at both open restaurants. The food was not incredible but fine (not going to be too critical as there’s a service shortage and we all need to be especially kind with everything going on).

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

While the water temperature was too low to get in the water, we still bundled up and sat on the beach, and there was a firepit to keep each group warm

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia

Nightly s’mores was fun, as was the room to explore outside with not too many other guests there.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia


Another thing to love: so many RCs do a great calendar of events — something going on every single day. For instance, today, there’s “Creepy Candy Crafting” for Halloween, a pumpkin patch, happy haunted hayride, and more. Okay, let’s go. It’s points time. 🙂

Grand Bohemian, Mountain Brook

Now that some of the groups I’m in are back into thinking about programming, it’s time to think venues. Leslie and I took a girls’ weekend to the Mountain Brook Grand Bohemian, a Kessler Collection hotel in Marriott’s Autograph Collection a couple of years ago.

Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

I love these Kessler Collection hotels. I’ve stayed at the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront, and the Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah a couple of times now. I saw a video with Richard Kessler once and knew he was a fellow Southerner — turns out he was born in Savannah and grew up in Effingham County. In his 20s, he helped found the much more humble Days Inn chain (and #funfact, it isn’t Days Inn because they thought the name was somehow clever — the other founder was Cecil Day, who was also raised in Georgia and taught at Georgia Tech).

Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

Richard Kessler lives at the Armstrong Kessler Mansion in Savannah and occasionally opens it to groups as a venue.

Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

One of my groups looked into booking a class here — they have several, from how to grill, to hors d’ oeuvres and pasta.

Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

One class, called The Southern Table, has as a sample, students making:

  • Pickled Shrimp with Celery and Mustard
  • Fried Green Tomatoes with Avocado Ranch
  • Johnny Cakes with Blackberry BBQ and Alabama Hot Slaw
  • Skillet Berry Cobbler with Thyme and Vanilla Ice Cream

Habitat Feed and Social, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

This is where the wine blending class takes place.

Habitat Feed and Social, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

On our stay, Leslie and I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Habitat Feed & Social, but I haven’t yet been back for lunch or supper.

Habitat Feed and Social, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

Habitat Feed and Social, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL

This is the space, really, though, that we enjoyed most — the rooftop. There’s a VIP Package that’s really just a reservation placeholder deposit that I think one of my smallest groups would get the best use. Av’s been to an event here at night; some venue pics from then here. The art gallery is fun, and there’s what looks to be a small little jewelry box of a spa.

Grand Bohemian Hotel, Autograph Collection, Mountain Brook AL


I’d really like to go back to Asheville during the holidays, especially to see the gingerbread competition at the Grove Park Inn — if we don’t stay there, the Grand Bohemian looks fun too.

Butter Mochi

The NYT published a recipe for butter mochi this summer that sounded so good, I was determined to make it even though then I didn’t yet have a subscription to the Food section. It was only last month, when an annual subscription went on half-price, that I finally succumbed. It’s actually even better than I’d hoped.

Turns out that at the time, I found the perfect free recipe here at Bigger, Bolder Baking. And as this is something I’ve never eaten before or even knew of the concept before the Times’ feature, I decided to go straight with the recipe instead of trying anything new. It turned out *fantastic*.

Not much of a hurdle, but I found out pretty quickly that the required sweet rice flour wasn’t available at my large local grocery stores (Publix, Winn-Dixie, and Piggly Wiggly). I went to an Asian grocery, though, and they had a nice stock of this Koda Farms Mochiko.

Super Oriental Market, Homewood AL

Ingredients needed: whole milk // coconut milk // eggs // sweet rice flour // sugar // butter // baking powder // vanilla extract

I’m not going to repost the recipe here in text, as I did follow it exactly, but again, it can be found here. The steps were easy enough. Preheat the oven to 350*, mix all ingredients:

Butter Mochi

Pour into a 9×13 — here, I made things easy on myself and lined the pan with parchment paper

Butter Mochi

Lovely:

Butter Mochi

Inverted into a larger pan

Butter Mochi

Absolutely delicious

Butter Mochi

Wishing I’d taken a more glam picture, but we really dove in. The texture here is different — not jello but somewhat wiggly, dense but not brick-like. Huge plus: okay for Passover if rice is a food your family includes. Really just terrific — buttery and sweet, not at all cakey and interesting enough taste and texture-wise. We all loved it, including the grandparents. 10/10 would make again.


BTW, I put tons of my own recipes here at the Recipe page, and I’m going to be adding a section: OPRIMATTOOTR (other people’s recipes I make all the time or otherwise totally recommend), haha!