Jiggity Jog

Friday, December 26, 2008

Time to start a new year. My sixtieth. I originally used the verb "face" in that first sentence, but that seemed so ominous. I must have automatically assumed that sixty commands a certain gravity. Actually, I can't wait for this birthday. Once again, I'm skipping Quebec to go back to Mexico to cut up with mi banda. I'll be reporting back from there next week. Meanwhile, we got up and running at Crook's with amazing ease, thanks mostly to the fact that Paul didn't really take much of a holiday while we were closed. The new floor is really an improvement. It cleans up well and is much, much easier on the legs. I've been standing up at the stove for thirty of those sixty years, so this is important.

This entry will be brief as we are just begining to ramp up again. In spite of all the dreadful economic news, we continue to be acceptably busy- knock on wood. I'm counting on the basketball team and the inauguration to keep us festive here in Chapel Hill through the winter. Some thoughts about this time of year. Mardi Gras is very early this year so we'll be serving all that wonderful Louisiana food before another month has passed. I'll have to find places to squeeze in corned hams and sweetbreads before then. Our initial menu when we first reopened had mostly uncomplicated standards: Green Tabasco chicken, catfish amandine, shrimp and grits. Now we can begin to fancy things up a little.

Other news: Nancie McDermott tells me she's working on a new book of Southern pies. Her Southern Cakes book was really great. I'll be doing a fun raiser for WUNC Radio in April at A Southern Season with Susan Stamberg and the Kitchen Sisters. I'm really looking forward to this. I like doing classes out there. The roast chicken one I did before Christmas was really fun. I'll be doing another one on gravies just before Thanksgiving next fall as well.

So, Happy New Year everyone. I have great hopes for this one.

posted by Bill Smith at 8:19 AM 0 comments

Closed for the Holidays

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Where did December go? I am the worst person in the world for making good use of my time. I think it's probably because I have to be so organized at work that all my efficiency skills are used up there. I am sort of lazy by nature, so it is odd that I fret so over wasted time, but I do. Crook's has closed down for ten days to put in a new kitchen floor. Gray epoxy replaces red tiles. Hopefully easier to clean and kinder to the legs. One would have thought that I might at least clean my office during this time. Dream on. I am presently in New Bern for the holidays. This year my mother has chosen to use a grove of smaller Christmas trees in the big room rather than the one large one. This Fellini movie of a house still gives me pause after all these years. (Check out the photo in the December 31st '07 entry to compare tree styles).

The same rituals unfold year after year. A cocktail party at one aunt's on Tuesday. A quick run to see another the next morning. We take turns cooking supper. Deborah makes a huge pot of vegetable beef soup on Tuesday night. I roast a filet Wednesday. One niece's family chooses to open presents on Christmas Eve morning. Constant phone conversations with my brother in L.A. To my sister Suzi's for jambalaya on Christmas Eve night. To my Aunt Margaret's for a Christmas morning brunch. Once more my mother's downstairs becomes a restaurant on Christmas night.

My neighborhood fish market, Tryon Palace Seafood, has opened a little restaurant. Great news. I've always stopped by there for fried take out oysters. Now I can sit down with shrimp burgers, soft shelled crab sandwiches and crab bisque. They also have quail. More about this later. Since I forgot to take my camera to the fish market, here's a picture of the candy house that always appears in my mother's kitchen at this time of year. I'm a fool for gumdrops.

posted by Bill Smith at 8:51 AM 0 comments

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