Where is that stack of unread New Yorkers?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A very busy Fall has kept me away from my writing. November, in fact, almost did me in. Although business slows a little during the holidays, the requests for appearances, fundraisers and special events increase. Cooking is a little more complicated as well. We introduced beef stew, a simple dish but with lots of steps. Our duck arrives on your plate from two different cooking directions. Neither difficult, if that's all you are doing but cooks must always be doing ten things at once. Then there's cheese pork. We go through tons of the stuff now. Its local legend status has reached critical mass.

This Fall's extracurriculars included another painting for Art From The Heart, a fund raiser for the Chapel Hill Museum. You will eventually be able to see my painting of a pile of boiled shrimp on their website. The auction for all the paintings will be held in February.

Every year, starting around Thanksgiving, people start calling me up to see if I will sell them gravy. Or, they call up while they are standing over the stove, for instructions on how to make their own gravy. I mentioned this to Marilyn Markel the director of the cooking school at A Southern Season so this year I taught a class on gravy making for the holiday. We used chickens instead of turkeys. We wanted to demonstrate several kinds of sauce and three turkeys would have been way too much. The process is the same. There was traditional Thanksgiving gravy, a milk gravy that had all the giblets, and a French style white wine sauce for good measure. I loved teaching this class. Dinner for my students that night was a couple of chicken thighs, a pile of mashed potatoes and three ramekins of gravy. And oh yes, a simple green salad to clear the mind. Moreton Neal and I will be teaching a class together there in April. I think we're going to give a hat tip to Julia Child with a kick out the stops bouillabaisse.

Yet another event in November was Tyler Florence's Music To Your Mouth Food and Wine Festival at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina. My task was to cook corned hams for 500 people, no small feat, except that the staff at the inn there did most of the work. All I really had to do was run my mouth when I wasn't eating crispy pork fat crust. One highlight was getting to share the stage with old friend Robert Stelling of Charleston's Hominy Grill .

posted by Bill Smith at 11:22 AM 0 comments

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