Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gumbo Tailgating-A Flavorful Journey

~Doc Lawrence

A journey into the heart of the South is always rewarding but it takes on extra joy when the great raconteur Frank Spence is riding along the byways. With Spence, the retired Atlanta Falcons executive in tow, we crossed from Georgia into South Carolina on I-85 north, and made our way into Clemson for some old fashioned tailgating much of which took place on a luxury houseboat in Lake Hartwell Spence christened the Good Ship Ritz.

Legendary Raconteur Frank Spence
For two days, we sampled the barbecue, seafood, game and more of this paradise for outdoor sports. But, there were thousands of visitors in this college town for football and the best guests had their tables set in the parking lots, vans unloaded, and the food was plentiful and tasty. The libations were equal in excellence.

Tailgating is now firmly part of the culinary culture of the South and there is a common thread among the fans who come to the various college towns during football  season. Original dishes are de rigeur. What is enjoyed at home will find its way to a distant campus on gameday. Some dishes are always popular. Gumbo may lead them all.

Chef Marvin Woods maintains that Gumbo encompasses variations that reflect local preferences. Gumbo in coastal Virginia is quite different that coastal Louisiana. But, there are similarities beyond the common name. 

Pam Swanner
One of my favorites-a great woman and legendary cook- is also a tourism wizard for the state of Alabama. Pam Swanner serves as the director for Alabama Black Belt Adventures, promoting the natural and cultural treasures of the wonderful part of America. Collaborating with her friends (a solid Southern tradition) she provided this recipe which I found to be perfect for cooler weather. Something tells me you’ll enjoy it.

Zelda Fitzgerald was from Montgomery where Ms. Swanner lives and works. Inspired by this, we fashioned an appropriate name for the dish.

Zelda’s Bama Gumbo

Roux - combine 1 cup of oil (I used coconut oil) and 1 cup of flour (I use a combo of plain/SR). Cook over medium low heat, keep an eye on it and stir frequently, for about 30-40 minutes or until desired dark honey brown color.
2 lbs shrimp (I used Alabama sourced)
3 chicken breast, cooked (I used a roasted chicken)
Sausage of choice (I use Conecuh, an Alabama Black Belt product), amount to your liking, cut in rounds and sautéed).
1 32 oz. box Chicken Stock (reduced fat/salt free)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1.5 cups of celery, chopped
2 cups of okra, sliced
1 can of tomato paste or 1 can of tomatoes (I used paste)
3/4 cup parsley, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1-2 Bay leaves
Creole seasoning to taste (2-3 Tbs) - Tony Chachere's or Paul Prudhomme
Add trinity (peppers, onion, celery) and garlic to roux when it's reached the desired color and saute until a little soft. Add enough water during process to dilute the thickness (@ 1.5-2 cups).
Saute okra in separate skillet in a bit of oil, without browning, to remove the slime.
Add remaining ingredients to the gumbo pot, except the shrimp. Add more water or chicken broth to maintain a semi-thick consistency because it will continue to thicken during the simmer.
Cook and simmer for about 1 -1.5 hours. Add shrimp the last 10 minutes of cook time. Serve with crusty French bread.

Wine pairing: King Estate Pinot Gris or a Cru Beaujolais like Morgon.

NOTE: The poster/print dedicated to Tailgating is now in the second printing. Beautiful and easy to frame, for just $28.00, it’s a perfect gift for the college football fan. Contact bigoart1@yahoo.com 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veteran's Day-When Johnny Come Marching Home

                                                     ~Doc Lawrence

Her father was a Marine who served in the brutal Pacific Campaign of World War II. My dad was an Army infantryman, a combat soldier in the European theater, serving under General George Patton’s 3rd US Army. Both served honorably, doing their duty, returning to civilian life with work and family responsibilities.

Olivia Thomason, a native of Hendersonville, NC where her Marine Corps dad is buried, is well known in Georgia and beyond for her paintings, a style called Southern Revivalist by the late Dean of Georgia State University’s College of Art, Dr. Joe Perrin. One of her recent works, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” is a tribute, she said, “to all soldiers, sailors, medics, nurses and others who served during all wars.” 

The painting depicts a patriotic parade spanning all America’s military history, set in any city, celebrating the cross section of Americans who gave their time, suffered in many different ways and made the country safe. “No city held a parade for my father,” said Ms. Thomason, “but he didn’t expect one. I felt that my little effort would be at least a gesture of gratitude, an effort that lasts for a lifetime, a parade we can witness on a favorite wall daily.”

Touching up the Stone Mountain Village Mural
My father while watching TV news that included segments about marching bands, would sometimes say without a trace of bitterness or resentment, “they never had a parade for me.”

This parade is for both fathers and all the millions who deserve one. It’s a permanent way to say symbolically, “thanks for your service.”

NOTE: Named artist of the year and gallery owner of the year in Atlanta on multiple occasions, Olivia Thomason’s paintings are in corporate, professional and private collections throughout the country. Her mural in Stone Mountain Historic Village faces the giant monolith and popular park. She resides in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Contact her: bigoart1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tailgating By The Sea-Recipes & More

~Doc Lawrence

Chef Lara Lyn Carter
JACKSONVILLE, FL-With the mighty St. John’s River spilling into the Atlantic Ocean, plentiful local seafood is taken for granted. The area has always been a trove of fruits from the waters and when you add in some college football, bet the ranch that Tailgating takes on real meaning. 

It’s time again to share recipes gathered from this Jacksonville Tailgating experience. Included are the amazing Datil Bloody Mary made with the pepper that came into St. Augustine over five centuries ago, plus Lara Lyn Carter’s latest, another spectacular from our Emmy Award winning Chef.

The wine we chose was in part a salute to victorious Georgia. Wolf  Mountain Vineyards just north of Atlanta produces a renowned sparkling wine that pairs with almost any dish from appetizers to coconut cake.

Seaside Bloody Mary
 ~Chef Lara Lyn Carter
Lime for the rim of the glass
Celery salt
1 jigger Vodka
5 drops Worcestershire sauce
5-6 drops Datil Pepper Sauce (available online)
4 oz. fresh pressed organic tomato juice

Coat the rim of the glass with lime and celery salt. Add ice ¾ of the way up the cocktail glass.  Pour 1 jigger of vodka over the ice and then add the Worcestershire, Datil pepper sauce, and Clamato juice. Garnish with celery, asparagus, bacon, olives, or more lime. Enjoy.

Scallops in Whiskey Cream Sauce
~Chef Lara Lyn Carter
6 slices bacon
1 sweet onion chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic minced
1 tbsp. flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
1 lb. scallops
1 lb. cooked linguine
Chop bacon into one inch pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat until done. Remove bacon from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Cook the onion in the bacon drippings until tender. Reduce the heat to medium and add butter and garlic to skillet cooking for one minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for one more minute. Add cream and Jack Daniel’s stirring until well blended. Add scallops to cream mixture and continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes until the scallops are cooked through. Serve the sauce over linguine and sprinkle bacon over top.

Wolf Mountain Sparkling Wine enhances the experience.

Tune in anytime from any place to Tailgating Down South on Marilyn Ball’s wonderful show, “Speaking of Travel.” Tailgating is one of the most original travel experiences taking us-and you -from Boston to Miami, and Atlanta, Louisville to Baton Rouge and Nashville and many other great college cities. We combine sports, local cuisine, wines, whiskies and lots of excitement.

Monday, October 23, 2017


~Doc Lawrence

Driving into Tuscaloosa means an embrace by the spirit of Alabama. Here, in the city that’s home to the University of Alabama, authors Harper Lee, Howell Raines and  Fannie Flagg matriculated along with countless celebrities including newsman Joe Scarborough and a wonderful Hollywood cowboy, Johnny Mack Brown. If any one spirit dominates today, it is legendary football coach Bear Bryant.

This was another double-header. Tailgating was in full swing before Alabama took on Tennessee in college football. Simultaneously, the Kentuck Arts Festival, now in its 46th year, featured the glory of the country’s largest and best outdoor exhibition of self-taught folk artists showcasing their wonderful works.
A Mary Proctor Original

While there was food galore at both, you owed it to yourself to dine at The Bright Star in nearby Bessemer. Alabama’s oldest restaurant and a James Beard Heritage Award recipient, the menu is filled with Greek-American cuisine with the freshest seafood north of the Gulf Coast. We had shrimp with spicy remoulade sauce, Greek fried snapper, the house special-cut filet mignon, allowing time to enjoy Jack Daniel’s in the unbelievably comfortable lounge.

Kentuck is where I first met Rev. Howard Finster, Mary Proctor, Danny the Bucketman and many others. Only Mary Proctor survives and this was her weekend. Lines formed with people eager to make a purchase and get a selfie with her. 

Alabama is one of our barbecue shrines and no other place embodies the state’s traditions with slow cooking and smoke better than Big Bob Gibson’s, a national champion barbecuer year after year.  I’m not saying he invented white barbecue sauce, but he certainly popularized it to such fame that it is commonly called by the state’s name. When you’re in Decatur, Alabama stop in and enjoy the food and traditions of Big Bob’s. It’s also an easy walk over to the mighty Tennessee River.

Here is Big Bob’s recipe:

Alabama White Barbecue Sauce
 Credit: Big Bob Gibson
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

‘Ol Hank’s Remoulade Sauce
(Perfect for Fried Green Tomatoes)

1 1/4 cups Duke’s mayonnaise.
1/4 cup Creole mustard 
1 Tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika.
2 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s Original Creole seasoning.
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish.
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed.

Note: Tune in to Tailgating Down South on Marilyn Ball’s terrific show, “Speaking of Travel at http://speakingoftravel.net and on the iHeartRadio Network.

Olivia's Poster of the Tailgating Feast

Monday, October 9, 2017

Tar Heel Tailgating: New Gumbo, Carolina Wines

~Doc Lawrence

Chef Lara Lyn Carter
An ancient campus with an advanced lifestyle, thriving in an academic atmosphere where sports, restaurants, bars, students and locals mingle comfortably. Sounds like a place that takes to tailgating with ease. Welcome to Chapel Hill, home of the University of North Carolina and one of the ACC’s most prestigious institutions.

North Carolina is diverse in geography and food preferences. But, barbecue seems to be consistent from the Outer Banks along the Atlantic to Western North Carolina’s Great Smokies. It’s smoke-flavored meat and chicken, slow-cooked and served with a vinegar-based sauce with cole slaw. 

The Yadkin Valley, North Carolina’s acclaimed wine producing region is home to many of the South’s best known wineries. On this beautiful Carolina day, I selected one of my favorite wineries, RagApple Lassie for wines we would enjoy with Chef Lara Lyn Carter’s dishes. A Viognier, with origins in France’s Rhone Valley and a Syrah, also a French grape transplant paired perfectly with our Emmy winner’s delightful Gumbo, Crab Dip and more.

Laura Lyn’s Red Wine Gumbo
Serves 6-8
New Gumbo
1 tbsp. butter
1 large sweet onion
1 bell pepper
1 cup celery
1 clove garlic chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
14 oz. diced tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce
6 cups seafood stock
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
12 oz. Andouille sausage
1 lb. large shrimp - peeled and deveined
12 oz. lump crab meat - flaked
1 cup Pinot Noir
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Chop the onion, pepper, celery and garlic; add it to the skillet cooking it over medium heat until tender. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside while you make the roux.
4 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 stick butter
Melt butter in large stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil to the butter and whisk the flour into the butter and oil. Whisk constantly 10 to 15 minutes until the roux becomes a dark blond color.
Add the vegetables and garlic to the roux and then begin adding the Worcestershire, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and stock. With the heat still on medium, add the herbs and cayenne pepper. Cover the pot and allow the gumbo to simmer for 45 minutes.
While the gumbo simmers, chop the sausage into bit size pieces. Add the sausage, shrimp, crab and wine to the pot and stir well. Allow it to simmer another 15 minutes.
Ladle this rich and meaty gumbo over basmati rice. The sweetness of the rice is delicious with the spiciness of the gumbo. This gumbo is even better the next day. 

Sweet Onion Crab Dip
2 cups sweet onion, preferably Vidalia if available, chopped
½ cup red pepper chopped
½ cup green pepper chopped
2 cups of grated Swiss cheese
2 cups of mayonnaise
1 lb. lump crabmeat from Outer Banks
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. fresh dill chopped finely

Mix all of the ingredients together and pour into a buttered baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
I use Vidalia onions when they are available for this recipe. However, you may use any sweet onion available.
This is a rich and delicious appetizer however; it is hearty enough to serve as a main dish.  Serve it alongside toast points or crackers.

Tune in Marilyn Ball’s wonderful show, Speaking of Travel for Tailgating Down South reports each weekend on www.speakingoftravel.net and on iHeartRadio.

The Great American Tailgating Party, a wonderful poster print is a perfect holiday gift for the accomplished tailgater. Contact BigO Studio: bigoart1@yahoo.com. A bargain at $28.00.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tailgating Knoxville: Ukrainian Food & Oregon Wine

Karen Blake Honors her Ukrainian Heritage

~Doc Lawrence

This college town sits along the mighty Tennessee river. Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee is the “capital city” of East Tennessee. It’s on the tourism-oriented Moonshine Trail, accessible by Interstates and boats and is second to none as a city with a thriving arts center. Blessed with many exceptional restaurants and a world-class performing arts venue, there are good bars and clubs serving generous pours of Jack Daniel’s and other libations.

On a Tennessee Vols gameday Saturday, orange, the UT color, is slathered everywhere.

There was Tailgating in the sun beneath a deep blue sky. Later in the day, there would be a football game with the visiting Bulldogs from Georgia, a special day honoring the Tennessee great Peyton Manning. From early morning light until kickoff, the tables, racks, tents, trucks and boats would be decorated, serving those special dishes created by the kitchen wizards from not only all parts of the Volunteer state, but throughout the South. 

Two creations stood out. The casserole, a Saturday delight from Estelle Collier, a UT fan from Johnson City, had some taste components that really took off from the first bite forward. I had a bottle of a dry red, Beans Creek Cynthiana from the acclaimed Tennessee winery in Manchester, Tennessee that soared as an accompaniment.

Tailgating on Tennessee River
The other winner, prepared by Nashville attorney and UT stalwart Karen Blake, represented her Ukranian heritage. Her Pierogis connected the Deep South’s love of good food with her Ukranian ancestors, adding greatly to this food and football festival. Wine? An unforgettable 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris from Oregon’s heralded King Estate. Combined, these dishes and wines symbolize the majesty of our country that honors and absorbs the contributions from many cultures. Tailgating is a wonderful way to extend hospitality out in the fresh air while the celebrations continued around Neyland Stadium.

Thunder Road Casserole
Estelle Collier
2 onions
2 bell peppers
2 celery stalks
1 can mushrooms
1 jar stuffed green olives
1 lb. ground round beef
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 pkg. egg noodles
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato sauce 
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese, grated
Chop vegetable, mushrooms, wilt in a small amount of peanut oil in frying pan. Brown beef and sausage, mix together. Cook noodles. Blend together and place in baking pan. Top with cheese. Bake for one hour.

Ukrainian Varenyky (Pierogis)
Karen Blake
 2 c. flour
Steve Blahitka & Kevin Beyke enjoy Pierogis
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
2/3 cool water.
 Potato filling:
 4 Large cooked potatoes
1 c. Farmer’s cheese (or cream cheese)
½ c. vegetable oil
Salt/pepper dash of each.
Onion topping:
 ½ - 1 stick of butter (1/2 melted, ½ for browning)
1 large chopped yellow onion
1.    Mix ingredients for dough, knead lightly.  Cover with kitchen towel and set aside
2.    Combine ingredients for filling, adding a little sour cream if dry.
 Forming :
1.    Roll dough thin, cut rounds with inverted water glass dipped lightly in flour.
2.    Stuff with spoonful of filling.
3.    Wet edges with water, pressing edges to seal. 
4.    Lay them on dry kitchen towel and cover.
Cooking :
1)   Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil.
2)   Bring sauté pan to high heat, coating with butter.  Bring butter to brown and caramelize onions.  Set aside onions.
3)   Drop pierogis in a few at a time, letting them cook about 4 minutes.
4)   Drain in pierogis in colander.
5)   Use the pan that caramelized the onions and fry the pierogis lightly.
6)   Remove and layer in pan with remaining melted butter and onions.

Tune in Tailgating Down South on Marilyn Ball’s marvelous show, “Speaking of Travel”-www.speakingoftravel.net and the iHeart Radio Network.

Olivia Thomason’s one-of-a-kind print, “Great American Tailgating Party,” makes a wonderful gift. bigoart1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tailgating Tallahassee-Sweet Potatoes and Great Wine

~Doc Lawrence

Florida's capital city reminds visitors of Mississippi far more than Miami. On this college football Saturday the SUV’s, trucks, vans and tents filled the stadium parking lots long before kickoff on this first Saturday of autumn. Food, drinks, laughter towered in importance over the actual football game, a common occurrence throughout the college football highway. 

Legend has it that this lovely city gave birth to hushpuppies, the rounded fried cornmeal essential for every meaningful seafood dish served Southern style. Tallahassee was once home to Emile Dubois, a winemaker whose remarkable French varietal wines produced here brought international acclaim. To honor him, I brought along a few bottles of Blanc DuBois, a white wine hybrid produced by Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, Florida, named after him. 

Lara Lyn Carter, the Emmy award winning chef from nearby Albany, Georgia, always seems to craft a dish that fits the occasion and reflects local traditions while incorporating local farm products. Sweet potatoes thrive in this part of the south. The sandy soil is buttressed by the Florida aquifer, the world’s largest; the air is clean and the growing season is long. This is the place gave America the great Art Smith and his progeny, young chefs like Joshua Butler. Nearby Bradley’s Country Store, managed by the irrepressible Jan Bradley Parker, is a favorite for stone ground grits and real whole hog sausage.

Th accompany Chef Lara Lyn’s show stopping Cajun Sweet Potato Salad, we tossed oysters still in the shell on a charcoal grill, devouring them as they were roasted in their own juices, devouring hushpuppies one after another, washed down with our Florida wine (remarkably resembling a wine from Alsace.) Here is one of her finest recipes, a Deep South treasure.

Lara Lyn Carter's Sweet Potato Salad
 Cajun Sweet Potato Salad
     ~Chef Lara Lyn Carter~
 2 lbs. sweet potatoes cut in 1 inch cubes
3/4 lb. Cajun sausage sliced
1/2 cup Vidalia or sweet onion chopped
6 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. creole mustard
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Roast the potatoes for 35 minutes or until tender on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper together and set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and onion together until the sausage is done and the onions are tender. Add the potatoes to the sausage mixture. Pour the liquid mixture into the skillet and stir into the potatoes and sausage. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the parsley and scallions and toss well. 

Next Saturday, Tailgating Down South heads to Knoxville for the East Tennessee food and cocktails before the clash between Georgia’s red hot Bulldogs and the University of Tennessee. Tune in to Marilyn Ball’s “Speaking of Travel” (www.speakingoftravel.net). The perfect gift for any tailgater is the fine art print, Great American Tailgating Party #tailgatingart $33.00 (S&H included) while they last. Make checks payable to Doc Lawrence Productions, P.O. Box 191034, Atlanta, GA 31119.
Prints for Gifts #tailgatingart

Julie Bettinger with a bottle of Florida's Blanc Du Bois