Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lara Lyn's Georgia New Year's Dinner

~Doc Lawrence

Georgia’s Emmy winning chef, Lara Lyn Carter is an ambassador for all that is good in the Peach State. A mom, wife, daughter and community leader with deep Christian values, her recipes showcase the legendary kitchen traditions of her Albany, Georgia hometown.  Enjoy the holidays and all the wonders of the New Year!

Spicy Fried Chicken
 2 ½ pound chicken cut into frying pieces
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp. hot sauce (or more if desired)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 ½ cups self-rising flour
3 cups Crisco
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Allow the chicken to sit in mixture for 30 minutes. Put the flour in a large bowl or paper bag. Put the Crisco in a large cast iron skillet over medium to high heat. Coat chicken with the flour and cook in batches being sure not to overcrowd the chicken. Reduce heat to medium. Cook chicken covered until good and crispy turning half way through cooking. The chicken will take about 25 minutes to cook depending on the thickness of the pieces. 

Mustard Greens
This Southern dish is another must on New Year’s Day. You have to eat your greens to bring you green money for the New Year. 
10 bunches of mustard greens washed and stems removed
Small (around 3 pound) Boston butt
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. of salt and pepper
Cook pork in large pot with enough water to cover meat. Cook over medium heat until meat falls apart.
Shred meat and add greens slowly to let them wilt into the pot. Add the sugar, salt and pepper and continue to cook over medium to low heat for 2 hours or until tender. After greens are cooked, taste them and add more salt and/or pepper as needed. Serve with hot pepper sauce! 

Crock Pot Black Eye Peas
Black Eye Peas are a year round part of the Southern dining table often paired with a bottle of hot sauce. On New Year’s Day, you have to eat your peas for luck in the New Year.
1 bag of dried black-eye peas soaked overnight in water
1 ham hock
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
Drain peas and place in crock pot with ham, salt and pepper. Cover peas with water and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours until tender.

 Pecan Wild Rice
 This is a nutty combination with the nutty flavor of the wild rice and the pecans. This is also delicious stuffed in a bell pepper and topped with a sprinkle of parmesan.
4 cups of cooked long-grain wild rice (not instant)
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
2 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in skillet. Add the rice and toss to coat. Salt and pepper as desired. Mix in pecans and serve.

 Celebration Chocolate Cake
 Cakes don’t have to have elegant designs, they have to taste wonderful!
1 stick margarine
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
2 extra-large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. almond extract
Melt margarine, oil and water in a sauce pan. Place dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add margarine mixture blending well. Add buttermilk, eggs, and almond extract blending well. Pour in a greased 9X13 pan and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Allow cake to cool slightly before frosting. Cake needs to be a little warm when frosted.
1/2 cup margarine
3 tbsp. cocoa
1/3 cup half and half
3 ½ cups powdered sugar sifted
1 tsp. almond extract
1 ¼ cup toasted chopped pecans
In a sauce pan, melt margarine, cocoa, and half and half together. In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, extract, and chocolate mixture beating well. Stir in pecans and spread over slightly warm cake.

Georgia Cider Bellinis
1 gallon natural apple cider
1 cup maple syrup
3 bottles Prosecco
Mix together and serve with rosemary sprigs .
 Serve in crystal flutes.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Santa Claus Comes to Stone Mountain

~Doc Lawrence

Liza Jaine and Jeff LeCraw Sparkle
On Christmas Eve, Karol (Liza Jaine), an exhausted social worker, is heading home from her office Christmas party. Along the way, she sees a homeless man (Jeff LeCraw) muttering and dirty. Karol offers the man leftovers from the party and continues to her spartan apartment equipped with a nightmarish digital burglar alarm. Karol is determined to enjoy a quiet evening devoid of anything resembling Christmas. Later, the homeless man breaks in and joins her. He tells the outraged Karol that he isn’t what she thinks, but is Santa Claus in all his glory. Is he lying? Does he need intervention? Should she have him arrested? 

Another Night Before Christmas, with book and lyrics by Sean Greenan and music by Leah Okimoto, entertains with a refreshing score, funny lines and a spectacular stage set that truly connects with the audience through the impressive talents and good voices provided by Ms. Jaine and Mr. LeCraw. The story resonates with those who ever believed in Santa Claus. 

Art Station Theatre delivers another holiday gem.

The two actors create some nice chemistry providing warmth through well-executed choreography, clever lines and strong, often powerfully emotional singing. From beginning to end, they offer an infectious performance. You’ll not soon forget some of the songs. One favorite  was “Kill Der Bingle.” You have to see the performance to appreciate it.

Another Night Before Christmas is a flawless Christmas show that appeals to all generations. It is an emotional and entertaining story, loaded with humor and at the end actually prompted some tears. More than holiday entertainment, it’s our opportunity to shed the “bah humbug” of the season and for two glorious hours celebrate the wonder and magic in knowing that Santa Claus is coming to town. 

Through December 17.
Art Station Theatre 
(770) 469.1105

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mountain Magic-A Dekalb Celebration

“It’s all right, to have a good time,
‘Cause it’s all right.”
                 Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions

~Doc Lawrence

Mayor Pat Wheeler with husband Morgan
STONE MOUNTAIN, GA-They gathered for a holiday party with Christmas joy in the air. On this magic evening there was added excitement. Georgia’s Bulldogs had just won the SEC Championship in nearby Atlanta and this decidedly partisan crowd was deliriously happy. How contagious smiles and warm greetings can be.

Marriott’s posh Evergreen Resort nests beside mighty Stone Mountain right in the middle of the hugely popular state park that attracts over six million visitors annually. There is a highly visible Christmas tree atop the big rock and the park vibrates with holiday events wrapped in decorations for the season. 

Time to party.

The soiree was hosted by the good leaders at Discover Dekalb, one of the names for the Dekalb Convention and Visitors Bureau, an agency that is on the ascendant. They have successfully communicated to those coming to Atlanta that this important part of the region called Dekalb plays a vital role in making Atlanta a renowned destination. Emory University, Agnes Scott College, Oglethorpe University occupy an exalted place along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Fernbank Science Center, Fernbank Museum of Natural History and Decatur, the model city that is one of the great culinary centers of the Southeast. Add in the exciting diversity of the Buford Highway corridor and Dekalb radiates with diversity and adventure.
Liana Levitan (L) and Olivia Thomason

Mayors, judges, Congressmen, public officials, restaurant legends and tourism specialists joined high profile public supporters for filet mignon, Alaskan salmon and unlimited pours of good wine served seamlessly by the resort staff.

In the middle of everything, Atlanta’s Jazz Diva, the incomparable Theresa Hightower took the stage and performed classics accompanied by her outstanding band. Gracious, lovely and so talented, Ms. Hightower had the mighty mountain trembling by mid-evening.
Jazz Diva Theresa Hightower

Everyone was decked out in their finest gowns and tuxedos: It’s how we cerebrate down here. Familiar faces mixed in comfortably with political veterans like former Dekalb CEO Liana Levitan who was for the longest time the most prominent and powerful woman in Georgia government. Ever vibrant and enthusiastic, fans lined up for photos.

Among the influential guests was Karen Bremer, whose gourmet restaurants opened up Atlanta’s national surge into culinary prominence. Ms. Bremer now serves as CEO of the prestigious Georgia Restaurant Association.

Evergreen's staff was prompt and cheerful. No need to request more wine. A well-dressed smiling server with an uncorked bottle was always nearby. Could they read our mind?

Departing meant a short trip home to the nearby historic village While the party was for a few glorious hours, the priceless memories will last for a lifetime.

                                         Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Welcome to America." Georgia Artist, National Message

  We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
                                                             ~ John F. Kennedy

~Doc Lawrence

As the year winds down, many of us search for optimism, something beyond the material. Our spirit isn’t connected to towers of power or the intoxicating rush from celebrities. Faith harkens to our better angels, who, when you feel their presence, manifest joy, comforting us with something we may not always understand but we seem to know. 
"Welcome to America"

America is a beacon of  good to the world. The statements affirming our natural rights penned in the Declaration of Independence may be difficult to recite, but we know they are meant for all of us. Nothing sends more chills to a visitor to New York City that the majesty and beauty of the Statue of Liberty. This is our wondrous work of art that broadcasts to the universe that there is a refuge where hope reigns and optimism will survive. 

All these thoughts and a few more came to the forefront when I first saw “Welcome to America,” Olivia Thomason’s timely and magnificent work. This is what the late Dr. Joe Perrin, then the Dean of Georgia State University's College of Art meant when he predicted that the artist would be “a genuine force, a clarion for important matters connected to the heart and soul.” 

“The Statue of Liberty,” said Ms. Thomason, “affects me like I imagine it does the millions who have viewed it. It says everything I need to know about my country’s goodness.” The passengers in the imaginary boats depicted in the painting, she added, “are all God’s children. No favorites. Our welcome mat is out and you’re free here to follow your dreams.”

“Welcome to America” is set in an era in the early 20th Century, but it could be anytime, particularly now. It inspires, it honors and yes, it brims with hope and optimism. Each time I view it, Matthew 25: 35 come to mind:
 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
The Stone Mountain Historic Village Mural

“Welcome to America” seems destined for a person or company dedicated to the greater good. That would be in keeping with much of Olivia Thomason’s work which includes paintings of Poet Laureate Carl Sandburg’s farm “Connemara” in Flat Rock, North Carolina and her mural, an inclusive community project that proudly stands on a beautiful pavilion overlooking Stone Mountain Historic Village.

More information: Olivia Thomason,

Monday, November 27, 2017

Leaving Louisiana, Returning Soon

“Never have I known it when it felt so good
Never have I knew it when I knew I could
Never have I done it when it looked so right
Leaving Louisiana in the broad daylight.”
                             Oak Ridge Boys

~Doc Lawrence                

NEW ORLEANS-The Saturday in Baton Rouge marked the middle of a round trip back to the Big Easy. LSU-no surprise here-is still the Tailgating champion of college foootball. If you like your hospitality overflowing with food that would be the envy of great restaurants, along with unlimited wine, cocktails and beer entwined with live Cajun music and dancing, then the lots outside Tiger Stadium await your visit the next game day.

2018 is the Tricentennial of New Orleans. We wouldn’t dare miss the year-long celebration and neither should you. Regular columns will cover the history and living cultural heritage of this bedrock city. This is the birthplace of the cocktail (1845) and the one place I have felt at home since my baby days.

The esteemed hostess/home entertainer/gourmet Virginia Hall has created three recipes that add to our holiday menu while paying homage to the culinary influences of New Orleans. She will soon announce an exciting food and wine program guaranteed to help us lose those cold weather blues. Enjoy her delicious dishes!

                               Sweet Potato Spice Spread
 Sweet potatoes are part of our Southern diet, and adding jalapeño peppers and chopped pecans just takes this spread over the top.  No one will ever guess it’s sweet potato and it’s perfect to serve with sesame seed (benne) wafers for your next gathering.
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups mashed, cooled cooked sweet potatoes
Virginia Hall
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 Tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños, or to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

           Combine cream cheese and sweet potatoes in food processor.  Add onions,  jalapeños, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, pulsing just to blend well.  Put mixture in serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill and taste…ingredients often change in intensity when chilled, so you might want to add additional spice.  To serve, cover spread with the chopped pecans and additional peppers just so folks know this is a spicy concoction!

                              Creole Cornbread
And for an over-the-top side dish, you can’t beat this Creole Cornbread.  Get out your old iron skillet and find those stretchy pants cause you are going to want to eat this all by yourself. 
2 cups cold cooked white rice
1 cup plain cornmeal…not mix
1/2 teaspoon EACH baking soda and baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 Tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños or 1-2 chopped fresh hot peppers
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

       Oil skillet with about a tablespoon grease and scatter some dry cornmeal over the bottom.  Set it aside and preheat oven to  350.  Mix the rice, cornmeal, soda, baking powder, salt, jalapeños and onion in a big ol’ bowl.  Mix the eggs, milk and oil in another bowl to break up eggs.  Add the can of corn. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well to combine.  Add in 2 cups of the grated cheese and pour into skillet. Cover top with remaining cheese.  Add more it you like.  Bake about 50 minutes until it is firm.  The egg/milk/cheese ratio here is almost quiche-like, but the rice and corn pull it into a sort of pudding/souffle realm.  It stays hot as blue blazes for a long time and smells like the right corner of heaven.  

                                     Classic Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
I’m a big bread pudding fan and the simple, elegant taste of Creole Raisin Bread Pudding just can’t be beat.  Serve with the best bourbon sauce around and have a cup of your favorite cafe noir alongside
One (1 pound) loaf of French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup raisins
3 Tablespoons soft butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
        Soak the cubed bread in the milk for about 5 minutes.  While this is going on, grease a 3- quart baking dish.  Beat the eggs, sugar, raisins, soft butter and vanilla until well combined and gently stir into the bread mixture.  Try not to turn it into a mush when you combine.  You want a few pieces of bread to stay in cubes.  If you like the bread to really stay in cubes, just soak a minute or two and then combine with egg mixture.  Pour into greased dish and bake at 325 for 1 hour or until it’s firm.  Let sit at least 20 minutes before serving or you’ll burn your mouth to pieces.  And since it’s your kitchen, you can add a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon to the milk mixture.  This is also a great way to use up an entire loaf of raisin bread.  Just eliminate the extra raisins.  I would be impressed if you added a cup of pecans however.  Serve with this silky sauce to your adoring fans.  

                                     Bourbon Sauce
1 stick soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 large well-beaten egg
2-3 Tablespoons good bourbon

       Combine the butter and sugar in small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.  Add a bit of the hot buttery liquid to the egg to temper it, then add back to the saucepan, beating with a wire whisk until well blended.  Keep whisking as you cook the mixture for about 1 minute until well blended.  Take off heat, cool slightly, and add bourbon.  Taste and add more bourbon.  

                 The holiday season is glorious. Join us in all the festivities and have fun!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Recipes by Lara Lyn Carter-Part II

~Doc Lawrence
We published Chef Lara Lyn Carter's Thanksgiving dinner recipes and the demand for additional dishes is impressive. Enjoy these delicious creations that when completed, should fill the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup

3 tbsp. unsalted all natural butter or ghee
1 clove minced garlic
2 large Vidalia or Texas Sweet onions chopped
3 medium size sweet potatoes cubed
1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed
32 oz. chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup Almond Milk
Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, and squash. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour the chicken broth over the vegetables and add curry, nutmeg and salt. Stir well and cook for 45 minutes. With an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth. Pour in the almond milk and stir to blend. Serves 8

Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 cup Almond Milk
2 tbsp. Pumpkin Puree
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
¼ tsp. Vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. clove
¼ cup strong coffee 
Combine all ingredients together and warm over low/medium heat

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

For the cake
 ¼ cup coconut oil melted
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
4 eggs at room temperature
¼ cup coconut flour
1 cup almond flour
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. clove
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt

For the topping

¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup almond flour
2 tbsp. coconut sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. clove
½ tsp. nutmeg
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9x9 baking dish with non stick spray.
To make the crumb topping, combine all of the topping ingredients in a bowl and stir well with a fork. I will resemble coarse sand.
In a large mixing bowl combine the wet ingredients together and mix well. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into the greased pan and bake for 45 minutes.

Cranberry Salsa
 12 oz. fresh cranberries
2 cups water
½ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1-2 tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno
¼ cup chopped onion
2 tbsp. orange zest
½ tsp. coarse salt

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the cranberries. Cook the cranberries until they open. Drain the cranberries and allow them to cool completely. Toss the cooled cranberries with the remaining ingredients.

Maple Glazed Carrots

3 lbs. baby cut carrots or tri color carrots
4 tbsp. butter melted
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. coarse salt

Arrange carrots in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Mix the butter, maple syrup, and nutmeg together and pour over the carrots. Sprinkle with the coarse salt and bake at 350 for 1 hour stirring halfway through.

Green Bean Casserole

2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. almond flour
1 cup vegetable broth
1 large onion sliced
32 oz. green beans frozen
16 oz. fresh mushrooms
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion until tender and remove it from the heat. Set the onion aside and melt the butter in the same skillet and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for one minute. Sprinkle the flour into the butter mixture and whisk in the vegetable broth. Cook stirring constantly for three minutes.

Pour the green beans and mushrooms into a 9x13 pan and pour the mixture evenly over the top. Arrange the onions evenly on the top and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and bake for 5 more minutes.

Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake

2 cups almond flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. fine sea salt
zest of 2 oranges
3 eggs
½  cup honey
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp. coconut sugar

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together except for the coconut sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Pour in a greased 9x9 baking pan and sprinkle the top with the coconut sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes