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

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Southern Thanksgiving Dinner

~Doc Lawrence

Chef Lara Lyn Carter
Flavors and aromas combine with good cheer, laughter and welcoming hugs. This is the day Americans gather in reunion, sharing the bounty of the earth miraculously transformed into miraculous traditional dishes that harken to those days long ago when parents and grandparents taught us the importance of this ritual, establishing for future generations the spiritual rewards of sharing. 

These original recipes are treasures, the creations of Emmy winner, our own Chef Lara Lyn Carter, taken from the pages of the cookbook, Southern Thymes Shared. They reflect love of family, the land and a heartfelt respect for tradition.  You’ll enjoy these authentic recipes from the kitchen of Georgia’s Golden Girl.

Roast Turkey with Lemon and Sage 
10-12 pound turkey
Sage Butter (recipe follows)
1 onion
1 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 bouquet of sage (1 cup of leaves)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
Remove all giblets from turkey and wash inside and out. Pat the turkey dry. Lift the skin away from the breast of the turkey and generously rub the breast with the sage butter. Rub the outside of the turkey with the remaining butter. Fill the cavity of the turkey with the onion, lemon, garlic and sage. In a greased roasting pan fitted with a rack, pour in the wine and broth. Place the turkey the rack and roast at 350 degrees for 2 ½ hours or until juices run clear and leg is easily removed from the turkey. Allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Sage Butter
This butter has wonderful flavor that infuses the turkey or any poultry.
1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup of sage roughly chopped
1 tsp. coarse salt
Melt butter over medium heat until bubbly. Reduce heat and add sage. Allow sage and butter to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove the butter from heat and stir in the salt. Allow the butter to cool slightly, remove the sage and pour into a small bowl.

I don’t think that there is a better cook in the world than my mother. She has passed so much on to me in the kitchen and I don’t mean just recipes. I have gotten great advice, listened to stories, and even solved the world’s problems in her kitchen.

Oyster Cornbread Dressing
4 cups crumbled corn bread
2 cups crumbled white bread
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 ½ cups chopped sweet onion
½ stick of melted butter
3 extra-large eggs lightly beaten
1 ½ cups chicken broth or homemade stock
16 oz. oysters in juice
1 tsp salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine breads, peppers, celery and onions. Add wet ingredients and mix well. Add oysters, salt and pepper last. Mix everything well and pour in a greased 9X13 pan.  Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Be sure to test in the center as some ovens cook faster than others.

Cranberry Salad
My mother-in-law makes this every year at Thanksgiving. It is always so beautiful with the rich colors reflecting the colors of fall.
1 package of fresh cranberries washed and picked over
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Two 3oz. packages of strawberry Jello
1 large can crushed pineapple drained
1 can mandarin oranges drained
½ cups chopped toasted pecans
Cook cranberries in water and sugar until they begin to pop open. Add Jello and stir until dissolved. Add fruit and nuts to mixture and chill to set.
Pumpkin Pie: A Classic Thanksgiving Tradition 
3 eggs beaten
1 cup light brown sugar packed
2 tbsp. self-rising flour
15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
12 oz. can evaporated milk warmed
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground clove
½ tsp. ground allspice
1 prepared pie crust
Combine all ingredients saving milk for last. Gradually add the warmed milk mixing well. Pour in a prepared pie crust and bake 350 degrees for 1 hour.

 WINE PAIRING~Doc Lawrence Selections

This is America’s feast and ideally the wines should be from our great domestic producers. The best advice I ever received about wine pairings for this day of homecoming and gratitude was to offer guests variety. With so many dishes to choose from, the wines should be diverse, but still fit within the flavors and aromas. Then your guests choose what they like. Riesling has adapted well in our country, produced from Washington State to New York, and is a noble wine that will comfortably take to the turkey and the dressing. The food friendly white and red wines from Oregon’s renowned King Estate particularly Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir should be on your table. Aperitif? A Deep South’s sparkling wine from Georgia’s Wolf Mountain will be light and refreshing. A Southern red wine: Three Sisters Cynthiana-Norton is dry and the grape is native to Georgia. Each wine will become a delicious salute to family and friends, a prelude to the glorious holiday season.

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