Can You Smell What The Gasbag Is Cooking

Rebecca and I are hooked on A Chef’s Life which comes on ETV. It’s a is a half-hour character-driven documentary and cooking series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina, Kinston NC to be exact. Each episode follows Vivian out of the kitchen and into cornfields, strawberry patches and hog farms as she hunts down the ingredients that inspire her seasonal menus for their restaurant, The Chef and the Farmer. Using a chef’s modern sensibilities, Vivian explores Southern cuisine, past and present — one ingredient at a time. It combines the action and drama of a high-pressure business with the joys and stresses of family life and makes you realize you would have to be complete idiot to want to own a restaurant. Before COVID hit Rebecca and I has plans of going to Kinston to eat at her restaurant and maybe get an autograph. I guess you have to be a foodie to enjoy this so a foodie I am.

“When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.” Yogi Berra

I think the reason I like the show so much is that it also takes me back to my childhood. To those hot, summer days working in my grandmother’s huge garden. I’m sure it wasn’t as large as I remember as a 6 year old but for an 6 year old it was the size of the Nappa Valley. I hated everything about it, especially hoeing. Row after row after row. The snapping, the shucking, the canning, the Japanese bean beetles but how I enjoyed the reaping of the benefits of fresh veggies. My grandmother was a product of the “Great Depression” and depression cooking. Nothing wasted. Watered down ketchup, stretching ground beef with oatmeal. Every October 12th in honor of my grandmother’s birthday I have the wonderful breakfast of Fried Livermush, onions and grits and eggs. Rebecca refuses to honor her in that way. I’m always eating breakfast alone on that day. There are other memories like a pot of butterbeans simmering on the stove , the cornbread in the oven, just waiting on me to sop up all of all that wonderful pot liquor. I am thankful that in spite of hating the garden I did pay attention and learned how to grow veggies and have had my own little garden.

I moved my mirror from my bedroom ceiling to my kitchen ceiling because that is where I do my work.…. James Gregory

I love to cook. There are many reasons. It’s an art because it can be done in several ways. The possibilities are endless. You can use your imagination and creativity, play with the ingredients and innovate. It’s also like creating a masterpiece. You can own it and no one can imitate the exact copy of it. It gives me a chance to be creative and I get to try new things. My friend Noi used to try to teach me how to cook Thai and I developed a love for Thai food and also Korean even though I had to endure Noi’s abuse. I miss his abuse. Cooking is also therapeutic. It calms me down.

The most dangerous food is wedding cake. —American proverb

Then there is the praise. Hearing the words,”that’s amazing” or hearing grunts as they eat. It just warms my soul when you prepare your signature dish for friends who who have lost a loved one and during the funeral service they walk up to you and beg you to make that dish again for them and proceed to tell you eating it changed their life. They were also prepared to fight for the last piece, if necessary. Nothing brings families together like good grub.

I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food. – W.C Fields

I helped start a soup kitchen in Greer SC many years ago and the powers that be thought it would be a great idea to name the dining hall after me. I thought it was a terrible idea and honestly wasn’t too happy about it but my opinion didn’t matter. Looking back now I find it humorous as passionate as I am about cooking that I would have a dining hall named after me. Life is funny sometimes.

If you are interested in that life changing recipe, this is it. Of course I tweaked it. I’ll never tell.

Catch this on PBS

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