Monday, May 24, 2010

Lefty Willams / Sugaree

Here's more video from the HometownHiker archives. The crowd shares a special moment at The Keel Family Function this spring with The Lefty Williams Band performing the Grateful Dead's Sugaree.

Lefty Williams Bio

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pond Farm Pickers / Hangman

From the Hometown Hiker archives.

Here are the fabulous Pond Farm Pickers performing the high octane bluegrass standard Hangman at The Keel Family Function this spring. Featuring Caroline Pond on fiddle, Andrew Pond on banjo, and George Pond on bass.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ray Wylie Hubbard Live at The Grey Eagle

I've never found that the Texas troubadours have really ever had a big following in Asheville. Sure Willie Nelson and Robert Earl Keen may draw a crowd, but knowing every word to a Jerry Jeff Walker or Guy Clark song may get you some strange looks around these mountains. Nevertheless, an enthusiastic and not-so-small crowd of Ray Wylie Hubbard fans were treated to a special show last night at The Grey Eagle when the poet/philosopher/country/blues song writer of "Redneck Mothers" fame took the stage.

Ray Wylie's song writing ability, musical prowess, and spiritual presence seems to continue to grow and evolve instead of stagnating like so many other artists of his generation. This man is a master lyricist, superb story teller, and poet. When he sings his songs to you, you believe he lived every word of it. Hell, you believe you lived every word of it! Check him out, you won't be disappointed.

Ray Wylie Hubbard's new CD is entitled A:Enlightenment B:Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
He currently is nominated by The Americana Music Association in three categories: Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year ("Drunken Poet's Dream").


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sam Quinn + Japan Ten / The Fake That Sunk A Thousand Ships

Sam Quinn is bringing it back to The Grey Eagle in Asheville on Saturday, May 15th.

We fell in love with Sam's beautiful song writing and quirky sense of humor and style  as one-half of the creative force of The Everybodyfields, (together with Jill Andrews).

Sam has an unforgettably unique natural voice which seems to transport his music directly to one's soul. His songs are highly personal, mostly painful tales of  self exploration and emotionalism. But they somehow don't end up being depressing. His music has a way of washing over you like soft warm waves. They gently massage your heart while reminding you of what it means to be human. As one reviewer put it, "misery never sounded so good."

 When the Everybodyfields parted ways, Sam teamed up with Josh Oliver, Megan Gregory, and Brandon Story to form Japan Ten. They have just released a new CD The Fake that Sunk A Thousand Ships, you can listen and download (for a mere 5 bucks) here: Sam Quinn / The Fake That Sunk A Thousand Ships

Here is video I shot at Bristol Rhythm and Roots of Sam Quinn and the Japan Ten performing Gun.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dutch Oven Savory Beans with Ham

Beans and cornbread are one of my favorite comfort foods. Growing up in a family with seven brothers and sisters I ate plenty of beans and cornbread as a kid. My dad was enlisted in the Air Force and it was an easy and inexpensive meal that my mother could fix to feed all of our hungry mouths. My kids in turn were also raised eating beans and cornbread and it remains a favorite around the Hometown Hiker's homestead.

For this bean dish, I used dried mixed beans, leftover ham chunks together with a leftover leg of lamb bone and cooked it in my dutch oven. I served it with my special buttermilk Mexican cornbread. Man oh Man! You can't go wrong with that!

Here's the deal:

Beans and ham
big bag (2lbs. 8 oz) of dried beans
2 cups leftover ham chunks
leg of lamb bone
2 medium vidalia onions diced
sea salt and ground black pepper (to taste)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne

I soaked the beans overnight.
In the morning, I put ham chunks and leg bone in the bottom of a 12 qt. dutch oven.
I added drained beans, onions, and spices to the pot and covered with boiling water.
At this point I put the lid on the dutch oven and cooked with 6 briquettes below and 12 briquettes on the lid.
I kept the fire going, replenishing briquettes two additional times and cooked for 8 hours.
The beans were perfectly done and delicious!

Hometown's Buttermilk Mexican Cornbread
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup white flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 farm eggs, beaten
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
2 jalapenos, diced
1 cup southwest style whole kernel corn
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all dry ingredients and blend well.
Add eggs and buttermilk and stir until smooth.
Add jalapenos, corn, and 1 cup of cheese. Stir it up!
At this point I melt butter in the bottom of my 11'' cornbread cookin' skillet.
Pour batter on top of melted butter.
Place in hot oven for 20 minutes.
Open oven door and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top.
Bake for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown and cooked to perfection.


This stuff is to die for! Serve with a cold glass of milk and enjoy!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Dutch Oven Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder

Here's another cut of lamb that I cooked in my dutch oven this weekend. 

I browned two small (bone-in) lamb shoulders in a hot pan with 2 tbs olive oil on the stove top.
After browning I removed them from the pan and let them cool for a few minutes.
I scored the top of each shoulder with a knife and rubbed in a mixture of: garlic, fennel seed, basil, and rosemary which I crushed and then added olive oil, salt and pepper. (Sorry I didn't measure)
I placed the lamb in a 12 quart dutch oven.
I poured 3 tbs of lemon juice and 1 can of low sodium chicken broth over the meat and then tossed in 6 peeled cloves of  garlic.

To start, I used a hot fire placing 12 briquettes below the dutch oven and 24 on the lid.
After three hours I brushed off the ash and placed 6 briquettes beneath the dutch oven and 12 on the lid.
I left it to cook an additional 4 hours.

This is what I saw when I removed the lid:

I removed the bones and fat from the meat.
I placed the pan juices in a separate bowl and refrigerated.
(On this particular occasion I elected to cook the day before eating.)

Before eating, I skimmed the congealed fat off the top of the pan juices and heated it on the stove top. I warmed the meat in a low-heat oven. We served the lamb with mashed potatoes (with juices drizzled over) and green peas.

This lamb dish was unbelievably succulent. Although the shoulder cut is full of bone and fat, slow, moist roasting allows the meat to fall off the bone and the fat is easily separated. What you are left with is nothing but absolutely delicious lamb meat. We loved it!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Florida State Park Bicycle Tour

4/22/10 Grayton Beach to Falling Waters State Park.
68.14 miles
My brother, Matt and I left his house in Grayton Beach, Florida, after eating a big breakfast.  Our weather research from the previous evening predicted a favorable wind, but as is often the case with bicycle touring, we actually were pedaling into a head wind. As the day grew hot and humid, we stopped for a good lunch of fried catfish at Big Daddy's cafe in the little town of Vernon.  We pulled into Falling Waters State Park about 4:30 and found our cycling buddy, Phil, waiting for us in camp.
4/23/10 Falling Waters State Park to Florida Caverns State Park to Three Rivers State Park.
55.73 miles

We packed up our bikes and rode to Marianna where we spent a few hours touring the beautiful caverns with Frank as our personal tour guide. My brother, Matt, worked at this park several years ago and everyone was happy to see him and visit with us. We ate lunch (grouper fingers) at Blondie's in Grand Junction. We actually had lunch at this same joint on a previous bicycle tour. The food was still good and I had an ice cream sandwich for dessert. We camped at the little Three Rivers State Park near Sneads. The ranger, Wesley, brought us a generous load of firewood and visited with us for a while. We built a cozy campfire and enjoyed the evening.

4/24/10 Three Rivers State Park to Quincy
31.45 miles
I awoke to heavy thunderstorms this morning with some close boomers, which made me jump out of my sleeping bag. We were finally able to leave camp about 11:45 when the storms passed on. We rode into a blustery headwind with more thunderstorms threatening. We crossed the Appalachicola River and made the long climb into Chattahoochee for a fried shrimp lunch at Jerry's Restaurant. At Quincy, we decided to stop and get a room at the lovely (not) Royal Inn. Later that evening, we found a little fish house (I forget the name) where I found me some fried mullet and the best cheese grits of the trip.
4/25/10 Quincy to Wakulla Springs State Park
47.65 miles
Again we had heavy thunderstorms in the morning, I was glad to be sleeping indoors, but we were able to get rolling by 9:45. Stopped in Midway for a breakfast buffet at a truck stop and had great riding on US 90 with decent wind. From Tallahassee, we took the nice paved St. Marks bike trail for the last 10 miles to Wakulla Springs State Park. This park has no camping; however, since Matt works for the park service, they allowed us to camp in the volunteer area. Matt and I took a boat tour with the great guide, Don, and saw at least 30 alligators. After the boat ride, I joined Phil for a swim in the cool springs knowing that the gators were just hoping that we would journey outside of the roped swimming area. That evening I had an unbelievable all-you-can-eat fried shrimp dinner at the lodge. Delicious!

4/26/10 Wakulla Springs State Park to Ochlockonee River State Park.
46.62 miles
After a big breakfast in the Lodge, we mounted our bikes and pedalled to St Marks State Park and toured the museum and old fort situated at the confluence of the St Marks and Wakulla rivers. Arriving in Sopchoppy for lunch, we discovered that the two restaurants were closed on Monday, so we hit the little grocery store. Riding into town, I ran over something hard and metallic on the shoulder of the road and my rear tire went flat leaving town. Camped at a beautiful and shaded campsite at Ochlockonee River State Park.
                                     4/27/10 Ochlocknee River State Park to Indian Pass.
62.78 miles
Left camp early at 8 to try and beat the afternoon winds. I saw a big white tail deer jumping through the woods as we left the park. The ride was easy and enjoyable to Carabelle where we stopped at a little coffee shop for a breakfast bagel. The ride got difficult as we approached Appalachicola. We had a strong head wind crossing the 4 mile long bridge into town, but I did get to see an American Bald Eagle on Appalachicola Bay. We stopped for lunch at Boss Oysters on Water Street in Appalach. We shared a dozen delicious raw oysters, and then I ordered the "Journey's End" sandwich which consisted of fried shrimp, scallops, and oysters heaped open face on bread. It was ridiculously large, but Phil and I were both up to the challenge! After this big lunch, we had a 20 mile ride into an ever increasing headwind to Indian Pass where we camped at the commercial campground.
                                          4/28/10 Indian Pass to The Allen house in Panama City.
47.88 miles
It was cool in the morning, and I laughed at Matt, who crawled out of his tent bundled up like he was winter camping in Alaska. We had a good day of riding and the winds weren't too bad. Temps were nice--in the 70's. As we crossed the bridge in Port St Joe, I noticed an unusual petroleum smell. It was strange since both the paper mill and chemical plant in St Joe are not only shut down but are dismantled and gone. Later, I realized that I must have been smelling the oil from the huge off shore oil drilling disaster in the Gulf. We travelled through Tyndall Air Force Base (home for some of my childhood) and watched the F-22 Raptors shoot straight up into the sky. We arrived at my parent's house early in the afternoon and had a nice visit. My brother, Barry, and his family joined us for dinner topped off by my mom's wonderful apple pie and ice cream.
                                               4/29/10 Panama City to Grayton Beach.
46.44 miles
We took a leisurely tour of Panama City and St. Andrews before tackling the heavy traffic and anti-bicycle attitude of US Hwy 98 and Hathaway Bridge. One of the problems was that it was the week of "Thunder Beach" when thousands of motorcycles hit the beaches increasing the congestion. We did finally have good tailwinds and made great time with little pedaling effort. We stopped at the Winn Dixie on PC Beach and visited with my youngest brother, Jason. When we arrived at Grayton Beach, we stopped at the Red Bar for a grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich. Later that night we went to the Laredo Cantina in Destin for some killer fish tacos! It was a great finishing meal for this little tour of  Florida State Parks and seafood restaurants in the Florida Panhandle.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the company of my brother, Matt, and my buddy, Phil. I have toured with both of them in the past and knew that we were compatible riders and good companions. Somehow, I managed not to get a picture of the three of us together. Bummer.

  • The pedaling miles of this tour were purposely kept short and unharried and the camping was totally relaxing.

  • I chose late April to miss some of the spring rains and beat the heat of May. It seemed to work as we were pretty luck weather-wise. 

  • The food was totally awesome; fresh gulf seafood fried the southern way! What's not to like?