Thursday, November 1st, and Friday, November 2nd, mark Los Dias de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. The feast is an opportunity to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed, and to welcome their spirits back into one’s life for another year. Traditionally celebrated with altars decorated with pictures and treasured items of the deceased, Day of the Dead also includes offerings of the favorite foods and drink of those who have passed.
We had a lovely time last week at Robyn Jasko and Jennifer Biggs’ signing and reception for their book, Homesweet Homegrown: How to Grow, Make, and Store Food No Matter Where You Live. Robyn served up some awesome beet sangria, along with heirloom cocktails made from herbs and produce from my home garden, as well as lovely heirloom vegetables provided by Paper Crane Farm, preserves from Ashley English of Small Measure, and hearth bread from Smoke Signals Baking.
Here’s a recipe for one of the delights of the evening:
On Friday, June 29th from 6pm-8pm, at the Cake Shop at 225 Haywood Road in West Asheville, Short Street Cakes will host a book signing and heirloom cocktail party celebrating the release of Robyn Jasko’s new book Homesweet Homegrown: How to Grow, Make, and Store Food, No Matter Where You Live. Newly released by Microcosm Publishing and illustrated by Jennifer Biggs, Homesweet Homegrown is a new 128-page DIY guide that empowers people everywhere to grow their own organic food– whether they live in a high-rise city apartment or an acre in the suburbs. To launch their national book tour, Robyn and Jen created a Kickstarter campaign, and with the help of gardeners and DIYers around the globe, they are embarking on a National Amtrak Book Tour to get the word out about how easy it is to grow your own food. Stops include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boulder, Austin, Asheville, Philadelphia and New York. Sponsored by Short Street Cakes, DineIndie.com, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Smoke Signals Baking, Small Measure, and Paper Crane Farm, the Homesweet Homegrown book signing will feature complementary heirloom cocktails, sweet and savory local treats, and a reading and signing by the author. Books will be available for purchase at $9.95.
Piece of Cake
by Kathryn Stripling Byer
(written for Poet Laureate installation, 2005, at the state capitol)
When the young woman calling from
Charlotte to interview me for her radio program
asked, “What is a Laureate, anyway?”
I heard my voice hem and haw
like a bad line of poetry. I thought I heard all of the Old
North State holding its breath while I struggled
to say something clever, but all I could think of
was “lariat.” Then in a moment
of quiet desperation, I thought of Laurette,
who lives just down the road
from my childhood home, hands busy sculpting
the icing on each of her Milky Way cakes
as she stands in the heart of her kitchen,
the sun sliding into the cornfields, another June
day disapearing, another night kindling
its Milky Way stars,
and at long last I know how to answer
that question. A Laureate
lassoes the Milky Way,
word after luminous word of it,
holding it out in her hands
like a piece
of Laurette’s chocolate cake
You’ll like the way poetry tastes!
(Kay Byer. ps: Nice tights!)
Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at a conference at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina called “Okra to Opera: The Conference on Southern Culture.” The conference started in the early 1960′s, when Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty were featured as speakers. I knew that I had been asked to participate on a panel discussion on the shifting landscape of Southern foodways, but what I didn’t know is that I would get to meet, and be inspired by, an abundance of gifted Southern women; professors and artists and writers and farmers and musicians.