Saturday, November 24, 2007

Backyard Largesse

As weather reports in some parts of the country bring real chills, the weather here in New Orleans continues to be pleasant. It's too late for figs, but the Meyer lemons are big, juicy and ripe. We have we trees and every year I hunt for yet another way to preserve lemons or juice. Besides giving away lots of lemons, this year I have been experimenting with lemon curd. This stuff is wicked. Try this:

2 cups sugar
8 eggs
2 cups fresh lemon juice, Meyer lemons if they are available
2 sticks butter

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the eggs are fluffy. (This version does not leave me with lots of extra egg whites.) Mix in the lemon juice and heat over a flame diffuser stirring often. As the mixture begins to thicken, add the butter, a little bit at a time. Continue cooking until the mixture thickly coats a spoon.

This stuff makes a great tart over a crust made of ginger snaps. This curd is not for the meek. It really packs in the lemon flavor and is VERY tart. That's the way I like it.

Since I grow this in the backyard in an urban area, I decided to check into the lead absorption of plants. See the article Lead in the Home Garden to answer your questions.

My backyard is also yielding mirlitons - that's chayote to some of you - and oranges. I'll share more recipes soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Business plan

I am trying to create an organization that will be able to earn its own way. That means that between paying entrance fees, memberships, sales of gift shop items and other ways of earning our income, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will not have to go begging just to survive. We may still have to go begging to start new programs and to expand. But our existence will be secure.

But we aren't there yet. We aren't open. All of the avenues for earning revenue are not available to us. So as we come to the end of the year I would like to ask all of you who support what we are doing, who want there to be a museum that celebrates the food and drink of the South, to join SoFAB. You can join via our website or print out the membership form and mail us a check. Or, don't join. Just make a donation. The donation is tax deductible and will help make it possible for us to open and become self-sufficient. We are creating a new institution in New Orleans for all of the South.

We are currently working on our library, our exhibits and wiki. Our opening changing exhibit will deal with corn. A title is forthcoming. If you have stories of corn, artifacts or pictures, we would like to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

go to girl

So most days, it's me doing the calling, begging, nudging , cajoling and outright pestering to other people to do things for me. So it's actually kind of nice when people call me and ask for help. It means they see me and the museum as a resource for their work. And this has happened a bit recently. Starting in January, I will be leading a bi-monthly book club at La Divina Gelateria, with all the books somehow dealing with food. I got to choose the first book: The Omnivore's Dilemma. I know, I know, everybody has already read that. It's so last year. Whatever. I haven't read it and since I am leading the discussion, it will make me read it. Also, the issues it raises have not gone away since it has come out in paperback. And it will be a nice break from all the Louisiana and Southern food book reading I have been doing in preparation for the opening exhibits.
I have also been approached by a group at UNO and a PR organization in Memphis to come speak to them about my work. Of course, now I have to plan the speeches....hmmm. Anyway, it's nice to be pursued once in a while.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Everything at Once

This is the ultimate in delayed gratification. We have been working since 2004 (really since 2003, but officially since 2004) to make the Southern Food and Beverage Museum happen. We have been laying foundations, meeting people, beginning projects and exhibits. All in all we have been acting like a museum even though sometimes it felt as shallow as a movie set. Now it is paying off.

The Institut du Goût is working with us to spread their message of taste sensibility. We are receiving many books from libraries, which is helping us document the Southern experience. Our menu collection is burgeoning, and now we are receiving older menus as well as current ones. We have a traveling exhibit. We have a terrific, engaged Board of Directors. We building a wiki. We are planning our opening exhibits. And there is more and more and more. I actually feel as though I will pop, I am so excited.

Keep a close eye on what we are doing. Many announcements will be bursting forth soon. Thanks to all of our supporters, our donors and well-wishers. Soon you will be bursting too. When we all pop, we will explode into the world as a full-fledged institution, not a movie set. Just around the corner. Just wait and see.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fall Fest

I spent the weekend in Lake Charles at the Fall Festival held there at the Sam Houston Jones State Park. If you have never been, you should check out the lovely trails and pond where you can rent boats to paddle around. After walking awhile along the river, I started to remember why I like nature and wondered why I don't get away from the concrete more often. The museum was invited to attend the fair and we set up a booth, encouraging people to send us menus and join the museum. I think we may get a fair amount of menus donated soon. We are also hoping to do more with state parks, using them as a venu to make connections between our eating habits and nature. We'll see what happens. Food can be used to connect with pretty much everything, can't it? Also, if you are in Lake Charles, I highly recommend the margaritas at Cancun on Ryan St. And the carne asada. I'm just sayin...